New Zealand is about its beautiful scenery and genuine people; you will not experience either of these aspects from a hotel room. You will miss the essence of the country if you only stay in hotels throughout your trip. We stay at personal bed and breakfasts and lodges with a small number of rooms which have the entire range of 'hotel 'qualities plus the character and intimacy of a home. Charming, quality bed-and-breakfasts, lodges and/or farm stays, all with private, en-suite bathrooms (often with a separate guest lounge) are tailored to your taste and comply with our high standards of quality - the hosts, location, service, and history.
Banks are generally open from 9.30am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday. New Zealand offers a very advanced banking system and a nearly cashless community. In all cities and most small towns, you will find banks or ATM machines that accept international bank and credit cards.
Breakfast is usually shared with your hosts and consists of a multitude of choices: fresh fruit, yoghurt, bread, toast, (sometimes croissants) the traditional English style bacon, eggs and sausage, porridge, cereals. Ther is always a lot of coffee and tea (decaffeinated if preferred) as well as freshly squeezed juices.
Apart from the big cities, New Zealand is a very casual country and the weather can be unpredictable. Bring comfortable shoes and casual clothes that you can wear in layers (shorts and T-shirts, sweaters and a waterproof jacket). The New Zealand dress code is pretty much a reflection of the casual Kiwi lifestyle. Living the good life in New Zealand means dressing informally. This easy-going lifestyle is exemplified by the popular, sizzling backyard barbecue. To dress ‘a la mode’ in this situation requires nothing more than T-shirts/shirt/blouse, jeans/trousers/shorts, and sandals/casual shoes/jandals(thongs/flipflops). Basically, it’s whatever you feel comfortable in. Dining in exclusive restaurants and attending functions, balls, and cocktail parties requires a higher standard of attire, but dark business suits and stylish evening dresses or trouser suits will fit most occasions.
In summer a light jacket or sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or if you are visiting higher altitudes. You can expect some rain, so include a light rainproof jacket or coat. If visiting between May and September, pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing. Specific outdoor clothing (down jackets) is favourable city clothing in most places. It is very important bring some kind of Hiking boots, as even short walks in the more wilderness areas can be wet and muddy.
All major international credit cards are accepted such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and, to a lesser extent, Diners Club. If you are unsure, please let us know which bank you use and we will check its availability. If your bank or credit card is encoded with a pin number and has an international acceptance mark on it such as Visa, Plus, MasterCard or Maestro, you will be able to get money at any ATM machine.
New Zealand currency is decimal; dollar notes are in a denomination of five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be bought in or taken out of New Zealand. You can pay with a variety of options including credit cards, bank notes, traveller’s cheques, and cash/coinage. Money exchange facilities are available in banks, hotels, and airports.
Driving a Car
Cars are smaller than in the USA so if this is your country of origin, please remember that when you pack your luggage. In New Zealand, you drive on the left side of the road and there are some minor differences to other international regulations. Speed limits are typically 50km/h in residential areas, and up to 100km/h on our highways and freeways. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers as well as the driver. Be very careful when crossing the street, cars don’t have to stop for you.
New Zealand seems like a relatively small country, however, be aware that distances can be deceptive.
You are permitted to carry 200 cigarettes, one litre of spirits, plus six bottles of wine.
Goods up to a total of NZ $700.00 are free of duty.
There are plenty of internet and e-mail centres located in most major cities and nearly any accommodation will offer you the use of a connection.
The electrical current in New Zealand is 230 volts, 50 hertz AC. Most power sockets in New Zealand accept three-pin flat plugs or similar adapters. Let us know if you require any special accessories for your equipment.
Entry to New Zealand is granted to visitors who intend to visit as a tourist and carry a fully paid return ticket or onward ticket to another country they may enter.
GST - Goods and Services Tax
In New Zealand, all goods and services are subject to 15% retail tax (GST). This is usually included in the displayed price unless otherwise stated. Visitors cannot claim refunds on this tax (exceptions may be made for major exports).
For most accommodation, it is a standard to offer hairdryers in your rooms.
New Zealand has embraced the World Wide Web with zeal and enthusiasm. Cyber cafes are widely distributed throughout the country to enable visitors to keep in touch with friends and relatives back home. Charges vary considerably between hotels and cyber cafes but you can generally expect to pay between $2 and $10 per hour.
Most hotels and motels have Internet connections, which can be accessed for an additional fee or offered free of charge depending on your accommodation. Note: Not all Internet cafes will allow you to connect a laptop to their network.
In New Zealand, you are responsible for your own safety. There is no suing here (like in the USA). All accidents are taken care of by the government scheme ACC (accident compensation coverage). Your decisions and actions are your own, no lawsuits. Cancellation Cover: Most insurance companies have a type of travel insurance that covers you if there is an illness or if the death of a family member or a business associate occurs. It will not cover you if the cancellation is due to a disinclination to travel. Talk with your own insurance company. There are now very few countries in the world that do not offer fully comprehensive travel insurance to travellers.
New Zealand is a very casual country and there is no need for fancy dress or a suit and tie! Layering is the way to go in our climate. Usually, one suitcase and one carry-on bag (small case) will do. The accommodation we use have their own laundry facilities or have access to some. Be aware that you are only allowed 23kg per person as a Baggage Allowance on domestic flights (Smart Saver) for Economy class and the Premium Economy (Flexi Plus) allowance is 2 pieces at 23kg each (Business class 3 pieces at 23kg each). Airlines are pretty strict, so try to stay within these limits. If you have a bag to check, be at a bag tag kiosk/counter no later than 30 minutes before your departure. On board, you are allowed one carry-on bag per person (max 7kg each bag). If any piece of baggage weighs more than 23kg, customers will be asked to repack their baggage and if necessary purchase an additional bag tag. Any item that is unable to be reduced in weight (e.g. large items or heavy equipment that cannot be separated) will be subject to a $50 overweight charge.
For some of the more active adventure activities, you will have to sign a waiver form to declare that you understand the danger of the activity and your own responsibility by taking part in the activity.
Meals & Dining
New Zealand has a fantastic selection of cuisine and dining attractions available in most villages and cities. New Zealand's cuisine has been described as Pacific Rim, drawing inspiration from Europe, Asia and Polynesia. This blend of influences has created a wide range of flavours and food available in cafes and restaurants throughout New Zealand. A local restaurant meal can cost between NZ$15 and NZ$35 for a main course on average. A good pub meal will be around NZ$25 for a main course. Drinks cost between NZ$6 and NZ$12 for a glass of wine (depending on what is ordered, of course) and between NZ$5 and NZ$10 for a beer (again depending on the variety). A bottle of wine will cost anywhere from NZ$30 upwards in a restaurant or cafe. On public holidays some cafes and restaurants impose a surcharge to cover the additional wages that are paid to staff and employees required by legislation.
New Zealand’s medical & hospital facilities, both public and private, provide a high standard of treatment and care. It is important to note that medical services are not free to visitors (except as a result of an accident). We recommend personal travel insurance.
Pharmacists and pharmacies (also known as chemists) can typically be found in suburban areas, shopping malls, or near medical establishments. Pharmacists are able to offer advice on the safety and use of medicines along with general information on some common health problems. They are able to dispense medicines that have been prescribed by your GP are also able to sell ‘over the counter’ medicines that do not require a doctor's prescription.
The metric system is employed throughout New Zealand.
Post Offices are open seven days a week. In more remote towns the general store often has a post service.
Some services and activities don't operate on public holidays. Christmas day is usually the only day of the year that all tour operators and activities are closed. Most shops are usually open 364 days a year. If you plan on travelling over any periods that may coincide with limited activity options or dining options we will let you know when we create your tour.
New Zealand has very strict quarantine regulations. Please do not bring any raw food, fruit, plant material, or soil with you. There are severe penalties for doing so.
In New Zealand, you are responsible for your own safety. For anything that you plan to do, even on a guided tour, you will need to use your own judgment when it comes to personal safety. You cannot sue anyone for your own misjudgement.
Stores and shops are usually open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday through Friday (most supermarkets in the cities are open on weekdays between 8.00am - 9:00pm and 9:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday). Shops in cities and popular tourist areas are often open longer than in more rural areas, usually 7 days a week. It all depends on the demand.
Water temperatures for swimming in the ocean vary greatly depending on where you are in New Zealand. In the summer you will find it very comfortable to go into the water. Most other times you will need to wear a wetsuit.
International telecommunications are readily available in New Zealand. There is an excellent network throughout the country. Public telephones use either coins (20 cents) or more commonly, phone cards, which are widely available from stationery stores, post offices, tourist offices, and supermarkets. Most international mobile phones will work in New Zealand. However, if you think you will need to hire one, please advise us.
New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sun and is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Summer is from December to February and Winter from June to August.
It is by now normal practice to tip or give gratuities but it is usually not expected. If you feel that you have received special service or help then it is at your discretion. There are no service charges added to bills in hotels or restaurants.
Throughout the country, it is safe to drink from taps. Water is fresh and has been treated to remove impurities. Water taken from streams and lakes should still be boiled before consumption. Fresh and pure spring water can also be found in many places.
New Zealand Rainfall: New Zealand's average rainfall is high—between 640 millimetres and 1500 millimetres—and is 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 Summer: 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 walking in the bush and a variety of other outdoor activities. New Zealand's many gorgeous beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during the summer. Average summer temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius in the South Island and 23 in the North Island.
New Zealand Autumn: March to May are New Zealand's autumn months. While temperatures are a little cooler than in summer, the weather can be excellent and it is possible to swim in some places until April. While most of New Zealand's native flora 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.
New Zealand Winter: 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. Average winter temperature is around 9 degrees Celsius in the South Island and 13 in the North Island.
New Zealand Spring: 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 newborn 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're into white water rafting, this is the time when melting spring snow makes river water levels excitingly high! Average winter temperature is around 9 degrees Celsius in the South Island and 13 in the North Island.