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  • Writer's pictureMegan Outside

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

Cape egmont lighthouse and mt taranaki new zealand
With spots like this, why would anyone want to leave?

It’s a common story, you came to New Zealand on a working holiday visa, planning to spend a year, or maybe just a few months. Slowly, you realized just how amazing this country is. Or maybe you wanted to work and save some money and settled down for a couple months, but when you started travelling you realized you need a few more months...or maybe a year. You’re in luck, there are a few ways to extend your visa and enjoy this country even longer. There are two ways to extend a working holiday visa (listed below). If those don’t apply to your situation, scroll down a little further to see how you can stay in New Zealand by switching to a good ol’ tourist visa.

WHV General Extension:

Anyone who works in agriculture, as a fruit picker, a packer, or in a vineyard (legitimate paid work only) for three months, and who is still in New Zealand can apply for a three-month extension on their visa. You will need to be able to provide proof of this employment, but it does not need to be continuous or from only one employer. Head to Immigration NZ, type "Working Holiday Extension" into the search field, and follow the prompts for your country. You will need to print the form they provide as visa extensions cannot be done online.

**don't have a printer? The local library will let you use theirs for a small fee.

You will need:

- A valid passport

- Two recent passport photos

- Onward ticket or sufficient funds (1200$NZD for 3 months)

- Neat tidy writing

Fill out all fields on the form, and mail it and your supporting documents to your closest immigration office.

Canadian WHV Extension:

Canada is one of two lucky countries that can apply for up to 23 months on a working holiday. If you originally only applied for a 12 month visa, you can now apply for the balance of the 23 months, or any number in between as long as you are 35 years or younger when you apply. Grab the form off of the immigration website (see above) and print it out.

You will need:

- A valid Passport

- Two recent passport photos

- Proof of Medical Insurance (I recommend Orbiprotect for inexpensive annual insurance, but whatever you choose, make sure it covers any extreme adventures you might try out.)

- Medical Examination Certificates (or the electronic number to write on your form)

The actual application process is fairly easy, but anyone planning to stay in New Zealand for more than 12 months must have an immigration medical and chest x-ray done before they apply. The cost of these exams can be as low as $200 if you are getting them done in Auckland. Most other places in the country will charge anywhere from $400-$600, so if you know you will be near Auckland, get it done there. You must have these exams done by an approved physician. Find the closest office here.

Fill out all fields on the form, and mail it and your supporting documents to your closest immigration office.

United Kingdom WHV Extension

Those with a UK passport can also apply for up to 23 months on a working holiday. If you originally only applied for a 12 month visa, you can now apply for the balance of the 23 months, or any number in between as long as you are 30 years or younger when you apply. Grab the form off of the immigration website and print it out (see above).

You will need:

- A valid Passport

- Two recent passport photos

- Proof of funds ($350/month) plus the funds for a flight out of the country

- Medical Examination Certificates (or the electronic number to write on your form)

As with the Canadian extension, anyone planning to stay in New Zealand for more than 12 months must have an immigration medical and chest x-ray done before they apply. The cost of these can be as low as $200 if you are getting them done in Auckland. Most other places in the country will charge anywhere from $400-$600. Click here for a list of approved physicians.

Fill out all fields on the form, and mail it and your supporting documents to your closest immigration office.

Tourist Visas

Those who have run out of time on their Working Holiday Visas, but don’t want to leave yet can apply for a three month (or nine in some cases) tourist visa. You will not need to leave the country to switch visas, but if you are staying longer than 12 months, you will need to get a medical and chest x-ray. The cost of these can be as low as $200 if you are getting them done in Auckland. Most other places in the country will charge anywhere from $400-$600.

Depending on your existing visa and status, you may be able to bypass this by leaving the country and reentering on a tourist visa.

See if you are eligible for a visitor visa here.

As always, it is your responsibility to check with immigration NZ for updates and changes to these guidelines. Good luck and happy travels!

Elfin bay New Zealand
An hour outside of Queenstown lies this perfect escape

All over New Zealand, people keep telling you about the gorgeous Routeburn Track, but when you tried to book your huts you discovered that as a Great Walk, everything had been booked up for months! To your dismay, there is nothing available until well after you are supposed to return home from New Zealand. So what are you to do?

The Greenstone-Caples track is a great alternative, and a gentler option for those with a slightly lower level of fitness. Not only is it a 20 minute drive from the Routeburn, it also has gorgeous landscapes, smooth trails and even boasts flushing toilets at the huts. And for only $15 a night, it is a steal in comparison to the $70 Routeburn huts. (Soon to be $140 for visitors). It can also be done as a circuit, so there is no need to arrange a pick up on the other side. For those who really want a taste of the Routeburn track, there is an option to daytrip there via a connecting path on day 3. Maybe life isn’t so bad after all!

There are two different starting points for this track, and a few side trails for more advanced trampers, so there are plenty of ways to make this track your own. If you choose to follow the traditional loop, there are 3 DOC huts fairly evenly spaced along the trail. There are also 2 huts maintained by the Deerstalkers association, which you can book out before you leave. We started from the Greenstone carpark and walked clockwise up the Greenstone Valley. The DOC map recommends starting on the Caples side for some reason but we were happy being rebels, and equally happy giving up hours up uphill hiking for a steeper, but fairly quick climb.

The one thing that should be noted about driving to the Greenstone Carpark is that you will need to cross 3 or 4 fords if it has been rainy. Long and low vehicles are not advised. When we drove down it had been sunny for about three days so we figured we would be alright. We nervously crossed two fords in our Mitsubishi L300 Sportpac despite our anxieties about how deep one of the creeks was. But bravado and our motivation to prove how bad ass our own Ace Vantura was, pushed us past all the smaller cars left on the side of the road by fearful drivers. We made it through with no trouble and were so glad we did. When we arrived at the carpark, we knew we were right not to have worried because most of the cars there were much smaller than our own.

If going up the Greenstone Valley, you will be met with an immediate side trail option to take an hour long detour along the water to Rere Lake on the way to Greenstone Hut. Our legs were fresh and our packs weren’t crushing us, so we opted for this route and were so happy we did. After walking around some paddocks with beautiful views of Mt. Earnslaw in the morning sun, we reached Elfin Bay. It was already almost warm enough to strip down and swim, but we figured it was too early to be taking all of our gear off. We sat for a few minutes on the shore before keeping on towards Rere Lake. Besides a French hiker in jeans and some hunters moving their kill on an ATV, we had the whole track to ourselves. The forest we walked through felt different than anything else we saw on the rest of the tramp. And the reflections on the lake were some of NZ’s best.

This was the only mirror we saw for 5 days

After about an hour, we met back up with the Greenstone track and it was a relatively easy walk all the way to the hut. The paths were wide, the ground flat and we even crossed a sweet bridge over a gorge right before the end. The hut itself is situated with a great view up the valley, and is also right on the Te Araoa trail, so be ready for a busy hut in the summer. The 20 person hut was packed with a diverse group of hikers, from long haired TA thru hikers to Kiwis in their 70’s, making for a lively evening. The whole hike was a little more than 12km and took only about 5 hours. Since we were doing it in March, we were lucky enough to catch the Amanita mushrooms in full swing too.

We decided to stay another day at Greenstone Hut because the forecast was wet, and wet meant our car couldn’t pass the fords, so we weren’t in any hurry. It is nice to have the luxury of taking it slow and relaxing in the huts, but we clearly weren’t the norm. Everyone else was out of there by 7:30am and we had the hut to ourselves until about 1:30 when the first new hikers started to arrive. Even the Warden was surprised when he was checking his tickets later that night and recognized us again. He first joked that maybe the 12km the day before had been too grueling for us and we needed a recovery day. But he agreed with us taking it slow since it is nice to not need to get up early and instead have a relaxing day. We got to read all the magazines in the hut, and met a whole new group of people.

It was wild too because one of the new comers looked so familiar to us, but we couldn't quite figure out why. Eventually it dawned at us that we knew her from a time we volunteered at Rotokare, a wildlife sanctuary in Taranaki, seven months earlier. We couldn't believe the odds that we could run into each other on a completely different island in a tiny little hut miles from civilization. Once we recognized each other it was all hugs and and catch ups and promises to see each other again when we returned to Taranaki (which we did). I love how the universe brings people together again in the wildest of ways.

The next day the stir craziness was starting to set in, so we set off before the sun rose. It was impossible not to get up early since our other hut mates insisted on using their brightest flashlight function and talking in their loudest voices at 4:30am. We were glad to be off so quickly though, because the world outside was shrouded in a light mist, and when the sun rose it looked like we had stepped into a sepia filter. Everything was cast in this encompassing orange glow, a very cool way to start out our 18km hike to McKellar Hut. It seems like a long hike, but this day was one of the easiest days of hiking I have ever done in New Zealand.

We walked through the Greenstone Valley, which hardly has any change in elevation the entire way. There was one small river crossing which we crossed using step stones despite the heavy rain the day before. The hardest thing about it was when we crossed onto the farmers land and had to watch out for cow pies. We also had to make sure we didn’t disturb the stock, but that didn’t stop them from disturbing us.

I swear she was like that when we found her...

We made it to McKellar hut in less than four hours including a short lunch break. We timed it very well too because it started to pour as soon as we got there. We made sure to have a fire going for the other 8 soaking wet people that showed up that night. Compared to the Greenstone Hut, McKellar was so quiet. It was nice too because the rooms are removed from the main kitchen/hang out area so people are less likely to wake others up in the mornings which even makes up for the isolation from the communal fire.

We really were taking it slow because we decided to have another rest day when we woke up and the weather was pouring again. We knew that we were going to be crossing McKellar Saddle, which is the one high point on the entire track and therefore has stellar views. And since the clouds were so low, there was no point in missing a fantastic view if we didn’t have to. A friendly Canadian couple going the same direction decided to hang back with us, so at least we had some good company this time. We learned that they had been volunteer hut wardens and had also tramped around 6 other trails in New Zealand, and this trail for them was the easiest as well.

We watched people slowly trickle in throughout the day and by the time night fell it looked like only 12 of the 26 bunks would be filled. But at about 8pm, we saw some flashlights bobbing through the windows in the pouring rain. A group of 14 Australian entrepreneurs arrived, soaking wet and grinning some of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen despite being soaked through. They were doing a team challenge and had no idea that they would be hiking the Greenstone-Caples when they left Australia two days before. They had taken 11 hours to walk from Mid Caples, and had stayed together as a team the whole time. There were exactly enough mats for all of them too although I’m sure at that point they would’ve slept anywhere.

The next morning we left early to make room for the large group of 14 in the kitchen. The forest just outside the McKellar hut is absolutely magical. Moss hangs off of the gnarled trees like extra padding on a football player. Everything is a striking green color and the forest is full of bird song. We saw countless examples of the usual suspects, fantails, rifleman, and robins. And we were lucky enough to catch a golden glimpse of the rare mohua (yellowhead) flitting through the trees, a good sign the pest traps and 1080 drops are working in that area.

Not even Harry Potter is this magical

This is the day where we were glad we chose to go against DOC’s recommendation, and instead go clockwise on the circuit. We had to climb the 945m McKellar saddle. And even though it was incredibly steep, it was well paved and lasted only about half an hour. The views from the top were phenomenal as well, since we could see all the way down the Greenstone valley we had just walked up and it had snowed the night before, powdering the mountaintops. DOC recently built a boardwalk at the top to protect the fragile alpine biome up there (as well as keep you from sinking knee deep in mud) and we were pretty thankful for it as we gazed down at the watery substance below us.

After the summit, it is a steady downhill for the next five hours until the Mid Caples hut comes into view. The trail is gorgeous, long, flat and easy. At 22 kilometers, it is the longest day on the Greenstone-Caples Circuit. We stayed on the top of the saddle for an extra hour waiting for the weather to clear for our photos, making it a five hour day altogether to reach the hut.

The Mid Caples hut is gorgeous and, like the other huts comes with a Ranger and flushing toilets. The views up the Caples valley are unmatched, and if it is a hot day there are even a few swimming holes nearby to cool off in. We didn’t get the chance to try them out though because the weather turned nasty again and it poured for the rest of the day. Right as the sun was starting to go down however, the clouds lifted and revealed fresh snow on the trees and peaks surrounding us, which was a real treat. We all had to get real cozy to stay warm that night, but the fireplace and body heat of 18 other people helped with that.

The view from Mid Caples Hut

We broke our pattern (gasp!) of having a recovery day the next morning since the weather had cleared and we were only 2-3 hours and 9km from the carpark. We prefer to leave the easiest day for last, because we are usually tired and ready to get back to the car. The only problem with this is that we mentally write the day off as a cinch, and anything that is requires work becomes increasingly more difficult to overcome. There was one point a mere 15 minutes from the carpark that on any other day, would be considered a minor incline. But because we had experienced nothing but flat on this “easy” day, it became a remarkable feat of strength to reach the top. But once overcome, we knew we had conquered the Greenstone Caples.

Our anxiety of crossing the fords was assuaged when we arrived at the carpark, and found lots of new cars there that had a much shorter clearance than our own. We needn’t have worried, and were glad we had driven all the way in, because it would have been an extra 2 hours to walk to the fords and we just weren’t down with that. Although there was more water on the road, and 3 extra fords to cross, they were all low, even the one that had given us trouble on the way in. We realized that that particular crossing must have been high due to ice melt on the glaciers above us, and had probably been helped by the poor weather.

We felt fulfilled leaving that car park. The slow pace and the gorgeous landscapes alternating with sunlight and rainfall made for a very enjoyable track. Not to mention our wallets felt much fuller knowing that we saved money in these huts and didn’t need to hire transportation to get back to our car.

map of the greenstone caples track new zealand queenstown

  • Writer's pictureWyatt Outside

New Zealand North Island driving travel itinerary

If you’re planning on spending one month in New Zealand then my advice is: extend your trip. You can “accidentally” miss your plane, get lost on the way to the airport, or say “OH I thought I was supposed to leave NEXT Thursday.” This country is a lot bigger than most people think, and it will be a fully loaded month to try to see everything. But if you have no choice because of a job, or finances, or a pet that will pass away without your love, then we've got your itinerary covered. Combine our *2 weeks on the South Island* with this Two Weeks on the North Island and you’ll be good to go just in time to return to your regular life!

This guide starts off in Auckland (1) because that is where the majority of travelers fly into. If you want to try to be hip and go against the grain, the other option would be to start in (10) Wellington and follow along with this guide in reverse.


If you only have 2 weeks to spend on the North Island, then don’t waste a second of it in Auckland. It is just like any other city in the world, and is considered by all the other New Zealanders as the least “Kiwi” of all New Zealand. Do yourself a favor, pick up a car and start heading north immediately so you can be free from traffic and see the real gems of New Zealand.

However if you decide not to heed our advice, here are a couple of places worth checking out:

Piha beach auckland new zealand
  • Piha Beach. This beach is busy because of its proximity to the city, and because it is a stunning stretch of sand. I wouldn’t recommend getting in the water unless you want to become an involuntary star on the hit show “Piha Rescue”

  • Rangitoto Island is an old volcanic island a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Climb to the top for sweet views of the city.

Next head north from Auckland and make your way to Paihia (2) in the beautiful Bay of Islands. You will find no shortage of dolphin cruises, parasailing or skydiving excursions and the world famous Hole in the Rock is not to be missed.

whangerei falls new zealand

On the way to Bay of Islands:

  • Whangerei Falls. A short walk to some beautiful falls almost right in the center of the city. There is also a nice loop track to help you stretch your legs.

  • Abbey Caves. There are three cave systems to explore, as well as some cool rock formations outside. If you're brave you can even find your way from one cave to another. Make sure you have shoes that can get wet and a good headlamp, because you will absolutely want your hands free for this.

* The caves flood when it rains, so use caution in bad weather.

  • Hundertwasser Toilets. It’s not every day you get to defecate in an art exhibition.

Cape reinga signs

After you’ve soaked up the sun in the beautiful Bay of Islands, head north again and go until you run out of road. Cape Reinga (3) lighthouse is the beginning (or end depending on which way you’re going) of Highway 1. Don’t miss the photo op with the sign so you can take a matching photo with its southernmost sister sign in Bluff.

Sandboarding on te paki dunes new zealand

What to do in Cape Reinga:

  • 90 Mile Beach. At only 55 miles long, this is the worst case of false advertisement you will see in New Zealand. However it is still an impressive sight and you can even drive your car on it if you’ve got a 4 wheel drive vehicle (or an unrelenting sense of bravado).

  • Te Paki Sand dunes. Didn’t get enough sand after 90 Mile Beach? Rent a sand board nearby and go for the ride of your life. This is definitely worth getting a Go Pro for. Pro tip: leave everything you won't need in your car (shoes included).

It’s all downhill from here, since after the northernmost point you can only go south.

The next destination is the Coromandel Peninsula (5) for some beautiful hikes and beaches. There is no point in retracing our steps so take the east coast down through Opononi (4) for a change of scenery.

On the Way to Coromandel:

The Kauri Museum in Matakohe is one of the most surprisingly engaging museums in the country. If the replica sawmill and giant kauri cross cuts weren’t enough, then the basement will blow you away with its polished gum. And I’m not talking about the kind you chew.

Cathedral Cove Arch and beach

What to do in Coromandel:

  • Cathedral Cove. You’ll probably recognize this from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie. Or maybe that one Macklemore music video. If not that, then definitely from the instagram of everyone who has ever been here. If it still doesn’t look familiar then crawl out from under your rock and check it out. It’s gorgeous!

  • Hot Water Beach. Rent a spade and dig yourself a hole until you hit the warm water. Don’t bother coming at high tide though unless you want to be serenaded by the laughter of locals from a tidal saltbath.

  • Castle Rock Hike. A steep (and often muddy) but rewarding hike for 360 degree views of the entire Coromandel Peninsula and beyond. On really clear days you can see all the way to Auckland.

Continue heading south towards New Zealand’s smelliest town Rotorua (6). No, the town didn't hide their easter eggs a little too hard last year. The rotten eggs smell comes from the sulfurous springs spotted all over the city. There are a ton of colourful hot pools and spas around the city, so take a chance to soak away your troubles.

Hobbiton hobbit hole new zealand

What to do on the way to Rotorua:

  • Matamata Hobbiton. You can’t come all the way to New Zealand and not visit The Shire. Even though you’ll notice that a lot of the North Island looks like The Shire, it is still worth it to see the movie magic and hear the interesting stories. Also the free included beer at the Green Dragon is a nice touch.

  • Mt Manganui. If you aren’t too pooped from Castle Rock, then hike is absolutely worth doing. If you aren't up for a big hike, theres a nice trail around the base of the mountain as well.

Redwoods new zealand rotorua

What to do in Rotorua:

  • Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest. It’s not every day you see giant Californian Redwoods in New Zealand. They were planted commercially for foresting, but now they are protected. Experience the magic on a short walk through the grove, or pat to walk through the treetops.

  • Maori Dinner. Rotorua is a hotbed of Maori culture and activities. Culture yoself with a traditional Hangi dinner (similar to a Hawaiian Luau) and watch a live Maori performance.

  • Polynesian Spa. If you want the relaxation of a spa without having to dig your own hole for it first, then this is the place to be. It’s a bit more expensive than the free Hot Water Beach, but the views and pools are worth it.

  • OGO aka Zorbing Have you ever seen a hamster running in its hamster ball and thought, “Wow that looks like fun?” Then you’ll love this activity that was invented right here in New Zealand. If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to talk to the inventors themselves because they are frequently around working on new and exciting projects.

The next destination is Taupo (7) which gets its name from the massive body of water it sits on. That is the largest lake in all of New Zealand (and a massive caldera), so of course you have to spend some time on it. Luckily there are plenty of boat rentals or cruises to make that possible.

Mine Bay Maori Carvings Taupo New Zealand

What to do in Taupo:

  • Mine Bay Maori Carvings. Don’t expect some ancient Maori carvings here, because this was an art installment from 1976. However the dude who did it is Maori, so technically it is still a Maori carving. And technically ancient if you’re a Millenial.

  • Tongoriro Crossing. It’s been heralded as one of the best day walks in the world. You’ll need to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and the one ring to rule them all if you’re going to tackle Mt Doom. It is also good to have a buddy because Frodo would have died if it wasn’t for Samwise.

Ready to go somewhere other than south? Me too! Take the highway west towards Mount Taranaki (8) and New Plymouth where you’ll find the Surf Coast Highway and the land of fantastic sunsets.

On the Way to Taranaki:

  • The Forgotten World Highway. With a name like that how could you miss this drive? There are tunnels to drive through, saddles to drive over, and even the Republic of Whangamomona to visit. It’s also the quickest way to Taranaki, and if you’re trying to do the North Island in 2 weeks, you’ll be looking for shortcuts. Be warned, this is an unsealed road that narrows in places. Large vehicles will not fit through the tunnels.

Pouaki Tarns Taranaki New Zealand

What to do In Taranaki:

  • Hiking the Mountain. Mt Taranaki is full of hiking trails, whether you want to go for a few minutes or a few hours. Check out the Pouaki Tarns for a quick daytrip.

  • Te Rewa Rewa Bridge lines up well with Mt. Taranaki on a clear day, and is part of a lovely waterfront walk.

  • Hollard Gardens. Beautifully manicured and notated garden pathways complete with complimentary tea and snacks.

  • Surfing. Hop on the surf highway and there will be no shortage of waves begging to be ridden. Don’t have a board? Try talking to some locals. Taranakians (or is it Taranakese?) are some of the nicest people in the world so maybe they’ll help you out. Don't get in the way of their favourite spots though or you'll hear about it.

Now drive east to the other coast to get to the beautiful city of Napier (9). The art deco architecture, the countless wineries, and the consistently sunny weather combine to make this one of our favorite cities to chill in.

Te Mata Peak New Zealand

On the way to Napier:

  • Te Mata Peak. Many trails lead on a gorgeous hike up to a peak overlooking all of Hastings and Napier.

  • Bulls. The punny-est town since Punnsylvannia. Get some photos with a const-a-bull if you can find them. They’re probably eating something delect-a-bull in the bakery. Careful if they’re not in a soci-a- bull mood though! (Are you tired of my bull-shit yet?)

What to do in Napier:

  • Experience the Art Deco. After the great earthquake in 1931 devastated the Hawke’s Bay region, there no choice but to completely rebuild. Good thing Art Deco was super in fashion in the 30’s. Put on some old fancy clothes and enjoy!

  • Rent skates and go down the Parade. Skate down the path along the beach on a gorgeous day. Don’t forget to stop by a winery on your way!

Trace your footsteps back towards Palmerston North and continue on south to the capital city of Wellington (10). They don’t give it the nickname Windy Wellington for nothing, so grab a windbreaker and enjoy this small yet bustling capital.

longest place name in the world.
Try saying that one twice.

On the way to Wellington:

  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamatea-turipukakanuipikimaungapokaiwhenuakita-natahu aka the longest place name in the world. There’s not a whole lot to see other than this sign at this particular stop, but how could you miss the chance to see the longest place name in the whole world?

  • De Molen Windmill in Foxton. This fully functioning Dutch windmill is worth a stop even if you’re not into fully functioning Dutch windmills. I wasn’t before, but I definitely am now!

Beehive parliament new zealand

What to do in Wellington:

  • The Beehive. If you’re in the capital city of New Zealand, then be sure to check out the parliament building. You might even see Jacinda to give her a high five!

  • Te Papa Museum. Easily the best museum in New Zealand. And it is free. So what are you waiting for? Go! Stop reading this article and go!

  • Mt Victoria Lookout. Drive to the top (or walk if you’re feeling fit as) and enjoy the views over the city of Wellington. Careful if you drive though for the roads can be quite narrow.

  • Weta Cave. This is the workshop for the brilliant minds behind the Lord of the Rings. Explore the shop for free and see a little bit behind the scenes, or fork out a few more dollars for a whole lot more behind the scenes. You won’t be sorry!

Continue your trip by jumping on a ferry to the south island (itinerary here), or grab a flight back up to Auckland. Tell us how your time on the North Island was in the comments below, and check out our post about hidden gems on the north island for more planning tips.

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