Travel Tips

New Zealand has a strong biosecurity system in place to help protect our country from pests and diseases. When visiting New Zealand from overseas, you must declare “risk goods” (such as food, including honey) in the Passenger Arrival Card and you should expect to have your luggage x-rayed before entering the country (dogs might also be out sniffing). Please read the official information from There is an instant fine of $400 for failure to declare, so be sure to double check your luggage and clothes before passing the biosecurity checkpoint.

Weather conditions
The sun is particularly harsh in New Zealand because of the relatively high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Remember to wear sunscreen when staying outside during the day (even for half an hour); you can learn more at SunSmart. In February for Christchurch, we have an average maximum temperature of 22 °C and average minimum of 12 °C, and often reach highs of 30 °C. Reliable weather forecasting, including temperature, rain and wind, is available through MetService.

Road conditions
We drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our hilly countryside and relatively low population means that our roads are probably narrower and slower to drive on compared with what you are used to. If you intend to drive here, please read this information for visiting drivers from the NZTA.

The app Camper Mate is ideal for tourists travelling New Zealand by car; the app has information on accommodation, food, petrol stations, tourist attractions and other useful points of interest.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a three hour drive south of Christchurch and is a great stopover for travelling down to Queenstown (a popular tourist destination).

Star gazing
Sky gazing tours are offered at Mt John and Cowan; we recommend the Mt John Tour (location of the university field station).

University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory

Available tours:

  • 15 Feb, 2 am the next morning (still 22 tickets left, as of 15 Jan)
  • 16 Feb, 2 am the next morning (still 11 tickets left, as of 15 Jan)

The IUTAM discount is 50 %, although you need to book via their website at full price. Please let us know once you have booked and you will receive a refund to your credit card after you have arrived in Lake Tekapo.

Hot pools
Tekapo springs have hot pools and also offer a star gazing tour (talk to us before you book!).