Travel Tips for New Zealand

New Zealand - Aotearoa – “land of the white cloud”. This is a land of magnificent scenic beauty that will astound you. You will discover rolling farmlands, thermal geysers, golden beaches, spectacular glaciers and pristine lakes and rivers. The people of New Zealand, often called “Kiwis” after their national symbol the Kiwi Bird, will amaze you with their generosity and friendliness. These travel tips will help you get the most out of your New Zealand vacation.

Departure Tax

A tax of NZ$25 must be paid at the airport when you leave New Zealand, unless you are leaving from Auckland airport. Please note that this tax is only included in your ticket price if you are departing from Auckland International Airport. Children under 12 years of age are exempt from the departure tax fee.

Location

New Zealand is an island country located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses ‒ that of the North and South Islands ‒ as well as numerous smaller islands.

Climate

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. In the far north, the weather can be quite subtropical during summer; while in the far south of the South Island, it can be as cold as 14°F in winter. The rest of the country sits somewhere in between with mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and plenty of sunshine. If you’re out and about, it pays to remember that the weather can change very quickly. New Zealand is surrounded by ocean and it’s not uncommon for cold fronts and tropical cyclones to blow in bringing sudden changes in temperature with wind and rain. New Zealand’s average rainfall is quite high – between 2 feet and 5 feet. While it produces lush rainforest and is good for farming, it also means that you may get wet. The seasons are the reverse of the northern hemisphere. The summer months are between December and February when the country has high temperatures and lots of sunshine. Winter is between June and August when most of the country becomes colder and the mountain ranges in both islands will be snow covered.

Time Difference

New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the new day, 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). In summer New Zealand uses ‘daylight saving’, with clocks put forward one hour to GMT+13. Daylight saving begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the third Sunday of the following March, when clocks are put back to GMT+12.

Entry Requirements

If you are a United States Citizen, you do not need a visitor visa to visit New Zealand for 3 months or less. However, you are required to present travel tickets or tickets of onward travel arrangements. No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand.

Tipping Protocol

It is not customary and not required, however, for exceptional service a tip is always appreciated.

Language

English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand.

Health

NZ has no vaccination requirements for any traveler. The World Health Organization recommends that all travelers should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and polio, as well as hepatitis B, regardless of their destination.

Currency & Exchange, Credit Cards, and Banking

New Zealand banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Some are also during weekends. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.

The current bank-to-bank USD/NZD exchange rate is USD100 = NZD . Keep in mind this is a bank-to-bank/mercantile rate and is subject to commission and/or exchange rate fees, typically between 1 to 3 percent depending on your bank, credit card company or financial institution. Information and rates here are provided as an indication and guide only and provided without warranty.

Currency data courtesy coinmill.com

Cigarettes & Tobacco

If you are aged 17 years or over you can bring 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products duty-free into New Zealand with you. All tobacco products in accompanied baggage are included in this category, regardless of how or where they were purchased. You will pay duty on all tobacco if you are bringing in more than the duty free allowance. If you incorrectly/falsely state the amount of tobacco you are bringing into the country you may face steep fines and confiscation of the tobacco products.

Electricity

Elecricity in New Zealand is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. The socket/plug type is Type I, which looks like this:

Communication

There are a range of ways to stay in touch. Internet cafes are everywhere but you can also access the internet at most hotels and libraries. Cell phones can be rented and public phones are great for local calls that are a flat rate and untimed. Public phones accept New Zealand coins, credit cards and some calling cards.

Jet Lag

Westbound flights appear to be the worst for jet lag but many people report feelings of jet lag with any long haul flights. To prevent feeling the worse for wear when you arrive at your destination try the following tips: Be well rested before boarding your flight, drink plenty of fluids and cut back on the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, try to exercise by stretching in your seat or strolling the isle. One of the best tips is to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time while in flight. Waiting until you land can leave you literally in the wrong time zone.

Driving

Driving is easy. The roads are relatively uncrowded and the tourist routes are generally of a high standard. All roads are signposted and the main roads are sealed. Driving is on the left. You will need your US driver’s license. An International Driver’s License is not necessary.

In an Emergency

The emergency telephone number for the Police, the Fire Service, Ambulance or Search and Rescue in New Zealand is 111. It is a free phone call.