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New Zealand Trails Guest FAQ Page 2.0

Welcome to the New Zealand Trails FAQ page. This page contains all the information you will need to get ready for your New Zealand Trails adventure. From your pre-departure guide to packing lists and plenty of FAQ's, this page is a treasure trove of Kiwi information.

Important Travel Information

Packing Lists

Check out our packing lists below.

For hiking and other outdoor activities on your trip we recommend you bring quick-dry clothes that are made from wool e.g. merino or synthetic fabrics like polypropylene rather than cotton. Please note that we will not let guests hike in jeans as denim stays wet and heavy for a long time and will make you cold very quickly if the weather changes. 

Your Pre-departure Guide - detailed information about travelling to New Zealand

Check out our detailed Pre-departure Guide for detailed information about travel to New Zealand.

Locals guides to Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch and Nelson featuring our favourite activities and restaurants

We have prepared some locals guides with some of our favourite things to do and places to eat in Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch and Nelson; check them out below:

Guest Frequently Asked Questions

To qualify for full cover, many insurance companies require you to take out insurance within a certain timeframe of booking your trip with us so we recommend you look into your travel insurance as soon as you book your trip.

To get the best cover we recommend that you get travel insurance with your regular provider in your home country. When booking insurance, make sure that you check the fine print and that you are happy with the cancellation and medical cover.

When you are booking pre-trip accommodation it is a good idea to book at our pick up hotel or somewhere close by so you don't have too much of a walk with your luggage on the first morning of your trip. We can take care of booking your pre and post trip accommodation, just get in touch with us at yourfriends@newzealandtrails.com

The pick up hotel for the Kiwi Classic, Masterpiece, Pure South, Grand Explorer and The New Zealand Great Walks Adventure is The Ramada Central Queenstown. Our World Heritage Trip pick up hotel is The Ramada Suits Christchurch City. The Sweet North & The Great Walks - North pick up hotel is The Adina Britomart.

For transport from/to the airport to your accommodation in Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch we recommend www.supershuttle.co.nz, a New Zealand owned company that runs a door-to-door shuttle service. You can pre-book and pay online or organise this once you land at the airport.

We recommend that you bring NZD 40 per person per day for any extras you might want to purchase during your trip like coffees and treats at rest stops, alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages with lunches and dinners, and souvenirs. Most places will accept Visa or MasterCard as well so you don’t need cash for everything.

You’ll be able to withdraw money at the airport or in town but there will be other opportunities along the way during your trip and your guides can let you know.

Temperatures on the South Island will vary depending on whether you are in an alpine area or not and the time of day. The temperature ranges you can expect will be:

• October – November (Spring): 5 – 19C ( 41 – 66F)
• December – February (Summer): 10 – 30C (50 – 86F)
• March – April (Autumn/Fall): 5 – 19C ( 41 – 66F)

Please note that the temperatures can change very quickly so you should bring layers to adjust throughout the day.

Temperatures on the North Island will be warmer and you can expect the following:

• October – November (Spring): 10 – 20C (50 – 68F)
• December – February (Summer): 16 – 27C (61 – 81F)
• March – April (Autumn/Fall): 13 – 23C (55 – 73F)

Please bear in mind that the Tongariro Crossing is an alpine crossing and you should prepare for wind and colder temperatures.

Most of the places that we stay have laundry facilities available (for a small fee which is generally around NZD $4), so it is possible to wash your clothes every few days.

Reception at your accommodation will often convert notes for you but it is always easiest to bring coins with you.

Feel free to bring your own detergent/pods however our guides will have a tub of laundry powder that you can use.

If you are holidaying for 3 months or less from Australia, Canada, the UK, the US or are visiting from one of the Visa waiver countries listed here you will not need a Visa. You will however need to complete and pay for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) as well as pay an International Visitor Levy (IVL). Australian citizens do not need to obtain an NZeTA but Australian permanent residents do. They are valid for 2 years and cover multiple entries into New Zealand. You can apply for your NZeTA here. 

You must apply for your NZeTA before you depart your home country. Most NZeTA requests are processed within 72 hours. Many requests are processed more quickly but some may take longer. To avoid delays, we encourage you to request an NZeTA well in advance of your travel. We always recommend applying for your NZeTA directly through the New Zealand Immigration official website (you can do this by clicking the link above).

If you are not from a visa waiver country or would like to work or stay longer than 3 months in New Zealand you will need to apply for a visa and more information can be found here.

Please also ensure you have enough validity on your passport as when you arrive in New Zealand your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date. It is recommended to have six months validity on your passport as all countries have different requirements.

This information is supplied in good faith but we are not an authority on visas & passports in New Zealand. We recommend you check the NZ government website here to confirm if you need a visitor visa or NZeTA.

Travellers arriving at New Zealand international airports will be able to complete an online New Zealand traveller declaration (NZTD) instead of the usual paper Passenger Arrival Card that people have filled out on the plane in the past. As with the current Passenger Arrival Card, you will need to give your passport, flight and contact details and answer questions about your recent travel history and what you are bringing into New Zealand. You won’t need to upload any documentation or print anything out. For this reason, you will not need to complete the traveller declaration until a couple of days before you are due to travel. The digital declaration will then be linked to your passport and automatically checked when your passport is scanned at an eGate or by a border officer on arrival into New Zealand. The Passenger Arrival Card will continue to be accepted for a period of time after the NZTD is introduced and will continue to be handed out on-board flights to New Zealand. 

Instructions on how to fill out the traveller declaration form will be available on this website here, there will also be instructions available on the app and your airline will be able to assist if you have any questions.

If you’d like a SIM card during your time here, you will be able to purchase these at the airport or at various locations in each of the major cities. Vodafone has a great travel plan; otherwise Spark/Skinny and 2degrees are the other main providers in New Zealand.

If you use an eSIM, you can purchase a prepaid data eSIM from any worldwide service provider. This allows you to stay connected whilst you travel. You are can purchase this plan before you travel. Alternatively, you can purchase an eSIM from one of our phone providers over her in New Zealand.

Most accommodation will have wifi unless you are in a remote location e.g. Martins Bay Lodge on the World Heritage Walking Tour, Ohau Quarters on the Kiwi Classic and Masterpiece trips, and the huts in Nelson Lakes National Park and Pelorus Sound on the Kiwi Classic trip. Please bear in mind that in some locations, even if there is wifi, it may not work as well as you are used to. If you need to make important video calls over wifi during your trip, check with your guides which nights will have the best wifi.

Most of the places we stay will have hairdryers however if you need to use one every day, we recommend bringing a small travel hairdryer.

Most of the places we stay will supply soap, shampoo, and conditioner however we recommend bringing a small travel set just in case.

Dry bags are recommended to keep your valuables safe if you are hiking on a rainy day. We recommend using a dry bag or even a plastic zip-lock sandwich bag for your essential items, or a rain protector that covers your entire day pack.

For all trips, except the Kiwi Classic, 1-2 Litres is absolutely fine. There are two big bottles of water in the van for filling up your reusable water bottle throughout the day.

For the Kiwi Classic trip, 2 Litres is ideal as the hiking days are longer than on our other trips. On the overnight backpacking section of the Kiwi Classic, you will have the opportunity to fill your water bottles up at night at the huts.

It is personal preference whether you use a water bottle or a camelback style hydration pack.

For your day pack we recommend bringing a comfortable day pack, 25-30 litres is ideal, it should be able to hold your water bottle(s), a rain jacket, an extra warm layer, hat, beanie, suncream/insect repellent, camera and anything else you’d like to bring on your day hikes.

If you like to use hiking poles we recommend you bring your own pair of poles with you from home. If you're travelling with hiking poles on a plane just make sure that they are in your check-in baggage as you will be unable to take them as carry-on. Your guides will also have some spare sets of hiking poles (enough for one pole per person on the trip) in the vehicle just in case!

Yes, we will provide you with a 70L Osprey hiking backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and hiking poles. You are more than welcome to bring your own gear if you prefer, just make sure your hiking backpack is at least 65L.

We recommend a mid-height hiking boot with decent ankle support for all of our trips.  Salomon and Merrell are two of the popular boot brands worn by our guests, but don't rush out to buy new boots if you already own some. The most important thing about hiking boots is that they are comfortable for you, provide good ankle support, and that they are broken in before your trip.

For the shorter 1-2 hour hikes on your trips you will be able to wear running shoes or trail runners rather than hiking boots, if you prefer. Your guide will let you know what footwear is suitable for each hike when you are on your trip.

If you have any prescription medication that you need to bring with you, you will need to bring it into New Zealand in its original packaging accompanied by a prescription or letter from your doctor. You will need to declare this medication and the customs officials may ask to see it and the supporting prescription.

Just to give you a wee bit more information about the kayaking; the kayaks are very stable, two person kayaks. The tours are also guided by professional kayak guides and everyone is supplied with a life vest. The water we kayak in is very calm and sheltered. We can also pair you up with one of our guides if you’d like, just have a chat to them during your trip. If you’d like to skip the kayaking just talk to your guide during the trip and they can organise an alternative for you.

The biking on your trip will be on dirt/gravel grade 1 and 2 mountain bike trails. While these aren't technical trails you do need to have some biking experience to safely enjoy this activity. If biking isn't your cup of tea, no worries! On the days where biking is offered, we always give you the option to walk a beautiful section of the trail instead with your guide. If your trip has biking included in the itinerary we will be asking you to confirm if you are doing the biking or the walking option in your pre-departure survey which will be sent to you 90 days before your trip. That way we can let our bike supplier know how many bikes we need for each trip.

You will need to complete your traveller declaration before entering New Zealand. The declaration will explain a number of ‘risk goods’ that must be declared to customs. You will need to fill in your declaration before you land and declare any risk goods. On arrival in New Zealand, your bags may be sniffed by detector dogs, x-rayed or searched. If you have declared any risk goods, the customs officers will assess them and make sure they do not pose any threat to our biosecurity. 

Common risk goods that New Zealand Trails guests bring with them are outdoor equipment (hiking boots, gaiters, camping gear etc) and food products. To make the customs process as easy and fast as possible make sure that any outdoor equipment is clean, dry and free from dirt, seeds and leaves and that all food products are sealed in their original packaging. Then pack any risk goods at the top of your bags so that customs officers can easily inspect them.

For more information on our customs processes and risk goods click here 

You can bring trail mix, nut bars, chocolates and sweets that are sealed in their original packaging however you will need to declare everything that you bring in with you. It is very important to declare all food items when entering the country. This website here is great if you have a question about a specific item.

Your guides will supply snacks throughout your trip and will cater these to any dietary requirements you may have so you don’t have to bring hiking snacks with you unless you want to.

New Zealand has very strict biosecurity rules and you will need to declare if you are carrying any items that have been used for outdoor activities. This includes things like hiking boots, hiking poles and gaiters. Customs officers will want to check that these are clean and free of dirt, seeds and leaves. Make sure you thoroughly clean your gear before leaving home and pack your boots and hiking gear at the top of your bag for easy inspection on arrival to NZ.

If you are unsure about whether or not your equipment needs inspecting – declare it anyway.

Past guests, have on average, given approximately $150-200 for our longer trips and $50-$100 for our shorter trips per guide. Another way to show your appreciation is to leave a review; you’ll receive details on how to do this after your trip.

To make paying your balance really easy we have local bank accounts in major currencies (NZD, USD, AUD, GBP, EUR, CAD) into which you can easily deposit money without any international transaction fees. You can find the details of how to pay via bank transfer here. Your balance is due 90 days out from your trip departure date. We will be in touch two weeks before your balance is due to remind you of this :-)