WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND?
Spring and summer are the most popular times, but also the busiest. Autumn generally has mild and settled weather plus stunning autumn colours. Winter is mild in the far north, however the rest of the country will be cold with snow on the mountains - great for skiers! New Zealand has four quite distinct seasons - Spring (Sept-Nov), Summer (Dec-Feb), Autumn/Fall (Mar-May) and Winter (June-Aug). In summer there's plenty of sunshine, and aquatic sports including rafting, snorkelling, diving and kayaking.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME FOR HIKING?
The Abel Tasman, Heaphy and Queen Charlotte Sounds Walkway at the top of the South Island can be walked all year round. However, higher altitude tracks such as the world famous Milford Track, Kepler and Routeburn, are closed in the winter. It is essential to book for the Milford and Routeburn tracks - these are open between October and April.
If you're travelling throughout New Zealand you’ll get all types of weather. The safest policy is to pack for all weather no matter what the season. Layer your clothing for easy removal or replacement. Wet weather gear, a wind proof jacket, woollen sweater and strong comfortable footwear are recommended. New Zealand has a relaxed lifestyle and on most occasions, dress is informal with smart casual clothes in most restaurants. A smart standard of dress will be required for fine dining restaurants, Shows and Casinos.
We strongly recommend travel insurance for your entire overseas trip. Your insurance policy should include coverage for emergency medical situations, baggage loss or damage and expenses incurred from disrupted travel plans.
MEDICAL AND EMERGENCY FACILITIES?
Medical and emergency services are NOT free - it is advisable to arrange insurance coverage before your departure. For non-emergencies, full instructions on obtaining assistance are printed in the front of all telephone directories. Accommodation facilities will usually have individual arrangements with duty doctors and can assist you in finding a dentist. New Zealand's medical and hospital facilities provide a high standard of treatment and care.
Electricity is 240 volts via a slant pin outlet. Hotels often provide a 110-volt socket for electric shavers only. For all other equipment, an adapter and a converter are necessary.
Tips are appreciated but not expected for normal service.
RENTAL CARS AND COOK STRAIT FERRY?
Ferry Services between the North and South Island leave several times a day from each port and take around 3 hours. Some of the major rental car companies (e.g. Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty) require you to drop your rental car at one port (Wellington or Picton) and pick up another at your port of arrival. Others such as GO Rentals or Jucy Rental will require you taking the vehicle onto the ferry as they don’t have the depot logistics as the larger operators have. Please note: there is no guarantee you will get the same kind of rental car, although it will be of the same class. This standard procedure is easy and hassle free. As with an airport, your luggage is checked in at the ferry terminal and ready for you to pick up at the terminal building at the other end. We'll book passenger ferry tickets for you. Please note: If you are travelling with a motor home, you'll need to to take this onto the ferry yourselves. You will require passenger and vehicle ferry tickets, which we shall book for you.
WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR CHILDREN?
If you are thinking about visiting with your family, you can be confident that New Zealand has a wide range of activities to keep your children happy. New Zealand's parks and large areas of pristine wilderness are ideal places to expand your children's appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors. Horse riding, snow activities, whale watching, fruit picking and wildlife centres are just some of the choices available. If you are visiting the larger centres, you will find a range of themed attractions including Rainbow's End (Auckland), Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch). Te Papa, New Zealand's interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Most family restaurants have children's' menus and high chairs. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks.
IS IT SAFE TO DRINK THE WATER IN NEW ZEALAND?
New Zealand cities and towns have excellent water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water from rivers and lakes should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered before drinking to avoid stomach upsets.
ARE THERE POISONOUS ANIMALS IN NEW ZEALAND?
New Zealand has no snakes or dangerous wild animal, so visitors can enjoy the outdoors.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS AND VISAS?
All visitors to New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the planned departure date from NZ. As there are different Visa rules and regulations for different countries (for visits of less than 3 months) it is essential for you to check Visa Free Countries and at a New Zealand Embassy to ensure that you have the appropriate Passports and Visas before leaving home.
AGRICULTURE AND BIO SECURITY NEW ZEALAND?
If you declare articles, your goods will be inspected, treated if necessary and returned when the pest or disease has been eliminated. Some fruits, vegetables, meat, animal products, seeds and plants are not allowed into New Zealand and may be re-shipped or destroyed. Prohibited items include some live animals, animal products, some meat products, eggs, live plant material including fruit, seeds, and products made from endangered species. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries - Quarantine Service based at airports use X-ray machines and trained detector dogs.
New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2 ; notes have values of $5 , $10 , $20 , $50 and $100. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand. However, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres.
CAN I USE MY CREDIT CARDS/ATM CARDS IN NZ?
All major international credit cards can be used in New Zealand and Travellers Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores. If your credit card is encoded with a PIN number you will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs) situated at banks and shopping centres throughout the country.
BANKING HOURS NEW ZEALAND?
Many businesses and all banks operate only Monday to Friday. Banking hours are 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and are closed on public holidays. In most cities shops are open 7 days and particular in shopping malls. Towns will generally have a "general store" open Monday through Friday. Most stores catering for visitors are open every day with extended hours. Most petrol stations are open every day. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX IN NEW ZEALAND?
All goods and services purchased in New Zealand are subject to 15% tax (similar to V.A.T.) This is usually included in the price. If you purchase goods which you do not plan to use until you return home, ask the retailer if they have the facility to export these for you either by arranging delivery to Customs at the airport or by posting, in which case the goods will be zero rated (free) of G.S.T.