Booking Activities in New Zealand.
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- Read the post
- 1The Land of Outdoor Activities.
- 2How to Book Without a Travel Agency?
- 3How to Get the Best Activities for a Lower Price?
- 4Is It Better to Book Online or on Site?
- 5Do We Need to Pay for Every Activity?
- 6Can We Practice Activities During Winter?
- 7Are Activities Essentials for a Great Trip?
The Land of Outdoor Activities.
Hiking is the most famous activity in New Zealand, but the country is also full of bike trails and rivers to explore in a kayak within fourteen National Parks. Even small towns like Queenstown, in the Otago Central region offers an incredible amount of adventure activities like bungee jumping, paragliding, rafting or skydiving (to name a few).
But extreme sports are not obligations, and the more traditional activities are equally interesting.
Descending a river with a jet boat, swimming with dolphins or taking sunbathes on the beach, everything is possible in this country blessed by the gods. But for more relaxing holidays you might as well make the tour of wine cellars, or visit a geothermal spa in Rotorua.
Anyway, with 3,000 km of deserted beaches, New Zealand is a paradise so vast that you cannot imagine seeing everything in few weeks. While many outdoor attractions are free, others are paying and your budget may increase dramatically.
New Zealand is a unique playground where you can practice any kind of activity.
So I'll give you tips to book your activities online without paying any travel agency fees. But if this article is mainly devoted to the solutions to pay less, the main activities to practice in New Zealand are discussed in detail in an entire section of Kiwipal.
How to Book Without a Travel Agency?
New Zealand is perhaps far away, but you can easily book any your activities on the Internet or directly on location like you would do in your own country.
Why should you pay more for a booking which you can do by yourself in just a few minutes? This is even more obvious when you realize that a travel agency won't give you access to any promotions! Of course, this implies for you to know which are the best activities in New Zealand and the websites' addresses to book online.
This is where Kiwipal intervenes and offers free guides for each type of activity recommended in New Zealand, with the list of the best organizers and their contact information.
You can also improvise on the spot depending on the weather.
The tourist offices called "iSite" in New Zealand are present throughout the country and the competent staff can book activities for free to help you.
Please note that Kiwipal do not denigrate the work of travel agents because they work like anyone else. But if you want to pay your trip at a more decent price, it is now possible to book directly without intermediaries to spare travel agencies' fees.
How to Get the Best Activities for a Lower Price?
The only complaint that one can address to New Zealand concerns the price of the activities on location. The tourism boom even increased the rates, and if the best activities still worth the money you invest, some prices are disproportionate! Fortunately, the dollar prices are less frightening when converted into euros or American dollars.
Therefore, if you want to experience an unforgettable paying activity such as skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba diving or paragliding, your budget can turn red in no time.
This is why you need to know some tricks to reduce your expenses, especially if you travel during the high season (December to February).
Of course, these tips are only available if you book your trip all by yourself, without the help of a travel agency.
The tips for saving money
You can almost always expect to get a better price by booking through the internet. This is the first golden rule to know. Another tip is to book morning activities because they are less crowded and therefore less expensive (usually 10% less expensive). Of course, this assumes you have the will to get up early during your holidays ...
Most paying activities are sold cheaper on the internet than on location.
And if you do not have the opportunity to connect to the Internet, I recommend getting the flyers available for free in hotels, campsites, or airports, because there are coupons to exchange against immediate reductions, including in restaurants.
By summing these few simple tips, you may earn 20% of discounts on all the activities of your stay.
And in a country where the best activities often cost over $100, all economies are good to take.
If several activities interest you within the same region, you should always consult the official websites of the closest cities, because they frequently offer some “combo activities”. But getting a lower price is not always a good thing, since one must be very motivated (or very young) to enjoy a Bungee jumping followed by a rafting tour and a jet boat excursion on the very same day...
There are discounts for families and you can also negotiate prices downward if you travel within a group.
Other companies consent to grant reductions if the number of participants is important. If you travel with a group of friends of at least five people, you should always ask for a group discount price, usually synonymous with a reduction from 5 to 10%.
For rentability purposes, some helicopter trips are cheaper if all the spaces on board are booked. Therefore, if you meet other travelers wishing to fly over the country, you should jump on the occasion and join them to save money.
Daily promotions on booking.co.nz
The bookme.co.nz website (famous in New Zealand but not among tourists) is a must because it offers major reductions on many popular activities.
Thanks to Bookme, I booked several times the famous Queenstown's Shotover jet for half its regular price. But some stronger discounts even reach 80% when it comes to deals offered at the last minute or during the low season when companies cut off their prices.
Do not be mistaken, if the home page of the Bookme website gives the impression of being mainly devoted to the city of Queenstown, this is not the case and there are promotions for activities all across the country.
Promotions are often valid for 24 hours, and the Bookme website is to be checked regularly during your stay. But beware, because the most interesting offers are booked in the minute! If you find a paragliding activity for $50 instead of $150, I advise you not to miss your chance!
The success of bookme.co.nz is such that reductions may disappear after only few minutes online... which means that you must take fast decisions!
Bookme allows you to spice to your trip, giving you the opportunity to book great activities at the last minute and for an unbeatable price. You should take the time to visit the website to check if there are discounts on some activities you plan to do, including cruises on the famous Milford Sound.
How about buying a discount card?
For completeness, I must mention the discount cards that are sold or distributed as gifts by tour operators.
The number of activities available with these cards is far too limited, and if the announced rebates do exist, they cannot compete with the promotions of a site like bookme.co.nz
If you are offered a discount card for free, you can take it, of course, but I do not advise you to pay for it.
Booking by yourself on the Internet is a piece of cake, and it is even better to remain master of your itinerary to seize the best opportunities on the fly.
Is It Better to Book Online or on Site?
If you travel during the high season (December to February), I would recommend booking far in advance, because the most popular activities are often fully booked in New Zealand. Do not expect to swim with dolphins or joining a guided kayak tour at the last minute.
However, during the low season (March to November), one can book on the very same day or preferably the day before. Of course, the weather will be less hot than in summer, but you'll have the whole country for you alone with the cheapest rates. Butthis is a radical solution, probably too hard to take for a first stay in New Zealand.
But whatever the season, I advise you to always book through the Internet where competition play is in your favor. Because if professionals accept to give online promotions, they have no reason to lower their prices as soon as you pass the door of their establishment with your family and a full wallet in your hand!
Regardless of the season, any activity will cost you less if you book on the Internet.
Is it, however, absolutely necessary to book far in advance during the high season? I suggest not to book everything, but only the essential activities that are likely to be full. You can also keep a budget for some extra activities to be chosen on location, at the last minute.
Is it possible to cancel bookings?
Most activities canceled due to weather conditions are fully reimbursed by the majority of the organizers.
There are a few exceptions! Thus, a rafting tour will not be canceled due to rain because one gets wet anyway during the activity.
Rather than refunding you, some organizers may suggest a schedule change. For example, a paragliding instructor can offer you a different time slot if the fog lifts. But you can refuse and get your money back if you prefer...
Nevertheless, each company is free to define its own refund policy, and to avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is necessary to subscribe a good travel insurance that covers cancellation for any legitimate reason.
Do We Need to Pay for Every Activity?
Most travelers are satisfied with a few classic activities. They book the cruise on the Milford Sound, an Abel Tasman guided kayak tour or a Maori dinner show which is, alas, the usual cultural alibi in the catalog of so many travel agencies.
On could say that if the travel agencies only suggest paying activities, this is because they survive thanks to the commissions. After all, they must live like anyone else, but most of the activities of the country are free or charged only a few dollars on location.
You might even perfectly visit New Zealand without spending a single penny in activities but achieve a great trip anyway. The hikes are free, except for a few great walks over several days and for which you have to pay for access to the huts.
Paying activities are not mandatory in a country where hiking is free.
Of course, jet boat tours or kayak trips with a guide are not cheap. But these activities only represent a fraction of your budget. Many activities are cheap, like bike rentals which anyone can afford, no matter the global budget.
This is why, without planning your itinerary minute by minute, I recommend you organize your trip in New Zealand seriously.
Don't believe those who claim that a trip must be improvised to be great, because they will miss so many wonders and spend much more money than the organized people.
Can We Practice Activities During Winter?
It goes without saying that the practice of outdoor activities largely depends on the weather. The latitude of New Zealand could presage freezing temperatures, but the country has a wide variety of climates.
The summer is very pleasant, and the mild winters have maximum temperatures between 14 and 12 degree celsius from north to south.
Under these conditions, you shall not visit the country with just a t-shirt during the low season, but you won't dress like a South Pole explorator.
By superimposing three layers of light clothing, you should feel comfortable even during the coldest winter months.
Of course, I would not say that one must absolutely visit New Zealand in winter or even during early spring. But a trip during the low season (far less crowded) allows to lower the budget, with savings of at least 20% on hotel rooms, vehicle rentals and, of course, the activities!
Because tourism professionals always cut their prices when the waves of Australian and Asian tourists are leaving New Zealand.
Skiing in New Zealand is a must because if stations are smaller than in Europe or America, the magnificent scenery largely compensates. However, some great walks will be closed during the winter months and won't be available until spring.
Those that remain accessible may require the presence of an expert guide or a more appropriate equipment (like crampons at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing).
Of all water sports, only sea kayaking and surfing in combination are available during the low season.
However, you can always swim in the many hot springs of the country. Dig a natural spa in the sand of Hot Water Beach, and a spring water at 64° C will fill it and allows you to relax, even in the heart of winter.
In reality, it's not really the climate that is a problem in winter, because even if it is colder outside, the weather is even sunnier than in spring.
It is rather the low attendance which forces tour operators and many professionals of the tourism to stop their activities until customers return.
Fortunately, professionals who maintain their activities are more relaxed than during the high season when they are overstretched.
The contact will be warmer, and you will learn more about the country's history with a guide than during an old Maori dinner show repeated again and again.
Even in winter, New Zealand remains the country for outdoor activities and extreme sports. You can still go hiking in beautiful surroundings, because the majority of the countries' trees do not lose their leaves in winter. The animals do not take vacations, and you'll take the same number of pictures no matter the season.
Are Activities Essentials for a Great Trip?
It would certainly be regrettable to visit New Zealand without trying at least some activities, but no one compels you, and you don't have to justify yourself about how you prefer to spend your holidays.
A strenuous mountain hike is not the only way to admire the landscapes of dreams. There are endless short walks that offer spectacular views without the need to climb up steep paths.
Going around Lake Wanaka without hurry by bike creates some unforgettable memories, especially if you make a visit in a vineyard.
But you might as well opt for a tour of the wine cellars with a guide who drives the car for you...
You can enjoy your trip to try a new activity, but this is not mandatory.
Similarly, you can take surf lessons or enjoy a cocktail on the beach; swim with dolphins or simply admire them from the deck of a beautiful sailboat; going down the Auckland Sky Tower by jumping into the void hooked to a cable or via the elevator like most people ...
Each traveler can visit the country at his own pace and yet enjoy his vacation. Remember that each type of activity is covered in detail in an exhaustive guide, and we will be happy to advise you on Kiwipal.
If you have questions right now, I invite you to contact our friend Ben in his FAQ section below (and inside every article on Kiwipal). Have a nice trip to New Zealand!
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? New Zealand is the country of outdoor activities, but you still have to know how to choose a season for your holidays! Do not hesitate to ask questions about your favorite activities.
- All topics ... 24 answers in total
- The Budget for Activities 8 answers
- Activities by Season 7 answers
- The Types of Activities 5 answers
- Security 4 answers
The Budget for Activities
- What budget for activities?
It all depends on what you like to do! If cycling is your passion, you will spend only a hundred dollars for the rental, but if you are dreaming of parachuting or swimming with dolphins, the budget can climb to several hundred dollars.
- What are the must-do activities?
This is a very subjective issue, but I consider hiking and biking as the two great activities of New Zealand. Nevertheless, all the activities are represented in the country, and you just have to follow your dreams.
- What are the cheapest activities?
Most hikes are free in New Zealand, and you will pay only if the activity is organized or supervised by a tourism professional.
- Is it imperative to book the activities?
All popular activities are likely to be fully booked during the high season between December and February. It is therefore recommended booking the main activities such as swimming with dolphins, parachute jumping and even kayaking in Abel Tasman Park.
- Is it possible to cancel a booking?
Yes, as soon as the organizer foresees the cancellation in its conditions of sale. Penalties apply if you cancel within a few days before the booking date.
- Can we book the activities far in advance?
Yes, because the booking does not present any difficulty when it takes place via the Internet. Some promotional sites such as bookme.co.nz issue you with countermarks to present to the organizer of the activity.
- Do I need to speak English to book activities?
If the website of the organizer is not available in French, it is actually better to master English to reserve certain activities. But you can also ask an anglophone friend to help you if necessary, because you have everything to gain.
- Can we book activities online?
Yes, because you no longer need a travel agency to book activities online. You can take advantage of discounts, or last-minute promotions.
Activities by Season
- Can we visit New Zealand in winter?
Yes, because it allows to save about 20%on the budget compared to holidays during summer time. New Zealand is a country where most trees do not lose their leaves in winter, and the landscapes remain beautiful, no matter what the season.
- Can we visit New Zealand in autumn?
Yes, and it allows to enjoy mild temperatures in a country liberated from hordes of tourists. Some regions such as Central Otago, for example, are even more beautiful at this time of year.
- Can we visit New Zealand during spring?
The spring weather is quite unstable, but the country is still deserted by tourists, and you will practically have New Zealand for yourself all alone.
- Should we absolutely visit New Zealand in summer?
This is absolutely not mandatory, but nonetheless recommended if you want to swim and enjoy the most pleasant temperatures of the year.
- Can we hike in winter?
Yes, but some trails are less maintained in winter by volunteers, while others may be closed or require the presence of an experienced guide. The snow-capped Tongariro Alpine Crossing imposes a more complete equipment with an ice ax and special crampon shoes.
- Is there a season to avoid at all costs?
No, but I nevertheless recommend visiting the country between November and March for a first stay. If you live in Europe, you will exchange a few weeks of autumn or winter for the sunny summer of the antipodes.
- What is the best time to visit the country?
The months from December to February that correspond to the New Zealand summer are obviously recommended for a first stay. But I invite you to consider seriously the month of March, because the frequentation falls in the beginning of the autumn and the weather remains pleasant, which makes it an excellent compromise.
The Types of Activities
- What are the best hikes in the country?
Each hiker has his preferences, but the most beautiful hikes are often associated with the famous "Great Walk" of New Zealand. The Milford Track and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are, in my humble opinion, the most spectacular hikes in the country.
- Are the hikes free in New Zealand?
Hiking is usually free, but there are exceptions for large multi-day walks with limited access to a maximum number of participants. In this case, you must pay the reservation on the website of the Department of Conservation (DOC).
- Can we ride a bike in New Zealand?
New Zealand has hundreds of kilometers of bike trails crossing the country from North to South. There are also "bike parks" in Queenstown or Rotorua for mountain bikers.
- Can you ski in New Zealand?
You can ski in the beautiful ski resorts of the South Island or on the side of the volcanoes of the North Island. The ski areas are not as extensive as in Europe, but the beauty of the scenery makes all the difference.
- Can we go diving in New Zealand?
New Zealand has great diving spots, including the Poor Knight Islands which was featured in the top 10 of the famous Commander Cousteau.
- What are the activities at risk in the country?
Contrary to what one might think, it is not extreme sports such as bungee jumping that mobilize the intervention of rescuers. Sprains are the most classical accidents. It is up to you to remain cautious during your outdoor activities.
- What should be done in the case of accident?
Keeping your calm is vital, and one must call the 911 by telephone. In addition, there are practical sites such as Outdoor Intention that allow you to indicate a route in advance in order to trigger an emergency signal automatically if you do not report your presence at the agreed time.Outdoor Intention
- Should travel insurance be purchased?
I consider the travel insurance as indispensable, whatever the duration of the stay. For information on the types of insurance suitable for a stay in New Zealand, I recommend reading our special insurance guide.
- Are there activities that are not recommended?
The only activities advised against are those for which there is a danger for your health, or those for which you do not know your limits. To embark on a great hike like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing if one is not at all sporting is obviously discouraged.
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