My Best Travel Tips for New Zealand

by | Feb 1, 2018 | Asia, New Zealand, Travel Tips | 2 comments

These are my best travel tips for New Zealand:

  • There are no drop-off fees for rental cars
  • There are no security checks are local airports

Combine these tips and it totally changes how you travel in New Zealand.

We were in Rotorua in the North Island. Our next destination was Nelson, in the South Island. It would have taken us all day to get there: a long drive, a long ferry ride and another drive. Not my idea of an ideal day.

My good friend, Tracey, who lives in Wellington, helped us plan our itinerary. She suggested that we ditch the rental car at the airport in Rotorua and fly to Nelson. She told us that there are no-drop-off fees for rental cars when you drop off a car at a different location.

I wondered how much time we would save by flying. Tracey told us that you only need to show up at the airport a half hour before departure time. There are no security checks on flights between local airports. Flying in New Zealand is more like bus travel in Canada. Show up and board the plane when the flight is called. That’s what flying used to be like in Canada, a long time ago.

We gained an extra day in New Zealand by avoiding a long car trip and taking a short flight to Nelson.

We were already in Rotorua before we decided to ditch the car. We did not negotiate a no-drop-off fee when we rented. It was no problem. However, if you are going to do this in New Zealand, it is probably safer to negotiate up front.

We booked our flight to Nelson and enjoyed a final evening in Rotorua without the prospect of an all-day drive the following day.

For our last evening in Rotorua, we decided to book a dinner/dance adventure at Tamaki Māori Village. I was expecting it to be a bit of a hokey tourist attraction but found that I really enjoyed the experience. We had lots of time to talk to the Māori villagers. They were very friendly and happy to share their culture. One told us that they love all the same things we do: smart phones, Facebook, Candy Crush. At the same time, they honour their culture and want to share it with the world.

Here is the link to Tamaki Māori Village:

Tamaki Maori Village

Rotorua, New Zealand

New Zealand’s MOST AWARDED Tourism Attraction

Journey back to a time of proud warriors and ancient traditions with Tamaki Maori Village, the most award-winning cultural attraction in New Zealand. Experience ceremonial rituals, powerful performances and hangi feasting. Learn about the customs, protocols and stories that have been passed through the  generations of time. Welcome to the world of the Maori!

I asked this Māori woman about her tattoo. She laughed and said it was paint. She washes it off at the end of the evening.

After dark, we walked down to the river to see the Māori in their traditional boats

This is another shot of Māori in their boats

This is the water source in the Māori village

The water was absolutely crystal clear. The coloured lights help show the bubbling spring.

They turned off the lights so that we could see glow worms. Glow worms are insects that emit a light in their larval stage. The blinking lights range in colour from white to green, yellow, and orange. They are like stationary fireflies. The forest sparkled with the lights from the glow worms. There are many areas in New Zealand where you can see glow worms. Rotorua is particularly well known for its glow worms. You can do cave tours to see glow worms.

I have seen beautiful photos of glow worms but you need patience and a tripod. I have neither so I have no glow worm photos. Here is a photo from New Zealand tourism:


After our river experience, we gathered in a theatre for a traditional dance performance

A traditional Māori house is small because it is only for sleeping

I was thrilled to see a traditional haka dance

The haka is a traditional war dance in Māori culture.

Haka are also performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals. The haka is widely known around the world because of the New Zealand rugby team (The All Blacks). They perform the haka before international matches. Flashmob haka has became a popular way of expressing support for the All Blacks.

Here is a youtube of the All Blacks:

There are a lot of facial contortions in doing the haka, such as showing the whites of the eyes and sticking out the tongue. Think of haka as a kind of symphony in which the different parts of the body represent different instruments. The hands, arms, legs, feet, voice, eyes, tongue and body combine to express courage, annoyance, joy or other feelings, depending on the occasion.

Here are some viral haka performances:

On 28 August 2012, soldiers from the 2nd and 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment performed a haka for fallen comrades who were recently killed in action in Afghanistan.

In November 2012, a Māori kapa haka group from Rotoua did a Gangnam Style haka in Seoul, celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between South Korea and New Zealand

On 7 December 2014, at the Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup in Dallas, Texax, Team New Zealand performed a haka on roller skates to the Australian Roller Derby team before their bout in the quarter finals.


On 20 July 2015, Dawson Tamatea, a teacher at Palmerston North Boys’ High in New Zealand, died. Hundreds of his students performed a haka at his funeral. In the first month, the posted video had over 6 million views.

After a fabulous evening in the Māori village, we drove to the airport, ditched the rental car and flew to Nelson in the South Island. We picked up a new car at the airport.

We arrived in Nelson in plenty of time to take a stroll along the beach.

This is a great way to fish in comfort

Nelson is the Centre of New Zealand. I know this because it says so on the sign


We loved Nelson. Come back next week and explore Nelson and one of the best museums ever! Think classic cars and out-there fashion, all in one museum. WOW

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray