Kia ora. There are lots to learn about life in New Zealand. Known by Māori as Aotearoa, or “The Land of the Long White Cloud”, New Zealand certainly does have a lot of long white clouds. These go well with their long white mountains and long white beaches.
Every vacation needs to have some basic preparation; knowing what to look forward to saving you from confusion and allow you to focus more on creating memorable experiences in this stunning country.
Here are some things you should know before visiting New Zealand.
1. You can not bring (most) food in New Zealand
New Zealand is very strict about allowing agricultural products as it can affect the country's biodiversity. Their people are very careful because the effects on their economy can be enormous if one accidentally unintentionally puts infected objects. They have a list of what they call "risk goods" including but not limited to fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese and animals (dead or alive).
On packaged foods, there are some you can carry as long as it does not have some ingredients that they prohibit like honey. I highly recommend checking out the New Zealand Customs website for a complete list of items you can not carry.
Claim all risky goods as well as any foods you have on your luggage or you will be charged a $ 400 penalty.
The good thing is there is a big supermarket on the way out of Auckland Airport so you can have everything you need there. If you can not help carrying some of the necessary food, always claim if you are not sure whether what you have in your luggage is allowed or not.
2. Oncoming traffic is on the right and vehicles are right hand drive
This can be a challenge at first especially when you are used to driving on the right-hand side of the road. Make sure you comb your driving skills and read the traffic laws and policies of New Zealand before you rent a car or camper rental.
3. GPS or map is necessary
New Zealand doesn’t have the fastest internet speed. This is especially true in the countryside where the internet reception is almost non-existent. If you’re driving and not really familiar with the road, it will be too easy to get lost. So GPS or map is necessary.
I have read some articles about others not having a GPS and they didn't have any problem and that’s really great. Personally, I would wanna have one with me or at least a map to give me peace of mind while driving in an unfamiliar territory.
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4. Kiwi have a very special accent and some special slang
The New Zealand accent can be pretty confusing for newcomers. A Kiwi can sound Australian, South African and American in the space of five words. If you’re moving over there, you should forget everything you’ve ever learnt about vowel sounds. An ‘i’ sounds more like ‘uh’, so ‘fish and chips’ becomes ‘fush and chups’. Meanwhile, an ‘e’ sounds more like an ‘i’, which can cause a whole world of confusion. ‘Bed’ sounds like ‘bid’, ‘ten’ sounds like ‘tin’, ‘deck’… well, you get the idea.
Beside, you need to learn some of the Kiwi lingo might be helpful. There are a lot of strange words and phrases flying around. Cling film is known as ‘glad wrap’, which makes it sound much more fun to use than it really is. A cool box is a ‘chilli bin’, a holiday home is a ‘bach’, flip-flops are ‘jandals’, and the middle of nowhere is known as the ‘wop wops’. If you’re just popping to the ‘dairy’ then you’re heading to the local shop (it doesn’t just relate to cheese and milk). Most importantly, if someone says ‘yeah-nah’, they’re not being indecisive – it’s just a very casual way of saying ‘no, thank you’.
5. The weather is very unpredictable
New Zealand may be quite close to Australia's hot and sunny land, but the Kiwi weather is very different. Not only are the temperatures much less extreme than they are in Oz, but there may also be "four seasons in a day". This statement was made by the drama queen, who liked to exaggerate a bit. What they really mean is that it can be sunny a moment and the next rain, which any Brit should be used to.
It's all down to the location; The two islands of New Zealand are surrounded by some of the wildest seas in the world, which can make things quite interesting. One day can start hot and sunny and at noon become a cold wind and cold rain, all due to the mid-Pacific. If you are exploring the wop, be sure to bring a brolly.