TRAVEL TO NEW ZEALAND
Kia Ora - You're in the right place to learn more about a trip to New Zealand!
WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is in the southwestern Pacific Ocean 1 500 km east of Australia and about 1 000 km from the Pacific Islands. It is a relatively remote location with no close neighbors.
New Zealand is made up of two main islands (North Island and South Island) and many smaller islands the largest of which is Stewart Island. There is a small population of 4.5 million people, two-thirds of which live in the North Island, the other third in the South Island. While Wellington with a population of 400 000 is the capital city, Auckland is the largest with a population of over 1.3 million.
Many New Zealander's are of European Descent however Auckland is the most ethnically diverse in the country with the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL INFORMATION
BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND
School holidays and public holidays
As with most destinations public holidays and school holidays are popular times for locals to travel. This means transport, accommodation and tours/activity prices may be higher than normal and availability will be limited. If you are able to you might want to consider avoiding these times. We can advise you at your time of booking, if you want more information on specific dates see the links below.
There are always events happening in New Zealand such as international sporting events, wine and food festivals, live music and festival and celebrations. These events attract a lot of visitors which means transport, accommodation and tours/activities will be more expensive and limited in availability. More information on upcoming events can be found here New Zealand Event Calendar.
New Zealand has a temperate and so anytime is a good time to go, you can decide based on activities you want to do. The weather can vary a lot between north and south and change quickly.
New Zealand has four seasons:
Summer is from December to February (The most popular time, the most expensive and busiest for tourism)
Autumn is from March to May (Foliage changes, summer crowds have left, off peak rates and great weather)
Winter is from June to August (Skiing, snowboarding, nightlife)
Spring is from September to November (cool at night but warm during the day, off peak pricing)
New Zealand has one main time zone (NZDT).
New Zealand has one main time zone (with the exception of the Chatham Islands)
How many hours will I gain or lose traveling to New Zealand?
Traveling direct from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas for example you will arrive 2 days later. On your return the USA you arrive the same day that you left New Zealand.
TRAVELING IN NEW ZEALAND
How will I get around in New Zealand?
You have a few options which we can walk you through to see which one suits your plans. Options include self driving, a private driver, public transport which is buses, trains and ferries, helicopter, domestic flights and tours.
This is a popular way to get around and explore New Zealand. Driving in New Zealand is different than driving in other countries and you need to be aware of these differences before getting on the roads. Here are the key differences:
Always drive on the left hand side of the road the driver sits on the right hand side. This can be a challenge if you are used to driving on the right hand side of the road. Always remember the driver will be seated in the middle of the road and the passenger in the front seat will always be on the side of the road.
Make sure you take regular breaks from driving particularly if you are jet lagged. You can't focus on the different driving conditions if you are not well rested.
New Zealand roads are not like the large highways you will find in the USA. Out of the cities you will find most roads are single lane with no barriers between each side of the road. You must focus on staying on the left hand side of the road to avoid on coming traffic on the other side of the road. Roads can be narrow, windy, hilly with quick drops and lots of hard turns. There will be opportunities to pull over to the side to allow other drivers to pass or there maybe clearly marked dedicated passing lanes.
The weather can change quickly in New Zealand so you need to be prepared to driver in all conditions. Winter weather can make road conditions dangerous. Always check the weather before heading off on a trip. Weather forecast - New Zealand Met Service
There are 1500 rail crossings in New Zealand and only half of them have red lights indicating on oncoming train. Always look both ways when at a train crossing.
Speed limits must be adhered to and they are visibly signposted on roads. Even if the speed limit sign is not visible speed limits still apply. The speed limit is the maximum speed permitted on that road. Speed limits are strictly enforced, be careful in school zones and residential areas. The maximum speed limit on open roads is 100 km/h and the maximum in urban areas is 50 km/h. Slow down if any road conditions are unsafe.
You are not permitted to use a handheld mobile phone when driving. So NO talking on phone calls, texting, playing games or any activity on your phone.
Everyone in the car must wear seat belts at all times. Children must be in child restraints, New Zealand rules are found at the New Zealand Travel Agency
Do not drink and drive, it is a crime to drive under the influence of either drink or drugs.
Useful websites to help you with driving in New Zealand are as follows:
Comprehensive driving rules - New Zealand Travel Agency
The Automobile Association has a Visiting Driving Training Programme you can experience what it is like driving in New Zealand. Test your skills.
You can calculate your driving trip using the AA Traveller time and distance calculator Driving in New Zealand can take longer than you think due to diverse terrain and weather conditions.
A private driver is your own personal driver/guide to take you anywhere around New Zealand. You can begin and end your travel in any city throughout New Zealand. You don’t have to end the tour in the same city you started it in and you can also incorporate any day tours in any city as well as any transfers required. A private driver can get expensive if you only have one person, but if you have a group 4 people it can become quite reasonable to have your own personal guide.
Buses are the most common form of public transport and the cheapest to get between towns and cities. There are daily scheduled passenger bus services throughout the country. Coach companies also service main tourist routes.
Trains are not that common but there are three main train lines operated by Kiwirail. The Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington, The Coastal Pacific from Picton to Christchurch and the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to the West Coast. The TranzAlpine route is one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world.
Ferries are available for travel between the North and South Island, the South Island and Stewart Island, the mainland and New Zealand's offshore islands. Popular islands near Auckland are Waiheke, Rangitoto and Great Barrier Island. The main ferry providers are InterIslander and Bluebridge. Water taxis are also offer scheduled services visiting smaller for example Queen Charlotte Sounds and Abel Tasman National Park.
Helicopter Charters offer the flexibility of point-to-point travel getting you, and your group, directly to where you need to be in luxury, comfort and style. The versatility of helicopters allows you to land in both remote areas and busy city centers and get access to exclusive experiences such as heli-fishing, heli-skiing, private island dining – even landing on an active volcano!
Domestic flights in New Zealand are very affordable and you can fly between all New Zealand cities and most major towns. Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the main providers with regional areas serviced by regional carriers, charters and scenic tour operators. No flights are more than 2 hours.
Group tours use both buses and ferries to get around New Zealand. There are a number of group tour operators, if you are interested in these tours we can help you find the right tour provider to suit your needs.
Can I hire a car in New Zealand?
Yes you can and car hire companies have locations conveniently located in all major centers. Most hire car companies will require a valid home country drivers license, a credit card for security and a passport for ID. There are age restrictions to be able to hire a car.
Please see Self Drive information above for more details about driving in New Zealand.
VISA & ENTRY INFORMATION
What do you need to enter New Zealand?
You need both an NZeTA visa AND a New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD) to enter New Zealand. Information about these requirements and links to where to apply for them are below. Your passport has to be valid for at least three months past your expected departure date.
New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)
For travel to New Zealand you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA Visa.
New Zealand has introduced an NZeTA. The primary purpose of introducing the NZeTA is to enable enhanced border security checks to prevent individuals who may pose a potential security risk entering New Zealand. It will also help reduce the time needed for border clearance. It is very similar to the ESTA and ETA required to travel to the USA and Canada.
Who will need an NZeTA?
As of October 1st, 2019 travelers to New Zealand will be required to have an NZeTA – New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. This includes:
Citizens of all 60 visa waiver countries visiting New Zealand for less than 3 months.
Transit passengers changing planes to a final destination. The NZeTA is required even if you aren’t leaving the airport.
Cruise ship passengers visiting New Zealand on a cruise
There are 60 countries who have a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand. The USA is one of these. So if you are traveling on a USA passport to New Zealand, you will need your US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). If you do not have an NZeTA you will not be allowed to travel.
Who doesn’t need an NZeTA?
New Zealand and Australian citizens do not need an NZeTA. Those who already hold a valid visa for New Zealand also do not need an NZeTA. If you are a citizen of a non-Visa waiver country you will apply for a visitor visa instead of an NZeTA. More information about the NZeTA can be found here.
How do I get an NZeTA?
It is easy to get an NZeTA and only takes a few minutes. Apply for an NZeTA online here.
The fastest way to request your NZeTA is using the mobile app. Allow up to 72 hours for processing, however it can be much faster than this.
How do I pay for the NZeTA?
You can pay for your NZeTA online with your credit card or debit card.
How much does the NZeTA cost?
The cost is NZD $17 using the free app or NZD $23 using the online form.
When entering New Zealand you must also pay an IVL which is used for funding infrastructure and helps protect the New Zealand environment. The IVL cost is NZD $35 and you pay it at the same time as you request your NZeTA.
What information will I need to request an NZeTA online?
Your full name
Date of birth
Information about your travel plans
Answer health questions
Answer security questions
When will I use my NZeTA?
When you go through security in New Zealand you will show your NZeTA and passport to the border authorities.
Nationalities of any other countries please ask your agent to see if you may need a Visitor Visa. If you require help to process your Visa, we can assist you.
New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD)
All travelers into New Zealand (including children and babies) are required to complete a New Zealand Traveller Declaration. This declaration contains questions about where you have come from and what you are bringing into New Zealand. It is free to complete, takes 10 minutes and can be completed within 24 hours of starting your trip to New Zealand. The declaration can be completed online and there is an NZTD app. You can start your declaration here. For travelers that can't complete the declaration online, there are paper declarations available.
CUSTOMS & QUARANTINE REGULATIONS
What items can’t I bring into New Zealand?
There are strict customs laws to control what comes into New Zealand and there are biosecurity procedures upon arrival in New Zealand. You will fill out an arrival card before you land and it lists all the items that must be declared or disposed of in marked amnesty bins. More information can be found at the Ministry of Primary Industries. Please read these rules and regulations carefully so you are not caught unaware upon arrival at a sea or air port.
How much money can I bring into New Zealand?
There's no restriction on how much foreign currency you can bring in to or take out of New Zealand. However, if you arrive at an airport carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash you'll need to complete a Border Cash Report.
How much duty free can I bring into New Zealand?
Tobacco: 50 cigarettes or 50 grams (1,76 ounces) of cigars or tobacco products per adult.
Alcohol: 4.5 litres of wine or beer, and 3 bottles of spirits or liqueur — each bottle can hold up to 1.125 litres.
General goods: If you're bringing in more than NZ$700 worth of goods (not including your clothes, jewellery and toiletries), you'll need to declare it as you may have to pay duty fees or GST.
More information can be found at the New Zealand government website.
BANKING, SHOPPING & MONEY
What is the currency in New Zealand?
New Zealand dollars (NZD) is the currency and you will find notes in $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c. You can find more information about the currency at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
What is the currency conversion for USD to NZD?
You can calculate the conversion rate using XE Currency Converter
Should I get money out before I go to New Zealand and what is the best way to pay for things?
Banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. 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.
EFTPOS is available in most shops and restaurants etc, so you can pay for goods and services using debit or credit cards. If you are using a card associated with an international account there are usually foreign transaction fees charged. American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa are accepted in most places. Merchants may charge a fee for using credit cards in some places. A good idea is to carry multiple credit cards and some cash so that you are prepared for any purchasing restrictions.
What you need to know about Goods and Service tax.
All goods and services are subject to a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) 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.
Do I tip for services in New Zealand?
In Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, tipping is not customary or expected. If you feel that your server, tour guide, or resort staff has gone above and beyond, you can feel free to tip 10-20%, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip.
Can I bargain with retailers and in markets for a better price?
It is not customary or expected that shoppers will bargain with the market prices in stores.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
What is the legal drinking age in New Zealand?
The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18 years old. You will be expected to provide acceptable proof of age, either a passport or drivers license.
What is the power in New Zealand and will I need an adapter?
The voltages is 220 - 240V, AC 50 Hz. It would be wise to pack an adapter to be able to plug in electronics like laptops, ipads, iphones etc. What you need to get is a Type 1 plug like this one at World Standards.
What is the emergency number in New Zealand?
There is one number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade - 111
What is the mobile coverage like in New Zealand?
There is mobile phone coverage across New Zealand but can be patchy in more remote areas. For more information on coverage in areas you will be located you can use Open Signal. Most cellphone networks operate internationally, check with your local carrier before you leave home to see what international roaming packages they have to New Zealand.
Where can I find WiFi?
New Zealand has fast WiFi/internet connections in most cities. You will find many cafes and accommodation options provide free WiFi and internet access. For more information on WiFi coverage in areas you will be located you can use Open Signal.
Can I use a drone in New Zealand?
Yes you can but you need to adhere to New Zealand's rules and regulations surrounding their use. They can be found on the Airshare website.