New Zealand is about its beautiful scenery and genuine people; you will not experience either of these aspects in a hotel room. You will miss the essence of the country if you only stay in hotels throughout your trip. We remain at personal bed and breakfasts and lodges with a small number of rooms that have the entire range of 'hotel 'qualities plus the character and intimacy of a home. Charming, quality bed-and-breakfasts, lodges, and farm stays, all with private, en-suite bathrooms (often with a separate guest lounge), are tailored to your taste and comply with our high-quality standards - the hosts, location, service, and history.
Banks are generally open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm from Monday to Friday. New Zealand offers an exceptionally advanced banking system and a nearly cashless community. In all cities and small towns, you will find banks or ATM machines that accept international banks and credit cards.
Breakfast is usually shared with your hosts and consists of many choices: fresh fruit, yoghurt, bread, toast (sometimes croissants), the traditional English-style bacon, eggs and sausage, porridge, and cereals. There is always much coffee, tea (decaffeinated if preferred), and freshly squeezed juices.
Apart from the big cities, New Zealand is a very casual country, and the weather can be unpredictable. So 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. The famous, sizzling backyard barbecue exemplifies this easy-going lifestyle. To dress 'a la mode' in this situation requires nothing more than T-shirts/shirts/blouses, jeans/trousers/shorts, and sandals/casual shoes/jandals(thongs/flip-flops). It's whatever you feel comfortable in. Of course, dining in exclusive restaurants and attending functions, balls, and cocktail parties require a higher standard of attire. Still, 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 rain, so have 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 essential to bring some Hiking boots, as even short walks in the more wilderness areas can be wet and muddy.
All major international credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and, to a lesser extent, Diners Club are accepted. 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 and has an international acceptance mark, such as Visa, Plus, MasterCard or Maestro, you can get money at any ATM.
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 bought in or taken out of New Zealand. You can pay with various 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 drivers. Be very careful when crossing the street; cars don't have to stop for you.
New Zealand seems tiny; however, be aware that distances can be deceptive.
Duty-Free 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.
Most major cities have plenty of internet and e-mail centres, and nearly any accommodation will offer you 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 unique 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 a 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 significant exports).
For most accommodations, it is 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 restaurants, 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 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, with 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 protect you if the cancellation is due to a disinclination to travel. Talk with your own insurance company. There are now very few countries worldwide 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 has laundry facilities or 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 two pieces at 23kg each (Business class 3 details 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 for each bag). If any piece of baggage weighs more than 23kg, customers will be asked to repack their luggage and, if necessary, purchase an additional bag tag. Any item that cannot 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 action and your responsibility for participating in the activity.
Meals & Dining
New Zealand has fantastic cuisine and dining attractions 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 the main course. A good pub meal will be around NZ$25 for the prior period. Drinks cost between NZ$6 and NZ$12 for a glass of wine (depending on what is ordered) and between NZ$5 and NZ$10 for a beer (again, depending on the variety). A bottle of wine costs anywhere from NZ$30 in a restaurant or cafe. Some cafes and restaurants on public holidays impose a surcharge to cover the additional wages 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 accessible to visitors (except as a result of an accident). We recommend personal travel insurance.
Pharmacists and pharmacies (chemists) can typically be found in suburban areas, shopping malls, or near medical establishments. Pharmacists can offer advice on the safety and use of medicines along with general information on common health problems. In addition, they can dispense drugs that your GP has prescribed and sell 'over-the-counter medications 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 is usually the only day of the year when all tour operators and activities are closed. Most shops are generally open 364 days a year. If you plan on travelling over any period that may coincide with limited activity options or dining options, we will let you know when we create your tour.
New Zealand has stringent quarantine regulations. Therefore, please do not bring any raw food, fruit, plant material, or soil. There are severe penalties for doing so.
In New Zealand, you are responsible for your safety. For anything you plan to do, even on a guided tour, you will need to use your judgment when it comes to personal safety. Unfortunately, you cannot sue anyone for your misjudgement.
Stores and shops are usually open from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm Monday through Friday (most supermarkets in the cities are available on weekdays between 8.00 am - 9:00 pm and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday). Shops in towns and popular tourist areas are often open longer than in more rural areas, usually seven 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 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 is from June to August.
Tipping or giving gratuities is normal, but it is usually not expected. However, it is your discretion if you have received exceptional service or help. There are no service charges added to bills in hotels or restaurants.
Throughout the country, it is safe to drink from taps. The 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 various other outdoor activities. New Zealand's many gorgeous beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during the summer. The average summer temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius on the South Island and 23 on the North Island.
New Zealand Autumn: March to May are New Zealand's autumn months. While temperatures are a little more relaxed 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 Central Otago and Hawke's Bay regions, 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 a perfect time to visit glaciers, mountains, and other areas of scenic beauty. The average winter temperature is around 9 degrees Celsius on the South Island and 13 on 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 burst throughout the country; newborn lambs frolic in the fields just before dusk. 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! The average winter temperature is around 9 degrees Celsius on the South Island and 13 on the North Island.