Tips for travelling in New Zealand
In small towns around New Zealand, the fire departments are volunteer. When there is an emergency, the volunteers are summoned by the air raid siren…Do not worry, New Zealand is not being bombed!
For Fire/Ambulance/Police services in New Zealand call 111.
Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen!!! The burn time is usually around 11-14 minutes on a summer day (that is with or without clouds!). Also, no matter what time of the year you visit, you can plan on experiencing four seasons in one day. Summer months can often bring winter-like weather and winter can offer stunning blue skies and warm days.
The one thing to remember when packing your clothes is layers. Since the weather can change from sunny and hot, to bitterly cold all within one day, bring casual clothes that can be layered. No matter what time of year you visit, be sure to bring T-shirts, shorts, a sweater and one waterproof & windproof jacket . Whether you are travelling in the summer or winter, you can never predict the weather in this semi tropical South Pacific country.
The electrical power here is 230 volts. We recommend that you purchase an adaptor in your country of origin to convert to New Zealand voltage.
DRIVING IN NZ
Although the rental cars here have radios, there are many areas that do not receive radio transmission. You may want to bring some cassette tapes or CD’s for music.
The key to driving in New Zealand is knowing the little towns that are on the way to your final destination. Although we supply you with directions, be sure to look at the maps and be familiar with the towns along the route. The road signs in New Zealand are vague, so be sure you know the towns that are on the route to your ultimate destination.
New Zealand Police are also very stringent on speeding. The speed limit on open roads is 100kms per hour. If you exceed this, there is a high chance that you will get either picked up by highway patrol or caught on a speed camera (often hidden). If this happens, expect to receive a ticket and a fine.
INSECTS & ALLERGIES
We do not have any poisonous spiders, dangerous animals, or any snakes. But if you have hay fever or allergies be sure to bring appropriate medicines for yourself. There are lots of pollens, seeds and dust here.
Two words “bug repellent”! If you are going to the beach, sometimes there are sand flies. If you are visiting Fiordland there are definitely sand flies!
Most accommodations in New Zealand do not have screens on the windows. Please do not leave un-screened windows open at night.
Most pay phones in the country require a telephone card (like a credit card). We suggest you purchase one upon arrival athe airport so you have one with you at all times in case you need to make a call from the road or in town. You may choose to rent a mobile phone for the duration of your trip. See www.vodarent.co.nz to reserve your phone.
Be aware that you can not bring any fruit into New Zealand. If your hiking boots or shoes have dirt on them you must tell customs control prior to clearing customs. We are a remote country with no poisonous bugs or snakes and it is very important to our country that it is kept that way. Please read the NZ Customs booklet so you are aware of the rules. The fines are quite high if you bring anything prohibited into the country – accidentally or not.
All cities and most small towns have a bank and/or ATM (automated teller machine). These ATM’s allow you to access your bank accounts through the star, star plus, cirrus and many other major automated systems. This helps to cut down on the need to bring large amounts of cash while travelling.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
New Zealand bars and restaurants are now totally smoke free. It is against New Zealand law to smoke inside these establishments. If you wish to smoke you will need to be prepared to be outside.
Something very important to remember is that in New Zealand you are your own judge of what is prudent and safe. You are totally responsible for your own safety. If you go on a boat, plane, or guided walk make sure you feel confident. If you get hurt, lost or crash there is not the opportunity for litigation for compensation here. The same thing applies when you are driving a car. If someone hits you then ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) takes care of your medical and your insurance covers your car. There is basically a no fault attitude. It is actually a very refreshing way to live, you are not paranoid about a possible lawsuit at every turn, but you must be intelligent with your decisions.
If you are walking across the street be warned cars have the right of way! They do not slow down. Be careful also to make sure you are looking in the correct direction of the traffic flow before crossing.
Airport departure tax - as you prepare to leave the country, be sure that you have $25 per person.
All Hotels and most Motels and B&B’s offer laundry service. It is inexpensive and allows you the opportunity to bring fewer clothes (and have room for more shopping).
Tipping is not customary in New Zealand. However, if you feel someone has provided an exceptional service by all means tip! It is so worth the surprised look and appreciative smile. A 10% tip is average for worthy service.