New Zealand comprises two main islands (simply called the North and South Islands) and a number of smaller islands. The total land area of New Zealand, 103,739 mi², is somewhat less than that of Japan or of the British Isles, and slightly larger than Colorado in the USA. The country extends more than 994 mi along its main, north-north-east axis. The most significant of the smaller inhabited islands of New Zealand include Stewart Island/Rakiura, Waiheke Island, an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island, east of the Hauraki Gulf and the Chatham Islands, named Rekohu locally. The country has extensive marine resources.
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights.
In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand’s full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
People from a wide range of European countries have arrived since Captain James Cook to make up 75% of the population while Maori make up about 10%. The Maori first arrived on the shores just over 1,000 years ago at the close of the last millennium. Today, the Maori have adopted western lifestyles but have actively been encouraged to keep alive their culture, language and art. Other ethnic groups have arrived from Polynesia (Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands) with Auckland now being the Polynesia capital of the South Pacific. People from China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. have also settled in New Zealand making for a diverse population mix.
Should a visitor be invited to a formal Maori occasion, the hongi (pressing of noses) is common. Casual dress is widely acceptable. New Zealanders are generally very relaxed and hospitable. Stiff formality is rarely appreciated and, after introductions, first names are generally used. Smoking is restricted where indicated. It is banned in pubs and restaurants as well as on public transport or in public buildings.
English is the common and everyday language of New Zealand. New Zealand is a multi-cultural society and you may hear many other languages spoken, including Maori, which is also an official language of New Zealand.
Constitutional monarchy since 1907.
New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the new day, 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). In summer New Zealand uses ‘daylight saving’, with clocks put forward one hour to GMT+13. Daylight saving begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the third Sunday of the following March, when clocks are put back to GMT+12.
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option.
Please note that power outlets only accept flat 3 or 2-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.
New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 68-85ºF and in winter between 50-60ºF.
- Spring: September-November
- Summer: December-February
- Fall: March-May
- Winter: June-August
Clothes to Wear:
Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and nightspots. Men are generally not expected to wear suits and ties, except in a few of the top formal bars and restaurants in major cities.
Entry and Exit Requirements:
U.S. citizens eligible for a visa waiver do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less. For more information about visa waivers and entry requirements, contact the Embassy of New Zealand: 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008. Tel: (202) 328-4800. The Consulate General of New Zealand in Los Angeles: 2425 Olympic Blvd Suite 600E, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Tel: (310) 566-6555. Visit the Embassy of New Zealand for the most current visa information.
If you are going to visit New Zealand, please take the time to tell the Consulate in Auckland about your trip. If you check in, they can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
Embassy and High Commission Locations:
U.S. Embassy in New Zealand
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon
Tel: (644) 462-6000
Fax: (644) 471-2380
High Commission of Canada in New Zealand
Level 11, 125 The Terrace
Tel: (644) 473-9577
Fax: (644) 471-2082
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Banks and Currency:
New Zealand Dollar (NZD; symbol: NZ$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of NZ$100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of NZ$2 and 1, and 50, 20 and 10 cents.
Exchange facilities are widely available throughout New Zealand.
American Express, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATM’s are common.
There are no restrictions on the import and export of either local or foreign currency, subject to declarations for cash amounts of NZ$10,000 upon departure or arrival.
Banking Hours: Mon-Fri 09:30 am-04:30 pm, except public holidays.
Country code: 64.
Mobile Telephone: roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good.
There are Internet cafes in cities and smaller town central business districts. Travelers may access the Internet at many hotels and youth hostels.
Airmail to the USA may take 3 to 10 days. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-12:30 pm in some larger towns.
Cell Phone Usage:
Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.
Food and Drink:
New Zealand has a reputation as a leading producer of meat and dairy produce with lamb, beef and pork on most menus. Venison is also widely available. A variety of fish is available, including snapper, grouper and John Dory. Seasonal delicacies such as whitebait, oysters, crayfish, scallops and game birds are recommended. New Zealand is also establishing a reputation for French-type cheeses: bleu de Bresse, brie, camembert and montagne bleu.
Restaurants are usually informal except very exclusive ones.
Waiter service is normal, but self-service and fast-food chains are available. Some restaurants invite customers to ‘BYO’ (bring your own liquor). Bars have counter service and public bars are very informal. Lounge bars and ‘house bars’ (for hotel guests only) are sometimes more formal and occasionally have table service. There is some variation in licensing hours in major cities and some hotel bars open Sunday, providing a meal is eaten. In most hotels and taverns, licensing hours are 11am-11pm except Sunday.
- Kumara (native sweet potato) in Auckland
- Feijoa (local fruit) and golden-fleshed Zespri Gold kiwi fruit from the Bay of Plenty
- Battered fish and chips from Gisbourne
- Salmon and green-lipped mussels from Marlborough
- Paua (abalone) from Stewart Island
- Toheroa (clam) from Ninety Mile Beach
New Zealand boasts world-class domestic wines and beers, many of which have won international awards. A wide range of domestic and imported wines, spirits and beers is available from hotel bars, ‘liquor stores’ and wine shops
- Merlot (Auckland and Wairarapa), Chardonnay (Bay of Plenty, Gisbourne, Wairarapa and Canterbury), Pinot Gris and Noir (Auckland, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Central Otago), Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough and Wairarapa)
- New Zealand draught beer and lager
Lively DJ and band scenes, particularly in the larger cities, have given New Zealand’s nightlife a renewed vibrancy. You will find a variety of nightclubs, cabarets, pubs, concerts and live performances to choose from, and there are also casinos in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. Most cities stage first-class concerts and shows. Theatre, orchestral concerts, ballet, rock and jazz are well represented.
Most shops and businesses are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, as a minimum. Many stores also open Saturdays and some open on Sundays. New Zealand offers a huge variety of shopping from arts and craft markets, galleries and museum shops to exclusive designer stores. For traditional New Zealand souvenirs look for examples of superb Maori carvings in wood, bone and pounamu (greenstone or jade). You can also find jewelry and ornaments made from the iridescent paua shell (abalone), treasured by Maori for centuries. New Zealand potters are recognized as among the worlds finest and today many fine artisans are also working in stone, wood, glass and metals.
The country’s vast wool industry makes it possible to find wonderful hand-knitted wool sweaters, beautiful wall hangings, homespun yarns and top-quality sheepskins. Alongside top international fashion in boutique stores in the main city areas, you will also find New Zealand’s own award-winning fashion labels.
Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.
New Zealanders do not expect tips for normal service – even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills. If you feel your coach driver and tour guide provided excellent service, we can recommend tipping US$1-$2 per person per day for driver and US$5 per person per day for guide, equivalent in local currency.
Most hotels will arrange affordable laundry services for guests.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites. It is always courteous to ask for permission before taking photographs of people.
USE OF DRONES
The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases drones are already forbidden and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.