What you need to know when traveling to New Zealand

How to get to New Zealand
Easy, take a plane. If you are not in a hurry you can go by car which makes this a life-time trip or you can take a boat so you can count the waves. You will have to count the sheeps in New Zealand as this country if famous for it.
We took a KLM flight with a combination with Malaysian Air leaving from Schiphol/Amsterdam. For our second holiday we had a combination of KLM with New Zealand Air. As your voyage will be minimum splitt in 2 we experience Malaysian Airport and Shanghai Airport and we can recommend you to go for Malaysia with a stop in Kuala Lumpur. If you take Shanghai you are left on your own as people do not speak and do not understand english. Asking for the departure terminal or what to do when arriving at Shanghai you only get a reply in sign language and redirected the wrong way. We found our way by searching the different indication panels. At Kuala Lumpur you get service in any way so without a doubt that is our preference. Regarding comfort in the airplane Malaysian Airways is better then KLM but when it comes to hygiene KLM was far much better then. Ofcourse there many other possibilities. Anyhow book your flight as fast as possible to have a low rate.
From Antwerp/Belgium-Europe you can take the train to Schiphol/Amsterdam. From Schiphol be prepared and have in mind that you have about 24 hours of flight to go through. You can choose your transittime at time of booking. We took 4 hours whcih was long enough. At Kuala Lumpur (if you go for this one) get yourselves served in a lounch room so you are brand new again for the second ride. At Shanghai you do not have this opporturnity as the connection sprint from one terminal to the other takes some time, you have to check in again your lugage at Shanghai, so you are in for waiting time in the row again. Going via Kuala Lumpur your lugage stays in transit and all you have to do is wait for your flight. Thus no hurry and no hassle for checking out and checking in your lugage as in Shanghai. At Kuala Lumpur everybody understand and speak fluently english.
24hr of flight means e.g. you leave on Monday evening and arrive at Auckland on Wednesday noon. You have to count another 12h of time difference. This time difference depends on the season you leave in. For summer season flights you have 12 hours difference. Going up you will have almost no jetlag as you jump into the local time. Ofcourse you will be early in the evening tired so you will salute your bed earlier then normal.

A time differnce of 12hrs                                                                                                              back to top
means that when it is noon at Auckland your family is nearly to go to bed or is already a sleep as it is midnight in Europe (Belgium). You will have to get used to count half a day difference in both ways. So your family gets a brain training aswell. If you are based in another country the time difference might be different.
I advise you to stay awake until 7-9pm and take a long night sleep. You will have no problem at all the day after to get along in tghe NZ-time zone.
Forget the Star heaven of Europe cause you will see a total other sky at night. Instead of the Polar Star say hello to the Southern Cross.

New Zealand Seasons                                                                                                                   back to top
They are the opposite of the European seasons. When is the best time to go? Well that depends on which season you prefer. The Northern Island has soft winters and wet summers. The album 'Rain at Bethells' shows you some views about the weather.

Spring (September-October-November)
The days become longer but it can be windy (but it is always windy) and rainy. We have an average of 18 degrees. For us Europeans this is already a nice temperature.

Summer (December-January-February)
It is warm, sunny and at the West coast always windy (you be lucky for that if it gets hot). We have an average of 25 degrees.

Autumn (March-April-May)
Temperature drops a bit to an average of 20 degrees and you will get a little bit more of rain. Then again in 2007 we were the whole month March at Auckland and the first 2 weeks we had a temperature of 25-30 degrees, no rain, strong sun, windy days, while in 2009 during February temperature was lower and we had more showers. But showers are just there for a very small time. At the end of our journey in 2007 (end March) we got our first rain. Overall we can say that Autumn is still a nice periode to stay. Showers are not as we know them in Europe. You get a few drops or you get a short and hard shower. Sometimes you can see the shower coming your way and move over and see it coming back. But the other moment it is sunny weather again. At Bethells Beach you are protected by the mountains and you often have better weather then elsewhere. My advise, even when it is cloudy or raining get out and do your thing.

Winter (June-July-August)

Seems in the winter it gets to 13 degrees average. For us Europeans we still get spoiled then.

Driving around in New Zealand                                                                                                     back to top
Okay be sure you get your international drivers license. You will need it together with your national drivers license. In New Zealand people drive on the left side which is the opposite of us Europeans (except for the UK). You get used to it in a very short time. So no worries. First go with the flow. As for the direction you cannot go wrong. Well, we never did. On the highway (oh yes, you have to get used to the names of the roads which might be confusing in beginning) you have so much indications you have plenty of time to get into the correct stroke. Round-abouts!!!!!! If you can take them you passed the test and you are ready for driving around everywhere you want to.
Kiwi's are very creative when it comes to license plates. Go see the album.

To hire a care either search the internet or use Avis or Hertz. Most of the cars are all automatic transmissions.
One good advise do not use Wendekreisen. The first journey we were pleased with their service but in 2009 they were not correct at all. Cancelling more then 6 months in advance was still for them a reason of commercial loss and they did not refund our deposit of 300 NZD. Moreoever, neither on their website, nor on their confirmation or invoice there is not a single reference to their conditions. So they are not correct at all and are not complying to the rules that cancellation conditions must be mentioned clearly on the orderconfirmation.
We are very satisfied of Avis. Go take a look at the album and see which nice car we got.

There are also buses and trains. We didn't use them as we had a car. And you have the hop-on/hop-off buses.

Where are you? Orientation problems?
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Auckland is about 45 minutes from the West coast. On the other side Auckland has Rangitoto and Mission Bay on the Tamaki drive.

The way of living
You will be surprised how friendly and helpfull people are. No rush and no stress. Oh yes, if you are in supermarket do not be surprised when you are at the check out. The women at the check-out they pack your grosseries into cartons or plastic bags. So you do not have to rush yourselves into a position to get it all in your basket again. No, they do it for you and .............. you have a nice chat at the same time. Just pay and have a nice day further.

Kiwi language
A link to help you with some specific words and expressions : http://www.chemistry.co.nz
This dictionary will help you to avoid you say something that means something totally different then we think. Just to avoid some unlucky moments!!!!

Nature and the ecologic system                                                                                                     back to top
New Zealand is almost a zero-carbon nation and thank you for that. After a few days you will benefit of this way of living. Get healthy again. Also most things you buy are 98% fat-free and fruit and vegetables are organic. You can't get more healthy then here. We lost a lot of weight and we keep on going on that healthy road although it is hard to find the same things to eat in Belgium. But sofar we manage quite well. 2009 a campaign was launched in Auckland at the house of Lucy Lawless to reduce the C02 emmision with another 40%. The campaign was named Sign-On. In December 2009 NZ will be at Copenhagen to ask to accept this C02 reducement. NZ takes a leading role and lets hope the rest of world joins them as we really need to take care of our planet, cause we are running out of time. Humanity always reacts and takes measures when something happens. But with our planet we cannot do this. We have to act pro-active and not only with words but with clear and hard actions.

Eating in New Zealand                                                                                                                     back to top
New Zealand has a superb kitchen. You have a kitchen for every taste. You can't imagine it but all kinds of kitchen are here.
And the most interesting thing is that it is all FATFREE!!!!!! YES!!!!! If you don't believe me you have to see the photo-album I made to proove it. Click here.

Okay and now let's go for the real work such as the Xena Film Locations, In the Footsteps of Lucy Lawless and other very beautiful places to visit in New Zealand.

Have fun browsing through the pages and get charmed.