New Zealand is a great place and I encourage you to come and visit if you get the chance! In this post I am going to write and list the key places and things to do if you are into the dance music / crazy fun times scene.
The first place you should check out and bookmark is Delicious Music, which has a blog that keeps up to date with all the latest happenings. There is a public forum where any questions you may have will be answered, and loads of 100% free original kiwi electronic music.
Parties / Festivals
Like most places, Summer is the time to come to NZ if you want to experience parties and festivals.
- Luminate Festival - A life style festival at one of New Zealand's most beautiful locations - Canaan Downs. This festival has a thriving electronic and non-electronic music lineup, but also has a great selection of other things to do such as healing, workshops and arts/crafts.
- Kiwiburn - New Zealand's Burning Man Festival. "Kiwiburn is a collective experience. Everybody contributes, everybody pays. As there are no paid performers at the event, there are no spectators and what is shared are the passions and dreams of those who gift them. You cannot "attend" Kiwiburn, but you can be a part of it."
- Alien Nation - One of New Zealand's longest running psychedelic events. I've been going since 2003 and they are still going strong. This is out in the bush and it gets pretty wild! Come and party with the Kiwi crew.
- M.A.S.S.I.V.E Autumn Equinox - Massive are a crew of people who have been throwing parties ever since I was a young teenager. They put on 4 events per year - two equinox parties and two solstices. They always pull a decent crowd and play a mix of all sorts. I recommend going to these parties with everything I've got... regardless of which one you go to, you will have a great time. Locations are always somewhere beautiful outdoors.
- M.A.S.S.I.V.E Winter Solstice - An outdoor party in the middle of winter. This one is cold, and it's been known to snow (depending on the location which changes every year) - but this doesn't stop the crowds from coming. Bring WARM clothes and wet weather gear. Chances you will leave this party covered in mud.
- M.A.S.S.I.V.E Spring Equinox - The largest of the Massive parties, this outdoor event always has a wide mix of music to get stomping to. HIGHLY recommend going to this one. Massive parties are always awesome (I mean it).
- Voyage Festival - An outdoor electronic festival that has grown into something amazing over the last few years. If you like twisted psy, prog, techno, dubstep and glitch, this is the place to get freaky.
- M.A.S.S.I.V.E Summer Solstice - The second largest Massive party... this time it's nice and warm. As usual a great night out and loads of awesome music.
- PHAT - New Zealand's ultimate broken beat/heavy bass New Years party. Always boasting a huge lineup of big names in Drum n Bass and Dubstep. Lots of people and high energy, an absolute must if you like anything with lots of bass.
- Rhythm and Vines - The largest New Years event in NZ. Targeted a little bit more mainstream, Rhythm and Vines brings some of the worlds finest bands and acts to its stage, as well as a strong kiwi lineup! The first place in the world to see the sunrise of the New Year.
- Coromandel Gold - Another New Years event held in the amazing Coromandel. "Throw in fireworks, beer gardens, tasty kiwi food and great tunes"
- Highlife - A New Years party on Waiheke Island (I've spent a lot of time here during my life, it's really beautiful - great if you like wine tasting). It's held on a vineyard and has a wide range of music including House, Funk, Soul, Electro, Dubstep, Hip-Hop, R'nB, Dub, Latin, Jazz and more
- LaDeDa - Another party on a vineyard - La De Da has a big lineup of NZ Bands and DJs.
Tickets? Check http://cosmicticketing.co.nz/
If you are keen on working while you are here, there are a few places online that can help you find work.
http://www.seek.co.nz - probably the largest website that lists jobs of all types.
http://www.seasonaljobs.co.nz - a lot of travelers like to do fruit picking when they come here. If you work hard and fast you can earn quite a lot of cash, and a lot of farms can accommodate you also. Fruit picking around the Golden Bays in the summer is a great way to earn money, meet people and be close to where the good parties are at!
Getting around NZ is fairly easy. It's not a large country, and you can get from the top to the bottom in a few days by land if you need to.
Coaches - The best way to pay in my opinion. Keep an eye on the Naked Bus website which offers the cheapest tickets.
Flights - Flights between the main centers (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) are frequent and pretty cheap. Check Webjet to find the cheapest flight between cities, then go to the official airlines site to book the flight if you want to avoid the fees (or don't if you want to support their service).
For last minute super cheap flights, keep an eye on Grabaseat.
Train - An expensive option! The trains here are more targeted towards tourists with money who want a scenic route. I've never traveled on the trains personally, but they have won awards and are apparently very very beautiful. Check out Tranzscenic
Hitchhiking - hitching as a single male, I've never had a single problem sticking my thumb out in NZ. Most Kiwis are characters and will gladly chat to you if you are interested. Usual caution should be taken obviously, I wouldn't recommend it for solo females, but a pair would be sweet as. If your trained in kung fu however go for it. A few tips...
- It's illegal to be a pedestrian on the motorway, and you'll find the police pretty quickly. The best places to get picked up are usually just before... it can be worth catching a public bus as far as you can towards a motor way and hitching from there.
- If you don't like the person who pulls up, ask them where they are going first then say you are going somewhere else.
- If you're a dodgy looking male, I find reading a book helps get you picked up fast (and is a good conversation starter).
- Try to avoid getting dropped off in any of the Passes, or anywhere where the forest is dense and there are rivers around. We have sand flies over here which are like a cross between a mosquito and a fly, very annoying and can ruin your day very quick if your stuck where they have been breeding. I fucking hate them.
- It's not customary to offer any money, but if you can chip in for petrol it would always be appreciated.
- If you are hitching to a party, find the event on Facebook and make a post that you are after a lift, Kiwi's are super friendly and you will find a ride in no time. Usually chipping in for petrol is the norm.
Tipping - Don't, no one expects it at all. Sometimes taxi drivers will knock some cents off the tab if it rounds down to something simple, and it goes the other way too, if its $19.20, give em twenty and let them keep the change.
Currency - We use New Zealand Dollars and Cents. Our lowest coin is the 10 cent coin, our largest note is the 100 dollar note. Look closely at our 50 dollar notes, they have little purple mushrooms on them hehe.
Bank Accounts - There are few big banks in NZ who are all pretty much the same. The locally owned bank is Kiwibank. I can't really recommend which one to go for here. Westpac is who I am with and I am pretty happy with them. I don't know what you need for an account, you may have to prove that you have been in the country for a certain amount of time so make sure you get your passport stamped at immigration.
Health and Safety
New Zealand has a good healthcare system. If you are sick, check out http://www.nzs.com/health/medical/medical-centres/ for your nearest center.
Poisonous Animals - We don't really have any. There are no snakes, and only two spiders than can give you a decent bite.
- White Tail - These bastards come from Australia. They are usually found in houses wandering around. They are nomads and don't weave a web, instead they cruise around hunting other friendly spiders. They have a distinctive white dot/tail on their ass. If you see one, either kill it or get it far away... their bite can be nasty. I don't think it can kill adults, but if you get bitten I recommend going to see a doctor quickly.
- Katipo - These are endangered so try not to kill them please. It's pretty rare to find one, they live in Sand Dunes and by the ocean. They are little with a sort of hour glass shape on their back. Their bite can be nasty so again, go to a doctor if you get bitten.
Nothing else will kill you here, unless you try to take on a wild Boar with your bare hands or something. Mosquitoes and Sand Flies can be a pain in the ass, so if you go bush, bug repellant is a must.
Sex Stuff - There's the usual sexually transmitted stuff going around so always be safe. HIV is very very low, so is syphilis. Just don't be stupid and you'll be alright. There are free sexual health clinics in NZ, here's a list.
Earthquakes - We get them, sometimes frequently. At the time of this article, a 7.1 quake rocked the south island, and caused lots of damage. If you find yourself in an earthquake, drop to the ground, find cover and hold on. Here is some more information.
Sun - New Zealand has a high rate of skin cancer. We are under the hole in the ozone, and the sun can burn you a lot quicker than most places (including when it is cloudy). It is very important to wear sunscreen and a hat when you are out in the sun. Very important!!!
Drugs are illegal. Avoid doing them. Tom says don't do drugs.
But if you do here's some advice.
- Everything is expensive, prepared to be shocked.
- Don't smoke pot anywhere you will be caught.
- People like to roll their joints with no tobacco here.
- The cops can stop you when your driving and swab your tongue. This picks up nearly everything, so don't take anything and drive.
- There are a wide variety of legal highs available from Cosmic Corner (that actually work).
- BZP used to be legal, but now it's not. If you binge on BZP, be prepared to talk lots and feel like shit for a few days afterwards.
- Trying to buy medicine with Pseudo ephedrine in it will get you checked out. "P" has been a big problem here, and everyone is on lock down to try and stop people making it.
- Magic Mushrooms grow lots of places around Autumn/Winter, however we have mushrooms that will end your life quickly, so don't pick things and eat them without someone experienced having a look. Seriously, people come to NZ and think it's a magical fungi candy land, it's not... don't do it unless you are 100% sure. We have loads of Amanita Muscaria (Those red and white spotty ones that Faries sit on) that people sometimes like to eat, but nearly every year some backpacker is in the newspaper for eating too many, taking off all their clothes and getting lost in the forest overnight. It costs us lots to go find you so please don't be that person.
The safest option is to not do any drugs at all.
The drinking age is 18. If you look under 25 you will get ID'd. The only forms of ID you can produce are
- New Zealand Drivers Licence
- +18 Card
- Current Passport
- NOTHING ELSE will be accepted
Supermarkets are the worst and will ID you every time, even if you have a huge beard and dreadlocks down to your ass.
Good cheap beer
- Tasman Bitter
- Monteiths Original Ale
- Bear Beer
Bad cheap beer (avoid at all costs)
- Double Brown
If you wanna get really smashed on beer go to Harrington's breweries and get a rigger of Ngahere Gold which has 8% alcoholic value. If you get spotted in public drinking it you will be put into "homeless person" category.
Cheapest way to get drunk is Boxed Wine. Boxed wine is called bladder wine or goon sacks. A goon sack usually goes around in the morning after a big night at parties. The best brand in my opinion is Country Medium White or Dry. The coolest person at any party is the person with the goon sack.
Drink driving is stupid and the cops will bust you hard if you get caught, and they like to catch people.
Drinking in some public places is illegal and will get you a large fine. Most city centers have a liquor ban unless you are in a bar or a pub. Don't walk around the streets with an open bottle.
You can only buy Beer and Wine in the supermarkets, for Liquor you will need to go to a Liquor store.
We are well keen on recycling here. We love our green country. There are three bins:
- Red - General Waste (goes to landfill, keep this as low as possible)
- Yellow - Recycling (metal, paper, card, some plastics)
- Green - Organic (Food scraps, things that biodegrade fast and have no chemicals... think composting)
For a comprehensive list of what can be recycled and the symbols, go here http://www.earthodyssey.com/symbolsNZ.html
Wotif seems to have a comprehensive list of hotels and places to stay in NZ
For cheap accommodation check out http://www.bbh.co.nz/
Staying in camping grounds can also be a great option. Most camping grounds have cabins for rent, or hire caravans which can be a lot cheaper than a hotel... and if you have your own tent, even cheaper! You can find a list of camping grounds here.
The Department of Conservation has a bunch of FREE camping grounds in key locations in NZ, including some really unique beautiful spots. You can stay here free of charge for as long as you like (but a donation is encouraged if you can!). These places have a "leave as you found it" policy so you need to keep things clean and green. Kiwi's are proud of our native bush and forest, and we work hard to keep them free of trash, so please take everything with you (including ciggie butts which kill our native snails) For a list of DOC camping sites, visit http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-stay/conservation-campsites-by-region/
A few camping tips
- If you shit in the woods, dig a deep hole. Don't shit or piss within 20 meters of a river and contaminate it. Our water is pure and people drink it straight from the river.
- It can get really cold at night, even in the summer. If you are up high, be prepared for extreme temperatures.
- If you are going deep bush, always tell someone where you are going, and register your trip with the local DOC center so if you don't come back on time, they can go and find you.
- If you like getting naked, there are several camps and beaches you can go. Check http://www.gonatural.co.nz/
- It's a good idea to boil water if it comes from the hills where there are live stock due to risk of giardia.
- Lots of our native birds and animals are endangered so don't go killing and eating anything unless you know its legal.
Kiwi's are friendly but can seem a bit strange at first. We like to use lots of sarcasm and make jokes about things that aren't actually funny, but find the fact that it's not funny the funny part. Some Kiwi's like to pray on people who aren't used to this, so if you find someone making an outrageous, illogical claim... make one back. This can go on for a long time however, so make sure you allocate a certain percentage of your day to this.
Most people will ask you how you are to be polite... in shops and restaurants a quick "How's it going" is usually customary.
People usually thank each other for services as well... if you get off a bus make sure you say thanks to the driver, and a "cheers!" as you walk out of a shop is good. Don't do this in a supermarket.. they are a little more commercial and less personal.
Below is a list of Kiwi sayings you will need to know.
Sick : Good. Example - "This is fucking sick bro!"
Bro : Friend. Example - "Hey bro!"
- If Bro falls at the end of a sentence, it adds an element of casualness to the feeling. Example - "Give us a hoon on your misus bro."
- If Bro begins a sentence, then you need to take serious note of what is about to be said. Example - "Bro, does this look infected to you?"
- If Bro is said on it's own, the tonality defines the meaning:
- A quick sudden "Bro" means give me your attention
- A long dragged out in a low voice - "Brrrrooooooooo" means "I am not sure I agree with what you are doing"
- A medium to short "Brrrooo" means "I acknowledge what you are saying or doing" (This can have a "true" at before or after the "Bro" example - "True bro" or "Broooo, true"
- A "bro" combined with a laugh - "Broooahhohoohoho" can be used as a greeting to someone you haven't seen for a long time.
- A stern short "Bro" with a serious look means "cut it out"
- There are many more complicated versions that you will have to learn for yourself.
Deadly : Extremely Sick
Dairy : Little shops on corners that sell a bunch of things you'd buy on a quick supermarket stop. Milk, Bread, Cleaning Products, Fast foods (Pies!)... that sort of thing.
Boy-racer : Testosterone fueled noisy car dudes with rich parents.
Bugger : A Curse. Example - "Bugger that!" (I am not keen).
Chilly Bin : Temperature holding device in which to keep beer and goon sacks cold.
Choice : Good. Example - "That's choice bro!"
Dag : Funny man. Example - "He's a bit of a dag!"
Ahy : Informing the recipient of a question or an acknowledgement. Example - "Ahy?" or "Ahy!"
Gummies : Rubber boots to keep your feet dry at outdoor parties.
Jandals : Thongs or Flip Flips. Simple Sandals.
Root : Sex. Example - "Giz a root"
Pack a Sad / Drop your Sack / Spit the Dummy : The point where you change from feeling good to feeling bad / annoyed.
Sweet As : Everything is great.
Wop Wops : Far away from the city. Example - "The party is out in the wop wops"
These are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They were here before use whiteys (Pakeha) came along. Their history, culture and language is very beautiful and unique, and I highly highly encourage you to spend some time getting familiar with it while you are here. Here's a website that will give you the basics.
Here's a few sayings that will help you.
Kia ora — Hello
Kia ora tatou — Hello everyone
Tena koe — Greetings to you (said to one person)
Tena koutou — Greeting to you all
Haere mai — Welcome
Nau mai — Welcome
Kei te pehea koe? — How’s it going?
Kei te pai — Good
Tino pai — Really good
Haere ra — Farewell
Ka kite ano — Until I see you again (Bye)
Hei konei ra — See you later
And check out Billy T James, a famous Māori comedian. If you like this, you will fit in here just fine.
I hope this guide has given you some basic knowledge on what to expect from this country. We are a quirky bunch, but fairly simple and straight forward. We like having a good time, and we like smiling...
Enjoy your stay bro!