Hi, I'm Andrew Morten from TravelEssence. I was born and brought up in New Zealand and have seen almost all of New Zealand many times. I have also travelled a lot in Australia over the last 45 years. I started TravelEssence in 2006 because I wanted people to see New Zealand as I know it myself.
For me, it's about getting off the beaten track, having time to enjoy remote nature and landscapes, and having a laugh and yarn with the locals. Whether it's Australia or New Zealand, I believe that the people and the unique landscape make a unique combination that you can not find anywhere else, and this makes them both so special. Now, I often travel with my wife and three small kids and along the way have learnt how to and how not to travel, with, or without, kids. Here are a few points and tips.
Take it slowly
Too many people try to see too much in far too short time. Australia needs almost a year to see it all and New Zealand probably 3 months. Select your locations carefully. Spend 2-4 nights in selected locations, experience them well, get to know them. Enjoy them!
The longer you are away, the more relaxed you need to be.
If you stay one or two nights and try to see too much, after 3 or so weeks it will start to get a bit much. Take your time and soak up the places you are visiting. You will see far more.
Make yourself at home.
It is not realistic to eat out every night for 3 or more weeks or take clothes for 4 or more weeks. Accommodation with kitchens and washing machines, along with a 3-5 night stay ensure you can make yourself at home. It may sound boring now but when you are there it will seem like the most sensible advice you have heard about your trip.
Ask yourself if you plan to make this a once in a lifetime trip to Australia or New Zealand or whether you plan to visit again one day.
This will really affect how what and when you travel. It’s a critical thing to think about. If you plan to come back again then select a few areas that suit the season you are travelling and see them well.
Don’t waste your precious holiday.
People underestimate how long it takes to find accommodation as you travel. Instead of being able to arrive at 6 or 7 in the evening in a nice place, you are often looking for somewhere to stay at 3 in the afternoon and usually end up in a motel along the road. Hardly inspiring and a waste of money. This means you need to rush to your next destination plus it means you are wasting time searching for a decent place to stay. You can do that before you travel and get more out of your holiday time.
Spend a few nights in each place and enjoy them.
If you are travelling with 4 or 6 people then nice large houses are very cost-effective and give everyone space to feel at home.
Try to travel in shoulder season.
It will cost you far less as many accommodation properties offer shoulder season specials. You will also have the countryside to yourselves.
Arrange your flights early.
They don’t get cheaper, only more expensive closer departure. Also if you need domestic flights, its better and cheaper to get these with your international flights.
Don't travel with a campervan
If you have been thinking about travelling by a large camper, please have a good read here, or talk to us about the pros and cons and options. Don’t just default to travelling by camper- its far more expensive and far less fun than you may be thinking right now. Of course, we can arrange a camper for you in about 5 seconds, but we would rather spend a few hours and make sure you have the holiday of your dream.
New Zealand in winter is great.
Don’t be put off with the idea of visiting from June to September. With lots of areas with microclimates, many locations have great weather in the winter- just don’t expect tropical temperatures.
Try to avoid the busy tourist highlights
The tourist highlights are not always the nicest places to visit.
For New Zealand we advocate starting in the south and finishing in the north. The reasons are many-
When you leave the airport you are in the countryside in 5 minutes, on holiday. In Auckland, in 5 minutes you are in a traffic jam.
It is cheaper as rental car companies want their cars brought north again.
It looks nicer due to the way the light falls when viewed looking north
You start in the most empty part of New Zealand and travel to where there are more people so arriving in New Zealand is amazing straight away and coming home is not such a culture change.
On your last day, you don’t have to be up early to catch a flight to Auckland to head home. Instead, you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and an easy drive to the airport and start your trip home feeling relaxed.
If anyone only offers trips that start in Auckland and finish in Christchurch then they don’t know what they are doing and shouldn’t call themselves a New Zealand specialist. They can call themselves a sheep.