From Health to Tipping…get your key facts straight
Health and Safety
No vaccinations are advised or required when travelling to New Zealand. There are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in this country either. However, there are aspects of health you should be aware of before you arrive in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear hats and sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes. Make sure that your children are always protected, even if it doesn’t seem like a very bright day, as sunburn can have a rapid effect.
Particularly in the central parts of the North Island, weather conditions can change rapidly and you need to be prepared for it. Be prepared for cold wet weather if you plan to walk in our National Parks, whatever the time of year. It is also important to go prepared when exploring our mountains or when tramping. While our search and rescue personnel are exceptionally good, it does pay to ensure that even if planning a two hour walk, you should be well equipped clothing and food-wise to see out a night if you have to.
Doctor and hospital costs are not free in New Zealand, except to New Zealand residents, or where you have had an accident. It is advisable that you have travel insurance in place. If you require medication being brought into the country, ensure you have a doctor’s certificate stating what it is you are bringing in and what it is for. If you need to obtain medical drugs, please note that some medications will require a doctor’s prescription.
Currency and Costs
The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents $1 and $2; notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. One, two and five cents are not legal currency in New Zealand, except in the use credit card or Eftpos transactions. In every other respect they are rounded up or down to the nearest ten cent.
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand. However, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centers. All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand. Traveler’s cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.
Banks which include Bank of New Zealand, ANZ, Westpac, National and ASB are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Some are open on Saturday but only in the morning. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.
Tipping and Service Charges
New Zealanders do not expect tips for normal service – even in restaurants and bars it is not common to give a tip. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills. However GST (Good and Services tax) does exist at 12.5% of the goods or service price. Most shops will calculate this within the price, but there are still some who do not. Some licensed outlets will include a surcharge on public holidays, usually of around 10-15% to help cover the cost of holiday payment scales to staff.
New Zealand is regarded as the country which greets the sun first every day, being 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). During the summer months, we use ‘daylight savings’, which gives people an extra hour of sunlight by way of moving their clocks forward, on the first Sunday in every October. This stays in place until the third Sunday of March the following year, when the clocks are put back an hour giving New Zealanders and visitors six months of extra leisure time in the evenings.