New Zealand's friendly and down-to-earth locals will be one of the things you’ll treasure most on your visit to New Zealand. You’ll find a mixture of Maori, European, Pacific Island and Asian cultures interwoven throughout the country. Maori culture remains a core part of New Zealand’s national identity. Geographically, over three-quarters of the population of New Zealand live in the North Island, with one-third of the total population living in Auckland.
Currency in New Zealand
The New Zealand dollar comprises 100 cents. Visa and MasterCard credit cards can be used to withdraw cash from cash machines in New Zealand, as long as you have your PIN number. You should check with your bank regarding charges and interest rates.
Plus and Cirrus debit cards may be used in cash machines displaying the appropriate logo. Travellers Cheques and credit cards are widely accepted at banks, hotels and some shops. We recommend credit cards and Travellers Cheques as the most effective way to pay for your purchases, as they avoid the need to carry large sums of cash and give you a slightly better exchange rate than the standard tourist rate. Banks are open from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday.
TIME ZONE IN NEW ZEALAND
All of New Zealand lies in one time zone, twelve hours ahead of GMT, thus making the country one of the first in the world to see each new day. New Zealand’s summer “daylight saving” makes this difference 13 hours between the first Sunday of October and the third Sunday in March.
WEATHER IN NEW ZEALAND
When it comes to weather in New Zealand you’ll find the north is subtropical and the south temperate. When touring in New Zealand we recommend you pack comfortable clothing, with plenty of layers and a warm waterproof jacket to take care of any cool or wet weather. Expect some rain, particularly in the south and west of the country and most especially on the west coast of the South Island. A comfortable pair of shoes for walking and sightseeing is essential and a walking stick is also highly recommended. You should take a wide brimmed hat to protect against sunburn.
The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC and in winter between 10-15ºC with temperatures warmer in the north and cooler in the south.
Driving in New Zealand
There are some rules of the road that are helpful for you to know when planning your touring holiday in New Zealand, below are a few pointers regarding driving licence requirements, insurance, speed limits and some of the travelling costs that you can expect to incur.
Vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road in New Zealand and seat belts are compulsory. New Zealand’s roads are very pleasant to drive on in comparison to many in the UK. Once out of the few major conurbations, you will find the open road perfect for travelling. Distances are given in kilometres. Signs follow standard international symbols.
Please be aware that parking facing against the direction of traffic is illegal.
The legal speed limit is 100 km/h (60 mph) on the open road and 50 km/h (30 mph) in built up areas. Please note that depending on the size of your campervan these limits might be reduced. Please ask the depot staff for details.
New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement to automatically recognise full UK driving licences. If you hold a valid overseas driving licence, or an international driving permit, you can drive for up to a year after you first arrive. You will only be able to drive those types of vehicles for which you are licensed in your country of origin and must carry that licence or permit with you whenever you drive.
For more information about driving in New Zealand, please consult the Drive Safe website.
On individual, tailor-made holidays, basic public liability coverage is included in your vehicle rental fee, but details may vary between rental companies. A typical arrangement is that you leave a NZ$7,500 vehicle security deposit. This is debited from your credit card and held as your excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party.
There are, however, two excess reduction options available. With option one you pay a daily charge, thereby reducing your bond and excess to NZ$2,500. If paying by credit card, an imprint is taken.
Excess Reduction Option two is the most comprehensive available. It enables you to benefit from a reduced vehicle security deposit of NZ$250. You will not have to pay any excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party if this damage is not from misuse of the vehicle under the ‘exclusions’ clause.
If joining one of our New Zealand Escorted Tours, your vehicle rental includes Excess reduction 2 (nil excess) insurance.
Many petrol stations are open 24 hours a day and credit cards are an accepted method of payment. If long stretches of particularly sparsely populated country lie ahead of you (e.g. the South Island West Coast) it is advisable to tank up when you have the opportunity, even if you still have half a tank or so of fuel.
ALCOHOL WHEN DRIVING
The legal blood alcohol limit is 50mg in New Zealand and drink driving laws are strictly enforced.
HEALTH & SAFETY IN NEW ZEALAND
The Department of Health makes no specific recommendations for visitors to New Zealand. However, we recommend you check with your doctor before departure and read the Department of Health booklet Health Advice for Travellers, available from post offices and supplied with your travel documents. There are reciprocal health agreements between New Zealand and the UK, so UK citizens are entitled to free treatment as a hospital in-patient, but must pay some charges for services provided as outpatients and by private doctors. Visitors bringing in medications should make sure that they also carry a doctor’s certificate in order to avoid problems with customs.
Enquire about Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays fully comprehensive medical and personal holiday insurance for peace of mind while you’re away.
In wetter areas, such as Fjiordland, sandflies can be pests, but are effectively controlled by use of insect repellent.
This is a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhoea. To avoid contracting it, it is best not to drink water from lakes, ponds or rivers without first boiling, chemically treating or filtering it.
New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight a great deal stronger than much of Europe, so be prepared to wear hats and high factor sun block when out in the sun for more than a few minutes.
New Zealand’s cities and towns have excellent water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water from rivers and lakes should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered before drinking, to avoid stomach upsets.
New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, particularly in the countryside, but it is still good practise to be vigilant about your property, both in terms of your motorhome and personal belongings. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Don’t leave your handbag or luggage unattended. Leave copies of important documents with family and friends in the UK. Carry a photocopy of your passport for ID.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office may make specific travel related recommendations for visitors to New Zealand.
PASSPORTS & VISAS IN NEW ZEALAND
Your Passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the date you leave New Zealand.
British passport holders can enter New Zealand as a tourist for up to 6 months without the need for a visa. All travellers without a visa must however hold an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand. An ETA will last up to 2 years and costs NZD$9 for mobile app requests and NZD$12 for web browser requests. It can take up to 72 hours to process so make sure you apply in good time before you travel. To apply please visit https://nzeta.immigration.govt.nz/
All tourists to New Zealand also need to pay the IVL (International Visitor Levy) which is in place to help support the tourism infrastructure and protect New Zealand’s unique natural environment. The IVL costs NZ$35 and should be paid for at the same time as the ETA.
TRANSIT THROUGH LOS ANGELES
Some flights to New Zealand include a stop over in Los Angeles, so as well as being prepared for entering New Zealand you need to ensure that you are following the required procedures to transit through LA as well. You will thus need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) before you travel. Details can be found www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa/entry-requirements
You can find out more information about New Zealand entry requirements at the Government Services and Information website.
PROHIBITED TRAVEL ITEMS
No sharp objects, including pen knives or nail clippers, scissors or files, must be taken into the plane cabin. All liquids may also be refused in cabin baggage, unless you can prove, with appropriate certification, that they are for essential use (please check your airline’s documentation for its specific policy on this). Such items will be confiscated unless they are in hold baggage.
SHOPPING IN NEW ZEALAND
Shops are generally open on Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Most shops also open on Saturday morning, and some are now open on Sundays. Items that you might like to buy in New Zealand include sheepskins or sheepskin clothing, items of wood craft generally and Maori woodcarvings in particular (indigenous New Zealand woods are varied and beautiful), paua (abalone) shell, local jewellery items and woolly jumpers.
Around Auckland, the Coromandel and Nelson in particular, there are communes of craft people who sell their art and craft in shops, galleries and stalls around the country.
New Zealand sportswear and outdoor clothing and equipment also enjoy a very good reputation and make excellent presents.
TAXES & CUSTOMS IN NEW ZEALAND
All goods and services in New Zealand are subject to a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST). This is usually included in the price and is non-refundable. However, many imports carry very low, or no, tariff or duty and you may find many consumer goods cheaper in New Zealand than at home.
NEW ZEALAND - PROHIBITED ITEMS
Because of the importance of agriculture and horticulture to the New Zealand economy, certain animal products, fruit, plant materials or foodstuffs that could contain plant or animal pests may not be allowed into the country. You should also make sure that shoes do not have soil or dirt attached to them – fines may apply.
BRINGING GOODS INTO THE UK
For limits on what you can bring back into the UK from abroad, please see the up to date information at www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs.
TIPPING IN NEW ZEALAND
Procedures for tipping in New Zealand are very similar to the UK. People tip by way of thanking particularly good service. Service charges are not added to restaurant bills.
It is a very good idea to take some currency in small bills with you to cover tips on arrival.