new zealand
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Other Key Facts - New Zealand

People/Language/Economy | Currency/Money | Immigration/Customs | Driving in NZ | Power Supply | Drinking Water | Post Services | Telephone Options | Shopping Hours | Public Holidays 

People / Language / Economy

New Zealand has a population of approximately 4 million people and is very multi-cultural. The majority of New Zealanders are of British descent, with the largest minority being the New Zealand Maori. New Zealand is a member of the British Commonwealth.

English is the common language spoken in New Zealand. Maori is also an official language of New Zealand with various other languages also spoken. 

The kiwi is a flightless, nocturnal bird about the size of a domestic hen with an extremely long beak and plumage more like hair than feathers. New Zealand's first settlers, the Maori, named the bird kiwi after the sound of its chirp. New Zealander's have adopted the kiwi as their unofficial national emblem.
On the international financial markets, the New Zealand dollar, is frequently referred to as the Kiwi. The dollar coin features a kiwi bird on one side. However, perhaps the best-known kiwi is the delicious kiwifruit. The fruit originated in China but were grown in New Zealand domestic gardens for decades, and called Chinese gooseberries. When the enterprising New Zealand farmers began propagating the fruit for export, it was given the name kiwifruit and has achieved worldwide fame.

Economy and Government
New Zealand has a well-developed economy with a government structure based on the British Parliamentary system. New Zealand has long been a sovereign nation with only dubious ties to Britain through it's membership of the British Commonwealth.

Currency / Money

New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). The coins comprise of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2, and notes with values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

All major international credit cards are accepted in New Zealand. If you have a PIN number for your credit card you will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATM's). Travellers Cheques are accepted at banks, hotels and some retail stores.

Banks in the main centres are generally open Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks.

Exchange Rate
Please use Currency Converter to calculate the approximate value of your currencies in NZ Dollars.

Goods and Services Tax
All goods and services are subject to a 12.5% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Visitors cannot claim this tax back.

Tipping and Service Charges
Normally New Zealanders do not expect tips for service. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the visitor's discretion. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills.

Immigration / Customs

All visitors to New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the date you intend to leave the country.

Most visitors do not require a visa for a stay of less than 3 months. You will need to apply for a Visitor's Visa if you want to stay longer than 3 months, or your country of origin does not have a visa waiver programme with New Zealand.  
For more information, please refer to the New Zealand Immigration Service website.

Agricultural Restrictions and Quarantine
New Zealand is free of many insects and pests as well as plant and animal diseases common elsewhere in the world. It puts a lot of effort into minimising the risk of these things being introduced at ports and airports.

On arrival in New Zealand place any suspect items in the Quarantine Amnesty Bins. You must also declare all prohibited and restricted items on your Passenger Arrival Card and take the ‘Red Lane’ when you are going through the Quarantine Control area. There is an instant fine of NZD$200.00 if you do not declare prohibited and restricted items on your passenger arrival card. Fines can be as hefty as NZD$100,000 or imprisonment for anyone that knowingly makes a false declaration. When you depart for New Zealand you should leave prohibited items behind.
You will find details of restricted items on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry website.

Duty Free Goods
There are duty free shops at the airport as well as in downtown Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch where you may purchase your duty-free goods, which are not subject to local tax.

If you are 17 years of age and over you are allowed the following duty-free concessions:

  • 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars, or a mixture of all 3 weighing no more than 250 grams
  • 4.5 litres of wine or beer (6 x 750ml bottles) and one 1125ml bottles of spirits, liqueur or other beverages
  • Goods up to a total of NZ$700 are free of duty and tax, but goods in excess of this may attract both duty and tax

Comprehensive advice for travellers is available on the New Zealand Customs Service website.

Departure Tax
A tax of NZ$25 has to be paid at the airport when you leave New Zealand. Please note that this tax is not included in your ticket price. 

Driving in NZ

International Driving Licences and Permits
If you have either a current driver's licence from your home country, or an International Driving Permit, you can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months. All drivers must carry their licence or permit when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The legal age to rent a vehicle in New Zealand is 25 years. You must ensure you overseas driver's licence is current. If your licence is not in English, you should bring an English translation with you or obtain an International Driving Permit.

Road Safety
Please note the following important points:

  • In New Zealand, all motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • When turning left, give way to traffic crossing or approaching from your right
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. (There is no left turn rule as in North America)
  • The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h (approx 60m/h). In built up areas the speed limit is 50km/h.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times

Check out the New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority website for details on the driving in New Zealand, as well as cycle safety and other general motoring information.

Power Supply

New Zealand electricity is supplied at 230/240 volts. Most motels and hotels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. Other electrical equipment such as hairdryers etc will require an adapter/converter, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Power outlets only accept flat three or two-pin plugs.

Drinking Water

New Zealand's tap water is fresh and safe to drink. To avoid stomach upsets, water from rivers and lakes should be boiled or filtered before drinking.

Post Services

New Zealand Post has a branch in all major cities and towns of New Zealand offering variety of post services. The cost to send Postcards & Aerogrammes (120mm x 235mm max.) overseas is NZ $1.50.

For more information see the New Zealand Post website.

Telephone Options

Public Call-Phones
Public call phones take cards purchased from bookshops and newsagents, credit cards and a few accept coins. New Zealand phone numbers appear alphabetically in the White Pages and by business category in the Yellow Pages.

Mobile Phones
Check with your phone company before leaving home about international mobile roam facilities available in New Zealand.

An adaptor with a flat two or three point power plug is required to connect to the power supply. You will also need a RJ23 IIRC type plug to connect your laptop to a computer socket in New Zealand.

Shopping Hours

The standard business hours for shops is Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm minimum. However, many stores will also open Saturdays and Sundays for full or half days. Banks are closed on the weekends and some resorts may also open in the evenings.

NZ Public Holidays

  Actual Date 2008 2009
New Years Day 1 January Tuesday 1 January Thursday 1 January
Day after New Years Day 2 January Wednesday 2 January Friday 2 January
Waitangi Day 6 February Wednesday 6 February Friday 6 February
Good Friday varies Friday 21 March Friday 10 April
Easter Monday varies Monday 24 March Monday 13 April
ANZAC Day 25 April Friday 25 April Saturday 25 April
Queen's Birthday 1st Monday in June Monday 2 June Monday 1 June
Labour Day 4th Monday in October Monday 27 October Monday 26 October
Christmas Day 25 December Thursday 25 December Friday 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December Friday
26 December
Saturday 26 or Monday 28 December


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