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New Zealand: South Island and North Island - FAQ

With so much to see and to do, and so far off, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your New Zealand tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you will need to get ready for your South Island and North Island adventure.

TIME 

New Zealand is located just west of the International Date Line, and its standard time is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Thus, when it's noon in New Zealand, it's 4pm on the previous day in San Francisco, it's 7pm on the previous day in New York, and it's midnight in London. In New Zealand, daylight saving time starts the first weekend in October and ends in mid-March.

New York

Auckland

PACKING 

There are many beautiful things to bring back with you from New Zealand, so make sure that you have space left in your suitcase. Regardless of the season, New Zealand weather can be very changeable. Even when we are traveling, in summer, you will need to pack warm and weatherproof clothing, including a rain jacket and comfortable, rain-proof walking shoes. A good hat and sun screen, an umbrella both for the sun and for the rain and comfortable walking shoes are a must. Have some packs of tissues in your purse, they are great to have when using public bathrooms in the countryside. The tour's itinerary covers such diverse locations as Mt. Cook National Park, where there may be snow on the ground, and Auckland Harbour, with balmy summer weather, so please pack accordingly. Very few places have formal dress codes in New Zealand. Some people like to dress up if they are visiting high-end restaurants and bars, but this is optional. You cannot bring food or organic products of any kind to New Zealand! 

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS 
A valid passport is required for all entering visitors, and it must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your departure date from New Zealand. Starting on October 1 2019, all travelers to New Zealand will be required to obtain an electronic New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa prior to arriving in the country. An individual ETA New Zealand visa can be obtained through the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) app, costs $9NZ (nine New Zealand dollars) and is good for two years. It costs $12NZ (twelve New Zealand dollars) when obtained through the ETA web site.

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION 

This tour starts in Queenstown (airport code ZQN) and ends in Auckland (airport code AKL).

You should make your own flight arrangements using the "open-jaw" or "multiple-city" search, to arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand on Sunday, March 22, 2020, no later than 4:00PM. Because one day is lost flying over the International Date Line, you will probably depart North America on Friday, March 20, 2020. We have arranged for individual airport transfers in accordance with your flight's arrival. 

This tour ends after breakfast, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 in Auckland. If you are continuing on to the Spectacular Australia Tour, we will have a group airport transfer for our morning flight to Melbourne (included in the tour price). If you are ending your adventure here, we will have individual airport transfers in accordance with your flight departure time. If you need help with your flights to New Zealand, please feel free to give us a call.

JET LAG 

To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones), drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible. If you are prone to jetlag or travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT AND ROOMATES  

To avoid paying the single supplement, we offer guaranteed roommate matching, and we will try to match you with a roommate of similar age. Otherwise, there are some single rooms available on this tour, but they tend to fill up first. Please keep in mind that all shared rooms are non-smoking.

THE TRAVEL GROUP 

The New Zealand tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 8 women + the tour director. The travelers will be taken care of by the tour director. In addition, there will be a private guide + a bus driver on the South Island, and another set of a private guide + a bus driver on the North Island. We will also be assisted by specialist guides at specific attractions and sites.

HEALTH 

No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand. If you are currently taking any prescription medicines for recognized medical conditions, it is wise to bring the dosage you'll require with you. Keep all drugs in original bottles and bring a cover letter from your doctor to show airport security staff if required.

WATER 

New Zealand tap water is pollution-free and safe to drink. You should boil, filter, or chemically treat water from rivers and lakes to avoid contracting Giardia (a waterborne parasite that causes diarrhea).

TOILETS 

There are western style "public conveniences" strategically located in all cities and many towns. You'll also find well signposted public toilets on the street in most towns and cities. They can also be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. Please keed in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them. 

SAFETY 

New Zealand is generally a very safe destination, one of the safest in the world. Still, exercise the same care that you would in any major city. The downtown areas of New Zealand's major cities, especially Auckland and Christchurch, are now well covered by closed-circuit cameras, which are monitored by police. This has significantly helped to reduce crime. It is still advisable to exercise caution, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when social drinking sometimes gets out of hand. When it comes to traveling in the countryside, you should always be as cautious as you would be anywhere else. 

WOMEN TRAVELERS 

New Zealand men generally are respectful towards women, but there is a macho undercurrent in the society, especially when rugby and alcohol are part of the equation. Always take care in social environments, and if you are a single female traveling alone, don't drink too much, or you'll be easy prey.

ACTIVITY LEVEL 

During the South Island and North Island tour in New Zealand, we will travel by bus, train and plane. To be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you will need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 5 miles throughout the day. You will need to be able to stand, unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you will need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous though it is busy. You must be prepared for some full days and early starts.

WEATHER 

New Zealand's climate, especially by Northern Hemisphere standards, is quite mellow for much of the year. There is a far greater seasonal difference in the South Island than in the subtropical North, and don't believe anyone who says it never gets cold here or that there are no extremes. The North Island is subtropical. That means lots of winter/spring rain, and often daily light showers. The west coast of the South Island can get up to 100 inches or more of rain a year on its side of the Southern Alps, while just over the mountains to the east, rainfall is a moderate 20 to 30 inches annually. Rain is also heavier on the west coast of the North Island, averaging 40 to 70 inches annually. Milford Sound, though, beats the lot; it's the wettest place in the country, with a phenomenal 365 inches of rain a year.

CELL PHONE/INTERNET 

New Zealand's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in New Zealand's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available for their guests.

ELECTRICITY 
ELECTRICITY

The voltage in New Zealand is 230 volts. The plugs are of the flat, three-pronged variety (with the top two prongs angled). If you bring a hair dryer, it should be a dual-voltage one, and you'll need an adapter plug.

LANGUAGE 

English is spoken by all New Zealanders. You'll hear Maori spoken on some TV and radio programs and in some Maori settlements. As New Zealand is officially a bicultural country, you'll also hear Maori words spoken in daily conversation.

MONEY 

Some people like to bring local currency with them when traveling to a foreign country, but it is not needed, and depends on what you're comfortable with. We believe that the easiest way to get local currency is on arrival at the airport ATM. ATMs are common throughout New Zealand. You'll find them inside and outside all banks, in major shopping centers, in supermarkets and gas stations. The New Zealand dollar (NZ$) is based on the decimal system, and there are 100 cents in the dollar. There are coin denominations of 10, 20, and 50 cents and $1 and $2, as well as bank notes in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 amounts.

TIPPING 

All tipping during the tour is included in the tour's cost. When on your own, you can tip the waitstaff 10% if you have received extraordinary service. Taxi drivers are rarely tipped, but maids are tipped $2NZD per person per day. 

SHOPPING 

Souvenir shops often sell New Zealand-made products that you won’t find anywhere else. The soft and resilient possum merino knitwear is made from the fur and wool of two species that thrive in New Zealand (brushtail possums and merino sheep). Sheepskin footwear, found for all ages in almost every color and handmade wooden photo albums are also very popular with travelers. Hokitika is the place to shop for New Zealand pounamu (jade), sourced from the local rivers. Other things to bring from New Zealand are artistic glass, Maori handicrafts, New Zealand’s skincare products, especially the Evolu brand which uses botanical ingredients that are simple yet potent, New Zealand’s wines and extra virgin avocado oil, plain or infused.

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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