New Zealand

The Country
New Zealand is the youngest country on earth - the last major landmass to be discovered. It has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting both our Maori and European heritage. Amazing Maori historic sites and taonga (treasures), some dating back almost a thousand years, are a contrast to many beautiful colonial buildings. A walk around any New Zealand city today shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country we have become. New Zealand's spectacularly beautiful landscape includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush rainforests. Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only four million - making it one of the world's least crowded countries. It is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers. A temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it an ideal year-round holiday destination.

New Zealand's separation from other land masses about 100 million years ago allowed many ancient plants and animals to survive and evolve in isolation. Complementing our unique flora and fauna is a landscape that contains an unrivalled variety of landforms. In a couple of days drive it is possible to see everything from mountain ranges to sandy beaches, lush rainforests, glaciers and fiords and active volcanoes.

People, History and Population
New Zealand is an independent nation and a member of the British Commonwealth. It has a diverse multi-cultural population of 4 million people, the majority of whom are of British descent. New Zealand's indigenous Maori make up around 14 percent of the population.

Early Settlement
The Maori were New Zealand's first settlers. They made an epic journey from the legendary Hawaiki, probably in Polynesia to the north of New Zealand, about 1000 years ago. The great explorer Kupe, who legend says first discovered New Zealand, named the new land Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud. The first documented European to discover New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman, who came here in 1642 in search of the fabled great southern continent. Over 125 years later, Captain James Cook claimed it for Britain in 1769 and produced a map of the country.

Kiwi and Kiwis
New Zealand's first settlers, the Maori, named the kiwi bird for the sound of its chirp - kiwi, kiwi, kiwi! This flightless bird, about the size of a domestic hen, has an extremely long beak and plumage that is more like hair than feathers. New Zealanders have adopted this nocturnal, flightless and endearing creature as their national emblem. Referring to New Zealanders as Kiwis probably dates back to the First World War, when New Zealand soldiers first acquired this nickname. In the international financial markets, New Zealand’s basic currency unit, the New Zealand dollar, is frequently called ’the kiwi’. The dollar coin features a kiwi bird on one side. Perhaps the best-known kiwi is the delicious kiwifruit. Originating in China, kiwifruit were grown in New Zealand domestic gardens for decades as ‘Chinese gooseberries’. However, when enterprising New Zealand farmers began propagating the fruit intensively for export, it was given the name kiwifruit and has since achieved worldwide fame.

The Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi, seen as New Zealand's founding document, established the country as a nation. It was signed in 1840 between leading Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, now one of the country's most historic sites. The signing of the Treaty began on 6 February, which has become New Zealand's national day, known as 'Waitangi Day'.

Economy and Government
New Zealand is a modern country with a well-developed economy and a government structure based on the British parliamentary system. New Zealand has long been a sovereign nation in its own right with only tenuous ties to Britain through New Zealand's membership of the British Commonwealth. You can find more information on New Zealand's government and its monetary policy at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and New Zealand Government Online.

Entry Requirements

Vaccinations Required for Non-New Zealand Citizens

If you are not a New Zealand citizen, you need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before flying to New Zealand from 1 November 2021. New Zealand permanent residents and temporary visa holders are not New Zealand citizens, and so need to be vaccinated before travel.

You need to be fully vaccinated. This means you need to have had a full course of any of the 22 COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by a government or approval authority. You need to have had the last dose at least 14 days before you arrive in New Zealand.

You do not need evidence of a vaccination if you:

  • Are a New Zealand citizen — New Zealand permanent residents and temporary visa holders are not New Zealand citizens
  • Are aged under 17 years, or
  • Cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons

Entry Regulations & Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)
All visitors must possess a passport or other travel document which is valid three months beyond the intended date of departing New Zealand as well as return tickets.

From 1st October 2019 all visitors from a visa waiver country (this includes countries like the Unites States), all travellers traveling through New Zealand from a transit visa waiver country as well as all cruise ship passengers (regardless of nationality) and all permanent residents of Australia require an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

Travellers can request their ETA via the ETA mobile app or the Immigration NZ website ( The app is fast and easy to use and offers greater data accuracy, making it the preferred option. We recommend visitors and transit passengers request their ETA well in advance of travel. Please allow at least 72 hours for processing. Travellers who arrive at their port of departure without an ETA will still be able to request an ETA at this time; however, if the ETA request cannot be processed in time, or the ETA request is declined, the passenger will be denied boarding.

Citizens of other countries should check with their local New Zealand embassy as entry requirements can vary.

International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)
From 1st October 2019 most visitors to New Zealand will need to pay the IVL, and they will be able to do this when they apply for either their visa or ETA. The IVL is a way for travellers to contribute directly to the tourism infrastructure they use and help protect the natural environment they enjoy during their stay in New Zealand.

If a person needs to pay the IVL it will be charged automatically, making it easy for travellers. Visitors only pay the IVL when they apply for a visa or ETA. This may enable multiple entries for one payment.

Goods up to a total combined value of NZD$700.00 are free of duty and tax. If you are carrying, on your person or in your baggage, cash in any currency to the value of NZD$10,000 or more you must report this to a Customs officer. If you are carrying prescription medicines or controlled drugs you must have a prescription from your physician advising that the medicine is being used under a doctor’s direction and is necessary for your physical well-being. Carry the drugs in their original containers and have sufficient quantity not exceeding three months’ supply for prescription medicines or one month supply for controlled drugs.

Agriculture and Quarantine Regulations (Prohibited Items)
Agriculture and horticulture are of huge importance to the economy of New Zealand, therefore certain animal products, foods, fruits and plants that could contain plant or animal pests may not be allowed into the country. Please declare everything on your customs form when you enter the country. Please be aware; New Zealand strictly enforces quarantine of materials that might carry loose dirt or plant material of any kind. If customs require you to clean your shoes upon arrival in the country it will be very inconvenient and time consuming. Please be certain all shoes, especially golf and hiking shoes (whether packed or worn) are clean upon entrance to the country.

Banking and Currency

Local currency is New Zealand dollars. Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100. Coins: 10c, 20c & 50c; $1 & $2.
Banks are usually open from 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Some are open on Saturdays. Automatic Teller Machines are located across the country and operate on a card/PIN number. All major credit cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted.

Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Road rules
If you have a driver licence in your home country, or an international driver licence for non English speaking countries only, you can drive in New Zealand. Like the UK and Australia, New Zealanders drive on the LEFT hand side of the road. If your driver’s license is not in English and you are hiring a rental vehicle in New Zealand you will need to have this officially translated into English in order for you to collect your vehicle. Please ensure you carry the translation with you on your travels to New Zealand. The maximum speed on the highway is 100kph (62mph) and 50kph (31mph) in built up areas and strict penalties are imposed for speeding, not wearing seat belts or for driving while alcohol impaired. You are also not allowed to be driving whilst using a mobile phone unless a hands-free device is fitted. Texting while driving is prohibited.

Baggage Information
If your domestic flights are part of your international ticket, your international baggage allowance applies with a maximum weight of 23kg (50lbs) per bag. Please refer to your international ticket conditions for international baggage allowances. Charges will incur for excess baggage.

International Departure Tax
International departure tax is included with departure from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Other airports may still charge a departure tax for international departures.

Health and Medical Information

It is not necessary to have any inoculations or vaccinations to enter New Zealand unless you are arriving within six days from any Yellow Fever, Plague or Cholera infected areas. Tap water is safe to drink in New Zealand. During Spring New Zealand flowers and plants may be troublesome for those suffering pollen allergies. Relief products are available in pharmacies or you may prefer to bring your own medicines.

Travel insurance
We strongly recommend that all clients obtain comprehensive travel insurance cover before travelling. Policies should be checked to ensure that they include cancellation of trip before departure, all medical situations including hospitalisation, repatriation, cancellation, and loss or damage of baggage/valuables en-route.

Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

The cuisine in New Zealand is very seasonal and relies heavily on local produce. As the islands are very agricultural there is a wide variety of fresh foods always available. The influences are largely British although there are Asian influences creeping in and takeaways are becoming more popular.

New Zealand is an island nation with its waters containing a large variety of fish and seafood. Despite this, until recently shellfish hasn't played an important part in the diet of New Zealanders. The consumption of fish has traditionally been low as meat has been the main preference for meals. Having said this, fish and seafood has always been significant in the Maori diet and you will notice that the names of many of them are still used today in Maori.

Climate and Weather

Land of the Long White Cloud
Since the Maori people named New Zealand ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, climate has been of paramount importance to the people of New Zealand — many of whom make their living from the land. New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country. Its climate is dominated by two main geographical features — the mountains and the sea.

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as —10°C/50°F in winter. Most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine. Because New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest.

Hello Sunshine
Most places in New Zealand receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas — Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough — receiving over 2350 hours. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.00pm. New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong during the summer months. In order to avoid sunburn, visitors should wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when they are in direct summer sunlight, especially in the heat of the day (11am-4pm). While summer is sunnier than the other seasons, most regions in New Zealand have a relatively high proportion of sunlight during the winter months.

New Zealand’s average rainfall is high — between 640mm and 1500mm — and evenly spread throughout the year. As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, this high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.

New Zealand’s summer months are December to February, bringing high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild. Summer is an excellent time for bush walking and a variety of other outdoor activities. New Zealand’s many gorgeous beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during summer. Recommended Clothing - In summer a light jacket or sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or if you visit higher altitudes. You can expect some rain, so include a light rainproof jacket or coat. We recommend that you pack swimwear as New Zealand has many safe swimming beaches to enjoy in the summer months. During the summer months we recommend that you pack a comfortable pair of sandals/thongs/flip-flops.

New Zealand’s autumn months are March to May. While temperatures are a little cooler than summer, the weather can be excellent, and it is possible to swim in some places until at least April. While New Zealand’s native fauna is evergreen, there are many introduced deciduous trees. Colourful changing leaves make autumn a scenic delight, especially in regions such as Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, which are known for their autumn splendour. Recommended Clothing - If visiting between March and May, pack warmer garments and layer your clothing.

New Zealand’s winter months of June to August bring colder weather to much of the country, and more rain to most areas in the North Island. Mountain ranges in both islands become snow-covered, providing beautiful vistas and excellent skiing. While the South Island has cooler winter temperatures, some areas of the island experience little rainfall in winter, so this is an excellent time to visit glaciers, mountains, and other areas of scenic beauty. Recommended Clothing - If visiting in winter, pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing. In the central North Island and the Southern South Island we recommend you wear thermal undergarments, e.g. merino wool or polypropylene thermals. A warm jacket is strongly advised for any outdoor activities.

Spring lasts from September to November, and New Zealand’s spring weather can range from cold and frosty to warm and hot. During spring buds, blossoms, and other new growth bursts forth throughout the country and new born lambs frolic in the fields just before dusk. Both Alexandra in Central Otago and Hastings in Hawke’s Bay celebrate spring with a blossom festival. If you are interested in white water rafting, this is the time when melting spring snow makes river water levels excitingly high! Recommended Clothing - If visiting between September and November, pack warmer garments and layer your clothing. During Spring New Zealand flowers and plants may be troublesome for those suffering pollen allergies. Relief products are available in pharmacies or you may prefer to bring your own medicines.

Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Four Seasons in One Day
New Zealand is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to forecast the weather. New Zealand does not have a large temperature range, lacking the extremes one finds in most continental climates. Although the weather is changeable, there are certainly plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures to enjoy. However, the weather can change unexpectedly — as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. It is not uncommon, especially in the South Island to experience ‘four seasons in one day.’ It is important to pack clothing that is appropriate to your entire, specific itinerary. You should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you are going hiking or partaking in other outdoor activities.If visiting between May and September pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing.

Dress code
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 suits and ties, except in a few of the formal bars, restaurants, major cities and some luxury lodges. Gentlemen are required to wear jackets during cocktails and dinner at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. Jackets are available to borrow.

Internet Availability

Chances are that you’re arriving in New Zealand with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop – or a mixture of all three. If you’re looking to stay connected to the internet everywhere you go, it’s recommended that you purchase a plan from one of New Zealand’s main networks. Free Wi-Fi hotspots are generally found in main cities only and can be sporadic throughout the rest of the country. Purchasing a plan from a network will allow you to have access to a mix of data, calling and texting throughout your trip to suit your communication and connection needs.

Electricity and Plug Standards

New Zealand operates on 240 volt, 50 Hz cycle AC power. Most electrical outlets accept plugs with three flat prongs. Please check with your manufacturer for information on suitable adaptors if needed.

General Guidance

English is the official everyday language. New Zealand’s second official language, Maori, is spoken fluently by only a small percentage of the population.

Goods and Services are taxed at 15% (subject to government changes without notice). This tax is
usually included in the advertised price.

Time Difference
New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Daylight Saving commences on the last Sunday in September, when 2.00am becomes 3.00am, and ends on the first Sunday in April the following year, when 3.00am becomes 2.00am.

The country code for New Zealand is +64. To dial an overseas number from New Zealand, you simply dial 00 followed by the country code and the number.

Mobile Phones
Mobile coverage is limited in remote areas.

At most hotels/lodges visitors can access the internet – with some charging an additional fee for this service. Please verify with reception on check-in.

This service is available from the main hotels/lodges. It normally takes 1-2 days, or you can pay extra for express services. The cost varies from item to item.

Many travellers view tipping as a difficult subject although this need not be the case. The first thing to remember is that tipping is not compulsory, nor are there any fixed amounts. The bottom line in determining whether and how much to tip is to ask yourself how much the individual did to make your travels more enjoyable. It is with this in mind that we offer the following information. In New Zealand employed persons do not depend on gratuities for their income. At a first-class restaurant, a gratuity of 10% is normal.

Shopping hours in New Zealand are generally 9.00am to 5.00pm on weekdays. You will find it can vary in the weekends generally from 9.00am to 1.00pm. In the tourist centers and big cities some shops will be open all day on Saturday and Sunday as well.

The legal age to purchase alcohol in New Zealand is 18 years. Alcohol is available from supermarkets and liquor outlets seven days a week, unless it is a public holiday. Most urban areas have local regulations which prevent drinking alcohol in public places. You must always check there is not a liquor ban in place before drinking in a public place. This will be shown by a liquor ban sign.

Smoking in most public areas including shopping malls, public transport, pubs, bars and restaurants is prohibited in New Zealand. All workplaces are smoke free. If you smoke, you must do so outside.

We recommend that you pack a pair of comfortable hiking or walking shoes especially if you are planning on doing outdoor activities such as jet boating, helicopter excursions and hikes.

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