Frequently asked questions

Greetings!

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are meant to address queries that our potential clients may have as they look to visit New Zealand with family and friends. There is a lot of information that can be found on the Internet about New Zealand, golf, and travel. However we hope that through our services you will find value in cutting through the noise. 

Our specialty is avoiding locations with high tourism pressure because we want to deliver Kiwi authenticity and an overall high return on the investment of your time! The length of your holiday is finite and you should use that time to soak up as much experience and memories as possible- leaving the mundane planning and details to our experts.

Nearly one-third of US travelers are likely disappointed with or indifferent to their destination experience. Delivering the right experience means we match to your needs, stay within budget and use accommodations which are often not the common places usually found on the internet. Our direct relationships and in-country experience differentiate the service that our staff provides from those that may offer New Zealand as an augmentation or as a side project.

Why do you use Avis only for rental cars?

In New Zealand Avis is the largest car rental company, internationally recognized, with a reputation for reliable service, and a well-maintained fleet of cars. When landing at Auckland airport the Avis rental cars are conveniently located outside of the airport doors. With other car rental companies, although the per-day rate may be lower, the quality of the cars may be significantly older, and the location of the rental kiosk requires an additional shuttle. Saving the 30 minutes each way may not seem significant, but the convenience is just one of the small things our team thinks about as we help you construct your best use of time and ease while in New Zealand

Why do you use Air New Zealand versus other major airlines?

Recently there has been significant competition for airlines in New Zealand as both United Airlines (a partner of Air New Zealand) and American Airlines introduced routes from the United States. Best of New Zealand has been an Air New Zealand partner for many years due to the quality of its service and safety. As US-based carriers continue to eliminate loyalty benefits it may make sense even for the most loyal flyers to book with us and Air New Zealand, as points can be more easily used for domestic flights and the service for an international flight is truly the level we expect for travel. Feedback from clients also has been extremely positive, as the attendants on Air New Zealand are Kiwis and the pride and service extends the hospitality of the country from the moment you step onto the plane

What are some of the biggest surprises in terms of travel for the first-time visitor to New Zealand?

The varied terrain and beauty of the country speaks for itself, but in the United States many of us often forget about a time when travel did not consist of the stress associated with modern urban centers (navigating rush hour traffic, the hassle of long TSA lines, etc.)

  • Many who visit New Zealand for the first time equate the country to “going back in time.” An example of this is that domestic flights consist of checking bags and walking straight to the gate. TSA does not exist in New Zealand.

  • Driving is also done on the left side – often on two way roads. When is the last time you crossed a river on a single lane bridge? This sounds daunting until you realize you have not seen another vehicle on the road for the last 20 minutes.

  • For golfers looking for an “iced tea” after a round... there is none. New Zealanders, like the British, take their tea seriously and with ceremony. They do not put ice in their tea!

  • Some courses in New Zealand have an honesty box. Simply put the greens fees into the slot and tee up!

Doesn't a travel agent add significant cost? With the internet can't I find less expensive flights and accommodations?

This question comes down to two main points:

1) The Best of New Zealand provides a service to clients who value our expertise and relationships in New Zealand

In exchange for the time and thought we devote to the creation of a detailed and custom itinerary (taking into account unique needs and desires) our clients commit to using our services to secure their reservations (accommodations, rental cars, activities, tee times, airfare, etc.)

  • Value: People are busy with their daily lives. Rather than delving into the details of the New Zealand holiday our clients set the "strategy" and convey their needs. Our team works through the details and provides sage advice. The result is a more efficient use of our client's spare time and an increase in the probability of a more enjoyable trip.

2) The Best of New Zealand buys at negotiated rates and passes significant savings, often below retail rates, to our clients. 

In exchange for selling their accommodations, airline, rental car, etc. our company receives "wholesale" pricing. We then provide line-by-line retail pricing to our clients and run our business on the difference between the two numbers. In the end clients will not pay anything out of pocket above what they would normally pay by making direct reservations themselves. So it's sort of a no-brainer to use our service, right?!

Note! Sometimes clients will find a low-cost price on a property that we do not use... or wish to use airline points on an airline with which we do not have a relationship. That is a-ok with us! There are plenty of low-cost rental car companies that will also probably rent a car in New Zealand with 83k miles on the speedometer. Net, you may be able to find better prices outside of the partners we have vetted! 

Our partners are chosen for different reasons. Some represent a balance of cost/value while others represent super-luxury. All however maintain good business practices and offer reliable service, convenience, comfort. We also have personally stayed and visited the properties on a regular basis to ensure they are up to The Best of New Zealand standard.

Do I need Best of New Zealand to have a good time in New Zealand?

No. If you have the time to research and book your own trip you can have a good experience in New Zealand. It's a wonderful country and there are many readily available activities to experience that can be booked off an internet page. You may also leave the country wondering if you could have had an even better time. Keep in mind that the information you read online is not customized for you and is available globally. Thus, your experience may be tailored more toward a common denominator and less authentic than if you had trusted advice.

A trip to New Zealand may not be insignificant in cost nor time allotted to the trip. Our team's job is to increase your chances of having a better time than if you had planned the trip alone. We strive to deliver a trip that is more focused on an authentic Kiwi experience without losing sight of the balance we need to strike to customize budget, time and tastes for each client.  

How do I know if Best of New Zealand offers trusted advice and understands what they are doing?

Call or email us. The easiest way to vet our services is to bring us your initial thoughts and a budget for your trip. We will continue to post references on our web pages, Facebook, etc. but we have been in business for over 25 years and would not be a viable entity if we could not deliver.

There are a lot of travel agencies out there, what separates you?

Our team consists of a mix of people from Kiwis to Americans... but all are well traveled and visit NZ on a regular basis (at least annually for everyone in the office) in order to consistently vet accommodations and maintain direct relationships and experiences. When we craft an itinerary we are doing so from our own first-hand experience.

There are some agencies for which New Zealand is a small piece of the portfolio, if not just a page on a website. For our team New Zealand commands our full attention, as it is our primary focus. We multiply our expertise because, at any given point, someone on our staff is either in-country or planning a familiarization/site inspection. This allows us to stay on top of the latest properties while ensuring that those we recommend remain up to par with the expectations of our clients.

Why do I need Best of New Zealand Golf to book a tee time in New Zealand?

You don't! With enough time and patience you can book tee times yourself. However, planning golf around a larger trip can be a hassle and requires a lot of specific knowledge in the country. Your time is finite. 

Ultimately we feel that our service provides a higher quality trip than what one may do over the internet because online research is likely going to end up sending travelers to places targeted for tourists. The advantage our team has is that we have been in business for over 25 years and talk all the time with proprietors of smaller and more authentic Kiwi properties. In terms of golf, there are lesser known, but still excellent courses to play during your stay, that are located close to B&Bs, boutique hotels and country homes which we use.  

What are the people in New Zealand like?

Of the 4.5m people who call themselves New Zealanders most are of British descent. The indigenous people, the Maori, comprise about 14% of the population. A rich blend of Maori custom and tradition exist today and can be viewed and experienced throughout the country. New Zealander's proudly call themselves "Kiwis," a term that bonds the multicultural society that is emerging today.

Feedback from our clients and personal experience is that Kiwis tend to be friendly, generous, direct and see things in a very practical manner. Many are active in helping in terms of community and country. Remaining humble is a common trait and arrogance is not tolerated. It's amazing that for such a small country NZ has a history of production and results on the world stage: dominant in rugby, political stability, world-class wine, America's Cup sailing, acting, and rights relating to social issues.

We strongly urge when you visit New Zealand to consider the experience as a whole and not to see the country from the window of a hotel that looks like the same room you could have in any other city. It will separate your time and create more lasting memories.

What are a few facts about New Zealand that I may want to know?

  1. There are no snakes in NZ... unlike Australia which is filled with all sorts of stuff.

  2. A Kiwi is a flightless bird native to New Zealand. Natives call themselves “Kiwi's” as a result. There is also a fruit called the Kiwifruit but this actually came from China in the early 1900's..

  3. Made up of two large and hundreds of smaller islands most of the country is near the sea. In fact no matter where you go you are always within about 80 miles of the water.

  4. The first man to climb Mt. Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, was from New Zealand!

  5. Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world.

  6. New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote (In 1893) and women have held many high office seats, including Prime Minister

  7. One third of the country is protected national park

  8. The population of New Zealand is about 4.5 million people and 75% of them live on the North Island.

  9. Rugby is the national sport. The All Blacks are the center of much conversation and the economy takes a dip when the team loses.

What are the Passport and visa requirements to visit New Zealand?

All visitors to New Zealand require a valid passport. Your passport should be valid for at least three months after your departure from New Zealand. U.S. Passport holders do not require visas to visit New Zealand for a stay of less than 3 months.

When is the best time of the year to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand is an ideal vacation destination year round. Peak Season runs from October through April and it is advisable to book well in advance for this time to ensure availability. New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, the warmest months being December through February, and the coldest June through August.

When is the best time of the year to play golf in New Zealand?

Many people take advantage of the long summer (Jan/Feb) twilights, especially on the South Island, which enables golfers to enjoy a full round even after dinner. When looking to visit the country in the winter time (July/ August) the better locations are on the top of the North Island. Average temperature during the day in the Northland is roughly 60 degrees F.

Many New Zealand clubs have members and are open to non-members as well. Usually Saturday mornings are reserved for club members

Can I use my credit cards/ATM cards in New Zealand?

All major credit cards are accepted in New Zealand. You can use debit cards and credit cards encoded with a PIN number to withdraw cash from ATMs situated at banks and shopping centers, and to pay for petrol (gasoline), etc. Travellers checks are accepted at hotels, banks, and some stores.

Is it safe to drink the water in New Zealand?

Tap water is fresh and safe to drink in all New Zealand cities and towns. Bottled water is available throughout the country as well.

What is the voltage of electricity in New Zealand and do I need to take a converter?

Electricity in New Zealand is 230/240 volts, although many hotels and motels provide 110-volt AC sockets for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Power outlets only accept flat 3-pin or 2-pin plugs, depending whether an earth connection is fitted.

What does it cost to travel to New Zealand?

This is a difficult question to answer – kind of like asking how much does it cost to buy a car. It all depends on what your budget and expectations are, your interests and activities, the type of accommodation you are looking for, the time of year you visit, the duration of your stay, to name a few. Currency exchange rates fluctuate as well, and will affect the cost of goods and services.

What is B&B (Bed and Breakfast)? What can I expect?

New Zealand offers a wide-ranging selection of Bed & Breakfast and self-contained accommodations, which vary from luxurious to basic. The Best of New Zealand works with select establishments to guarantee personal service and your comfort. In general expect a clean, comfortable sleeping arrangement in a B&B which would have anywhere from 3-6 rooms. Usually a cooked English breakfast will be included as well as pre-dinner canapés (appetizers and a glass of wine or two). Think anywhere from USD $300- $600/ night for accommodation cost.

What is your definition of Luxury accommodations?

Luxurious accommodations usually start price-wise at USD $750+ per night. You can expect a high level of build material, quiet room that will open to a view and personal service from the owner/operator of the establishment. Many luxury accommodations will offer dining as part of the cost. This is something to take into account as you consider whether to experience nightlife/ local restaurants and location.

What is your definition of Super Luxury accommodations?

Super luxurious accommodations will cater to the highest levels of individual requirements and provide service on par with that which is expected from similar accommodations around the world. These locations start at over USD $2000 per night per person and can range into multiples of tens of thousands per night.  

What is it like to drive in New Zealand?

To an American, New Zealanders drive on the “wrong” [left] side of the road. This takes a little getting used to upon landing so if driving, be sure to take time to situate yourself with the flow of traffic prior to exiting the airport.

Exploring the back roads of New Zealand appeals to many and is often compared to stepping back to a time without massive 7 lane highways. New Zealand is diverse in its terrain, so that means that roads are often hilly, winding, and narrow single-lane in each direction. Drivers should allow plenty of time to get from point A to point B. 

For those who are not thrilled with the idea of driving, there are options for comfortable transportation to whisk you and your group between locations. It all depends on budget, appeal of the clients and desire for convenience.

How expensive is New Zealand?

The exchange rate has a lot to do with the cost of goods and services. The Best of New Zealand has preferred rates with many hotels and lodges, car rental companies, fishing outfitters, golf clubs, and vendors of adventure activities, etc. and we pride ourselves in securing the best value for our clients.

Golf balls are very expensive in New Zealand as compared with the United States. It is recommended to bring your own.

Are there ‘must visit’ locations in New Zealand?

For fishing, skiing, golfing, adventure, and food & wine enthusiasts there are ‘must visit’ locations on both North and South Island – something for everybody. New Zealand is jam-packed with things to do and Best of New Zealand can help you plan your trip so everything works seamlessly.

I have been to New Zealand in the past, why go back?

With so much to do in New Zealand, there is always something you haven’t yet seen, or experienced, from exploring the magnificent landscapes and coastlines, to adventure activities like kayaking, sailing, rafting, and jet boating. Movie buffs, food and wine enthusiasts, art lovers, and nature and wildlife lovers will find it all in New Zealand.

For those who may have visited the country and seen some of the more populated areas we would encourage you to return and explore some of the less-traveled destinations in the country. Areas which remain relatively untouched still provide the opportunity to feel like you are stepping back in time.

What are cool things (outside of golf) to do in New Zealand?

New Zealand is jam-packed with cool things to do. For fishing, skiing, adventure, and food & wine enthusiasts, art lovers, nature and wildlife enthusiasts, or for those just wanting some R&R, there are multiple locations on both North and South Island – something for everybody, and Best of New Zealand can help you plan your trip so everything works seamlessly.

Is Tipping customary in New Zealand?

Although New Zealand has not been a country of tipping North American tourists have helped change this (most restaurants now have a line for gratuities on the credit card charge slip) and many places not only appreciate but most now expect tips. If you are pleased with the level of service and attention provided, feel free to tip, but do not feel obliged to tip —it should be for outstanding service.

I belong to a local golf club in the United States. Can I use my membership?

Golf clubs throughout the country welcome visitors. If you are a member of a club in the States, you may be afforded reciprocal guest privileges at private clubs. Bringing a letter of introduction from your home club director can be helpful.

What is an Honesty Box?

In New Zealand an “honesty box” is used when the clubhouse is closed and you wish to play. Simply slip your greens fees into the slot in a box provided and away you go. If renting clubs and you are playing early it is not unheard of to find the clubs waiting for you in the morning – having been placed there the night before by the club supervisor. It's New Zealand!

Can I rent clubs in New Zealand?

Most courses will have sets of clubs and trundlers (push carts) you may rent. Golf carts are more prevalent today than a few years ago, as New Zealanders have played the game for exercise traditionally. More players are bringing their own clubs into New Zealand to play. Remember to bring good quality balls with you from the United States, as the price of top quality balls are very expensive in NZ.