transfer banner

New Zealand Trails Guest FAQ Page

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 what to pack for your trip to local recommendations and plenty of FAQ's, this page is a treasure trove of Kiwi information. 

Pre/Post-Trip Accommodation and Local Recommendations

When you are booking pre and post-trip accommodation it is a good idea to book at one of our joining hotels or somewhere close by to one of our joining hotels 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 if you would like just get in touch with us at

The joining hotels for the Kiwi Classic, Masterpiece, Pure South, Grand Explorer and The New Zealand Great Walks Adventure are The Ramada Queenstown Central and La Quinta Queenstown.

Our World Heritage Trip joining hotel is The Ramada Suites Christchurch City.

The Sweet North & The Great Walks - North Island joining hotels are The Adina Britomart and the Sudima Auckland Airport.

For transport from/to the airport to your accommodation in Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch we recommend, 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.

Taxis and Ubers are also available if you prefer.

New Zealand is a popular destination during the summer season, and accommodation options can fill up quickly. We recommend that you book your accommodation as soon as your trip and flights have been booked.

Yes, we work closely with the hotels below.  If you would like us to make a reservation request for you at one of the hotels below, please send us an email to and let us know which hotel you would like us to request for you and your check-in and check-out dates.

Queenstown Hotels:

Ramada Queenstown Central
Blue Peaks Lodge
La Quinta Queenstown

Christchurch Hotels

Ramada Suites Christchurch City
Sudima Christchurch Airport

Auckland Hotels

Adina Apartment Hotel Britomart, Auckland
Nesuto Stadium Hotel, Auckland
Sudima Auckland Airport

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

Local’s Guide to Auckland

Local’s Guide to Queenstown

Local’s Guide to Christchurch

Local’s Guide to Nelson

We recommend looking at, all you have to do is enter your pick-up location, drop-off location and the dates you are looking to hire for and it will give you lots of different options. You can choose your car size, transmission, price, and mileage to make your search more specific. Using websites like this allows you to compare different suppliers and find the best deal.

Flights, Visas, and Travel Documentation

To qualify for full cancellation cover many insurance companies require you to take out insurance within a certain timeframe of booking your trip with us, so if you haven’t already booked travel insurance now is the time to do that. To get the best coverage we recommend that you get travel insurance with your usual 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.

Travel insurance is important as it covers things like cancellation costs (including your trip deposit) if you have to cancel your trip or cut it short for an unexpected reason, missed flight connections, delayed departures, lost luggage, and medical and other emergencies. Life is full of surprises and travel insurance gives you peace of mind that you’ll be taken care of should the unexpected happen – we wouldn’t travel (or book our travel) without it!

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.

We recommend booking your flights well in advance. By booking your flights months in advance, you may have more options for flights, seat selection, etc.  It will also give you some peace of mind to have your flights sorted as it will be one less thing on your to-do list as you prepare for your trip.

Most airlines release their flights 11 months in advance so if your trip is more than 11 months away you will need to wait until it is within 11 months of your trip to book your flights.

For your international flights to/from New Zealand, we recommend booking your flights with your preferred airline in your home country or Air New Zealand.  Many guests find it helpful to compare a few different airlines to compare flight itineraries and airfare.

For your domestic flights within New Zealand, we recommend flying with Air New Zealand.

New Zealand Airports are easy to navigate and are probably smaller than you are used to. You can usually check-in online for your flight 24 hours before it departs and we recommend doing this to save yourself time at the airport.

Auckland Airport is our largest airport here in New Zealand and is our main international airport.  Although it is our largest and busiest airport it is easy to navigate and many of the processes are automated, which allows you to move through the airport more efficiently.

Flying domestically within New Zealand is quick and easy and you can fly between all New Zealand cities and many major towns using domestic air services.  There are over 20 regional airports in New Zealand. Regional airports in New Zealand, such as Queenstown Airport, are likely much smaller than airports you are used to in your home country, which makes flying in and out quick and easy.

For your domestic flights within New Zealand, we recommend flying with Air New Zealand.

Paying Your Balance, Cash and Tipping

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 or at ATMs which are found in all towns throughout New Zealand. 

It’s completely up to you.  New Zealand does not have a tipping culture and it's not an expectation on our trips. Many of our guests do want to tip their guides for the amazing service they have provided, you are more than welcome to do this and our guides will be really appreciative of this. 

Past guests have on average, given approximately $75-100NZD per guide, per person, for our 14-day trips and $25-$50NZD per guide, per person, for our 5-7 day trips. Cash in NZD is the easiest way to tip your 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, 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 in your Guest Portal or by clicking this link here. Your balance is due 90 days out from your trip departure date. 

Yes, you can pay in instalments at any time by going to the Pay your Balance dropdown in the To Do List section of the Guest Portal.

New Zealanders do not expect tips for normal service - even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills. All taxes are already included, so tipping is something over and above and is a personal preference.

Our tax in New Zealand is 15%. All goods and services purchased in New Zealand are subject to 15% Goods and Services Tax. This is usually included in the price. This tax cannot be claimed back by visitors.

Packing for your Trip

We have put together a comprehensive packing list for you. Due to varying weather conditions in NZ, we recommend bringing everything on your packing list regardless of the time of year you are travelling. By packing everything on your list, you will be well-prepared for your New Zealand Trails trip.

Check out our packing lists below. You can also find a copy of your packing list in your Guest Portal under the Important Information & Resources section of the information Hub.

Masterpiece, World Heritage Walking Tour & Grand Explorer 

The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure - North, Sweet North & Pure South

The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure - South

Kiwi Classic

We visit alpine regions on our tours and can encounter cold weather any time of the year. Most people underestimate how much the temperatures can vary in New Zealand even in mid-summer. The packing list may feel like a lot but the best way to dress for our weather is by wearing multiple layers of clothing, rather than one thick layer. Depending on the weather you get on your trip you may use all of the things on the packing list, or you may not but it is always best to be prepared for all weather conditions.

Each guest is allowed one suitcase (up to 23 kg /  50 lbs ).  This will be whatever bag you check in for your flight. This can be a hard or soft case suitcase or duffle bag, whatever you prefer. This suitcase should meet the size allowance for standard checked baggage for your flight. As your guide will be lifting your bags in and out of the vehicle, for safety reasons, your bag should have a maximum weight of up to 23 kg /  50 lbs. 

Each guest will also need to bring a hiking day pack.  Your hiking pack should fit your water bottle, camera, wallet, sun cream, warm layers, rain protection, packed lunch (usually a sandwich, sweet treat and fruit) & anything else you may want to take on your day hikes. This should be around 20L – 30L.

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

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.

We recommend a day pack that is about 20-30L. Your hiking pack should fit your water bottle, camera, wallet, sun cream, medication (if needed), warm layers, rain protection, packed lunch (usually a sandwich, sweet treat and fruit) & anything else you may want to take on your day hikes.

Yes! New Zealand can experience all four seasons in one day, regardless of the time of year and alpine areas can be cooler than expected.  It’s not uncommon for New Zealand to receive a mid-summer snowfall on the tops of the mountains followed by a warm day. We recommend that you bring a light or medium-weight puffer/down jacket or a warm, thick fleece layer.

We recommend a rain jacket that is Gore-Tex or similar waterproof rating. It is important that your rain jacket is waterproof, rather than water resistant.  

For all trips, except the Kiwi Classic, 1-2 Litres is absolutely fine. There are two big bottles of water in the vehicle 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 CamelBak style hydration pack.

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 in the vehicle just in case!

We recommend a mid-height hiking boot with decent ankle support for all of our trips.  Salomon and Merrell are two of the most 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 supportive, and comfortable for you and that they are broken in before your trip

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. 

If you bring your own hairdryer it is recommended that you check the voltage of your hairdryer before plugging it in, as the appliance may be damaged if the incoming voltage is higher than the appliance is manufactured for. The voltage throughout New Zealand is 220-240v.

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.

The voltage throughout New Zealand is 220-240v, if the voltage in your home country is the same or similar to the voltage in the country you will be travelling to, then you won’t need a voltage transformer. Many modern electrical devices are built to be able to handle a range of different volts, usually from 110 to 240v. It is recommended that you check the voltage of your appliance before plugging it in, as the appliance may be damaged if the incoming voltage is higher than the appliance is manufactured for.

Once you have established the voltage of your appliance all you will need is an adapter to ensure your plug will fit the New Zealand sockets. New Zealand utilises a three-pronged flat pinned plug, which is also used in Australia and Fiji.

Yes, we will provide you with a 48L 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 48L.

Your New Zealand Trails Trip

New Zealand is an island nation dividing the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea. The song “Four Seasons in One Day” really does describe how it can be in New Zealand at any time of year. The most important thing to understand is how unpredictable the weather can be and how quickly it can change. We visit alpine regions on our tours and can encounter cold weather any time of the year. Most people underestimate how much the temperatures can vary in New Zealand even in mid-summer.  Rain, snow, high winds, and heat can occur at any time of the year.  It’s not uncommon for New Zealand to receive a mid-summer snowfall on the mountains followed by a warm day. It is essential to be prepared for all weather conditions and bring a variety of clothing layers so that you can be comfortable no matter the day.

South Island:

The South Island is home to some of our stunning alpine areas so has a greater variation in temperatures, roughly 5-30 degrees C  / 41-86 degrees F.

• 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.

North Island:

The North Island generally has a mild climate with subtropical temperatures ranging between 10-27 degrees C / 50-81 degrees F.  Please bear in mind that the Tongariro Crossing is an alpine crossing and you should prepare for wind and colder temperatures in this area. 

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

If you wish to check out the weather forecast you can visit the New Zealand MetService website linked here, but please be aware that forecasts can change very quickly.

On your trip, you will generally travel in a late-model Mercedes Benz Sprinter and the size of the vehicle will depend on the exact size of the group. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are the most premium vehicle in its class available in New Zealand. 

At New Zealand Trails, safety is our number one priority. New Zealand roads are well maintained, however, due to the geography of New Zealand, the roads can be quite winding and narrow, and one lane bridges are common. We have chosen the Mercedes Benz Sprinter as it is the safest vehicle for our narrow and winding New Zealand roads.

There is no WIFI available in the vehicle. Not to worry though, the scenery along New Zealand roads is beautiful and you’ll want to take in the spectacular views as you make your way around the country. Your guides will often provide commentary and the drives provide an excellent opportunity to get to know the other travellers on your trip.

You'll sleep soundly in the comfortable accommodations that we have chosen specifically for their fantastic locations and accessibility to our National Parks.  Small, independent and family-run lodges and motel-style accommodations are the most common accommodations found here in New Zealand.  You’ll meet friendly hosts and have a clean and comfortable room at each location.

Please bear in mind that some areas we visit are very small towns in remote areas and air conditioning and elevators are not always the standard. You may need to walk up a flight of stairs to your room.

On day one of your trip, your guides will pick you up in a late-model Mercedes Benz Sprinter. This will be your vehicle for the duration of the trip and your luggage will travel with you in the luggage compartment. You'll bring your small day pack with you inside the vehicle, with just your hiking essentials (jacket, water bottle, sun hat, etc). Your luggage will stay in the vehicle until we reach our accommodation for the evening. 

If you or someone gets sick during a trip, then our guides will encourage anyone who wants to wear a facemask to do so (i.e. the person who is sick and anyone else who wants to).  If someone is too unwell to continue the trip for any reason, they can choose to leave the tour and our office team will help them arrange accommodation and offer them any support they need.

As standard practice, our guides clean all the surfaces in the van every day along with wiping down gear like hiking poles and our kits contain facemasks, hand sanitiser and covid tests. 

Legally, we are unable to disclose medical information or discriminate based on medical conditions so we cannot ask someone who is sick, including COVID, to leave the trip or force them to wear a facemask. If they are too unwell to continue the trip, then they can choose to leave the tour and we will help them with arrangements.

Any days missed from a trip are non-refundable as we pay our suppliers well in advance. Cancellation costs can be claimed back on travel insurance and our office team can provide the documentation needed to make an insurance claim. 

All trips except for our Great Walk Adventure – South Island and World Heritage trips, will have two New Zealand Trails guides.

Our Great Walk Adventure – South Island and World Heritage trips will have one New Zealand Trails guide throughout the trip and will have the help of another experienced guide for various hikes, and activities, as needed.  

When we ask our guests to tell us their favourite part of their trip with us they always tell us it was their tour guide. We’re proud to have assembled – without exception – the very best guides you could wish to travel with. 

Your guide(s) will be one of our hand-picked, experienced and passionate Kiwis with a wide array of life experiences. From spotting native wildlife to bringing the past alive with stories from the land, from adjusting gear on hikes to providing that little extra encouragement during the last mile, the connections you make with your guides will last a lot longer than the duration of this tour. You can meet some of them on our people page here.

We have two trained guides on most activities, meaning that everyone can go at their own pace and there is always flexibility within the itinerary to do more or less depending on your mood that day.

Your specific guide/s will be shown in your Guest Portal around a week out from your trip.

Your guides will keep you well-informed during your trip. They will provide briefings each evening about what you can expect for the following day such as hikes/activities, weather, departure time, how to dress for the day, etc.

Your guides will also set up a WhatsApp group chat on the first day of your trip. They may use WhatsApp to send reminder messages to the group, share photos while on the trip, etc. If you do not already have the WhatsApp App on your phone, it would be helpful for you to download the app before you arrive in New Zealand. You can download WhatsApp from the Apple App Store (iPhone/iPad) or from Google Play (Android). Your guides can also help you set this up on the first night of your trip.

If you ever have any questions while on your trip, just chat with your guides.

Our trips are very popular and we often run two trips departing on the same date, with no more than 14 guests on any one trip. Our trips have been carefully crafted to give you exclusive access to New Zealand's best walks, activities, and accommodations. By running one trip eastbound and the other westbound or one northbound and one southbound, we are able to give every guest this exclusive experience. It doesn't matter which direction you go as both trips start and finish in the same place and the itineraries are identical, they just run in opposite directions.

We will let you know which direction you are on in your final itinerary which you can find in your Guest Portal around a month before your trip departs.

New Zealand cities and towns have excellent public water supplies. In all cases, tap (faucet) water is fresh and safe to drink. Your guides will also have drinking water available in the vehicle so we recommend you bring along a refillable drink bottle (1-2 litres).

We provide water throughout the day and provide a hot or cold drink with breakfast. Other drinks such as alcohol or coffee, at restaurants, cafes, rest stops, etc. are available for purchase.

It’s not uncommon for our guests to have nerves about kayaking. 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.

In wet, warm areas sand flies and mosquitoes can be present. It is best to carry insect repellent, especially in marshlands, near the west coast and in some National Parks. The insects do not carry any diseases and are harmless except for the bites which can itch for several days, especially for tourists who are not used to them. They are easily controlled by using an insect repellent (either natural or DEET based), and by wearing long lightweight clothing to cover exposed skin. Your guides will have some repellent on board.

Double Share: Two people sharing one room with one bed. This is usually a queen size bed.

Twin Share: Two people sharing one room with two beds. Depending on the accommodation this will either be a room with two single(twin) beds or a room with one single(twin) bed and one double bed. 

New Zealand Customs and Biosecurity

You will need to complete a traveller declaration before entering New Zealand. This traveller declaration collects travel, customs, immigration, and biosecurity information. There are two options for the traveller declaration. You can either complete the digital New Zealand Traveller Declaration or a paper declaration card which will be given to you on your flight. Generally, you will get through customs in New Zealand more quickly if you do the digital declaration.

Option 1: Digital Declaration

The digital New Zealand Traveller Declaration can be done on the Traveller Declaration website by clicking here or on the app which you can download by clicking here. The declaration is free and takes about 10 minutes to complete. The earliest you can submit your declaration is 24 hours before you start your journey to New Zealand. A great time to complete your digital New Zealand Traveller Declaration is at the airport while you are waiting to board your flight.

Your digital declaration is linked to your passport and is checked when you arrive at the eGate or by a border officer. There is no QR code issued and you don't need to print anything out.

Learn more about the Digital Traveller Declaration by clicking here.

Option 2: Paper Declaration

If you would rather complete a paper declaration, no worries. You will receive a paper declaration card on your flight to New Zealand.

Yes, you can bring prescription medicine to New Zealand. 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.

These are policies created by the New Zealand Ministry of Health and New Zealand Customs. We like to let our guests know this information so that they can go through New Zealand Customs smoothly with the least amount of hassle. 

You can find more information about bringing medication into New Zealand linked here.

You will need to complete a traveller declaration before entering New Zealand. The declaration will explain several ‘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. Always declare risk goods and if you’re not sure if something is a risk good then declare it anyway.

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.

Yes, you can bring vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter medication to New Zealand.  If you have any vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter medication that you need to bring with you, you will need to bring it in its original packaging. This will allow you to go through New Zealand Customs smoothly.

Mobile Phones and WIFI

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. Spark, Skinny and 2degrees are some of the 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 can purchase this plan before you travel. Alternatively, you can purchase an eSIM from one of our phone providers over here in New Zealand.

Another option is to talk with your mobile phone provider back home about your options for international roaming while in New Zealand.

Most accommodations will have WIFI unless you are in a remote location e.g. Martins Bay Lodge on the World Heritage Walking Tour and the backcountry 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.

You will have mobile phone coverage at most accommodation locations and cities/towns in New Zealand unless you are in a remote location e.g. Martins Bay Lodge on the World Heritage Walking Tour, and the huts in Nelson Lakes National Park and Pelorus Sound on the Kiwi Classic trip.

During the day, there will be times when we travel through some remote locations that will not have mobile phone coverage.

Please bear in mind that in some locations, even if there is mobile coverage, it may not work as well as you are used to. If you need to make important calls while on your trip, check with your guides which nights will have the best coverage.