Need to get away, like really get away? If you’re planning a last-minute trip this month or next, or maybe sometime in early fall, we’ve got just the destination. It must be far away, but New Zealand is one of the most fun places on earth. There are so many reasons to visit this island, especially during the off-season when the best spots are less crowded (and less expensive too!). Head across continents and before you know it, you’ll be swinging into the Kiwi spirit and doing something crazy.
Did you know that New Zealand is the birthplace of bungy jumping? New Zealand is also the home of naked rugby (really!) and zorbing—where you and your closest mates climb into a big plastic ball and bounce down a huge, bumpy hill. For the quieter sort, jet boating, glacier climbs and multi-day hikes through some of the most incredible forests and challenging trails on earth are an everyday pastime. And what’s a holiday without vino? On this trip, don’t forget to stay at vineyards and trek the Classic Wine Trail that runs through both the North Island and South Island. Ready to hop on a plane? Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT NEW ZEALAND IN THE OFF-SEASON
Save Some Cash During what’s known as shoulder season—April to May and September to October—expect to travel at a much lower cost than high season. Airfare is often reduced or on sale and tour operators, hotels, lodges and bed & breakfasts offer special rates. And you can often play a round of golf at a world-class course for less than you would expect. Rates are frequently discounted by up to 25% and some special packages offer you the opportunity to book travel, accommodation and tours together to save even more.
Avoid the Crowds Not only do hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to New Zealand in the high season—November to March—but Kiwis also love to vacation in their own backyard. This can make some of the popular regions very crowded during the summer months. By visiting during the shoulder season, you are likely able to get reservations in some great restaurants, have your pick of hotels or B&Bs and make last-minute decisions about which activity to enjoy without worrying that it will be sold out.
Interact with the Locals Love drinking? Who doesn’t. For those interested in New Zealand’s wine, microbreweries or coffee culture, shoulder season could mean that the wine or beer maker or head roaster has time to chat with you at their cellar door, pub or coffee shop. Kiwis are passionate about what they do and a conversation with locals will be one of the highlights of your visit. Plus, there’s all that Maori culture.
Enjoy the Weather Visiting during shoulder season, you may experience the beautiful weather of summer or feel the fresh chill of autumn or the first bursts of spring arriving. Depending on where you are, you might even get to experience the final or first winter snowfall. Many lodges, hotels and B&Bs, along with some restaurants and pubs, have wood-burning fireplaces—so get cozy and enjoy a glass of excellent New Zealand wine.