Five things you may not know about New Zealand

5 things to know about NZ before you travel

Thinking about visiting me soon? (If not, you should be…)

It’s okay to not know these things. The only unforgivable sin is confusing anything Kiwi with anything Australian. You have been warned.

You may burn to a crisp within minutes

Our ozone layer leaves something to be desired. I’ve not been anywhere else in the world where the sun is so intense.  Slather yourself up before stepping outdoors. The worst for burn time is usually between about 10 and 3 during the day, so if you burn easily, try to stay indoors or well covered up during those hours.

UV aside, our climate is really mild

Crazy mild. Parts of New Zealand are subtropical and most don’t see snow. Here in Auckland, expect a variance of maybe 15 degrees between the height of summer and the depths of winter; 10 is cold, 25 hot (here’s more on temperatures throughout the regions). A lot of visitors land in Auckland during summer and find it chilly – it never gets too hot, really (you may not actually feel the intensity of the sun’s rays until you realise at the end of the day that you’ve picked up a ruddy burn). And our winter isn’t too bad as long as you’re inside an insulated building (a harder ask than you might think). We’re spoiled – if it wasn’t for the rain, we’d have the perfect weather. Everywhere else we’ve been would be too cold for me in winter and too hot for us both (especially T) in summer.

Our water is insanely pure

Clean, delicious and free. Enjoy. (In fact, I think we do pretty well on the beverage front. Our milk is unbeatable. And while I don’t do caffeine or booze, I hear our coffee, wine and even some of our beers are excellent – this ain’t Germany, but our well-travelled friends from Vermont reckon they never had a bad beer in New Zealand.)

The roads take some getting used to

Outside of the most built-up areas they tend to be narrow and windy, and the speed limits are fairly low – think Pacific Coast Highway style. Take it easy and always err on the side of caution. (And yes, we drive on the left hand side.)

Like our roads, the sea is rugged

We have good surf beaches, but watch out for rip tides. The human body is no match for the pull of the ocean. Luckily for you, our surf life guards are pretty world-class.

31 thoughts on “Five things you may not know about New Zealand

  1. Have you been to Portugal or Spain? I wonder if it’s as hot there as in NZ.

    I remember almost burning to a crisp in Portugal and Spain. Going out between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. was a no-go.

    It was SO hot, intense sun, even with a hat and long-sleeved shirts and pants.

    1. Spain/Portugal would be WAYYY hotter than anywhere in NZ, ever. Assume they are similar to Italy/Greece. It doesn’t get HOT here – as I said our temperatures are very mild – but the sun rays are fierce. You may not feel it at the time but you will if later if you get burnt!

  2. The worst burn I’ve ever had developed between 3 and 3:30 pm in January this year. I stupidly didn’t wear sunscreen, thinking that I didn’t have to past 3 and since I was just out for a little while. My skin is STILL damaged in spots. Oh, the things you re-learn, over and over and over again…

    The people from Vermont obviously didn’t try DB Export… 🙂 That said, I’ve heard most beers are quite decent! (I’m not a big beer person.)

    1. LOL. Don’t know if they had DB but they liked Lion Red. So, yeah…

      I guess compared to most (mainstream) American beers though, it’s not hard to win.

  3. New Zealand is definitely on my bucket list! Our speech therapist lived there for two years while her husband was stationed and it sounds beautiful.

  4. Can’t wait to experience NZ. It’s landscape reminds me a lot of western Canada. I burn VERY quickly, Irish skin doesn’t take kindly to the sun. Ideally, I’d like to tour the country by motorcycle.

  5. My parents are heading to Australia and New Zealand next year for two months next year. I will have to tell them to have loads of sunscreen.

  6. I’ve never been to New Zealand but I really really want to make it there. It’s on my bucket list. I miss good water. My parents have really great well water in Maine. Here in the city, who knows what I’m drinking. We buy big bottles of water so we don’t have to drink the city water (which has a red tint-eek).

  7. I would love to visit New Zealand someday. There are too many countries on my list at this point and I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to see them all. The more I hear about NZ, the more I am interested to visit. Our friends just got back from travelling for a year and they said they loved NZ.

  8. Europeans have zero idea about how hot it gets in NZ or Australia. Everytime I hear them say how hot it is, I giggle and say ‘go down under’ then you’ll see. Thanks loads for linking up with us again for #SundayTraveler

  9. I would love to visit NZ! As for that intense sun, the first time we had a family visiting us from NZ here in Croatia, we felt almost sorry seeing our little cousins looking like batmen on the beach. They were the most dressed up kids on the entire beach. But then we’ve learnt that it’s the only smart way to stay under the sun Down Under.

  10. Cool post. NZ is definitely on my to-visit list. Is there a high rate of skin cancer there since the sun is so intense? Or it is one of those things where everyone knows better than to go outside without sun protection?

    1. Yeah it’s the most common type of cancer here and NZ/Aus have the highest rates of it. It’s one of those things we all *know* we should do but often don’t – and as I say the thing is that it doesn’t really get that hot here so it’s easy to forget about UV risks and become complacent… even after 17 years here I still get a sunburn every other year or so. #fail

  11. Burn?! Try being a freckly red-haired kid growing up in NZ! Talk about going through the sunscreen.

  12. New Zealand is definitely exotic destitution with lot of sun and pure water. Your blog made me wanna visit NZ even more.

    But the sun isn’t so powerful in the spring time? Could you let me know which is the best time to visit?

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