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 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 stay, all with private, en-suite bathrooms (often with a separate guest lounge are tailored to your taste, and complying with our high standards of quality, 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 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.
Usually with your hosts, and consists of a multitude of choices. Fresh fruit, yogurts, breads, toast, (sometimes croissants) the traditional English style bacon, eggs and sausage, porridge, cereals. Always lots of coffee and 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. 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, sandals/casual shoes/sandals(thongs). Basically it’s whatever you feel comfortable in. Dining in exclusive restaurants, attending functions, balls and cocktail parties requires a higher standard of attire, but dark business suits and stylish evening dresses or trouser suits fit most occasions.
In summer a light jacket or sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or you visit 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) are favourable to city clothing in most places. Very important brink 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 domination 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 credit card, bank notes, traveller’s cheques and coins. Money exchange facilities are available in banks, hotels and airports.
Driving a Car
Cars are smaller than in the USA and 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 include 50km/h in residential areas, and up to 100km/h on highways and freeways. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers and 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 the distances are 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 their connections.
Electrical currents in New Zealand are at 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 a tourist and carry a fully paid return or onward ticket to a country they may enter.
- You have to show sufficient funds to maintain yourselves while in the country.
- You will require a passport, which must be valid for 3 months beyond the date of your full holiday.
- You have to hold a valid Visa. Most Europeans and American Citizens receive a tourist Visa upon entry to the country.
- Visitors entering New Zealand do not need any vaccination certificates.
- All persons arriving in New Zealand must complete an arrival card before passing through immigration and customs. This will be given to you on your incoming flight.
- You will receive some related information from us before getting on the plane.
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 (Exception major exports).
For most accommodation it is a standard to offer hairdryers in your rooms.
New Zealand has embraced the World Wide Web with a 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.
Many hotels and motels have telephone jacks for dial up connections, which are charged at local call rates. Note:- not all Internet cafes will allow you to connect a laptop to their network. Some high end accommodation providers offer free satellite connections.
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 illness or a death of a family member or a business associate occurs. It will not cover you if the cancellation is disinclination to travel. Talk with your own insurance company. There are now very few countries in the world that would not offer fully comprehensive travel insurance to people.
New Zealand is a very casual country and there is no need for fancy dress or suit and tie! Layering is the way to go with our climate. Usually one suitcase and one carry-on bag (small case) will do. The accommodations we use have their own laundry facilities or access to it. Be aware that you just allowed 23kg per person as a Baggage Allowance in domestic flights (smart Saver)for Economy class and premium Economy (Flexi Plus) is 2 pieces of 23kg. (Business class 3 pieces of 23kg) They are pretty strict, so try to stay in these limits. If you’ve got a bag to check, be at a bag tag kiosk/counter no later than 30 minutes before departure. On board you are allowed one 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 dogs or heavy equipment that cannot be separated) will be subject to a $50 overweight charge.
For some of the more active adventures you will have to sign a weaver form to declare that you understand the danger of the activity and your own responsibility by taking part in this
Meals & Dining
New Zealand has a fantastic selection of 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 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 it is of course) and a beer between NZ$5 and NZ$10 again depending on the variety. A bottle of wine will cost anything from NZ$30 upwards in a restaurant or cafe. On public holidays some cafes and restaurants impose a surcharge to cover additional wages that are paid to staff and employees 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 generally work in pharmacies (also known as Chemists) and can 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 dispense medicines that have been prescribed by your GP as well as being 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 shop service.
Some services and activities don't operate on public holidays. Christmas day is usually the only day that all tour operators and activities are closed. Shops are usually open 364 days a year. If you plan on travelling over any periods that may have 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 if you do.
In New Zealand you are responsible for your own safety. With anything you plan to do, even a guided tour, you will need to use your own judgment when it comes to safety. You cannot sue anybody for your own misjudgement.
Stores and shops are usually open from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm Monday through to Friday (most supermarkets in the cities are open between 8.00am - 9:00pm and 9.00am to 5.00pm on Saturday and Sunday). Shops in cities and tourist areas are open longer than in 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 need to wear a wet suit.
All international telecommunications are readily available in New Zealand. There is an excellent network throughout the country. Public telephones use either coins (20 cents) or nowadays mostly phone cards, which are widely available from stationery stores, post offices, tourist offices and supermarkets. Most international mobile phones will work in New Zealand. Still if you need to hire one, please advise us.
New Zealand is the first 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 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. It is fresh and has been treated to remove impurities. Water in streams and lakes should still be boiled before consumption. Fresh and pure spring water can be found in many places.
New Zealand Rainfall : New Zealand's average rainfall is high—between 640 millimetres and 1500 millimetres—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 (see above chart for the average days of rainfall).
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 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 summer, the weather can be excellent, and it is possible to swim in some places until April. While 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 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'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.