The Heathrow flights will end in October in favour of a non-stop service from Newark to Auckland. Smaller international airports at Wellington , Dunedin and Queenstown primarily offer services to and from eastern Australia.
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If you fly through Australia, make sure you have a transit visa if you need one. You won't be able to get on your flight otherwise. A small percentage 1. Cruise ships regularly visit New Zealand between October and April. Buses are a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to get around New Zealand. Services are usually only once a day, even between major towns.
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Most roads in New Zealand are quite narrow and winding when compared to the highways of the USA , and travelling a long distance in a bus can be a safe and relaxing way to travel compared with driving yourself. Booking in advance can get you great bargains on some lines. Domestic flights in New Zealand can be expensive; some domestic flights can cost as much as a flight to Australia.
However, flying often works out cheaper than driving or taking a train, especially when crossing between the North and South Islands. Airlines operate an electronic ticket system. You can book on-line, by telephone, or through a travel agent. Photo ID will be needed for travel. Check-in times are usually at least 30 minutes prior to flight departure, or 60 minutes if you're connecting to an international flight.
Cabin baggage and personal scanning are routinely conducted for services from the major airports that have jet landings. Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington airports have timetabled buses to the airport. Regional airports generally have only on-demand shuttle services and taxis. You can reach most of New Zealand's sights in a two-wheel-drive car, motorcycle or even a small camper van. While public transport is usable in the cities of Auckland and Wellington, a car is almost essential to get around anywhere else.
Traffic drives on the left in New Zealand. The State Highway network connects major cities and destinations within the two main islands, and are indicated by a number inside a red shield. Motorways and expressways are generally only found near major cities, with most intercity driving done on undivided highways with one lane in each direction and limited overtaking opportunities. Be prepared to get caught behind slow-moving vehicles, and expect drivers behind you to become impatient if you drive slowly without a reason. If you are driving slowly and traffic builds up behind you, find a safe place to pull over and let them pass.
You can legally drive for up to 12 months if you are at least 18 years old and have a current full driving licence from your home country. You must carry your licence at all times when driving. All drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt, and children must be seated in an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday. Talking or using a mobile phone while driving is illegal. The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is 0. A police officer can pull you over and ask you to undergo a breath alcohol screening test without reason.
Refusing a breath screening test will usually result in arrest. Being caught more than 0.
Some petrol stations in major towns and cities are open 24 hours, with most other manned petrol stations closing by 10PM. Electric vehicles make up around 0. These practical vehicles are often equipped with two or more beds, a kitchenette, a shower and a toilet. They are generally suited for people depending on the size. Some rental companies offer one way rentals so you can start and finish your travel in different locations. New Zealand is a motorbike rider's dream country! Rentals of many makes of motorcycles are available throughout New Zealand. The South Island is the main attraction for a motorcyclist and motorcycle tours base most of their time here.
Remember to bring your full motorcycle licence from your home country; a standard car licence is not suffice to ride a motorcycle in New Zealand. Car rental firms range from the familiar multi-national big brands through to small local car rental firms.
The advantage of the big name rental firms is they can be found throughout New Zealand and offer the biggest and newest range of rental vehicles. The disadvantage is that generally they are the most expensive. Occasionally rental firms offer free rental in the direction from south to north due to the majority of tourists travelling in the opposite direction, creating a deficit of cars in the north.
At the other end of the scale are the small local operators who typically have older rental cars. Whilst you may not end up driving this year's latest model the advantage is that the smaller car rental firms can be substantially cheaper, so leaving you more money to spend on the many exciting attractions New Zealand offers.
Between these extremes you will find a wide range of NZ car rental firms catering to different needs and budgets. Other things to note are that most car hire firms require you to be 21 or over, hold a full licence and it will help if you have an international licence too. New Zealand rental vehicles may come with either a manual stick-shift or an automatic transmission; if you can't drive a manual, make sure to specify an automatic transmission vehicle in advance.
If you have a licence from a non-English speaking country, you will be required to have an official translation of that document to rent a vehicle.
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Some rental car companies do not allow their vehicles on the Cook Strait ferries between the North and South Island, or only allow them on if you promise to return them back to their originating island. Most rental car companies will allow you to drop off a car at one terminal, travel on the ferry and pick up another car at the other terminal at no extra cost. Self-drive holidays are a great way to travel around New Zealand as they offer independence, flexibility and opportunities to interact with the locals.
If you want to have an extended holiday in New Zealand and you would prefer to have your own transport, it may be cheaper to buy a car or van and resell it just before leaving. If you use this method, travel across Cook Strait can be expensive. However, if you buy your car in Christchurch, tour the South island and then travel North to sell in Auckland, you can take advantage of the buyers market in Christchurch and the sellers market in Auckland and possibly even make a small profit.
In addition to the usual ways to look for a car newspapers, accommodation noticeboards, car markets etc. New Zealand's biggest on-line auction website Trademe have many listings. You can also try the backpackers car market where there are usually people selling their cars off cheaply. Car auctions can also be a suitable option if you are looking to buy a car.
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Turner's Auctions have regular auctions and are based in many cities. Look out for "Repo" auctions, where the cars being sold are as a result of repossession. Should any previous ownership problems have existed, these will have been resolved before auction commences. It is very important to notify the NZTA if you are selling since this limits your liability for any subsequent costs overdue licence fees, speed camera tickets, etc.
Other obligations as a vehicle owner include paying the licence fees "rego" and having a current Warrant of Fitness WoF. Third party insurance to cover your liability in an accident is not mandatory but is highly recommended. The Accident Compensation Corporation ACC automatically covers you for personal injuries in car accidents see Stay healthy below for more information. Both Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services.
Auckland's network is managed by Auckland Transport , and has four lines spreading from Britomart station in the city centre to Swanson in the west, Onehunga in the southwest, Papakura and Pukekohe in the south, and Manukau in the south-east; there is no rail to the North Shore or to eastern Auckland. Wellington's network is managed by Metlink , and has four lines spreading north from Wellington station serving Wellington's northern suburbs, Porirua , the Kapiti Coast as far north as Waikanae , Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt. A fifth service, the Wairarapa Connection, travels several times daily to Masterton in the Wairarapa via Upper Hutt and the 8.
Long distance passenger-rail services are slow and limited in New Zealand, and are largely used for tourism purposes rather than as actual practical travel options, with the bulk of New Zealand's rail traffic being used for freight transport. Inter-city passenger services are operated by KiwiRail Scenic Journeys , with just a few popular tourist services that pass through spectacular scenery and have a running commentary, panoramic windows and an open-air viewing carriage.
The online booking site maximises overseas revenue by only showing the cheapest fares when it detects that you are accessing it from a New Zealand IP address. You may be able to get these cheaper fares if you wait until you arrive or book by phone. Seating on the Capital Connection is on a first-come-first-served basis and cannot be booked in advance. Most New Zealanders prefer to drive or fly long distances, as train fares are comparatively expensive. However, if time is not an issue, going through New Zealand by train is well worth the price-tag as you get breathtaking views you wouldn't get from a car and can wander around the train while someone else does all the driving - benefits no other mode of transportation offers.
All long distance trains have a dining car and you can pre-order your food and have a look at the menu online. The journey lasts 3. However, the weather and seas in Cook Strait are frequently rough and unpredictable; sailings can be delayed or cancelled due to stormy weather, while others can quickly turn from a Mediterranean cruise into a spew-fest. Make sure you pack essentials for every possible weather situation in your carry-on luggage; you can't return to your car once the ferry has left port.
The ferry terminal at Picton is close to the railway station, and the Coastal Pacific train connects with Interislander sailings. It is essential to book vehicle crossings in advance. The busiest period is from late December to February.
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Foot passenger traffic is also heavy at this time, and it is advisable to book well in advance. Check with your rental car company whether you can take your vehicle on the Cook Strait ferry: some do not allow their vehicles on the ferries but will happily allow you to drop off a car at one ferry terminal and pick up another car at the other terminal at no extra cost. Harbour ferries, for commuters, operate in Auckland and Wellington. A number of communities are served by boat, rather than road, while charter boats are available for expeditions in several places.
There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area. You can bring your own bike or hire one in some of the larger cities. By law, you must wear a helmet while riding, otherwise you may be issued an on-the-spot penalty. When hiring a bike you should be supplied with a helmet. Remember to ride on the left. You cannot ride on motorways in New Zealand - be aware that the Auckland Harbour Bridge between downtown Auckland and the North Shore is a motorway and there is no separate cycle path yet , so you'll have to take a ferry or cycle around the harbour.