Frequently Asked Questions About New Zealand

I figured it was time to address some “basics” about New Zealand! James and I get a lot of questions about New Zealand. I’m from Michigan, which makes New Zealand quite literally on the other side of the world. So, listen up, I’m answering your questions about our south pacific home, and I’ll let the pictures do the rest.

View from Mt Ruapehu, North Island

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1. Where is New Zealand?

New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, in the south pacific ocean. And no, it is not part of Australia or connected to Australia by a bridge. From eastern Australia, it’s actually about a three and a half hour flight to NZ. And yes, it is a country and it consists of two islands, the north and south island.

Screen shot from Google Maps

2. How many people live in New Zealand?

According to Stats NZ, there are about 4.7 million people who live in NZ.

Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua, North Island

3. Auckland is the capital, right?

Auckland is the biggest city, however Wellington is the Capital.

4. What languages do they speak?

The official languages of NZ are English, Te Reo Maori, and NZ Sign Language.

Gisborne, North Island

5. What is the currency?

The New Zealand dollar.

Gisborne, North Island

6. How many sheep are there in New Zealand?

According the New Zealand Herald and Stats NZ, there are about 27.6 million sheep in NZ. That’s about 6 sheep per person.

but don’t worry, we helped him out! Gisborne, North Island


7. How many hours does it take to get there?

From Michigan, it will take us anywhere from 22 hours (on the great run, with easy layovers) to 48+ hours. In my experience, the fastest flight path has been Detroit to Los Angeles (about 5 hours) and Los Angeles to Auckland (about 12 hours). Add extra hours for layovers, customs, etc.

Often, though we have to make a stop in another state like Texas or Arizona, before Los Angeles. And then from Los Angeles, there may be a stop in Fiji or Australia. On the 48+ hour trips you’re stopping at ALL of those places. And we’ve done that, it’s a long “day”.

Flying over Queenstown, South Island

8. How much do flights to New Zealand cost?

The cheapest I have ever flown from Michigan to NZ round trip for was about $1200 US and the most expensive about $2500. We have found that the most expensive time to fly is around Christmas and New Years. The flights start ramping up in cost end of November, and then come back down late January.

Definitely shop around when it comes to flights, I always check multiple online search engines including,*, and as well as the airline sights.

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9. How far ahead should I book my flight?

We typically book flights about 3 months in advance. I (Brooke) pretty much always have a pulse on what flights to NZ are doing through apps and flight alerts. But once we have a confirmed time frame in mind and are ready to book,  I’ll start looking at flights daily or every other day for 1-2 weeks just to get a feel for the trends and to see what airlines are running deals.

Somewhere between Piha and Muriwai, North Island

10. How are the seasons? Does New Zealand get snow?

New Zealand’s seasons run opposite to the US. So in the US summer, NZ is in their winter. And yes, they do get snow at altitude.

Treble Cone, South Island

11. If I’m planning a trip, how long do I need in New Zealand?

We always tell people to take as much time as you can if you’re traveling to NZ, because it’s and expensive and long flight. But, we think NZ is do-able in about two weeks if you’re not looking for a heck of a lot of down time. Meaning, get a rental and hit the road!

Gisborne, North Island

12. South or North Island if I only have a few days in NZ?

Ideally , you’ll need more than a few days to really do NZ well. BUT if you were only going to be there for a few days, probably stick to one island. We both would say head to the South Island. The South Island is so breathtaking. Mountains, glacial lakes, fjords and sounds… I’ll just let these pictures convince you…

Treble Cone, South Island
Milford Sound, South Island
Queenstown, South Island

13. What side of the road do I drive on?

In NZ, you’ll drive on the LEFT side of the road.

Any other burning questions that we missed? Leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them to the best of our ability!

Lake Waikaremoana, North Island

Planning a trip? Make sure you check out on of our other New Zealand posts, in the Travel Section! 

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Adventure On,

*This post contains affiliate links. That means, I may receive a commission for some of the links in this post- at no cost to you. See our Disclaimer page for details*