New Zealand is known in the native Maori language as Aotearoa, often translated as The land of the long white cloud.
New Zealand is a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty which includes: jagged mountains, steep fiords, pristine lakes, raging rivers, scenic beaches, and active volcanic features. The islands are one of Earth's richest flora zones and is inhabited by some unique fauna, including many flightless birds such as the kiwi, which is the national symbol.
The Maori culture continues to play an important part in everyday New Zealand life, and there are abundant opportunities for the visitor to understand and experience the history and the present day form of Maori life.
The country is sparsely populated, but easily accessible. New Zealand has modern visitor facilities, and developed transportation networks. New Zealand often adds an adventure twist to nature, and is the home of jetboating through shallow gorges, and bungy jumping off anything high enough to give a thrill.
New Zealand has been called God's own country and the "Paradise of the Pacific" since the early 1800s. Travellers generally agree New Zealand deserves this description.
Lonely Planet named New Zealand the world's top travel destination two years in a row (2003/2004), and it was voted best long-haul travel destination in the 2004 Guardian and Observer’s People’s Choice award. It has won the award in three out of the past four years. At the 2005 Condé Nast Traveller Awards, readers voted New Zealand as the best holiday destination in the world.
New Zealand consists of two main islands and many smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 1600 km southeast of Australia. With a population of four million in a country about the size of the United Kingdom, many areas are sparsely settled.
Be sure to allow sufficient time to travel in New Zealand as distances are large, and roads wind along the coast and through mountain ranges, particularly on the South Island. It is possible to tour for three or four weeks on each island, although you can certainly see highlights in far less time.
Auckland, with a population of around 1.25 million people, is the largest city in Polynesia.
New Zealand was the last significant land mass to be inhabited by humans, both in terms of indigenous settlement and European colonization. This, combined with geological youth and geographical isolation, has led to the development of a young, vigorous nation with a well-travelled, well-educated expatriate population of 1,000,000. 1 in 4 born New Zealanders and 1 in 3 between ages 22 and 48 have left their place of birth for more favourable locations.
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about 800 AD. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642, was the first European to see New Zealand after the Portuguese expedition led by Cristovao de Mendonça over a hundred years before in 1521-1524. However this is a disputed claim by historians and in 1642 Tasman mapped the country's coastline, and so forth it appeared on Dutch maps as "Nieuw Zeeland" from as early as 1645. British naval Captain James Cook rediscovered, circumnavigated and mapped the islands in 1769. A few people, mostly sealers, whalers, traders and missionaries, settled during the next 80 years and the islands were administered by the British colony in New South Wales.
In 1840, with the assistance of missionaries, the Maori agreed to accept British sovereignty over the islands through the Treaty of Waitangi. More intensive settlement began that same year. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872, coupled with political manoeuvring and the spread of European diseases, broke Maori resistance to land settlement, but left lasting grievances. In recent years the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances, and this is a complicated process. In 2005, the Maori Party was formed, in part in response to the Government's law on the Foreshore and Seabed but also to promote an independent Maori perspective at a political level.
When the six British colonies federated to form Australia in 1901, New Zealand decided not to join the federation. Instead, the British colony of New Zealand became a dominion in 1907. It was offered complete independence under the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although it did not adopt this until 1947. All remaining constitutional links with the United Kingdom were severed with the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act by both parliaments in 1986, though the British queen remains the Head of State with an appointed Governor-General as her representative in New Zealand. However the Constitution of Australia permits New Zealand to join as another Australian state. New Zealand supported the United Kingdom militarily in the Boer War of 1899–1902, as well as both World Wars. It also participated in wars in Malaya, Korea and Vietnam under various military alliances, most notably the ANZUS treaty with Australia and the United States.
New Zealand's population has strongly opposed the testing and use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear armed warship visits meant that the Parliament enacted anti-nuclear legislation in the mid-1980s. This led to the abandonment of New Zealand's commitment to the ANZUS defence alliance.
A former British colony, it has a population mainly of European descent, with a sizeable indigenous Maori minority, a similarly sized Asian minority, and smaller minorities of various Polynesian and other groups.
New Zealand leads the world time wise. 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+12) and 20 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving (GMT+13) begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the first Sunday in April.
NZST New Zealand Standard Time NZDT New Zealand Daylight Time
The national sport in New Zealand is rugby union. Other popular sports include soccer, rugby league and netball in winter, and cricket in summer. The Super 14 season, a regional competition incorporating regional teams from South Africa and Australia, runs from February to May, and the New Zealand domestic competition, the Air New Zealand Cup (formally the National Provincial Championship) runs later in the year. The national team, the All Blacks, generally play matches at home during June through to September, mainly in the Tri Nations against South Africa and Australia.
New Zealand has a temperate climate in the south island and sub-tropical climate in the North Island and the nature of the terrain, the prevailing winds and the length of the country lead to sharp regional contrasts. Maximum daytime temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C and only fall below 0°C in the elevated inland regions. Generally speaking, rainfall and humidity is higher in the west than the east of the country due to the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges and the prevailing westerly/north westerly winds.
Part situated in the Roaring Forties, unsheltered areas of the country can get a bit breezy, especially in the centre, through Cook Strait and around Wellington. The winds seem to be stronger around the equinoxes. In the winter, southerly gales can be severe but they also bring snow to the ski-fields and are usually followed by calm clear days.
|Temperatures in (°C)||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
New Zealand is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to forecast the weather. Although the weather is changeable, there is certainly more sunshine and warm temperate temperatures to enjoy in summer. It is not uncommon, especially on the South Island, to experience four seasons in one day.
New Zealand is a small country surrounded by ocean. A complicating, but often beneficial factor on the day to day weather, is the steep mountain range running down the spine of New Zealand orientated in a southwest-northeast direction. These mountains often shelter eastern parts of the country from an onslaught of westerly winds and rain.
The weather is mostly influenced by fast moving weather systems in the strong westerly winds, which are often referred to as the roaring forties, that predominate over southern parts of the country and seas to the south. There tends to be a seven day cycle associated with these westerlies as a cold front sweeps over the country associated with a couple of days rain, somewhere over the country. Often though these westerlies are disrupted by large high pressure systems or by storm systems.
During the summer and early autumn months from about December to April, the westerlies tend to move south giving more settled weather. Always be prepared for a change though. Also, during this time, random weather systems from the tropics can make their presence felt, mainly over the North Island, with a period of warm wet windy weather.
In the Winter, May to August, the weather tends to be more changeable. Cold fronts often bring a period of rain to western areas followed by a cold wind from the south bringing snow to the mountains and sometimes to near sea level over eastern parts of the South Island. When the weather turns cold and wet in the east, to the west of the mountains it will be fantastic. At this time of the year it is not uncommon for high pressure systems and clear skies to park over the whole country for long periods bringing crisp frosty nights and mornings followed by cool sunny days.
In spring, from August to November, the westerly winds are typically at their strongest – these are called the equinoctial westerlies. It tends to rain more in western areas, and especially on the South Island, at this time, while in the east, warm dry winds can give great cycling weather. Once again though, a cold front and its accompanying south winds can give you a taste of winter at any stage.
The Metservice has weather forecasts for five days in advance.
New Zealand is a very diverse country with many regions that are worth seeing, but at a high level it's easiest to break it down according to its two main islands and the smaller offshore islands.
It's the country that's magnificent in New Zealand and we list only nine of the most prominent settlements. Here they are from north to south:
New Zealand has a wealth of national parks, rural areas and other out-of-the-way places that are worth a visit. Nine of the best are listed below from north to south, but there are many more in the various regions of the country.
Arrivals are by plane or occasionally by boat (typically cruise ships through Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch).
There are international airports at Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The main gateways are Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo. The others are largely restricted to flights from Australia. If you do take a flight through Australia, make sure that you have transit visa in case you need to get one. You'll not be able to get on your flight otherwise.
Due to its large Polynesian and Melanesian expatriate communities, New Zealand has extensive direct flight options to South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Departure tax is included in the ticket price if flying out of Auckland. If you are departing internationally from other centres, you must pay $25 at the Bank of New Zealand counter or kiosks. Children under 12 are exempt, but still have to obtain an exemption sticker from the bank. If you don't have the sticker, you can check in, but you will not be allowed to progress through security. The departure fee can be paid by credit card, cash or a mixture. Use the opportunity to get rid of the last of your notes and coin, and pay the difference by credit.
All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders and current permanent residents of Australia may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions including on employment. British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor's Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries including Malaysia, Japan, Oman, Singapore, Israel, Taiwan and United States can be granted a visa-free visitor's entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries . All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.
Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality, will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check the Immigration New Zealand web page for details.
If entering as a tourist you must have a return ticket or evidence of onward travel to enter NZ and even check-in with airlines. If you do not then you will have to purchase one at the airport to be allowed to check in.
New Zealand has very strong biosecurity laws. The economy is based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases and pests. Do not think you can get away with bringing items in by not declaring, all hand and checked luggage will be x-rayed on arrival as part of the entry procedures.
Take care with any items of food that you have obtained during your travel, many people have been caught and fined as they did not declare fruit items they were given as part of an in-flight meal and retained for later consumption. The best advice is to declare any item you think may cause problems - biosecurity control border staff may confiscate and destory the item, but you will not have to pay a fine or even face criminal prosecution. Even if you haven't declared an item on your arrival card, you can still advise staff when you get to the border check of any item without incurring any fine.
At ports of international entry, both the Agriculture and Customs Services may inspect passenger baggage and confiscate and fine for any prohibited items. There are air-side amnesty bins available to cater for accidental importation. Items that must be declared include: any kind of food; any plant material; any animals, animal material or biological specimens; dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, and used camping gear and anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. If declared, the owners of dirty items are often required to clean them thoroughly, if not declared fines are often applied. Expect random inspections by sniffer-dogs - you may need to have your luggage inspected if you have had food in it recently that the dogs can smell.
Commercially-packaged or processed food is usually allowed through by the Agricultural services, but you can still be fined if you do not declare them. If you are unsure it is best to declare any questionable items as the immigration officers will be able to tell you if it needs to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Some items may be allowable such as wooden souvenirs but be taken for sterilization or fumigation before being released to you. You may be charged a fee for this.
On the spot fines of $200 are issued for not declaring controlled items. The law provides for deliberate breaches to receive a fine of up to $100,000 or a prison term of up to five years. Either declare items as required or dump them in the amnesty bins before you reach customs. If you have difficulty with the arrival card, most airline staff are able to assist you, there are also officials at the major airports air-side who can assist.
In addition, importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and results in arrest. If found guilty, you would be subject to a range of penalties from; hefty fines for minor offences to lengthy imprisonment for larger offences, after which you would be deported and prohibited from re-entering.
Domestic flights in New Zealand are often cheaper than driving or taking the train, especially if crossing between the North and South Islands is required.
Airlines operate an electronic ticket system. You can book on-line, by telephone, or through a travel agent. Photo ID will be needed for travel.
Check-in times are usually at least 30 minutes prior to flight departure. Cabin baggage and personal scanning are routinely conducted for services from the major airports that have jet landings.
Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown (New Zealand) and Wellington airports have timetabled buses to the airport. Regional airports generally have only on-demand shuttle services and taxis.
You can bring your own bike, as well as hire a bike in some of the larger cities. You must wear a helmet while riding, otherwise you may be fined. When hiring a bike you should be supplied with a helmet. Also remember to ride on the left.
Riding bikes in New Zealand can be fun, but be aware that because of the geography and small number of people cycling between towns there are very few cycle lanes and limited shoulder space on roads. Beware of buses and trucks on main highways as overtaking distances can be slim. You should also be prepared for the large distances between towns and cities and the generally windy weather. While some areas of New Zealand are flat, most tourists cycling in New Zealand will find that they need to be able to cope with long periods of cycling up hills, especially in the Coromandel. Be prepared for any weather, and for the weather to change within a day.
You can choose to get a bike on arrival in New Zealand, or to use a self guided or guided cycle tour operator. Christchurch has the largest number of guided and self-guided tour operators and there are a number of bike rental companies based there also. There are also several tour operators who incorporate cycling with tours such as Pedal Tours as well as specialist cycle tour companies like Adventure South .
Buses are a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to get around New Zealand. Most roads in New Zealand are quite narrow and winding, and travelling a long distance in a bus can be a safe and relaxing way to travel. Booking in advance on some lines can get you great bargains.
See also: Renting a motorhome in New Zealand
See also: Driving in New Zealand
Driving around both the main islands by car is generally not a problem. You can reach almost anywhere you might need to in a two-wheel-drive car or even a small camper van. The volume of traffic is normally low and drivers are usually courteous. Within cities, traffic density is higher and some confusion may set in, given that many drivers are used to the open roads. Traffic drives on the left in New Zealand. Outside of cities roads are usually only one lane in each direction. Allow time to be caught behind slower moving traffic until it is safe to overtake.
To legally drive in New Zealand then you need to be at least 15 years of age and hold a valid drivers licence from your home country. If you plan on staying and driving in country for over a year then you need to get a New Zealand driver's licence.
Rideshare and carpooling is increasing in New Zealand as petrol prices rise and people recognise the social and environmental benefit of sharing vehicles and travelling with others. While some systems are quite informal, others have trust systems which give greater security when choosing a ride.
Car rental firms range from the familiar multi-national big brands through to small local car rental firms. The advantage of the big name rental firms is they can be found throughout New Zealand and offer the biggest and newest range of rental vehicles. The disadvantage is that generally they are the most expensive. Occasionally rental firms offer free rental in the direction from south to north due to the majority of tourists travelling in the opposite direction, creating a deficit of cars in the north.
At the other end of the scale are the small local operators who typically have older rental cars. Whilst you may not end up driving this year's latest model the advantage is that the smaller car rental firms can be substantially cheaper, so leaving you more money to spend on the many exciting attractions New Zealand offers. Between these extremes you will find a wide range of NZ car rental firms catering to different needs and budgets.
Self drive holidays are a great way to travel around New Zealand as they offer independence, flexibility and opportunities to interact with the locals. A number of companies offer inclusive self drive holidays with rental car & accommodation, pre-set itineraries or customised to suit your interests.
If you want to have a extended holiday in New Zealand, and you would prefer to have your own transport it may be cheaper to buy a car or van and resell it just before leaving. If you use this method travel across Cook Strait can be expensive. If purchasing a car for NZ$500 or less it may be cheaper to buy and sell a car in each island separately. In addition to the usual ways to look for a car (newspapers, accommodation noticeboards, car markets etc) New Zealand's biggest online auction website Trademe and biggest free classifieds Trade and Exchange have many listings. You can also try the backpackers car market where there are usually people selling their cars off cheaply. Car auctions can also be a suitable option if you are looking to buy a car. Turner's Auctions have regular auctions and are based in many cities. Look out for "Repo" auctions, where the cars being sold are as a result of reposession. Should any previous ownership problems have existed, these will have been resolved before auction commences.
The following things need to be checked in order to safely purchase a vehicle in New Zealand:
When you sell a vehicle it is very important to go to a Postshop outlet to record the transfer otherwise any subsequent speeding fines, parking tickets etc will be recorded in your name.
Car insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand but at least third party insurance is recommended. Diesel vehicles have additional requirements, as diesel is significantly cheaper than petrol but there are additional charges based on distance traveled.
New Zealand is a motorbike rider's dream country! New Zealand Motorcycle rentals of many makes are available throughout New Zealand. The South Island is the main attraction for an motorcyclist and New Zealand motorcycle tours base most of their time here.
South Pacific Motorcycles offer both New Zealand motorbike rental and New Zealand motorbike tours (Harley-Davidson, BMW, Honda, Triumph & other late-model motorcycles)as well as self-guided New Zealand motorcycle tours and based in Christchurch "The Garden City" in the South Island of New Zealand, motorcyclists have easy access to some of the best motorcycling in the world.
Hitchhiking around New Zealand is generally possible on most inter-city and major rural roads. However, it is illegal to hitchhike on motorways and illegal for motorists to stop there to pick you up. Try to get out of the middle of town, especially where public transport operates. Wear your pack and look like you're touring the country rather than just being a local looking for a lift. You have as much chance of being picked up by another tourist as a local, particularly in tourist areas. Alternatives for travellers include organizing shared rides through hostels, or using an online ridesharing resource like Jayride or Cooreea which aims to make the process safer.
See also: Train travel in New Zealand
Both Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services. These services are operated by Veolia in Auckland and Tranz Metro in Greater Wellington.
Inter-city rail passenger services are operated by Tranz Scenic , but have become increasingly limited due to the dysfunctional services, and the focus is now on popular tourist trains. However the remaining train services pass through spectacular scenery and have a running commentary, panoramic windows and an open-air viewing carrige.
Trains run at low speed, sometimes dropping to 50 km/h in the summer due to the lack of track maintenance following privatisation in the 1990s. Most New Zealanders prefer to drive or fly, as train fares are comparatively expensive. Trains are more suited to tourists as they are more scenic and more comfortable than other forms of travel.
To get your car between the North and South Islands you will need to take a ferry across Cook Strait. There are several sailings daily between Wellington and Picton. But be prepared for a delay or a change in sailings if the weather is stormy.
Harbour ferries, for commuters, operate in Auckland and Wellington. A number of communities are served by boat, rather than road, while charter boats are available for expeditions in several places. There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area.
Just like the movies
Many movies and television series have been filmed in New Zealand. Some of the more notable examples are listed below:
New Zealand scenery has long been a major tourist attraction, so spectacular it leaves many lost for words. You need to see it to understand, just describing it is not enough. Mind you, if you have seen some recent movies that were made in New Zealand, you probably have seen it and not realized. Those spectacular scenery in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is of New Zealand landscapes.
Selected highlights are:
English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. English is universal, and is written with Commonwealth (British) spelling.
New Zealand English is one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms to justify the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary.
Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that Americans may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom refers to a room containing a bath while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom or washroom are known as a toilet. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media are unusually tolerant of swear words when used in context.
The New Zealand accent is somewhat nasalised with flattened vowel sounds and vowel shifting. New Zealanders consider their accent to be markedly different from the Australian one and are often mildly offended when mistaken for or confused with Australians. New Zealand terminology and slang are also different from Australian usage. Americans find New Zealand accents easy to understand, so do Australians and British. Some European dialects find it slightly harder and Asians may find it rather hard to understand; New Zealanders are quite happy however to repeat what they just said if necessary.
Maori is actively spoken by a minority of both Maori and language learners. Maori is available as a language to study in, instead of English, at many educational institutes. The Maori language is spoken by some, but not all, Maori and a few non-Maori, especially in the far north and east of the North Island. Many place names are in Maori and for the traveller some knowledge of Maori pronunciation is very useful.
New Zealand Sign language was given status in 2005 as an official language of the country.
See also: Maori phrasebook
Generally, New Zealand English expressions follows British English. However, New Zealand English has also borrowed much from Maori and there are a number of other phrases that are not commonly encountered elsewhere or may confuse the visitor.
You may get a strange look if you use Kiwi slang in New Zealand, but it may be used inadvertently to in conversation. If you don't understand just ask and most New Zealanders will explain.
Outdoor and adventure activities include:
Currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Other currencies are not readily accepted other than at some of the larger hotels and at banks throughout New Zealand. Attempting to make a transaction in a foreign currency may result in some light hearted bemusement.
The smallest coin is 10c, since New Zealand reduced the size of its silver (cent) coins in 2006, and eliminated the 5c piece. The 10c piece is a coppery colour similar to a US or UK penny. The 20c piece is silver with a Maori carving depicted, as is the 50c piece with captain James Cook's ship the Endeavour. The gold $1 features a kiwi, whilst the $2 features a heron. Banknotes come in $5 (orange with Sir Edmund Hillary), $10 (blue with Kate Sheppard), $20 (green with Queen Elizabeth II), $50 (purple with Sir Apirana Ngata), and $100 (red with Lord Rutherford of Nelson).
On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and before 1PM on Anzac Day (25 April), all but a few essential businesses must be closed. While many traders flout this regulation, the matter has for many years been being reviewed by the government. If you are in New Zealand on one of these days, ensure you have all your needs met prior to the date.
New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town, even those without a bank. Most shops have Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with Eftpos, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around $10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash. Banks offer a wide range of telephone and Internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.
Because of strong advertising laws, the displayed price is normally the purchase price for most goods sold in New Zealand. The principle The price stated is the price you pay is strongly ingrained in New Zealand culture.
Most retailers will not negotiate on price, though some have a formal policy of matching the competition and will match or even discount their prices for you if you can find a better price for the exact same product elsewhere. However, this seems to be changing as there are stories about people finding appliance and electronics stores very willing to negotiate on price in order to get business, especially if you're looking at high-end items or have a shopping list of multiple high-priced items. Some places you have to ask for a discount, while others have salespeople that offer discounts on pricey goods as soon as they approach you. Other than high end appliance stores haggling is generally viewed as extremely rude. As a customer you are seen as wasting a shopkeeper's time because it is assumed that they have priced the good at a reasonable price and as a shopkeeper you would be wasting the customer's time if you overpriced the item expecting customers to haggle.
If you are in New Zealand for an extended period of time, the website Trademe provides a similar business model to overseas giant Ebay. However Trademe has a greater focus on Direct Debit based trading and minimal to no fees required upon an item's initial listing.
Unless it says otherwise the price includes GST (Goods and Services Tax, or sales tax) of 12.5% (15% from 1 October 2010). Some shops, especially in tourist destinations, will ship purchases overseas, as export goods which are not subject to GST. Ask about this service before making your purchase. Goods purchased and taken with you will be subject to GST. You can claim GST back on items to the value of more than $700 at the time of your departure as if you were exporting them. You must have the items and receipts with you. You should allow extra time air-side of the airport to process this transaction.
On public holidays, some establishments such as cafes may charge a holiday surcharge in the region of 15%, supposedly to cover the cost of employing staff who are working on the holiday. This is a recent development because current holiday legislation requires workers who work on public holidays to be paid at one-and-a-half times their normal wage and be given a equal time off in lieu as a minimum. The legality of this surcharge is questionable if not advertised openly or notified at the time of placing an order and should be challenged. Luckily this is already beginning to go out of fashion, as shops generally do a roaring trade on holidays and many consumers are not deceived by the flimsy pretext.
In lodgings, restaurants, and bars the prices charged include the services provided and tips are not expected, though the practice is becoming more common, especially bars, cafes, and restaurants that cater for tourists. However, do not be surprised or offended if you receive bemused looks or if your tip is initially refused or questioned as tipping is still a relatively new phenomenon and it is also a form of courtesy in New Zealand culture to first decline such a gesture before accepting it. For some New Zealanders' their unfamiliarity with tipping can make them ill-at-ease with it when travelling in countries where it is practised. It can be viewed very negatively by New Zealanders as being made to 'pay twice', or as a form of bribery. Staff in some establishments may risk their job in accepting a tip, although this is relatively uncommon. In the major cities, tipping tends to be embraced by workers, especially over the summer when students wait tables for part-time work. Tipjars may be placed on counters, but these are for loose change and although it is appreciated, you are not expected to place coins in them. It is common practice and polite to donate your spare change from the meal to what ever charity has a collection jar on the counter, and this acts as the standard substitute for tipping.
New Zealand has a wide range of eating places, from fast food outlets to stylish restaurants. Many petrol stations have a convenience store with sandwiches or food such as pies that can be microwaved on-site. International fast food chains include KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Subway. On the North Island, try BurgerFuel, a New Zealand chain which makes freshly cooked burgers served with kumara chips and dipping sauce. There are also many independent, owner-operated takeaways outlets selling one or more of burgers, pizzas, fried chicken, Chinese or other Asian fast food or fish and chips. At least a burger bar and/or fish and chip shop can be found in almost any small town or block of suburban shops. The humble fish and chip shop is the archetypical New Zealand fast food outlet. The menu consists of battered fish portions deep fried in oil together with chunky cut potato chips as well as a range of other meats, seafood, pineapple rings and even chocolate bars, all wrapped in newsprint paper-today it is unprinted but traditionally it was yesterday's newspaper, until someone decided it was unhealthy. A good meal can often be had for under $5, a bad one for the same price.
New Zealand's cultural majority, mainly British, do not have a definitive and recognisably distinct cuisine that differs markedly from the traditional British cuisine. However there are a number of small differences
The Maori also have a distinctive cuisine…
New Zealanders have a reputation for enjoying their beer. Although there are now only three major breweries, there are many regional brands, each with their own distinctive taste and staunch supporters.
Take care when and where you indulge in public. New Zealand has recently introduced liquor ban areas--that means alcoholic drinks cannot be consumed or even carried in some streets, such as city centres and popular beaches, at certain times of the day or night. Police can instruct you to empty bottles and arrest you if you do not comply.
The New Zealand wine industry has developed into a significant export industry. New Zealand is now known as one of the top producers of Sauvignon Blanc. The Hawkes Bay region is well known for its Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and more recently Viognier varieties. Marlborough is the largest wine producing region and famous for its Sauvignon Blanc. Waipara in North Canterbury specialises in Riesling and Pinot gris. Further south in Central Otago, Pinot Noir is produced in the most concentrated of styles. Many vineyards now offer winery tours, wine tasting and sales from the vineyard.
The minimum legal purchase age for alcohol in New Zealand is 18, and can only be supplied to under-18s via a parent or legal guardian. It is universal policy for bars and retailers to ask for photo identification from any patron who looks under the age of 25, and the only forms of identification accepted are a valid New Zealand or overseas passport, a valid New Zealand driver licence, or a valid Hospitality Association of New Zealand (HANZ) 18+ card.
Coffeehouses are a daytime venue in many of the larger cities and tourist destinations. The cafe culture is notable in downtown Wellington, where many office workers have their tea breaks. Most coffee styles, cappuccino, latte, espresso/short black, long black, flat white, vienna etc, are usually available. Cappuccinos are probably the most popular and are usually served with a choice of cinnamon or chocolate powder sprinkled on top. Its usual to request which one you want. Fluffies are a small frothed milk for children, sprinkled with chocolate powder.
Bottled water, both flavoured and unflavoured, is available in most shops. Not that there is anything wrong with the tap water, it is just that some town supplies are drawn from river water and chlorinated. Most town supplies are fluoridated. If you do not want to pour your money down the drain, fill your own water bottle from the tap, unless you find it is too heavily chlorinated for your taste.
Tap water in New Zealand is regarded as some of the cleanest in the world; it is safe to drink from in all cities, most come from artesian wells or freshwater reservoirs - however, some are from rivers which can be chlorinated to be made safe but do not taste very nice. Some of the water in Auckland comes from the Waikato river, a long river that has its source in Lake Taupo in the centre of the North Island. But by the time it reaches Auckland, it has been treated so that the quality is no worse than that of the Thames in London or the Hudson in New York. Auckland water is also drawn from run-off reservoirs in the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges. Tap water in places such as Christchurch and Hastings is not chlorinated at all as it is drawn from the pure artesian aquifers of the Canterbury and Heretaunga plains.
L & P or Lemon & Paeroa is a sweet carbonated lemonade style drink said to be "world famous in New Zealand". It is a sold in a brown plastic bottle with a yellow label similar to the traditional brown glass bottles it used to be sold in. Generally one for the kids or parties as it mixes quite well with whisky. It is now manufactured in Auckland by Coca-Cola.
New Zealand offers a wide range of accommodation.
International quality hotels can be found in the major cities. And New Zealanders seem to have perfected the art of the top-end homestay. Hosted luxury lodges are the top-end equivalent of the bed-and-breakfast market and New Zealand has upwards of 40 internationally recognised lodges. Per capita, that's probably the highest in the world. They tend to be situated away from cities, though some are right in the heart of the major centres, and can be difficult to get to. At the very top-end, helicopter transfers and private jets help the luxury traveller move between the lodges they've chosen for their visit.
Motels of a variety of standards from luxury to just adequate can be found on the approaches to most towns.
There is a wide range of backpackers accommodation around the country, including a network of Youth Hostels that are members of the Youth Hostels Association (62 in 2004), and a network of Nomads Hostels
Bed and Breakfasts are popular with visiting Brits and Swiss as well as homestays, farmstays and similar lodgings - some of which are in the most unlikely places.
For uniquely New Zealand accommodation, there are Maori homestays and tourist-catering marae stays.
There are a number of commercial camping grounds around the country, as well as camping sites within all of the national parks. One way that many tourists travel around New Zealand is in a self-contained campervan, a motorised caravan or large minibus, that can be driven by anyone who holds an ordinary car driver's licence.
If you are travelling into the backcountry, the Department of Conservation has many backcountry huts that can be used under a permit system.
Free camping is also available in many places. Unless there is a "no camping" sign it is common to find a tent or hammock pitched for the night in many picnic areas or in a grove of trees off the road. Cycle tourists especially will rarely need to pay for camping, only for showers and laundry. Multi-day camping in these areas is often frowned upon, and in conservation areas camping outside designated areas may attract a fine.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world after the UK to develop a dense WWOOF network. WWOOF is a world wide network where travellers ("WWOOFers") stay as volunteers on farms and receive food and accommodation in exchange for half a days help for each night they stay. The Nelson Tasman region in the South Island is particularly rich in WWOOFing possibilities. HelpX which is similar to WWOOF but is not restricted to just organics, originated and has its largest country network in New Zealand.
Couchsurfing is popular in New Zealand with most major centres sporting active forums and groups as well as having hosts all around the nation.
For many years, New Zealand schools and universities have educated foreign students from the countries of Southeast Asia and education has now become a major source of export earnings for the country. In recent years English language schools have been established for students from the region, particularly South Korea and China, but also many other countries.
Education in New Zealand is compulsory from age 6 to 16 years, though almost all children begin attending school at age 5 and often stay at school for 13 years, until 17 or 18 years old. Primary schooling is from Year 1-6 (formerly J1-Standard 4), intermediate schooling is Year 7 and 8 (formerly forms one and two), while secondary schooling is from Year 9-13 (formerly forms 3 to 7). In some primary and secondary schools one or both of the intermediate years may be combined with either the primary or secondary years. There are also Middle Schools which cover the intermediate years and the first two years of secondary, but these are rare.
Secondary schools are also called high schools (generally Years 9-13) and colleges (generally Years 7-13). A college does not refer to universities in New Zealand unlike in some other countries, though some specialised single-subject tertiary training-centres may also be called colleges.
Primary, intermediate and secondary compulsory schooling is free for citizens and permanent residents, although some nominal fees are generally charged to cover consumable materials. Tertiary education is state assisted, with part of the tuition costs funded by the state. International students will need to pay for their education; in some cases this includes a national profit margin.
The Ministry of Education has established a Code of Practice that New Zealand educational institutions enrolling international students need to abide by. This Code of Practice includes minimum standards for the 'PC 'pastoral care of international students. Primary school students, or those age 10 or under, need to either live with a parent or else board in a school hostel. Additionally, older students, who are under age 18, may live in homestays, temporary accommodation or with designated caregivers. Where the institution arranges accommodation for students older than age 18 the code of practice applies to their accommodation situations also.
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and refugees can receive financial assistance through loans and allowances, to pay the tuition fees and to attend tertiary education at Universities, Polytechnics, Whananga (Maori operated universities/polytechnics) and Private Training Providers. Overseas students will need to pay the full tuition fees and their own living costs while studying at a New Zealand institution.
Overseas students need to have a student visa and a reasonable level of cash to spend in order to undertake a course of study at a New Zealand based educational institution. Visas are generally valid for the duration of the course of study and only while the student is attending the course of study. New Zealand educational institutions will inform the appropriate immigration authorities if a student ceases to attend their enrolled courses, who may then suspend or cancel that student's visa. Educational institutions often also exchange this enrollment and attendance data electronically with other government agencies responsible for providing student assistance.
To work in New Zealand you need to be a citizen or current permanent resident of either New Zealand or Australia, or else have a work permit or appropriate visa. If you are intending to work in New Zealand you should obtain a work permit along with any tourist visas you might apply for.
You will also need to have a New Zealand bank account, as most employers pay using electronic banking rather than in cash; an Inland Revenue Tax Number, as witholding tax or income tax will be deducted from your wages by your employer; and a tax declaration form, as tax will be deducted at the no declaration rate of 45% unless you have a tax code. More information about New Zealand's tax system, including appropriate forms, can be obtained from Inland Revenue .
The process of applying for an IRD number is between 8-10 working days. You will need to fill in the IRD number application form, and provide a photocopy of a passport or New Zealand birth certificate. It is possible to apply for the IRD number, then call the department around a week later to request the number by phone, however this will depend on the workload of the processing centres at the time. Calling the IRD requires several forms of ID, it is ideal to be able to provide your passport number and full address when requested.
New Zealand operates a simplified tax system that tends to collect more tax than people need to pay because employers pay their worker's tax when they pay their workers. The obligation is then on the worker to claim overpaid tax back, rather than declaring their income and paying any extra tax. Be careful though, if you choose to work in New Zealand and you stay more than 183 days in any 12-month period, your worldwide income could be taxed. New Zealand has double taxation agreements with several countries to stop tax being paid twice. A safe rule of thumb is to pay all tax demands and Not seek claims for redress on any matter.
Being a foreigner means that your New Zealand income is subject to local income tax at the fullest levels. Although many people believe that they can collect all their tax back when they leave the country, this is not true. It may be the case that filing an income tax return may result in a small refund if working for only part of the year; however, this is not likely the case. Tax in all its forms in New Zealand amounts to around half of a worker's income.
New Zealand is currently (2007) experiencing a period of full employment as it experiences a higher than average migration churn when compared to other OECD countries. Therefore many positions can not be filled and a number of employers are having difficulties finding workers, particularly short term workers and businesses often cite this as a restriction on further growth. A good starting point for interested job-seekers is:
Seasonal work such as fruit picking and other agricultural work is sometimes available for tourists such as backpackers formally but always available illegally. More information about legal seasonal fruit picking work can be found at Pick NZ .
New Zealand has a number of reciprocal Working Holiday Schemes, which allow people between 18 and 30 to travel and work in New Zealand for up to one year and vice versa. At present young citizens of a number of countries from Europe, South America, North America and Asia can apply. These schemes are enormously popular and in many instances participants can apply to stay in New Zealand longer once they have completed their one year stay. Information on all the various schemes and application details can be found at:
If you want to stay in New Zealand long term, you should apply well ahead of time. New Zealand operates a points system for assessing applicants.
Refugee applications should be made before arrival since NZ has a formal refugee induction programme.
Those who turn up in a New Zealand airport arrival lounge without papers, claiming refugee status, may find themselves put on a return flight to their country of origin or in jail awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings.
Volunteering is a great way to get to meet locals and see the island, National Parks and nature reserves of New Zealand. You can speak with the local Department of Conservation office about volunteering opportunities or choose from any number of worldwide organizations that offer extended travel for anyone willing to volunteer their time to work with locals on projects such as community development, conservation, wildlife sanctuary maintenance & development, scientific research, & education programs.
The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111. Ambulance, Fire and Police can be contacted through this service. Full instructions are on the inside front cover of every telephone book. It often is answered in the first 30 seconds after calling.
While difficult to make international comparisons, the level of crime in New Zealand is similar to many other western countries. Dishonesty offences, such as theft, are by far the most frequent type of crime. Travellers should take simple, sensible precautions such as putting valuables away out of sight or in a secure place and locking doors of vehicles, even in remote locations, as much of this crime is opportunistic in nature.
Violent crime in public places is generally associated with alcohol or illicit drug consumption. Rowdy bars or drunken crowds in city centres, or groups of youths in the suburbs, are best avoided, especially late at night and in the early morning. New Zealanders can be somewhat lacking in a sense of humour when their country or their sporting teams are mocked by loud or drinking tourists.
There are occasional disturbing high profile media reports of tourists being targeted in random violent robberies and/or sexual crimes. These crimes tend to happen in more isolated places, where the chances of the offender being observed by other people are low. The chance of falling victim to such misfortune is still low. Although crime statistics reflect an increase in violent crime, the increase is entirely explained by increased detection of family violence, a key focus area for Police. Tourists are unlikely to be affected, as such crimes usually take place in the privacy of New Zealanders own homes.
The New Zealand Police, a national force, are generally polite and helpful. Police regularly conduct drink-drive blitzes, often setting up screening checkpoints all around an area, including all lanes of motorways. Being caught drinking and driving will result in being invited to accompany the officer to a police station, or a roadside Booze Bus for an evidential breath test, blood test, or both. Being found with excess breath alcohol, or refusal to undertake testing will result in an arrest, appearance in Court, with a possiblity of time in prison, as well as a hefty fine and disqualification from driving.
Fixed and mobile speed cameras as well as hand held and car speed detectors are used frequently. Police have no official discretion for speeding offences and will write tickets for all vehicles caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 km/h. In some locations, such as near schools, even exceeding the speed limit by only 5km/h will result in a ticket. Police have recently upgraded their pursuit training, following a number of deaths of both offenders and innocent third parties during vehicle pursuits.
In New Zealand, armed police are highly unusual and usually rate a mention in the media. Although all police officers are trained to handle firearms, these are normally openly carried only when the situation requires such weapons, such as an armed offender. Traditionally, New Zealand police carry only batons and offender control pepper spray. Tasers are currently being introduced in Wellington and Auckland. However, first response patrols will generally have recourse to firearms locked in their vehicle.
Severe weather is by far the most common natural hazard encountered in New Zealand. Although New Zealand is not subject to the direct hit of tropical cyclones stormy weather systems from both the tropics and the polar regions can sweep across New Zealand at various times of the year. There is generally a seven to ten day cycle of a few days of wet or stormy weather followed by calmer and drier days as weather systems move across the country. The phrase four seasons in one day is a good description of New Zealand weather, which has a reputation for both changeability and unpredictability. The phrase is also a popular Kiwi song. Weather forecasts are generally reliable for overall trends and severe weather warnings should be heeded when broadcast. However both the timing and intensity of any weather events should be assessed from your own location. Simply looking out the window is probably good enough to allow you yourself to predict what the weather will be like for at least the next 15 mins or so, according to one eminent New Zealand meterologist, though knowing that Northerlies are warm, Southerlies are cold, westerlies are rainy but warm and easterlies are humid you can predict for yourself quite accurately.
You should always seek advice from the Department of Conservation when trekking in Alpine areas. There are annual fatalities of both foreign nationals and New Zealanders caught unaware by the weather.
Other natural hazards you may encounter, though far more rarely, are:
New Zealand has a very high level of ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer, around 40% more intense than you will find in the Mediterranean during the summer. Sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended, especially if you are of European descent.
Visiting the doctor will cost about NZ$50 and may vary between practices and localities. The New Zealand public hospital system is free of charge to Australian, British and New Zealand citizens but will charge other nationals for treatment received. An exception to this is in the case of any accident when the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) will pick up the tab. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
New Zealand has high and equitable standards of professional health care comparable with Sweden or Australia. Tap water is drinkable but precautions should be taken against Giardia when tramping.
Maori cultural experiences are popular tourist attractions enjoyed by many, but as with any two cultures encountering one another, there is room for misunderstanding. Some tourists have found themselves more confronted than they expected by ceremonial challenges and welcomes. These are serious occasions, and chatter and laughing during rituals is not recommended. People have been attacked by their entertainers to date for appearing to not treat it with the highest sacredness. You'd best have jokes and laughs later. There will be plenty of time to relax later when the hangi is lifted.
Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders are generally on good terms, but from time to time there have been frayed relationships between the two. Enter discussion about this with politeness and caution, or, of course, not at all.
Remember also, that New Zealand is still a very young nation by many standards and its identity is still being formulated. Commenting that New Zealand is subservient to the United Kingdom is sometimes admired and other times despised, and although New Zealand coinage is adorned with British royal figures New Zealand is an independent member of the Commonwealth and saying that New Zealand is almost identical can be offensive to some.
While Australia and New Zealand have close foreign policy ties, considerable inter-immigration, and cultures that overlap, saying New Zealanders are basically Australians will not gain you any New Zealander or Australian friends. Although Australians and New Zealanders may seem the same to you they do not consider themselves the same. It is pretty much the same relationship as with Canadians and people from the United States or Irish and British. Some Australians may joke about New Zealand being another state of Australia, but that does not make it one. In many ways Australia and New Zealand have a similar outlook towards the other, with the same cliched jokes being made.
Despite the jokes about New Zealand, many Australians have a genuine affection for the New Zealanders. This can be traced back to ANZAC, Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, participation in two world wars, particularly the Gallipoli campaign, North African Campaign, Korea, Vietnam, the Malaya Crisis, Solomon Islands, etc.
Very few cafes, motels, etc include free Wi-Fi, although it may be available for a charge.
Internet access is available in cyber cafes and there are generally many of these in the major cities.
Be warned that some cyber cafes may not be maintained properly, but there are places around that maintain a high level of security when it comes to their systems. If you have your own laptop, many cyber cafes allow wired & wireless access. It is slowly becoming more common to allow tourists to use their own laptops to access the Internet. It's not recommended to travel between cyber cafes without using a trusted & reliable AntiVirus application. Firewall software is not needed as cyber cafes should have their own firewall in-place.
Many public libraries have public Internet access. There may be a charge although that is changing. The Auckland City Public Library allows for two 15minute sessions a day at no charge. Hourly rates for are usually in the range of $4 to $8, with cheaper rates of around $2 to $4 at cyber cafes within the main city centres. Some providers, such as the Christchurch City Library network offer free access to some sites, usually ones of interest such as Google, BBC and CNN and those in the .nz top level domain.
You can purchase vouchers for wifi access from many Starbucks cafes around NZ and other places. It is becoming more common for wifi to be provided at hotels and motels using vouchers, but it is seldom free as part of your room rate. Wireless Hotspots are located in many Cities and Towns all over New Zealand from dedicated Wireless providers from whom you can buy connect time. Many camping holiday parks also have such services available. Free WiFi is not that common but the best free locations are at the libraries in many small and medium-sized towns. The Aotearoa People's Network (APN) has been working to bring all libraries Internet access (both wired and WiFi) and these connected libraries are good places to check your e-mail and do some research. Some libraries in cities such as Dunedin still do not have WiFi capabilities (as of Dec 2009). Auckland's City Library has free Internet service which is quite heavily used and may seem slow. Travel experience in November 2009 would suggest that libraries in medium-sized towns are often the best bets for good Internet access, especially if you have your own laptop.
As of December 2009, the airport at Wellington has free WiFi but the airports at Christchurch and Auckland both charge a fee for wireless service in the terminals.
New Zealand has a well developed and ubiquitous telephone system. The country's main phone company, Telecom, claims (as of 2009) to have about 4000 payphones in NZ which can be easily identified by their yellow and blue colours. All of them accept major credit cards and a variety of phonecards available from retailers. You may have to look harder for a payphone that accepts coins.
Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call *555 only to report Non-emergency Traffic Safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police.
There are currently three major mobile carriers in New Zealand.
Airports and shopping malls will have stores from Telecom and Vodafone available for purchasing access and getting information about their networks. A prepaid sim-card connection pack from Telecom or Vodafone costs around $30, and prepaid sim-cards from 2degrees cost $2. Telecom has broader coverage in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone.
The national post office is New Zealand Post . If you are staying in one place for a while, you can rent a PO Box from them. NZ Post also offer overnight and same day courier services across New Zealand.
Postcards cost 50c to send within New Zealand (2-3 days) and $1.80 to send internationally (3-10 days). Letters up to DL size (130mm×235mm) cost the same as postcards within New Zealand and to Australia and the South Pacific, with letters to other destinations costing $1.80 for economy service (10-25 days), and $2.30 for standard service (6-10 days).