New Zealand – Useful Travel Information
Some basic facts and visitor information to help plan your trip
Area: 266,200 square km (103,735 square miles) – similar in size to Great Britain or Italy.
Population: around 4.6 million
Official languages: English and Maori
Entry Requirements – Passports & Visas
Visitors to New Zealand require a passport which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date the visitor intends leaving New Zealand. Some travellers may also require visas.
From 1 October 2019, some visitors must have an Electronic Travel Authority and pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy before travelling to New Zealand. Read more about this in our article; Are you ready for the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority?
For more information about visitor regulations, visa exemptions and visa waivers visit the www.immigration.govt.nz
What you can bring into New Zealand
New Zealand relies heavily on agricultural and horticultural trade and there are stringent regulations governing the import of animal and fruit/vegetable matter. All passengers are required to complete a passenger arrival card and proceed through customs and biosecurity checks on arrival in New Zealand. Heavy fines are payable for passengers who do not make a true declaration of items they are bringing into New Zealand. Further information on customs formalities can be found at www.customs.govt.nz
As of 1 May 2022, most international visitors are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, for entry into New Zealand.
Please check the Health.govt.nz website for up to date details.
New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, summer months are December to February and winter months are June to September. Summer and winter temperatures vary by only about 10˚C over most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal holiday destination all year round.
While there are four distinct seasons, there is no wet or dry season and rainfall is generally evenly spread throughout the year. Summer days are generally warm and pleasant, with plenty of sunshine, and activities in and around the water are popular. During winter months there is snow on the mountains and excellent skiing opportunities in alpine areas, however, away from the mountains temperatures are generally mild and do not fall below freezing.
Bring plenty of sunscreen – the sun in New Zealand is fierce and burn-times are short (between 10-15 minutes in summer).
The New Zealand lifestyle is generally relaxed and casual and this is reflected in clothing. Casual wear is recommended for travelling with something a little more formal for the evening. Tidy casual attire is acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots, particularly in resorts and regional towns.
Some guided walks and adventure activities advise on specific items of clothing to be worn on their trips.
The official currency is theNew Zealand Dollar (NZD$).
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks which are found at international airports and in most city centres. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand, however, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.
All major credit card can be used in New Zealand, with Visa and Mastercard accepted most widely. ATM’s are generally available in all except the most rural areas. Travellers’ Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores although they are becoming less common.
Goods and Services Tax
All goods and services in New Zealand are subject to a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Visitors cannot claim refunds of this tax on goods or services purchased while they are in New Zealand. However, when a purchase is made in a duty-free shop or from a retailer who ships a major purchase to a visitor’s home address, the GST will not be charged.
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz) with angled two or three pin plugs. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option.
New Zealand has a very high standard of international telecommunications available. Many international mobile phones will work in New Zealand – please check with your phone/network provider before leaving home to confirm. Mobile phones are available for hire while travelling in New Zealand. Mobile coverage is extensive across most of the country but not available in some remote and rural areas.
Public telephones are available and operate either by coin, credit card or pre-paid phone cards (available from bookstores and newsagents).
Driving around New Zealand
Visitors can legally drive in New Zealand for up to one year after arrival providing they hold a current overseas driver license or international driving permit. If the licence is not in English, an accurate English translation must be carried.
Vehicles drive on the left side of the road in New Zealand and roads are often windy with some different road rules visitors should be aware of before they drive. Visitors can complete the AA’s Visiting Drivers Training Programme to experience what it is like to drive on New Zealand roads before they arrive.
Rail travel is limited in New Zealand, however, the existing services are very scenic journeys with the TranzAlpine considered to be one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. The Overlander service operates between Auckland and Wellington, the TranzCoastal between Picton and Christchurch and the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth.
The Interislander ferry service operates between the North and South Islands and takes approximately 3-hours. We strongly recommend that ferry reservations are made in advance, particularly during the peak summer months of December, January and February and over the Easter holiday period.
Tipping is not an obligatory part of any service rendered, but may be offered as a bonus when service excels. Employed persons in New Zealand do not depend upon tips or gratuities for their income.
It is now illegal to smoke indoors in workplaces and hospitality venues including restaurants, bars, cafes, casinos and hotel lobbies. If you wish to smoke, you will need to smoke outdoors.
Tap water throughout New Zealand is fresh and safe to drink. Water from lakes, rivers and streams should be boiled or chemically treated before consuming.
New Zealand does not have any poisonous snakes, dangerous animals and only one poisonous spider – the katipo which is very rare and only found in certain coastal areas. Katipo bites are rare. If travelling to Fiordland, insect repellent is strongly recommended as the sand-flies are large and determined!
In New Zealand you are totally responsible for your own safety. Your decisions and actions are your own. It is not possible to obtain compensation for injury through litigation – no suing or lawsuits. You need to use your own judgment when it comes to safety – you should feel comfortable with any activity that you undertake – eg. guided walk, adventure activity, scenic flight, cruise etc. You cannot sue anyone for your own misjudgment.
Emergency and Medical Services
New Zealand’s medical facilities, both private and public, provide a high standard of treatment and care. Services are not free for visitors to New Zealand unless as a result of an accident. Visitors should have their own medical insurance cover.
It is strongly recommended that all travellers hold comprehensive travel insurance (including full medical and repatriation) before departing their home country.
New Zealand Immigration. Find out about visa regulations etc.
United States State Department information for travellers to New Zealand
Information on road travel, safety and regulations in New Zealand
Detailed information on the New Zealand climate and weather forecasts
New Zealand Department of Conservation website for information on National parks, and New Zealand’s native birds and flora & fauna.