New Zealand, 'Land of the Long White Cloud', is a small,
sparsely populated country consisting of two major islands,
North and South Island, and a scattering of smaller ones.
Despite its small size it is crammed with magnificent natural
beauty and has an incredible amount to offer; the only
complaint travelers have is that they haven't allowed enough
time in the country. Fresh air, breathtaking scenery and
outdoor activities are the main attractions of New Zealand, with
a tremendously friendly, honest and helpful population, colloquially nicknamed after their
country's distinct symbol, the unusual but amiable flightless kiwi bird.
The two islands have surprisingly different characters. The North Island has dramatic volcanic
landscapes and highly active thermal areas, long stretches of beautiful beaches and excellent
sailing, ancient indigenous forests and a strong Maori cultural influence. The South Island has a
slower pace of life dominated by a magnificent spine of mountains, the snow-covered Southern
Alps, and the spectacular scenery of the southern waterways of the fjord lands, with glaciers,
deep lakes and verdant forests.
The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 was New Zealand's founding document, an attempt
to settle disputes between the European settlers and the Maoris, conceding the country to British
rule while guaranteeing the Maori people possession of their land and cultural identity. Today,
integration has been replaced by a policy of upholding two different cultures alongside each
other. Their shared love of sport, most notably the revered national sport of rugby union, and
their enthusiasm for adventure and the outdoors is the unifying factor among the whole
New Zealand offers a huge variety of action-packed and laid back activities, from bungee
jumping to skiing, swimming with dolphins, scenic flights and boat cruises on the fjords, as well
as several world famous walking trails with unrivalled scenery. Alternatively visitors can immerse
themselves in culture at the museums and galleries of the country's main cities - Auckland and
the capital Wellington in the North, and Christ Church in the south.
New Zealand is an easy and compact place in which to travel and its spectacularly dramatic
landscape alone, famous for its setting for the 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy, makes the long
trip to these southern islands more than worthwhile.
Time: Local time is GMT +12 (GMT +13 from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in
Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Oblique flat blade plugs are standard.
Money: Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100 cents. Most businesses
accept MasterCard and Visa, and while Diners Club and American Express are also widely
accepted in the main tourist centers, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. Traveler’s
cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaus de change and some hotels.
ATMs can be found in all towns and cities.
Currency Exchange Rates
NZ$ 1= US$ 0.60 £ 0.36 C$ 0.74 A$ 0.89 R 4.97 EUR 0.46 NZ$ 1.00
Note: This is not updated daily and should be used as a guide only.
Language: The official languages are English and Maori.
Entry Requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a valid passport. No
visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
Entry Requirements for UK nationals: British citizens holding a passport endorsed British
Citizen, or a passport accompanied by documents that establish right of abode in the UK, do not
require a visa for a stay of up to six months. British citizens with passports endorsed British
National (Overseas) may stay for up to three months without a visa. In all other cases, a visa is
Entry Requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a valid passport. No visa is
required for stays of up to three months.
Entry Requirements for Australians: Australian nationals must have a passport valid on
arrival for travel to New Zealand. No visa is required.
Entry Requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a valid passport. No visa
is required for a stay of up to three months.
Entry Requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport, but no visa
is necessary for a stay of up to three months.
Health: There are no health risks associated with travel to New Zealand. New Zealand's accident
compensation scheme (ACC) covers emergency treatment for visitors, but health insurance is
recommended to cover any additional charges and for those not entitled to free emergency
treatment. Those intending to participate in adventure activities, such as bungee jumping, white
water rafting, etc should ensure that their travel insurance covers these types of activities.
Tipping: Gratuities are not expected and service charges are not applied to bills, but it is
acceptable to tip at your discretion.
Safety: New Zealand has a reputation as one of the safest destinations in the world, however
sensible precautions against petty theft are still advised.
Customs: Quarantine procedures mean that strict bio-security regulations are in place at
immigration points into the country. It is illegal to import most foodstuffs, and care should be
taken when importing wood products, golf clubs and shoes (which may have soil and dirt
attached), and items made from animal skin. The immigration arrivals card has full details.
Business: Business in New Zealand is usually conducted formally and conservatively. Standard
business etiquette applies; punctuality is important, business attire is formal (for men and women
suits are appropriate), meetings begin and end with a handshake and business cards are
exchanged. Business hours are usually 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Communications: The international access code for New Zealand is +64. The outgoing code is
00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0061 for Australia). City/area codes are in use,
e.g. (0)9 for Auckland and (0)4 for the Wellington region. Vodafone offers GSM 900 coverage in
and around the main cities and popular holiday areas. Internet cafes are widely available.
Duty Free: Travelers to New Zealand over 17 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes
or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, or a proportionate mix of these; 1.125 liters or 1 liter spirits or
liqueurs, and 4.5 liters wine, port or sherry, or 4.5 liters beer. Goods exceeding the allowances
must be declared. Personal effects not dutiable include items such as jewellery, binoculars,
portable radios, prams, camping equipment, cameras and video cameras. Prohibited items
include concealed firearms, foodstuffs, animals, plants and plant products. It is forbidden to
export Greenstone, Maori antiquities and Paua shells (unless they are products manufactured
from such shells).
Tourism New Zealand, Wellington: +64 (0)4 917 5400 or www.newzealand.com/travelNew
Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 328 4800.New Zealand High
Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7930 8422.New
Zealand High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 5991.New Zealand High Commission,
Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 4211.New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa:
+27 (0)12 342 8656.United States Embassy, Wellington: +64 (0)4 462 6000.British High
Commission, Wellington: +64 (0)4 924 2888.Canadian High Commission, Wellington: +64 (0)4
473 9577.Australian High Commission, Wellington: +64 (0)4 473 6411.Honorary Consulate of
New Zealand, Wellington: +64 (0)4 234 8006.Honorary Consul General of Ireland, Auckland: +64
(0)9 977 2252.Emergencies: 111
Undoubtedly the most prominent sport in Queenstown, bungee jumping takes place from four of
the world's most scenic bungee sites. Visitors can choose to throw themselves off a bridge or a
gondola, or there are milder options that include cable swinging or the Bungee Rocket that
shoots people into the air while strapped into a cage-like device on the end of a bungee cord.
The first commercial bungee jump site in the world is on the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge,
situated 137.5 ft (43m) above the river, with viewing platforms for spectators. The urban option
is Hackett's Ledge, situated at the top of the gondola, and it is open even at night. The second
highest is the Pipeline Bungee, operating from a suspension bridge across Skippers Canyon on
the site of the 1864 gold-sluicing pipeline. The engineering masterpiece is the highest bungee
jump, and the world's first gondola jump, a pod suspended terrifyingly 440 ft (134m) above the
riverbed, spanning a remote gorge. A glass-bottomed cable car takes the jumpers out to the
Swimming with Dolphins
The beautiful and sheltered Akaroa Harbour is the only place in the world where visitors can
swim with the world's smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector's or New Zealand dolphin. All
necessary equipment is included such as wetsuits, masks and snorkels and supervision is
provided throughout. It is also possible to simply watch the graceful antics from aboard the
The area around Queenstown offers some excellent hiking, known locally as tramping. Some of
the country's excellent multi-day hiking trails start from nearby, including the spectacular
Routebourne Track, one of the best in the country for its variety of countryside and scenery. The
Rees-Dart Track is a rugged circular track, and the Greenstone Caples Track is a less challenging
option. All the tramps have well maintained paths and comfortable mountain hut accommodation.
Hurtling up and down the churning rivers around Queenstown in jet boats is a very popular
activity. The Shotover River surges through Skippers Canyon, the narrowest and deepest section
and trips include heart stopping 360-degree spins, last minute turns away from the canyon edges
and high speed boating on either the Shotover or the Kawarau Rivers. It is an exhilarating
experience that continues to draw the crowds.
The Milford Track
The Milford Track is considered to be the finest walk in the world, a four-day hike ending at
Milford Sound that has been attracting tourists and locals for over 100 years. Following glaciated
valleys and crossing an alpine pass it traverses some fabulous scenery, past towering snow-clad
peaks, rivers and waterfalls, along grassy plateaux and through dense rainforests. The number of
hikers is limited and accommodation is provided in comfortable mountain huts along the way. For
more information go to www.doc.govt.nz