Avoid These Common Mistakes and Faux Pas
You might be the coolest cat in your home country but you might be a bumbling idiot in New Zealand. Harsh words, we know, but this list of mistakes and faux pas to avoid in New Zealand should whip you into shape and get you travel-ready!
1. Not Planning a Trip Long Enough
New Zealand might be a small country but not only does it take a long time to get to (for most of us), but getting around the country is also a bit of a mission. First-time visitors to New Zealand often don’t realise how long it takes to travel between destinations. By the way, it takes about 28 hours to drive from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island with only one stop to take the ferry in between. Considering there is so much to see and do in New Zealand, you will want to spend as much time here as possible. See our travel guide to New Zealand for guidance on how long you should take to visit New Zealand.
2. Relying on Google Maps
Speaking of driving around, another faux pas tourists make in New Zealand is using Google Maps for navigation. While the app is reliable enough in New Zealand’s most developed areas and travelling on the main highways, it is notoriously unreliable for getting to remote places or passing through rural areas. Google Maps will always try to find the quickest way to your destination without it always being the easiest nor the safest. Plan your route first so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
For more road trip tips, see the 12 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand.
3. Not Comparing Prices
Prices can be a little misleading in New Zealand. Firstly, be sure to compare the price per quantity in supermarkets, written in small print below a price tag, to accurately compare prices. More often than not, the “value” pack of a food product actually ends up being more expensive than a normal pack! When buying big-ticket items, like a secondhand car for road tripping, for instance, you can always negotiate the price. Finally, while there doesn’t seem to be much competition in New Zealand, there will be at least one or two other companies, so compare prices and ask to price match.
4. Being Too Negative
Starting a conversation with a negative statement doesn’t set a very good impression in New Zealand. Locals tend to not be comfortable with debating ideas nor controversy or politics, often brushing off awkward topics with a “yeah yeah”…
5. Not Wearing Enough Sunscreen
Without meaning to sound too melodramatic, the sun is something to be feared in New Zealand; not for sunbathing! New Zealand has some of the highest UV levels in the world, which catches many tourists out when they end the day looking like a lobster. Wear at least SPF factor 30, reapply every couple of hours or cover up!
6. Not Waving Down the Bus
Just standing at a bus stop won’t cut it in New Zealand. If you’re wanting to catch a city bus, then you need to wave the driver down! This applies in all towns and cities, but not necessarily at large bus stations or when waiting for the InterCity bus (national bus service).
7. Waiting to Be Served at a Cafe
New Zealand likes to keep things casual, Ok! If you’re dining at a casual establishment, like a cafe or a bar, then you need to get off your bum and order and pay at the counter. Some restaurants will have waiters/waitresses to take your order though. Oh, and tips are not mandatory but appreciated for good service.
8. Not Saving Enough Travel Funds
We’re not going to beat around the bush; New Zealand is expensive. It’s an isolated country where many things have to be imported from afar. Plus, there’s limited competition between businesses. Make sure you’re prepared for how much things are going to cost in New Zealand. What’s more, there are so many amazing things to do in New Zealand that you may find yourself doing spontaneous activities without really being able to afford to.
9. Not Checking Your Change
New Zealand is a card nation. Perhaps this explains why a lot of mistakes are made when it comes to giving change back for cash. And we’re not talking about Swedish rounding, which is an acceptable form of giving back the incorrect change as there are no 1, 2 or 5 cent coins in the New Zealand currency. If someone blatantly gives you the wrong change, however, just be polite about it and you won’t offend.
Just as a side note, New Zealanders call card payments “EFTPOS”.
10. Not Planning a Flexible Enough Itinerary
And ending where we kind of began, a mistake to avoid in New Zealand is not having a flexible enough itinerary! It’s not just about the long drives, which you’ll want to make longer by stopping off at photo stops and attractions, but it’s to allow for the weather. For instance, activities involving helicopters or hiking in alpine regions are rescheduled often due to bad weather. The solution to avoid missing out on your bucket list activities is to spend at least a couple of days in a destination if there is a chance that your activity might be rescheduled.
Watch the Video!
Watch a much less sassy version of these mistakes and faux pas to avoid in New Zealand on YouTube.