Welcome to New Zealand

New Zealand

KIA ORA!

New Zealand is made up of two main islands, stretched in a north to south orientation. Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand, signifies "Land of the Long White Cloud" which is an apt description for a country with a maritime climate. The capital city of Wellington sits at the bottom of the north island overlooking the Cook Strait and is the ferry gateway to the South Island.

New Zealand was first settled by Polynesians that journeyed in canoes from Hawaiki (a group of islands in Polynesia), and who became organized into distinctive Māori tribes. European settlement came much later, with Dutch explorers first sighting New Zealand in 1642. However, it was the British who made New Zealand part of their empire, after sending whalers, sealers and missionaries to New Zealand several years after Captain James Cook successfully circumnavigated the islands in 1769. The Treaty, establishing British law in New Zealand, was signed between the Māori and the British in 1840. The building where this Treaty was signed has been preserved, and today, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a popular attraction for visitors. The Māori culture is strong and vibrant, with dozens of historic sites, taonga (treasures) and opportunities for visitors to experience this unique culture. A beautiful mixture of traditional Māori culture and colonial-era buildings, are dotted throughout the cities.

The mild sub-tropical climate of New Zealand offers excellent conditions for fruit growing and the production of several internationally acclaimed varieties of wines. Stretched throughout. In every region, visitors can explore over 120 vineyards that are open for tours and tastings. The diverse landscape also provides perfect conditions for producing some of the world’s finest cheeses, honeys and meats. New Zealand lamb is world famous. The coastlines provide an abundance of fresh seafood; including greenlipped mussels, crayfish (lobsters), Bluff oysters and many varieties of fresh fish. By combining fine European skills and traditional Māori cooking methods with the amazing local produce, New Zealand chefs have developed a unique and distinct cuisine. Known as Pacific Rim cuisine, it showcases the delicious flavours produced only in New Zealand.

As an island nation, New Zealand’s isolation led to the development of unique flora and fauna. High rainfall and many sunshine hours, give this country a diverse, lush flora with 80% of it being native only to New Zealand. Majestic evergreen forests are home to rimu, totara, many varieties of beech, the beautiful pohutukawa tree, the kowhai tree and the largest native tree, the giant kauri. The undergrowth in the forests are home to many native shrubs, mosses, lichens and ferns, with the most iconic being the Silver Fern. Large tracts of native forest are home to an incredible variety of bird life. As they evolved, several of New Zealand’s native birds became flightless, as they had no predators to fly away from. The most notable and iconic of these is the kiwi. Due to the destruction of its habitat, the kiwi is now endangered and very rarely seen in the wild. However, there are several “kiwi houses” at zoos and wildlife parks where they can be seen. Other flightless birds include: the kakapo parrot, the takahe, the weka and the now extinct moa, which was the world’s largest bird. Some well-known, native birds include: the tui, the morepork owl and the playful kea, which is one of the most intelligent birds in the world, known for attacking cars in order to steal windscreen wipers and other bits of rubber. Reptiles, frogs, insects, spiders and bats are also found but there are no known native land mammals that inhabit New Zealand. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is home to an abundance of diverse marine life. Seals, seabirds, shellfish, penguins, a host of fish and several species of dolphin; offer visitors a chance to encounter rare and unique sea creatures in their natural habitat. The Hector’s dolphin, which is the world’s smallest and rarest that can only be found in New Zealand waters.

Visitors to New Zealand will enjoy experiencing the fabulous and varied landscapes that provide stunning scenery and opportunities for exploration, adventure, sport, sightseeing and relaxation. From ski fields to lakes and rivers, superb coastlines; rugged or with fine sands, to rolling green pastures, bustling cosmopolitan cities and quaint rural towns, New Zealand offers a diversity of unique backdrops to suit every one's interests! This country has amazing geological features, including ongoing volcanic activity that is fascinating to see.

 


Information & Facts

Attraction Overview:
  • Sail on an America’s Cup boat or charter your own yacht.
  • Surf at the popular spot of Raglan or head for the surf highway west of New Plymouth.
  • Try your hand at fly fishing, trout fishing or deepsea fishing.
  • Kayak with the seals in Abel Tasman National Park or several other areas.
  • Rafting the Kaituna River offers a wild, class 5 waterfall.
  • Golfing, from sheep grazed fairways to world class courses.
  • Jetboating was invented in New Zealand! Try the Shotover River.
  • Bungy jumping is another adrenaline-pumping activity popular with visitors.
  • Scuba diving. Poor Knights is the top spot!
  • Snorkelling can be done in many areas. There’s even a snorkel trail in the Coromandel to explore.
  • Swimming. There are plenty of local beaches to enjoy in summer.
  • Food and wine tasting in Blenheim or in one of the many other wine regions.
  • Hiking, or tramping as the locals say, is a great way to experience the diverse landscapes.
  • Camping can be done in a tent or campervan.
  • Backpacking is a great way to explore by using hostels and a hop on/hop off bus pass.
  • Skiing. There are plenty of mountains to chosse from.Tthe best time to ski is from July to August.
  • Cycling. There are hundreds of kms on the New Zealand Cycle Trail routes!
  • Skydiving offers a unique way to view the stunning landscapes and regions.
  • Skippers Canyon offers the best place for quad biking.
  • Enjoy a helicopter flight to a mountain top for a picnic lunch.
  • Go cruising on a large or small ship or spend a day cruising in Doubtful Sound.
  • The Bay of Islands is a haven for boaters.
  • Festivals. From music, food, wine, art deco, wearable art, planes etc, there are festivals available all year round.
  • Museums. Don’t miss Te Papa when in Wellington.
  • Birdwatching. A day trip to Tiritiri, is a must for the best birdwatching!
  • Wildlife viewing can be done anywhere. Why not take a small group tour to Kapiti Island to see many endangered species.
  • Whale watching is available year round from Kaikoura.
  • Scenic Rail offers several journeys including the tranzalpine through Arthur’s Pass or the Taieri Gorge.
  • Mud baths and spas. There are fabulous choices of thermal pools and spas in Rotorua.
  • Nightlife. Check out a local pub or spend a night on the town in one of the big cities.
  • Blackwater rafting. Spend a few hours at Waitomo, it's more than just glowworms!
  • For authentic cultural experiences, spend a night at a Marae (a Māori meeting place).

 

 

Climate:

New Zealand has a temperate climate with moderately high rainfall and many hours of sunshine. The far north typically has subtropical weather during winter, and the inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10C, in winter.  

New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Summer is during December, January and February; and brings moderate to hot temperatures averaging between 20 – 30C. Autumn (fall) is during March, April and May; and brings temperatures that are slightly cooler than those in summer. Winter is during June, July and August; and brings colder weather to much of the country, with snow and rain falls. Snow typically appears during the months of June through October, with most of it falling in the mountainous areas, like Central Plateau in the north and the Southern Alps in the south, making for great annual ski seasons. Spring comes in September, October and November, and brings all weather types, with snow still falling in some areas and sunny, hot days in others.

New Zealand’s weather can change unexpectedly, so you should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather, when going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.

 

 

Customs:

The New Zealand Customs Service is the government agency with the job of ensuring the security of the borders. They protect the economy from illegal imports and exports and promote New Zealand’s international trade. They collect revenues, investigate illegal activity and prosecute where necessary.

New Zealand's customs laws prevent you from bringing drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife into New Zealand. Some common items such as fresh or packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, plants, seeds, skins and feathers are also prohibited. There is no limit on currency but you will need to declare amounts over $10, 000.

The Department of Conservation protects and maintains over 14 National Parks and 34 Marine Reserves. The country is well-known for its meat exports and consequently the agricultural aspect of New Zealand’s economy is carefully protected from contaminants that could arrive from visitors.

 

 

Electricity:

Mains voltage in New Zealand is 230/240V 50/60Hz. Travellers from most nations in Asia, Africa and Europe should have appliances that work on the same mains voltage as New Zealand and therefore, you will not need a voltage converter. Notable exceptions to this are Japan, USA and Canada which use 110/120V 50/60Hz. 

If your country does not use appliances within the 230V 50Hz mains voltage range, you will need to purchase a voltage converter. This will transform the voltage from the power outlet into one your appliance can use. Most hotels and motels provide 110V ac socket (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. Most cameras, laptops and tablets have built-in converters so please check the specifications of the device first.

You will also need a power adapter. The plugs in New Zealand have 2 flat metal pins shaped like an upside down "V" and some may contain a third flat pin in the centre.

 

 

Getting Around:

Air

You can fly between all cities and most major towns, in New Zealand, using domestic airlines like Air New Zealand and Jetstar.  

Drive

Driving through New Zealand is a popular holiday option for both tourists and locals. With many themed highways and well planned touring routes infused with loads of scenic highlights, attractions and local must-do activities available, a self drive adventure is the perfect way to explore New Zealand.

Driving Laws

In New Zealand you drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 50km/h and on country roads and highways, the maximum speed is 100km/h. For your safety, drink-driving laws apply. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Motor cyclists and cyclists must wear helmets. An international visitor may drive in New Zealand on a valid overseas driver’s licence for the same class of vehicle. Canadian and U.S. citizens do not require an international licence, unless their home licence is in a language other than English. You should carry both your home licence and international licence when driving.

Bus/Coach

Coach and bus travel in New Zealand is comfortable, easy and economical. Coaches generally have air conditioning, reading lights, adjustable seats and videos. Services are frequent, affordable and efficient.

Rail

While the New Zealand rail network isn’t as vast as some, thanks to the skill and determination of early railway engineers there are some incredible journeys available. These journeys offer travel across spectacular volcanic landscapes, through remote national parks, along rugged coastlines and over river valleys and alpine passes.

The Northern Explorer, in the North Island, links Wellington to Auckland, via a 12 hour journey through the volcanic heart of New Zealand.

Ferries and Water Taxis

Ferries and water taxis can take you from A to B, or simply take you on a joy ride in New Zealand. Getting between the North and South Islands with a vehicle will mean taking the scenic ferry journey through the Marlborough Sounds.

Walks

Walking is a great way to get around most cities. New Zealand has thousands of kilometers of walking and hiking trails that cover all kinds of magnificent terrain and offer beautiful landscapes and wilderness to explore.

 

 

Health:

Travel Insurance & Medical Services

If you are injured in New Zealand, you may need the help of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). In New Zealand, you cannot sue anyone for compensatory damages if you are injured. Instead, ACC helps pay for your care but only covers part of the cost of treatment and rehabilitation while you remain in New Zealand and does not pay for any additional costs resulting from an accident, for example, delayed or curtailed travel costs, travel home, treatment at home and loss of income in your home country. For these reasons, personal travel and medical insurance is highly recommended so that you are completely covered for the duration of your travel. If you plan on doing any adventure activities such as scuba diving, skiing, bushwalking or travelling in remote areas, check that your policy fully covers these activities. Remember to bring your insurance policy details and emergency contact numbers and with you.

Vaccinations & Medications

No special immunizations or vaccinations are required to visit New Zealand. However, it is recommended that you check with your family doctor or a travel clinic a few weeks before you travel.

Medicine brought into New Zealand for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on your arrival. It is recommended you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are carrying. If you need to obtain prescription medicine while you are here, the prescription must be written by a doctor in New Zealand.

 

 

Language:

New Zealand has two official languages, English and indigenous Māori, which is spoken by 23% of the population but understood by many more. With a patchwork history of Māori, European, Pacific Island and Asian cultures, New Zealand has a diverse, multicultural population.

 

 

Money:

New Zealand’s national currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). The denominations are valued at $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 for notes and 10, 20 and 50 cent, $1 and $2, for coins.

Currency exchange is available at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centers.

Banking hours are usually 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday; some are also open during weekends.

It is best to organise a variety of ways to access your money from overseas, such as credit cards, cash, debit cards or cash cards before you leave home.

The easiest way to get cash from your home account is from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) with an international network such as Cirrus (Mastercard) or PLUS (Visa). New Zealand ATMs use a four-digit code, so check with your bank and make sure you change yours before you leave home. ATMs are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. Fees may be charged on transactions when withdrawing from an international account.

Credit cards

VISA and MasterCard are accepted most widely in New Zealand. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted. It is best to carry more than one type of card as not all cards are accepted by all merchants. Merchants may impose credit card surcharges in some places.

Bringing money into New Zealand

There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in or out of New Zealand, however, if you plan to travel in or out of New Zealand with more than NZD$10, 000 cash, you will need to declare it to customs upon arrival or departure, at the airport and will be required to complete a Border Cash Report.

Goods and Services Tax

All goods and services are subject to a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is included in the displayed price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back, however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor’s home address, the GST will not be charged.

Tipping

It is not customary or expected to tip for services in New Zealand, with the exception of tour leaders.

 

 

Passport Visa:

When you arrive in New Zealand, you will need to be carrying a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date. Many people will qualify for visa-free entry, but depending on your country of origin, some will need to apply for a visa before they travel.

If you come from visa-waiver countries, you do not need a visa to enter New Zealand but you are still required to provide travel tickets (or onward travel arrangements) and evidence that you can support yourself for the entire duration of your stay.

Please check with a Destination Specialist to see if you require a visa to enter New Zealand.

 

 

Safety:

New Zealand is generally a safe destination to travel, with a relatively low crime rate, few endemic diseases and a great health care system.

With common-sense, you can safely enjoy New Zealand. However, as with all travel at home or away, you should observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions. Take copies of your important documents (passports and credit cards) and keep them separate from the originals. You should also keep a record of the description and serial numbers of valuable items (cameras and laptops).

Emergency Services

111 is the number for all emergency services in New Zealand. An operator will connect you to police, ambulance or the fire brigade. There are police stations in all main towns, cities and in many rural locations. Contact details can be found in local telephone books.

Don’t hesitate to call the police if you feel unsafe or threatened.

 

 

Time:

New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see in each new day.

New Zealand Time (NZT) is equal to GMT +12. In summer, from the last Sunday in September through to the first Sunday in April, New Zealand uses Daylight Savings Time. All clocks move forward by 1 hour.