Our winter is their summer, so if you want to go this winter, it’s time to plan. Air New Zealand offers the best prices — about $1,200 (economy) from L.A. or San Francisco, and the 13-hour nonstop was smooth, with excellent service. Nicer hotel and lodge rooms tend to fill up, but three weeks before we left, acceptable accommodations remained.
New Zealand is known for its lamb (home to 10 times as many sheep as people), beef, dairy and fish. And you have to try at least one Marmite sandwich (like Vegemite of “Land Down Under” song fame). Domestic beers are very good, and domestic wines — red and white — are delicious, with the sauvignon blanc topping the list.
It’s a low-key, outdoorsy country, so take casual, comfortable clothes — no coat and tie — and good walking and hiking shoes (the country has incomparable hiking tracks). Plan on purchasing sunscreen and bug repellant when you arrive. And take your polarized sunglasses. Drink water — the sun is hot, and it’s easy to become dehydrated.
Driving — a great way to see the spectacular and varied scenery — is on the left, and two-lane highways are in good shape, but narrow and often without shoulder. We didn’t need a GPS.
If you’re fishing, visit any of a variety of websites to find out what you need, including pants that keep the briars and brush off your legs and non-felt shoes that prevent the spread of bio-organisms. I got everything we needed at the International Angler in Crafton. I’d recommend hiring fishing guides. You can find them online for the counties you want to visit. The two we used on the South Island — Chris Bell in the Canterbury region and Tony Entwistle, an old pro and excellent teacher in the Nelson region — can be reached by email at and .