Chasing Verasion NZ Part II: Preparing for & Getting Around
This is for all the traveling winemakers, backpackers and adventurers planning to, thinking of or about to be persuaded by to work harvest in New Zealand! It’s the middle of Kiwi vintage #NZV15 and I bet in about a month or two when harvest ends, some of you (if you haven’t already) are going to embark on a roadtrip of a lifetime around the islands. We’ve compiled some of our best general tips for preparing for and getting around in New Zealand when heading there for crush.
Biosecurity at Customs
If you’ve been hiking, camping or working in any other vineyards before heading to New Zealand, make sure you thoroughly clean whatever equipment, shoes, and clothing used or worn. These will be subject to sanitation or if customs feels they are a hazard to the New Zealand environment and biosecurity, tossed. This includes backpacks, shoes, hats, etc.
Although it looks small on a map, New Zealand covered a wide range of latitudes as well as elevations. Check out the average temperatures during the months you’ll be there for the location you’ll be living. However, if you plan to travel before or after harvest, make sure you research those areas as well to pack accordingly. The northern part of the North Island is more moderate in temperatures while the southern part of the South Island often receives snow. Don’t forget, if you’re traveling to see the glaciers in the south, to wear an extra layer as well, even in the summer.
In general, summers (December through February) are warm to hot, with temperatures around 20-30 degrees Celsius. Bring a light sweater like a fleece for the cooler mornings and evenings.Fall in New Zealand lands between March and May, the months during which harvest occurs. Naturally. The temperature drops but generally, you can still get away with shorts or pants, and t-shirts, maybe a sweater too. Bring something on the heavier side for evening.
Winters in New Zealand last from June to August and the weather will cool down quite a bit. New Zealand’s precipitation falls between ~600 and 1300mm/23-52 inches annually, so depending on where you are, that could be rain or snow. Be sure to pack warmer clothes if you’ll be here through then. If you plan on heading to the mountains, thermals and gloves might be a good idea, But otherwise, jeans, long sleeved shirts and a jacket should be sufficient.Spring in New Zealand is a wild card. It can be sunny and warm to freezing cold. The answer? Layers.
Pack a little extra if you’ll be here over Springtime, which falls between September and November. Better to take off layers rather than wish you had an extra jacket!
Getting from here to there
Having so many backpackers traveling to NZ, the country has some great public transportation. Trains, Planes, Busses and Ferrys have made getting around sans car pretty fool proof.
If you’ve got time and want see the countryside in comfort, train is the way to go. It’s not as cheap as the bus and not as flexible as a car, but still a scenic and comfortable way to travel. KiwiRail will get you from Auckland to Wellington in about a day’s travel, a little over 12 hours, for $200-220
The Bluebridge Ferry http://www.bluebridge.co.nz/ will get you from Wellington to Picton and back for as little as $53, and a beautiful view of the Marlborough sounds and Cook Strait along the way. <a href=”https://www.interislander.co.nz/”>The Interislander</a> is an option but typically on the pricier side at $75.
Busses are by far the cheapest way to get around if you’re traveling solo or as a couple. Check NakedBus.com for ridiculously cheap long or short distance fares (Auckland Airport to Wellington: $39.99). Intercity and Kiwi Experience are also excellent sites to compare. They also offer passes that can be used again if you’re planning on multiple bus rides
Driving on the other side of the road (for some of us anyway) is thrilling! It’s more flexible than Rail or Bus, so many opt for Juicy rental cars, piling as many people as they can find along the way to share costs of gas, meals, or rooms. The main players are all there: Herz, Europcar, Avis, but be sure to check NZ Rent A Car as well. Juicy campervans are quite popular and with purple and green colors, can be spotted everywhere. It’s no wonder; they can ride 5, sleep four (let’s be realistic, a 5th person can probably squeeze in there somewhere, if not pass out in the passenger’s seat). It comes with everything, including the kitchen sink. Money well saved on hotels and better spent on beers.
If you are going the rental car route, be sure to check out the rules of the road.
Phone & WiFi
If you need to phone Mom as soon as you arrive in New Zealand, pick yourself up a calling card like Yabba. For 20 NZ$ you can ring internationally cheap, starting around $.15 per minute. Even better, you can make calls using the Yabba app over WiFi to both landlines and Apply/Android cell phones.
Otherwise, New Zealand networks include:
Vodafone seems to have the best rates, starting at $19 but like everywhere, check it against the coverage.
Meeting People, Finding jobs, Buying Stuff, and Hitching a Ride
Meetup.com is always a great resource, no matter where you are, to find a group of like-minded peers. There’s also Backpacker Board, a fantastic resource for just about anything backpackers and travelers alike might need. This is a great way to meet people that are traveling long distances. Thumbs up hitchhiking is popular in New Zealand; however, it is a very safe country, hitchhiking is always risky.Also, for immediate and local needs such as cars, rides, rooms, miscellaneous things for sale, check the grocery store! Oftentimes there’s a wall of post-its, like the classifieds section of a newspaper. It’s so old school, it’s admirable. We bought a tent off of one. Think of it as the Kiwi Craigslist for local results.
Although the exchange rate from wherever you’re coming from might look great, everyday costs in New Zealand can be quite expensive. Using the resources above can save money, not to mention free up your schedule, if you plan in advance and know where to cut costs.
- Traveling – Do the math; group travelers might opt for the camper van while solo or couple travelers might be better catching a bus. Bikes are often available for ‘hire’ in cities as well.
- Food – going out for food can be super expensive, before buying drinks (also expensive). Cook some pasta. Look up a killer recipe for lamb ragu; there’s a lot of it there.
- Accommodation – if you can camp, do it.Here’s where those camper vans come in handy. You might shell out more for the car, but you’ll save heaps on hotel rooms, which start around $50. Hostels begin around half that amount per person. Depending on the site, camping can range from $10 to $40 per night. 100% Pure New Zealand offers a great summary of how and where to camp.
- Activities – If you just NEED to fall from ridiculous heights in the sky, like a bungee jump in Queenstown off the Kawarau Bridge ($275) or skydive ($299) do it, and be proud! But budget your activities like you budget your time. Climb to a vista point, go on a backpacking trip, or take a kayak out for a couple hours. Enjoy some extreme experiences while you’re there. Then, remember, seeing New Zealand from the air and the ground will give you great perspective on how beautiful the country is.