New Zealand’s spectacularly beautiful landscape includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush rainforests.
Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4 million - making it one of the world’s least crowded countries. It is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers. A temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it an ideal year-round holiday destination.
The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August.
In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC and in winter between 10-15ºC. You can check on weather conditions in New Zealand on the New Zealand Met Service website.
While these temperatures are the norm, the weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature, particularly if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.
Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots. Men are generally not expected to wear suits and ties, except in a few of the top formal bars and restaurants in major cities.
In summer a jacket and sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or you visit higher altitudes. You can expect some rain, so also include a light rainproof jacket or coat. If visiting between May and September, pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing.
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.
Banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home
Tipping and Service Charges
Tipping in New Zealand is not obligatory - even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for good service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills.
New Zealand is an independent nation and a member of the British Commonwealth. It has a diverse multi-cultural population of 4 million people, the majority of whom are of British descent. New Zealand’s indigenous Maori make up around 14 percent of the population
In spite of around 1000 years of native bush clearance by humans, about a quarter of the country still remains forested - mostly in high country areas. Most of these remaining areas are protected from exploitation in national and forest parks, where they can be enjoyed by all.
The characteristic New Zealand forest is a temperate, evergreen rain forest with giant tree ferns, vines and epiphytes - looking a bit like the popular image of a jungle. The giant kauri, among the largest trees in the world, is now restricted to relatively small forest pockets in Northland and on the Coromandel Peninsula.
New Zealand is a land of unique birds. The best known is the flightless kiwi, New Zealand’s unofficial national symbol. Also flightless are the weka and the endangered kakapo, the world’s largest parrot which can just scramble up into shrubs and small trees.
Another unique bird, one capable of flight, is the inquisitive kea (native alpine parrot), which is renowned for its fearlessness of humans and cheeky personality.
Te Mata Peak offers stunning panoramic views of the fertile Hawke’s Bay region.
New Zealand’s Natural Heritage
What makes New Zealand’s natural heritage so special?
Underlying New Zealand’s physical attractions - its dramatic mountains, unpolluted beaches and green countryside - is an epic survival story of unique plants and animals. Cast adrift from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland, these ancient species evolved in isolation and struggled to survive in what renowned naturalist David Bellamy has called ‘Moa’s Ark’ (named after New Zealand’s native, but now extinct, giant flightless bird, the moa).
After only 1000 years of human settlement New Zealand has lost many native species. But impressive gains have been made in recent times to protect and enhance what is left. These include removing introduced pests from island wildlife sanctuaries, the establishment of 13 national parks, three maritime parks, two world heritage areas, hundreds of nature reserves and ecological areas, a network of marine reserves and wetlands, and protection for special rivers and lakes. In total, around 30 percent of New Zealand’s land area is protected conservation land.
In addition, research and management programmes have been introduced to aid the recovery of rare and endangered species like kakapo, kokako, kiwi and tuatara. You can learn more about these programmes on the Department of Conservation website.
New Zealand welcomes everyone to experience and discover its unique and precious natural heritage. We ask only that you make as little impact as possible, so future generations may also enjoy it as you do.
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.
Check with your phone company before leaving home about international mobile roam facilities available in New Zealand.
Alternatively Phone Hire New Zealand and Vodafone allow visitors to hire mobile phones or SIM cards.
You will need a RJ45 type plug to be able to connect your laptop into a computer socket in New Zealand, and an adaptor with a flat two or three-point power plug to connect to the power supply.
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. In resorts you will find most stores open in the evenings. Banks are closed at weekends.
What to Buy
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 jewellery and ornaments made from the iridescent paua shell (abalone), treasured by Maori for centuries.
New Zealand potters are recognised as among the world’s 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 handknitted 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, including Zambesi, NomD, Karen Walker and World.
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 last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday of the following April, when clocks are put back to GMT+12.