Key Facts and Figures
Capital City : Wellington
Largest city: Auckland
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Official languages: English (98%), Māori (4.2%), NZ Sign Language (0.6%)
Demonym: New Zealander, Kiwi (colloquial)
Land Area: Total 268,680 km2
Water (%) 2.1
Population numbers: September 2008 estimate 4.4million
Population density: 15/km2
A-Z General Information
New Zealand is blessed with a wide range of accommodation styles, with something to suit every visitor’s requirements and budget.
Apartment style hotel rooms, suites and hotel villas are available for short and long stays in both cities and resort areas. They come fully equipped with kitchen, laundry and other household facilities and most can be serviced daily or weekly as required. Many have access to pools, gardens, fitness centres or full hotel facilities.
Bed and Breakfast
New Zealand “B&B”s are often moderately-priced, located in comfortable, beautifully restored older buildings and range in number of rooms from 1 or 2 through to a dozen or more. They offer a superb night’s sleep, modern private bathrooms and freshly prepared breakfast in the morning. Often you’ll also enjoy complimentary extra treats such as welcome refreshments, pre-dinner drinks or nightcaps, and of course the personal touch of getting acquainted with your genial hosts and fellow guests. Architectural styles, locations, facilities, hosts and inclusions (and hence rates) vary.
Across the country, many gorgeous and historic mansions and hotels have been restored and transformed with all modern conveniences, and in places new purpose-built boutique hotels have sprung up. These properties vary from 4 to 5 star standard, offer as few as 2 but up to a dozen suites, on room-only, bed and breakfast or full meal plan tariffs.
A relatively new option now available in New Zealand is the exclusive use house or villa. Generally located in resort areas, they can cater for between 4 and 12 visitors, and so are ideal for families or groups of friends travelling together and wanting a central base for several nights, or weeks, with extreme privacy. Most will offer daily or weekly servicing, concierge, chef and other supplementary services.
International Style Hotels
New Zealand has a huge selection of hotels, both international chains and locally owned, in most cities and resorts, from basic to 5 star quality.
These superb, generally modern, properties are often located in some of the most dramatic, beautiful and tranquil locations imaginable. They are perfect places to unwind from the stresses of the everyday world. Each has its own character and charm. Many are renowned for their superb cuisine and ambience, and offer exceptional service, facilities and professional guides for the activities of the area. Some tariffs may be room-only based, but most offer a half-board (MAP) plan rate.
Most night-spots, restaurants and cafes serve liquor seven days a week. You can purchase alcohol from liquor outlets (beer, wine and spirits) and supermarkets (beer and wine only) seven days a week. Legally you must be 18 years old to buy alcohol or consume it in a public place, and you may be asked for a photo-ID. Some restaurants offer BYO (Bring Your Own) whereby you can take your own wine to the restaurant, and just be charged a corkage fee.
Cell-phones – see Telephones
New Zealand does not have a large temperature range, lacking the extremes found in most continental climates. However, New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature, especially if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.
· Spring - September, October, November
· Summer - December, January, February
· Autumn - March, April, May
· Winter - June, July, August
New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10 C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20 - 30oC and in winter between 10 - 15oC.
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 when outdoors for more than 15-20 minutes, even on cloudy days.
New Zealand’s average rainfall is high—between 640 millimetres and 1500 millimetres—and evenly spread throughout the year.
Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots. Men are generally not expected to wear jackets or ties, except in a few of the top formal hotel bars and restaurants. Due ot the changeable weather, even in summer sweater should still be included in your luggage, and as you can expect some rain, include a light rainproof jacket or coat. If visiting between May and October inclusive pack warm garments, and layer your clothing.
Conservation - Flora and Fauna
Underlying New Zealand’s physical attractions is an epic survival story of unique plants and animals. Cast adrift from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland, these ancient species evolved in isolation and struggled to survive in what renowned naturalist David Bellamy has called ‘Moa’s Ark’ (named after New Zealand’s native, but now extinct, giant flightless bird, the moa). After only 1000 years of human settlement New Zealand has lost many native species. But impressive gains have been made in recent times to protect and enhance what is left. These include removing introduced pests from island wildlife sanctuaries, the establishment of 13 national parks, three maritime parks, two world heritage areas, hundreds of nature reserves and ecological areas, a network of marine reserves and wetlands, and protection for special rivers and lakes. In total, around 30 percent of New Zealand’s land area is protected conservation land. In addition, research and management programmes have been introduced to aid the recovery of rare and endangered species. New Zealand welcomes everyone to experience and discover its unique and precious natural heritage. We ask only that you make as little impact as possible, so future generations may also enjoy it as you do.
In spite of around 1000 years of native bush clearance by humans, about a quarter of the country still remains forested - mostly in high country areas. Most of these remaining areas are protected from exploitation in national and forest parks, where they can be enjoyed by all. The characteristic New Zealand forest is a temperate, evergreen rain forest with giant tree ferns, vines and epiphytes - looking a bit like the popular image of a jungle. The giant kauri, among the largest trees in the world, is now restricted to relatively small forest pockets in Northland and on the Coromandel Peninsula.
New Zealand is a land of unique birds. The best known is the flightless kiwi, New Zealand’s unofficial national symbol. Also flightless are the weka, the rare takahe, and the endangered kakapo, the world’s largest parrot. Another unique parrot is the inquisitive kea. Most of these can be seen in conservation parks, zoos or aviaries.
While New Zealand is still a very young country, it has developed a depth and breadth of culture due in part to the wide array of various ethnic peoples who now call New Zealand home – from all over Europe, the Pacific and Asia. Major centres boast orchestral, theatrical, operatic, popular music, film and dance performances; art galleries and installations including public art abound; and there are festivals celebrating a variety of cultures including Polynesian.
The Māori people are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and first arrived here in waka hourua (voyaging canoes) from their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki over 1000 years ago. Today, Māori make up over 14 percent of the population. The Māori culture is a rich and varied one, and includes traditional and contemporary arts. Traditional arts such as carving, weaving, kapa haka (group performance), whaikorero (oratory) and moko (tattoo) are practised throughout the country. Practitioners following in the footsteps of their tipuna (ancestors) replicate the techniques used hundreds of years ago, yet also develop exciting new techniques and forms. Today Māori culture also includes art, film, television, poetry, theatre, and hip-hop.
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept flat 3 or 2-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.
The emergency phone number in New Zealand is 111. It is a free call.
Estimates to New Zealand
UK / Europe: 25 hours
West coast North America: 12 hours
East coast North America: 19 hours
Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo: 10 hours
Dubai: 19 hours
India: 15- 18 hours
Food & Wine
New Zealand’s ’Pacific Rim’ cuisine style takes its inspiration from regions and countries such as Europe, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Polynesia, Japan and Vietnam. This unique blend of influences has created a mouth-watering range of flavours and food available from cafes and restaurants nationwide. For dishes that have a distinctly New Zealand style look out for lamb and venison; salmon, crayfish (lobster) , Bluff oysters, paua (abalone), mussels and scallops; kumara (sweet potato); kiwifruit and tamarillo; and “pavlova”, our national dessert. While the main centres support a few elegant, silver-service restaurants, the trend is towards more relaxed cafe-bar dining. There is a wide variety of international food available including Japanese, Indian, Halal, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Malaysian, and Thai.
While you are here, take the opportunity to discover more about New Zealand wines. Our white wines, particularly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, have already achieved an international reputation for excellence - and the reds, Pinot Noir especially, are catching-up fast. Wines are produced all over the country from Northland to Central Otago, so there is no excuse not to include at least one wine-tasting tour in an itinerary.
All major rental car companies offer GSP devices at additional charge.
You will need a RJ45 type plug to be able to connect your laptop into a computer socket in New Zealand, and an adaptor with a flat two or three-point power plug to connect to the power
While English is the language used in daily life by the vast majority of the population, multi-lingual guides are available for hire on a daily basis or for an entire trip.
Mobile Phones – see Telephones
New Zealand’s unit of currency 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. 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$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres. All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand. Travellers Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.
Banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.
Credit cards with "Smart Card" technology
Smart cards are payment cards that carry an embedded microchip allowing them to store encrypted, confidential information, and carry multiple applications from different industries alongside debit, credit, or prepaid payment applications. Please note these cards, which often have no magnetic strip, are not accepted everywhere in New Zealand. You may experience problems using these cards, and we therefore recommend you contact you card provider for further information before arriving in New Zealand.
Goods and Services Tax
All goods and services are subject to a 12.5 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) included in the displayed price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back, however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor’s home address the GST will not be charged. Please note some hotel and restaurant menu prices do not include GST and this should be stated at the end of the menu page.
Tipping and Service Charges
Tipping in New Zealand is not obligatory - even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for good
service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not
add service charges to their bills.
NZ$ travellers cheques are not available for purchase.International visitors who wish to travel to
New Zealand with travellers cheques should bring a major currency type of travellers cheque with
them in the future. For travel to our region AUS$ travellers cheques can be purchased.
Lively DJ and band scenes, particularly in the larger cities, have given New Zealand’s night life a renewed vibrancy. You will find a variety of night-clubs, cabarets, pubs, concerts and live performances to choose from, and there are also four casinos, in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.
Labour Day: 26 October
Christmas Day and Boxing Day: 25 - 26 December*
New Year: 1 - 2 January
Waitangi Day: 6 February
Good Friday: 2 April
Easter Monday: 5 April
ANZAC Day: 25 April
Queen’s Birthday: 7 June
Labour Day: 25 October
Christmas Day and Boxing Day: 25 - 26 December
*Where they fall on a weekend day, some public holidays are recognised the following working day. You are advised to check specific dates that you wish to visit New Zealand attractions with the venue in advance of your visit. Some cafes and restaurants charge a surcharge on Public Holidays.
While New Zealand is known as a friendly and relatively safe country to travel through, we advise that valuables (including passports, tickets, credit cards and cash) should not be left locked in rental vehicles or hotels rooms (unless in a safe) while travelling, and that sensible precautions are taken at all times whether in city or country in regard as in any other country.
Safety in Water
Many of the beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags. Always swim between the flags – this is the safest place to swim.
Safety in the outdoors.
Although there are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in New Zealand, you should be aware of the following:
· Variable Weather - Weather conditions in New Zealand alpine areas can change rapidly. Be prepared for cold wet weather if you plan to walk in our National Parks, whatever the time of year
· Sandflies - In wetter areas, particularly in Fiordland, sandflies can be pests, but are effectively controlled by use of an insect repellent
· Giardia - Giardia 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
Most shops and businesses are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, as a minimum. Most stores also open Saturdays and some open on Sundays. In resorts you will find most stores open in the evenings. Banks are generally closed at weekends.
New Zealand offers a huge variety of shopping from arts and craft markets, galleries and museum shops to exclusive designer stores. For traditional New Zealand souvenirs look for examples of superb Maori carvings in wood, bone and pounamu (greenstone or jade). You can also find jewellery and ornaments made from the iridescent paua shell (abalone), treasured by Maori for centuries.
New Zealand ceramic and glass artists are recognised as among the world’s finest and today many fine artisans are also working in stone, wood, and metals. The country’s vast wool industry makes it possible to find wonderful handknitted wool sweaters, beautiful wall hangings, homespun yarns and topquality sheepskins. Alongside top international fashion in boutique stores in the main city areas, you will also find New Zealand’s own award-winning fashion labels, including Zambesi, NomD, Karen Walker and World.
To protect people from the health effects of second-hand smoke, smoking in all hospitality venues, including bars, restaurants, cafes, and casinos, is prohibited in New Zealand. If you smoke, please remember to smoke outside. Some hotels still offer smoking rooms.
Check with your phone company before leaving home about international mobile roam facilities available in New Zealand. Alternatively Phone Hire New Zealand and Vodafone allow visitors to hire mobile phones or SIM cards.
Most public call-phones take cards purchased from bookstalls and newsagents, with a minimum value of NZ$2. Some public call-phones also accept credit cards, but very few accept coins. New Zealand phone numbers appear online in the White Pages (alphabetical listings) and Yellow Pages (business category listings).
Cars, vans, four wheel drives, motor homes and motorcycles are all available for rental throughout New Zealand. New Zealand is ideally suited to touring by rental car campervan.
Rather than an all-encompassing network of passenger services, New Zealand offers a collection of scenic rail journeys. They’re a great way to experience magnificent remote areas that are not accessible by road. The main rail sightseeing services which run in both directions are:
· The Overlander: A daily service between Auckland and Wellington.
· The TranzCoastal: Between Christchurch and Picton in the South Island, via Kaikoura.
· The TranzAlpine: A daily service between Christchurch and Greymouth, through the Southern Alps.
Further south, the popular Taieri Gorge Railway and the historic Kingston Flyer offer memorable shorter trips.
Daily scheduled bus passenger services for point to point travel are available throughout the country. Larger cities also offer bus tours of the main sights or city centre and surrounding regions on a daily basis.
Coach tours offer a relaxing way of seeing the country in comfort either on a chartered basis for specific groups, or on a scheduled basis for individuals. A guide or the driver provides tour manager services and also a running commentary.
Passenger & vehicle ferries run between the two main islands (Wellington to/from Picton) and between the South Island and Stewart Island on a daily basis.
You do not need any vaccinations to enter New Zealand.
Visitor Information - i-SITE Visitor Centre.
At each of the 80 i-SITE’s around the country you’ll find local staff brimming with knowledge about the best things to see and do in the area. From major attractions to hidden gems off the beaten path, the friendly staff can help with whatever your time and budget allows.