If the extraordinary panoramic scenes in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" movies filled you with a thirst that only a trip to New Zealand can quench, then it's time to search for airfare and pack your bags. New Zealand's two islands have an alluring range of attractions and an understated charm that seems never to disappoint. Packing for a trip to New Zealand requires no unique ingenuity, although there are particulars -- as you'll find when you travel practically anywhere -- to bear in mind.
Dress for the Weather
New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the farther north you travel there, the warmer the weather. Additionally, the seasons are opposite from those in the Northern Hemisphere. January in New Zealand is equivalent to July in the United States. The far north of New Zealand is subtropical, and you'll want to wear shorts and short sleeves. You need sunblock too, and plenty of it. New Zealand's South Island can be considerably colder; if you travel there in winter, be prepared for temperatures that can drop well below freezing. No matter where and when you travel in New Zealand, bring rain gear. There's a good reason the islands are so lushly green.
You'll be driving on the left side of the road in New Zealand, and the roads are routinely good, if -- particularly in the countryside -- sometimes narrow. New Zealand is accommodating to foreigners; you can drive for a full year on your home country or state driver's license or on an International Driving Permit, either of which you must always have in your possession when you're behind the wheel. If your driver's license is not printed in English, you must carry an English translation of it.
Calling Home, or Anywhere Else
New Zealand is a long way from anywhere. Even Australia, with which it's often associated, is 1,000 miles to the west. The phone that you use at home may be useless in New Zealand. The phone you carry will need to be GSM -- Global System Mobile Communications -- which operates on 900 band frequency. If your phone has a removable SIM card, you may be able to simply sign on with a local NZ provider and switch out the cards. Before you leave home, be sure to learn whether or not your phone is region-locked, which could make it inoperable, no matter the SIM card.
Odds and Ends
You won't need to apply beforehand for a visa to visit New Zealand. Naturally, however, you do need your passport. New Zealand is a thoroughly first-world nation, and medical help is excellent and readily available practically everywhere. If you travel with prescription medicine, bring along the scrip in case you need to refill it. New Zealand isn't cheap. In fact, it's comparatively expensive, so don't forget your cash. It bears repeating that rain gear is a must. Despite a nationwide average of 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, rain falls regularly, and often, throughout the country.