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Visitor Information.

Geography and Population
Passports and Visas
Airport Customs
Duty Free Allowance
Departure Taxes
Airport Transfers

Goods and Services Tax
Credit Cards
General Safety
Getting Around

Time Zones
Public Holidays
Disabled Facilities
Food and Restaurants
Emergency Numbers
Travel Tips
Map of New Zealand

Return to topGeography and Population

Imagine the geography of Europe wrapped up in a much smaller package - that's New Zealand. There are alps and glaciers, fiords, sweeping green plains, volcanoes, majestic forests, sparkling lakes and beautiful beaches. Mountain ranges extend down much of the length of the country.

And there's a surprising amount of space for such a small package. The population is under 4 million people with the vast majority of them living in the three main cities of Auckland and Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch in the south. Auckland is the largest city and Wellington is the capital.

Return to topLanguage

English is spoken and, in spite of what the locals will tell you, they do speak with an excent (sorry, accent). You will come across many Maori words as well, especially in place names.

Return to topClimate

The seasons are quite pronounced and the weather can be changeable but temperatures only vary about 10 degrees between winter and summer. The north of NZ is sub-tropical and the south is temperate. Rainfall is higher on the west coast and snow is largely confined to the central part of the North Island (Mt Ruapehu area) and the Southern Alps.

Weather Chart

For a current New Zealand 4 day weather forecast, click here.

Return to topPassport and Visas

All visitors must have a valid passport with at least three months validity beyond the date of departure and a ticket for return or onward travel. Tourist visas are granted on arrival, free of charge, for a stay of up to 3 months for most countries including visitors from Australia and the United States of America.

Return to topAirport Customs

There are three international airports, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Most travellers arrive via Auckland. If a New Zealand holiday is a stopover on the way to or from Australia, it may be worth considering Auckland - Christchurch - Australia (or vice-versa). NZ Customs operates a Dual Channel System - the Red and Green Channels - for clearance of air travellers.

  • If you have any prohibited or restricted goods, or dutiable goods exceeding your duty free allowance, you should seek customs clearance at the Red Channel.
  • If you do not have any prohibited, restricted or commercial goods, or dutiable goods exceeding your Duty/VAT concessions, you should use the Green Channel.

Note: Your baggage may be examined by Customs whether you take the Red or Green Channels.

Return to topDuty Free Allowance

Travellers over the age of 17 can import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 x 1125ml bottle of spirits or liqueur and 4.5 litres of wine (6 x 750ml bottles) and up to NZ$700 per passenger of any duty free goods. There are airside duty free lounges in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Return to topDeparture Taxes

An airport user fee of NZ$20 is payable by all international passengers 12 years and over departing from Auckland and NZ$25 from Wellington and Christchurch. Children aged 2 - 11 pay NZ$10 from Wellington.

Return to topAirport Transfers

Shuttle buses and taxis meet all flights. If transfers aren't included in your package, the costs from the airports to the city are approximately:

Public Bus

Return to topGoods and Services Tax

All goods and services are subject to a 12.5% tax (GST) which is usually displayed in the price. Visitors cannot claim a refund on this tax but if a supplier agrees to transport a major item to a visitor's home address, GST is not charged on the goods or the freight.

Return to topCredit Cards

All major credit cards are welcomed by most hotels, restaurants, shops, car rental companies and tour operators. Provided they are encoded with a PIN, international credit cards may be used to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines which are widely available in shopping centres and malls.

Return to topBanking

Normal banking hours are from 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. All banks are closed on public holidays.

Return to topHealth

There are no requirements regarding vaccinations. The water is completely safe to drink although, if you prefer bottled water, it's readily available.
New Zealand's public and private medical and hospital facilities provide a high standard of treatment and service but it's not free (except in the case of an accident). Health insurance therefore is highly recommended.

Return to topGeneral Safety

New Zealand is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world but occasionally visitors can fall victim to petty crime (as they can anywhere!) Common sense should prevent this happening - lock unattended vehicles, don't leave cameras or other valuables lying about and use hotel safes for valuable. For more information on comprehensive travel insurance, click here.

Return to topGetting Around

Public transport is efficient and taxis are metered. Unless you take an organised coach tour, we recommend a self-drive holiday. It's the ideal way to get around, giving you the freedom to go where you want and when. The roads are excellent are posted with good signs.
There are more than 80 independently-owned visitor information centres throughout New Zealand, all coordinated by the NZ Tourism Board. Staff are committed to providing visitors with accurate and objective information about where to go and what to see. This Visitor Information Network has a distinctive logo:

Visitor Information Network

Return to topCommunications

Most hotels have direct dialing facilities. Check with the operator for long distance and international charges, which may also be found in the telephone directory. The international country IDD code for New Zealand is 64. Mobile customers are advised to check with their network operators for their roaming status before travelling to New Zealand. Mobile reception on the whole is good as are on-line facilities for email sending/collecting.

Return to topTime Zones

New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
As a result, when it is 9am in New Zealand it is:

  • 9 pm in London - previous day
  • 10 pm in Frankfurt - previous day
  • 4 pm in New York - previous day
  • 1pm in Los Angeles - previous day
  • 7 am in Sydney - same day
  • 6 am in Tokyo - same day

When your country is on daylight savings, add one hour to above time. From October to March, NZ time moves ahead one hour with its own daylight savings.

Return to topPublic Holidays

New Year
1 January
Waitangi Day (New Zealand Day)
6 February
Good Friday
21 April (variable)
Easter Saturday
22 April (variable)
Easter Monday
24 April (variable)
Anzac Day
25 April
Queen's Birthday
7 June (variable)
Labour Day
25 October
25 - 27 December

Retail stores in New Zealand are open 7 days a week in the suburban shopping malls, however are closed on Good Friday, Anzac Day & Christmas Day.

Return to topDisabled Facilities

New Zealand is a great destination for the disabled traveller. Apart from the sights being so accessible, the law requires that every new building and major reconstruction provide reasonable and adequate access for people with disabilities. Every motel and hotel must have units with accessible facilities.

Return to topDress

Autumn and winter can be quite cold (see climate) and dressing in layers to put on or take off as required is a good idea. Coastal areas in summer are usually warm enough to go out in the evenings without a jacket, but it's still worth taking one (or a light jumper) in case the weather turns cooler. In the west and Fiordland you can expect some rain so a light waterproof jacket or coat is recommended.

Return to topPhotography

The New Zealand scenery is so spectacular nearly every visitor will take home photos that look like postcards. You should also take a camera to any traditional Maori ceremonies. Because of the exchange rate it can be worth having your photos processed before heading home.

Return to topElectricity

230/240 volts, 50 hertz (same for Australia and most of the South Pacific).

Return to topReligion

New Zealand is a very multi-cultural society with the vast majority of the population being Christian, however there are many other denominations.

Return to topSport

New Zealanders love sport.
In fact, this bit could well have gone under the previous heading. Rugby is huge in winter as cricket is in summer. For such a small population NZ produces an amazing number of world champions. 1999 however wasn't kind to the Kiwis on the international stage (rugby, rugby league, netball, cricket).
Undoubtedly NZ will bounce back to world champion status but, until then, it may be wise to avoid rugby wisecracks unless you're certain your audience has a sense of humour. (E.g. What's the difference between the All Blacks rugby team and an arsonist? An arsonist would never lose his last two matches.)
Other sports include soccer, golf, tennis, squash, badminton, hockey, netball and basketball, water-skiing, sailing, horse trekking, fishing and skiing.
It's also a great place for adventure sports like abseiling, rafting, cave tubing, kayaking, skydiving or swimming with dolphins. They're also big on bungy!
And, if you visit during rugby season, it's well worth catching a game to find out why EnZedders consider it to be the game they play in heaven.

Return to topDiving

Scuba diving in New Zealand is very underrated. There are many spectacular dives for both novices and certified divers (and, because of the exchange rate, offer great value). Two world-famous dive spots are Poor Knights Islands and the Rainbow Warrior wreck in the Bay of Islands.

Return to topFood & Restaurants

The range and quality of dining is superb. For a selection of fine restaurants, click here. Be sure to sample New Zealand wine with your meal, even if you don't find time to visit a winery.

Return to topTipping

Tipping, even in restaurants is not expected. New Zealanders do not depend on tips for their income but if a visitor wishes to tip in appreciation for special service, attention or kindness, that's fine too. A tip of more than 10% would be over-generous. Service charges are not normally added to hotel or restaurant bills.

Return to topEmergency Numbers

Dial 111 for Ambulance, Police or Fire.
AA Highway Reports 0900 33222.

Return to topTravel Tips


  • When packing, don't take any items that are hard or impossible to replace. Carry expensive items like mobile phones and jewellery on you.
  • Carry a change of clothes and spare toiletries on you just in case your luggage does go missing (also handy for freshening up in-flight).
  • Make an inventory of items in each bag to make identification easier if bags do go missing.
  • If you have luggage that could be confused with someone else's, tie a coloured ribbon to the handle so it stands out on the carousel on arrival.
  • If you haven't travelled for a while, or have moved house since last travelling, check to see the address and contact details on your luggage is correct.
  • One rule for successful travel is to halve your luggage and double your spending money and it's not bad advice. You will rarely find travellers complaining about not packing enough clothes - wherever you travel, there will always be a laundry if needed.

At the Airport...

  • Change some money into the currency of the country you'll be arriving in for snacks, taxis and to get by until you can get to a bank (remember, hotels always offer worse exchange rates than banks).
  • Airports are full of people with cash, travellers cheques, credit cards and passports and are therefore attractive places for thieves. They are also places where people's attention is focussed on checking in, boarding calls and so on which can make them easy targets. Carry your valuables in a safe place on your person, not in your hand luggage and if you visit the rest room, don't leave any bags on the floor if there is a gap under the door or wall of the cubicle. Also be wary of distractions. Sometimes thieves work in pairs where one will distract you, by knocking over your coffee or asking directions, and the other will take your bag when you're not looking.

In flight...

  • If you're travelling with children, check in early and be ready to board the flight first so you can settle them before the aircraft is full. Take some sweets for them to suck on during take off and landing, some poppers or soft drinks, some books and toys. A new book or toy can keep them amused - introduce it in-flight after they get bored with everything else. It's usually not worth worrying too much about fitting flight times to children's sleep patterns - the excitement of the occasion usually means they won't sleep until they're pretty much exhausted anyway. In my case they usually drop off just before landing, just in time to be carried through customs, so a backpack for hand luggage can save a bit of juggling!
  • Store your belongings in the locker above you or under your seat. If you put your gear above row 10 and you're sitting in row 20 someone else could pick them up by accident or you may forget.
  • As tempting as it may be, limit your alcohol intake when flying. It affects you much more quickly at altitude and adds to dehydration. Plenty of water is the go.
  • Wear comfortable clothing (elastic waist trousers, joggers) and dress for weather on arrival as well as departure.
  • Exercise occasionally - take a walk around the plane, stretch, rotate your feet.
  • Set your watch to the time of the country you'll be arriving in and try to adjust to that time.
  • When you arrive, treat your jetlag with sunshine and gentle sight seeing. Fight the urge to have a daytime nap. If you can make it through to bedtime, local time, you will start the next day refreshed and in-synch.

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