Use this page to help prepare for your journey through New Zealand
Do I need a passport to visit New Zealand?
Every person entering New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the date you intend to leave the country. Visas are not required if your stay is less than three months, outside of Australians or other countries with a visa waiver agreement, who do not require a visa.
Where are the international airports?
New Zealand has a total of seven international airports, although three of these only take flights from Australia. The main airports are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, while the smaller ones are Hamilton, Palmerston North, Queenstown and Dunedin.
What kind of accommodation is available?
There is a diverse range of accommodation in New Zealand, from five star hotels and motels to exclusive lodges and boutique guest houses, farm or homestay operations and backpacker hostels. The standard of all accommodation is very high and is of top international quality in the instance of the top line lodges and motels.
For those looking for more budget-orientated avenues, there is an abundance of holiday and caravan parks as well as a good selection of motor homes available for rental, including two, four or six berth vans which can include shower, refrigerator and a microwave. Farmstays are popular with international visitors. They provide a hands on look at the rural lifestyle of New Zealand.
Do I need to book accommodation?
It is advisable that you book your accommodation before you land in New Zealand. While there are a number of motels and hotels that will have vacancies most times, at different periods during the year when specific events are scheduled to be held, finding accommodation can be difficult. If you are planning on a farmstay or bed and breakfast, it is necessary to book first.
What is the climate like?
New Zealand is regarded as a temperate climate, with temperatures varying by only 10 degrees celsius during the year. The northern areas are semi–tropical, with good sunshine hours. The central North island, on its high volcanic plateau, along with parts of the South Island will have snow conditions during winter, but generally speaking, the winters are mild and are favoured by skiers from the northern hemisphere for the excellent conditions provided. The ideal months to visit if chasing the summer sun are December, January, February and March. If planning a holiday from the Northern Hemisphere, bear in mind the seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite to those up north.
What about currency and banking?
New Zealand will accept all major international credit cards and travellers cheques. It has a high usage of Automatic teller Machines and Eftpos, so if your credit card has a PIN number, you can withdraw cash 24 hours a day from an ATM if you choose not to use a bank. The most widely known banks in New Zealand are the Bank of New Zealand, ANZ bank, National Bank, Westpac Bank, and ASB. The currency is the New Zealand dollar.
What are New Zealand’s major centres?
The Capital of New Zealand is Wellington, sitting on the end of the North Island, giving easy access to the centre of New Zealand’s political area to both islands. The largest city in the country and the one where most business is headquartered is Auckland, which at home to 1.5 million people is just over a third of the country’s entire population. In the South Island, the major city is Christchurch, on the central east coast side of the island.
What about entertainment and nightlife?
New Zealand has an eclectic and diverse range of night life to be found throughout the country. Lively DJ’s with the best of global music play along side some of New Zealand’s top bands, many of whom go on to do well in the international arena. There are nightclubs, pubs – including traditional English and Irish ones – concerts, cabarets, musicals and many live concerts and much more to enjoy in the vibrant hours after dark.
Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and Queenstown also boast casinos.
What do I wear?
New Zealand is known for its laid-back, cruising lifestyle, so dress is usually informal and rarely, outside of a top restaurant or formal bar will you see men expected to wear suits and ties. During summer, the days can be quite hot and humid, so light clothing is a good idea, with a light jacket or sweater required for the evenings. Winter time can be considerably cooler so it pays to pack more warm clothes. If you are planning on trekking during the cooler months, its advisable that you pack correct warm and layered clothing and that you visit the Department of Conservation website on tips for tramping preparations in New Zealand.
Are there any poisonous animals?
New Zealand has no natural predators or snakes of any description. There are two varieties of poisonous spiders, the white tail and the native katipo. Neither one is capable of causing death and the katipo is a very rare shy spider than it not often seen. The white tail is a suburban spider, while the Katipo is only found on a few eastern beach areas. New Zealand is a very safe place for family to explore.
Electricity in New Zealand
The electricity supplied in New Zealand is done with 230/240 volt (50 hertz) although many places provide a 110 socket which are used for electric razors only. The connections are three or two point flat pins, depending on whether or not the appliance has an earth fitted. You may need to bring an adaptor with you, unless your appliance has a multi voltage option.
Is the water safe in New Zealand?
New Zealand’s water standards are very high internationally and in all cases, tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water from rivers and lakes can often be drunk fresh, but it is advised that you boil or chemically treated to avoid stomach upsets.
What about the New Zealand’s lifestyle?
New Zealanders are known for their active, sports orientated lifestyle. If you like to be involved in any activity in the great outdoors, here is where you will find it. For those who holiday close to beaches, there are many surf life saving events, iron men and woman (even the children have their own triathlons in many areas!) For adrenaline junkies there is the thrill of white water rafting, bungee jumping, blokarting, paragliding and kite surfing, off-road activities and much more to choose from.
If you are visiting the larger centres, you will find a range of themed attractions including Rainbow’s End, Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater Centre, Auckland Zoo, Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch).
Te Papa, New Zealand’s interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Story Place, a haven for small children. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks. Adventure play lands such as Chipmunks or Lollipop’s are popular with the very young — these can be found in most main centres.
What’s on the menu?
New Zealand is known internationally for it’s “Fresh is Best” policy when it comes to food. The culinary fare offered by restaurants can be as good as you will find anywhere in the world. Few places have the availability of such diverse range of foodstuffs as New Zealand does, from fresh seafood of unparalleled selection, to beef and lamb and much more.
There is an exciting range of fresh vegetables and fruit, readily available coming as it does from a country regarded as a fruit bowl. Most family restaurants have a menu for children and high chairs. Many cafes also have high chairs and a toy basket. To amuse babies and toddlers is becoming increasingly common in both cafes and shops.
What’s a kiwi?
New Zealanders are also known colloquially as Kiwis, named after our famous landlocked wingless birds and long an emblem for the country. The native and protected bird, only ever found in New Zealand, is flightless with hair-like feathers and a long, slender bill which it uses to pull worms and insects out of the ground. The kiwi is active at night in the wilderness areas of the country. Be sure to visit one of the many kiwi houses where you can watch them under special ‘nocturnal’ lighting.
On the stock exchange, the New Zealand Dollar is also referred to as ’the kiwi’, as too is the internationally popular kiwifruit, a brown furry fruit with a lime green interior and very sweet tasting flesh. There is also a golden version of this delightful fruit. This one is hairless and tastes even sweeter.