FACTS ABOUT NEW ZEALAND
NZ is similar in land size to Great Britain and Japan
The population is approximately 4.5 million
The capital city is Wellington
English, Te Reo Māori and New Zealand sign language are the official languages
There are no dangerous animals or snakes
No vaccinations are required to enter NZ
The electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts
Check the time difference from wherever you are in the world here.
Always be prepared for sudden changes in weather, especially during outdoor activities.
Summer (Dec to Feb) 14 ̊C – 28 ̊C
Winter (Jun to Aug) 9 ̊C – 20 ̊C
Autumn (Mar to May) 10 ̊C – 24 ̊C
Spring (Sep to Nov) 12 ̊C – 22 ̊C
The New Zealand sun is very strong. Always use a high SPF sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a sunhat when outside.
New Zealand Currency
The New Zealand Dollar is the official currency
All major credit cards are accepted.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely available
International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded
Tipping is not obligatory and restaurants do not add service charges to their bills
New Zealand’s peak season runs from November to March. Pre-booking accommodation, transport and activities is recommended.
New Zealand has an extensive domestic air network. We recommend booking well in advance for the best airfares.
Trains operate in some cities and there are a range of stunning scenic train journeys.
There is a bus network that covers a large proportion of New Zealand. Some buses do not depart every day to certain destinations, so speak to us to book and plan ahead.
Passenger ferries connect the North and South Island. The journey between Wellington and Picton takes approximately three and a half hours.
Self-drive is an excellent way to explore New Zealand. Varied landscapes and dramatic geographical features are in close proximity. Most international rental vehicle companies have depots throughout New Zealand. Ensure you are suitably rested after a long flight, before collecting a rental vehicle.
It is important to familiarise yourself with New Zealand’s unique driving conditions, road rules and drivers licence requirements. Find out more here.
Entering New Zealand
Eligible UK passport holders, who can produce evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK, are granted a visitor visa, for up to six months, upon arrival in New Zealand. Eligible Irish, USA and some other passport holders are granted a visitor visa valid for up to three months upon arrival. For immigration and visa information click here.
You must declare all food items you intend to bring into New Zealand. For more information click here.
Never bring fruit, vegetables, honey, meat, fish, flowers or such things into NZ. If you have not eaten your apple in the airplane, leave it there, or - your last chance - throw it into the amnesty bins at the terminal upon arrival.
If you have this apple in your bag and you have not declared it and the MAF dogs discover it you will instantly pay a NZ$400 fine. Answer all questions in the immigration papers honestly, otherwise you could get into trouble.
You are allowed to bring chocolate and biscuits and such stuff into the country, just note it in your papers.
You are even allowed to bring preserved fruit in alcohol or brine solutions, just not fresh fruit. When you bring jams make sure they do not contain honey. Everything that contains honey is highly likely to be prohibited. I would not risk them to confiscate and destroy food you might have paid a lot of money for.
But again: Declare any kind of food you have in your bags.
For more information click here.
Typical souvenirs include pounamu (jade) ornaments and jewellery, hand-crafted glass, local wood products, merino and possum knitwear, and sheepskin.
All goods and services are subject to a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) included in the display price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back.
You can drive in New Zealand if:
you have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit, and
you haven’t been given a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
you came into New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
your overseas licence is in English, or you have an accurate translation, and
you haven’t been granted a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand.
If you don't meet all of these requirements, you must apply for a New Zealand driver licence to drive in New Zealand.
For more information about licences and road rules in NZ click here.
What to pack
Luggage and bags: Depending which direction you come from will dictate how many bags you can bring. Via the USA you are allowed two bags with a 23kg (50lb) maximum weight (each) and via Asia it's one bag. Be careful here as overweight luggage charges can be expensive.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: These items are going to depend greatly on what you intend to do. New Zealand has some stunning tracks to go tramping (hiking) so sturdy shoes/boots are a must for this activity. Either wear or pack your tramping/hiking boots near the top of the suitcase as they want to check them at the airport for biosecurity reasons. Clean your hiking boots and jogging shoes before you come into the country. As mentioned, they want to check them at the border control. If they are dirty they get cleaned and disinfected for free - but it costs your time at immigration. For the urban tramper a good pair of walking shoes is recommended - especially those that can be dressed up. Be prepared for all seasons with the ever changing wind and weather in NZ. Best is to pack clothes which you can wear in layers - because we can have four seasons in a day. Also be aware that you can have really cold days in summer and warm winter weeks. Tramping in jeans is not recommended, especially not on glaciers, it's better to have hiking trousers, leggings or shorts. A hat is important (think of the ozone hole!), and gloves for a glacier walk. For additional help on what to pack for a NZ walking holiday click here.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: New Zealand is a clean green country with safe water though you'd be advised to bring some squeeze on hand cleaner as public toilets don't always have adequate washing facilities. You can save a lot of kilos in your luggage if you do not bring all your toiletry stuff with you, like shampoo, conditioner, body-lotion and sunscreen. As you always arrive in a big city with a lot of shops just start your visit with buying those things in a supermarket or drugstore. Only bring your expensive face creams, and perfumes - if you do not stock up in the Duty Free Shops at the airport. The common European brands like Nivea, Wella and Schwartzkopf are available everywhere. If you have to bring syringes into NZ best have a confirmation of your doctor, also for strong prescription medicines. If you have problems with your blood circulation take aspirin or special pills for vein problems before the flight, and wear special stockings. Drink as much water or juice as you can get and as little alcohol as possible on the flight. Buy insect repellent when you land in NZ (we DO have nasty sandflies in some areas).
Travel Health Insurance documents (you can get travel insurance from NZ insurer Southern Cross, they sell it to visitors under 80 years of age).
A spare pair of glasses and sunglasses.
A mobile phone (we can provide you with a NZ SIM card and phone for a small charge).
A plug adaptor: we have a 240v power supply with three pronged plugs that may be different to your home country. Most devices from the USA will not work here (I believe that you have a 115v supply) so be careful.
Photo Equipment: If you have a digital camera make sure you have enough memory or an external back-up device. You can always get Internet cafes to burn your photos onto CD as an alternative.
If you're a fan of the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy, you will love Lord of The Rings Location Guidebook ($NZ25), the definitive guidebook on all locations used in the movies. Author Ian Brodie is a devoted Tolkien fan, director of the NZ Fighter Pilots Museum in Wanaka, and an established and successful aviation writer. It is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the locations, stunning movie stills provided by New Line Cinema, cast and crew contributions, interesting URLs, and even GPS locations.
DID YOU KNOW...
New Zealand is home to the giant weta, one of the world’s heaviest insects. When fully grown, they can even be heavier than a mouse or sparrow.
New Zealand has five species of kiwi, all endangered. The only birds to have their nostrils at the end of their beaks, kiwis also have one of the largest egg-to-body weight ratios of any bird (15 percent, compared to two percent for the ostrich).
Hector’s dolphins, only found in the inshore waters of New Zealand, are among the world’s smallest marine dolphins. Two sub-species of Hector’s dolphins exist: the South Island Hector’s dolphin which is found around the South Island of New Zealand, and the Māui dolphin which is found off the west coast of the North Island. Adult South Island Hector’s dolphins don’t often exceed 1.5 m in length and weigh between 40 and 60 kg.
The Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, was named the clearest natural body of freshwater known to man. According to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) research results, visibility in the lake is up to 80 metres - meaning the water is considered almost as "optically clear" as distilled water.
At 85 letters, Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu,is the longest place name found in any English speaking country. It roughly translates to “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute to his loved ones”. This 305 metre high hill, is situated in the southern Hawke’s Bay.
Well-known 90 Mile Beach in Northland is actually only 55 miles long.
Experts disagree as to exactly how many volcanoes Auckland has, but it’s generally agreed that the city has the remains of about 50 extinct volcanic cones.
Central Otago in the South Island is the world’s southern-most wine production area, and is the hottest, coldest and driest part of the country.
Pitt Island, part of the Chatham Islands, is the first place in the world to greet the new dawn. The Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of the mainland, and have officially been part of New Zealand since 1842.
Wellington is said to have more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York, and has more coffee roasters per capita than anywhere in the world.
Wellington is home to New Zealand’s oldest public bar, The Thistle Inn, where it’s said that Maori chief Te Rauparaha used to pull up his canoe and stop for a drink.
Dunedin has the world’s steepest street - Baldwin St. Each year 30,000 Jaffas (chocolate candies) are rolled down Baldwin St to support a local charity. A local man runs up and down the street, 30 times a day.
Fiordland National Park - New Zealand's biggest national park - covers five percent of the country’s total land mass.
Milford Sound, with 8m-plus of annual rainfall, is one of the world’s wettest places.
Marlborough contributes more than 75% of New Zealand’s total wine production.
Marlborough Sounds has 1500km of coastline, or 20% of New Zealand's coast.
During peak times, Queenstown’s visitors outnumber local residents by three to one.
In central North Island, Mt Ruapehu has the world's only ski field within 500m of an active volcanic crater
Fox Glacier, on the West Coast, is 13km long and moves at approximately 10 times the speed of other valley glaciers around the world. Fox Glacier’s nevé (snow accumulation area) is bigger than the South Island's main city, Christchurch.
New Zealand’s highest cave abseil descends more than 100m in Waitomo Caves.