General Information

General Information

Here I will attempt to supply information that will aid in any travel plans that you might have. Also information that will aid your stay in New Zealand being unforgettable.

A number of international airlines fly to New Zealand. The main international airports are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Rental Vehicles
Vehicles of all types are able to be hired for travelling around New Zealand, eg cars, vans, RVs. The main car rental companies have an agency at the major airports, eg Hertz, Avis and you are usually able to arrange the hireage of a vehicle when you are booking your tickets through your travel agent.

Road Rules
Most of New Zealand's highways are 2 lane roads. You will find 4 and 6 lanes on the motorways in the larger cities, eg Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington. Traffic lights are used in New Zealand, but roundabouts are now commonly being used to keep up the flow of traffic. The two main rules to remember are:

1.     You drive on the left side of the road, and
2.     You give way to the right.

The open road speed limit is 100 kph and in towns and cities usually 40 kph and 50 kph. Hidden speed cameras and radar are used by the NZ Police to control speed on the roads.
Please remember that seat belts MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES by all occupants in a car. There is a large automatic fine for anyone caught not wearing a seat belt.
Drinking and driving is illegal and also not socially acceptable in New Zealand. The drink drive laws are very strict and, if caught, always brings about a large fine and suspension of licence.
Driving in New Zealand is largely unencumbered by congested traffic. The main highways are of a good quality and are marked with centre and side lines, cats eyes and road markers with illuminant strips for night driving. Most of the country roads are sealed, although unsealed, shingle roads are still found in the country. They are also narrow at times and care must be taken at all times. Because of the landscape, the roads are not straight with soft curves like the highways, say, in the States. They can be very windy and, in some locations, have very steep inclines. Though it is not common as it was, say 10 years ago, the motorist must be prepared to meet stock (cows or sheep) being herded on the roads and please note that the stock has the right of way.
International road signs are used in New Zealand and most foreign drivers' licences are acceptable in New Zealand.

Health and Wellbeing
There are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in New Zealand. The most common of insect pests that you will encounter are flies, sandflies and mosquitos. Insect repellent will keep the sandflies and mosquitoes at bay. A sandfly is an annoying little biting insect and their bites are itchy like the mosquito bite.
The Katipo spider, native to New Zealand, is usually found in the coastal areas. While its bite can be extrememly uncomfortable, and does need to be treated, it usually does not endanger your life. Recently the Red Back spider, from Australia and a bit more dangerous than the Katipo, has been found in areas in Auckland.
The usual harmful marine life must be looked for when swimming etc on beaches, eg jellyfish, sharks (in the warmer months), sea eggs (when wading through rocky areas on a beach).
Giardia is now found in rivers and likes of the popular tourist destinations. It is best to filter, boil or chemically treat any water before drinking. The metropolitan water supplies are treated and are of a very good quality and it is completely safe to drink tap (faucet) water without having to boil it.
Because of the problem with the ozone layer and the clear skies, hats and sunblocks are necessary to avoid against sunburn during the summer months. The burn time can be as low as 10-12 minutes during the months of February and March.
No vaccination cards are required for entering New Zealand.

While New Zealand is a relatively safe country to visit, it is not crime free. Theft and burglary are realities and normal safety precautions must be taken. I recommend that you do not walk, especially alone, at night in urban areas and leave valuables and large amounts of money in a safe place. Rental vehicles are a prime target for thieves therefore, do not leave valuables, money, and PASSPORTS inside an unattended vehicle.

Hitchhiking is not recommended in New Zealand for your own safety.


Access for the Disabled
The law requires that every new and every major reconstruction in New Zealand provide "reasonable and adequate" access for people with disabilities. Every motel and hotel is required to provide units with accessible facitlities. Most of the attractions in New Zealand have wheelchair access.

Electricity in New Zealand is supplied at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 hertz) for electric razors only. For all other electrical equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multivoltage option.

Goods and Services Tax
A Goods and Services Tax (Sales Tax) of 12.5% is required to be paid on all goods and services. Unless an item or service has a price tag with "plus GST" displayed, this tax has been included in the price of the item or service displayed on its tag.

Money and Banking
Decimal currency is used in New Zealand. The coin values are 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, $1 and $2. The note values are $5 (red), $10 (blue), $20 (green), $50 (orange) and $100 (deeper red).
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency able to be brought into or taken out of the country. All major credit cards are accepted and travellers cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores. Credit cards are not accepted in supermarkets.
Trading banks are open between the hours of 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public and statutory holidays.
ATMs are widely available in shopping areas, banks and suburban malls usually 24 hours a day. All major credits cards, with a PIN number, can be used to obtain cash. Plus and Cirrus international debit cards may also be used in the ATMs displaying the logos of Plus and Cirrus.

Postal Services
Post Offices are found in the cities and most towns. In smaller areas, postal agencies are run in conjunction with another business. Mail can be collected from Post Offices and agencies under poste restante. In addition to Post Offices and the agencies, stamps can be purchased in most bookstores, supermarkets and some dairies (a small shop which is open 7 days offering sweets (candy), ice cream, some household items etc). Fax services are found throughout the country in libraries, accommodation places and various businesses.

Statutory Holidays

1 and 2 January
6 February (Waitangi Day, New Zealand's national day)
Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday
25 April - ANZAC Day
First Monday in June - Queens Birthday
Last Monday in October - Labour Day
25 and 26 December

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, ANZAC Day (morning) and Christmas Day are the only days when all shops are required to be closed for business, with the exception of a few diaries, petrol stations and tourism operators.

All regions have an extra day as a statutory holiday. Each region's day falls on a unique day during the year. The only way that visitors might know of a region's local holiday is by finding that banks in that region are closed.

There is no shortage of accommodation for the visitor in New Zealand. It is available in the form of hotels, motels, camping grounds, bed and breakfast, backpackers hostels and much more.

Most public call phones take cards which can be purchased at Post Offices, bookstores, supermarkets etc with a minimum value of $5. Some public telephones accept credit cards and there are still some public phones that accept coins.
To dial an international number from New Zealand, dial 00 then the country code, eg Australia 0061, USA 001.

Time Difference
New Zealand standard time is GMT plus 12 hours. There is no time differences in New Zealand. Daylight saving starts at the beginning of October ( moving forward one hour) and finishes at the end of March (moving back one hour).

Weights and Measures
New Zealand is totally metric, although some diehards can be found still using some imperial measurements.

Legal Drinking Age
The legal drinking age is 18 years or over. If you are lucky enough to be a young looking person, be prepared for the possibility of being asked for proof of your age. The publicans in New Zealand face large fines if they are caught serving or even allowing underaged drinkers on their premises.

There are 3 main domestic airlines in New Zealand which fly between the major cities and resort areas. Commuter airlines service smaller areas/towns. Your travel agent will be able to furnish you with information of fares, special fares/discounts for travel within the country. Off peak fares offer considerable savings.

Train travel is fast and comfortable, frequently offering travellers a glimpse of scenery not visible from the road.
The Overlander (Auckland to Wellington) affords scenic views of native forests, ravines, gorges and volcanic peaks and the Coastal Pacific (Picton to Christchurch) runs along the east coast between the snow-capped Kaikoura Mountains and the rugged coastline, past the famous whale-watching site at Kaikoura.
The TranzAlpine service between Christchurch and Greymouth winds it way through spectacular gorges and river valleys before tracking slowly across the snow-capped Southern Alps mountain range. It is possible to do this trip as a one day excursion from Christchurch.
In total Tranz Scenic operates eight long-distance train services in New Zealand as part of Tranz Rail Limited

Bus and Coach
There are daily scheduled bus/coach passenger services throught the country. Organised tours by bus/coach are available through tour operators and a variety of tours are available to the visitor in both the North and South Islands.
For information regarding travel by bus/coach is available from travel agents, Inter City and information centres.

English is the common and official language in New Zealand.

Tipping is not a general practice in New Zealand but, if you are would like to show your appreciation for service given, consideration or kindness you may do so. Service charges are not added to hotel or restaurant bills.



With any questions or comments

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