If you are thinking of travelling to New Zealand we can help provide you with all the information you need to know before you get here. From visa information and exchange rates, to which side of the road to drive on and what time of year New Zealand seasons occur.
Accident Compensation and Personal Insurance:
Visitors are covered by the Government-run scheme for personal injury by accident. Claims may be lodged with the Accident Compensation and Rehabilitation Insurance Corporation (ACC) irrespective of fault. Some medical/hospital expenses and physical disability compensation are covered, but not loss of earnings outside New Zealand. Actions for damages may not be brought, and personal travel insurance should therefore cover accidents. Medical services are not free. Accident care is subsidised. ACC does not cover any medical treatment relating to illness.
Banks open Monday-Friday (except public holidays), 9.30am-4.30pm and some banks are open Saturday morning. Automatic teller machines operate on a card/PIN number system. Cash can be withdrawn 24 hours a day. Use of EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) is common. All international credit cards (American Express, Diners, JCB, VISA, Mastercard) are accepted. Travellers’ cheques may be changed at banks, hotels and large stores in the main cities and tourist areas.
Bites and Stings:
There is no dangerous wildlife; no snakes, and only two poisonous spiders, the katipo and the white-tailed spider. Bites are serious but rarely fatal.
Offices and businesses operate Monday-Friday, 8.30am-5pm; some tourist agencies and airlines have longer hours. Petrol (gas) stations often open 24 hours, stocking food and newspapers. Shops are usually open 9am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday, with late shopping usually Thursday or Friday. Many supermarkets, grocery stores, some large retail chains, most shopping malls and markets also operate Saturdays and Sundays; large supermarkets are often open 24 hours. Local convenience stores – dairies – usually open 7am-7pm daily.
New Zealand’s warmest months are December to March; with winter June to August. Northern New Zealand is sub-tropical and the south temperate. For most of the North Island and northern South Island the driest season is summer. However, in the South Island winter is the driest season for the West Coast, much of inland Canterbury, Otago and Southland.
The NZ dollar is the basic unit, divided into 100 cents. Coins: 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2. Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
New Zealand’s AC electricity supply operates at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels also provide 110 volt, 20 watt AC sockets for electric razors.
Dial 111 for police, fire or ambulance services. For non-emergency calls, full instructions appear in the front of telephone directories.
Goods and Services Tax (GST):
Goods and services are taxed 15%. This tax is usually included in the advertised price.
Public and private health facilities have a high standard of treatment and care. Larger hotels and motels often have a local doctor on call; otherwise, doctors and other medical services are listed in the front of the telephone directory.
Making a phone call:
Most payphones use chip PhoneCards as the payment mechanism. You can also use your credit card or another prepaid calling card such as Yabba. PhoneCards and Spark Yabba Calling Cards can be purchased from a variety of outlets, including i-SITE Visitor Information Centres, Spark retail stores and a number of supermarkets, petrol stations and convenience stores. Yabba can be used from almost any touch-tone phone in the world. Yabba uses high quality lines, has free 24-hour customer service, and has been in the market for over 14 years. Additional talk time can be purchased with a Visa or MasterCard. Visit www.yabba.co.nz for more information.
Pharmaceuticals and Medicines:
Available from chemists during normal shopping hours. Most cities have urgent dispensaries open outside these hours, listed in the front of the telephone book under Hospitals. Chemists also sell cosmetics and insect and sun protections. A certificate for Customs is advised if visitors plan to bring pharmaceuticals into the country. Many drugs sold over the counter in other countries are often not available in New Zealand without a prescription.
Besides specialist NZ Post shops in most areas, stamps can be bought from supermarkets, dairies, bookstores and grocery shops. The main forms of postal carriage are Standard Post and FastPost. Standard Post delivers next day across town and in two to three working days nationwide; FastPost, which is also the designation for international airmail letters originating in New Zealand, delivers next day between major towns and cities.
Provisions for Travellers with Special Needs:
It is best to check availability prior to arrival, or to contact the Disability Resource Centre (phone number at the end of this section), which will have a list of the accessible facilities and services at your destination. Some major carriers have excellent provision for people with disabilities, but all prefer advance notice of your access needs so they may prepare in advance. If you are a tourist from outside of New Zealand and propose to acquire and use a car for your stay, Mobility Parking Permits are available from branches of New Zealand CCS, which are in all the main centres. Addresses are on their website www.ccs.org.nz. These permits also allow parking in other time-limited parking areas for an extra period that varies with each local parking authority. These concessions do not apply in privately owned parking facilities. Under New Zealand law, guide and hearing dogs may accompany you anywhere there is public access. Tourists from the UK, Australia, Sweden, Singapore, Ireland, Hawaii and Norway do not have quarantine restrictions on service dogs. Animals from other countries must complete up to six months preparation in the country of origin before arriving in New Zealand. Further information can be obtained from Disability Resource Centres. Enable New Zealand, National Office: Ph: 0900 17 1981 Email: [email protected]
Many businesses and all banks close on public holidays; all shops are closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday except for a few dairies (convenience stores) and some petrol stations.
Due to New Zealand’s high level of ultraviolet radiation it is highly advisable to wear sunglasses and/or a hat if spending time in the sun, and to use sunblock even if the day is overcast, or if skiing.
There are seven public broadcasting channels including a Maori language station. Broadcasting varies from 18-24 hours per day. Daily papers list programme details. Sky Network Television provides, to subscribers with a decoder, several 24-hour channels offering news, movies, sport and general entertainment. Freeview free-to-air digital television & radio is also available.
Tourist Information FM, available in most tourist areas, has been specially established to provide information to visitors 24 hours a day. For English-language broadcasts, tune your radio to 88.2FM. German-language broadcasts are available on the 100.4FM frequency, and Japanese language broadcasts are found on 100.8FM.
Tipping and Service Charges:
If you wish to leave a tip for excellent service this is perfectly acceptable, but is not expected. Service charges are not added to hotel or restaurant accounts.
Visitor Information Network:
Over 100 official Visitor Information Network locations are found throughout New Zealand – look for the green i-SITE logo.
Tap (faucet) water is safe to drink. City water is chlorinated; most is fluoridated. Water sourced from rivers and lakes should be boiled or treated before drinking.
Weights and Measures:
New Zealand has used the metric system since 1975. 1m (metre) = 1.1 yards 1km (kilometre) = 0.62 miles 1ha (hectare) = 2.5 acres To convert C to F: multiply by 9, divide by 5, add 32