New Zealand Road Trip Planner

Holiday tips for tourists to in NZ,  information to help  plan your NZ holiday

This visitor information page covers everything from NZ time zones, passport applications, New Zealand weather, drive times, New Zealand food, Maori culture, banking in NZ, shopping in NZ and more.

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  • Population of New Zealand


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    New Zealand time zone

    New Zealand leads the world time wise. 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+12) and 20 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving (GMT+13) begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday in April.
    NZST New Zealand Standard Time NZDT New Zealand Daylight Time

    NZ holiday weather and climate

    New Zealand has a temperate climate in the south island and sub-tropical climate in the North Island and the nature of the terrain, the prevailing winds and the length of the country lead to sharp regional contrasts. Maximum daytime temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C and only fall below 0°C in the elevated inland regions. Generally speaking, rainfall and humidity is higher in the west than the east of the country due to the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges and the prevailing westerly/north westerly winds.

    Part situated in the Roaring Forties, unsheltered areas of the country can get a bit breezy, especially in the centre, through Cook Strait and around Wellington. The winds seem to be stronger around the equinoxes. In the winter, southerly gales can be severe but they also bring snow to the ski-fields and are usually followed by calm clear days.

    Temperatures in (°C)













    North Island













    South Island













    New Zealand Language

    Maori language and English are the two main languages of New Zealand 

    English is universal, and is written with Commonwealth (British) spelling. New Zealand English is one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms to justify the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary.

    Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that Americans may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom refers to a room containing a bath while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom or washroom are known as a toilet. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media are unusually tolerant of swear words when used in context

    Maori is actively spoken by a minority of both Maori and language learners. Maori is available as a language to study in, instead of English, at many educational institutes. The Maori language is spoken by some, but not all, Maori and a few non-Maori, especially in the far north and east of the North Island. Many place names are in Maori and for the traveller some knowledge of Maori pronunciation is very useful.

    New Zealand Slang expressions

    You may get a strange look if you use Kiwi slang in New Zealand, but it may be used inadvertently to in conversation. If you don't understand just ask and most New Zealanders will explain.

    •  Gumboots - A.K.A. Wellington Boots or Rain Boots
    • Barby - Short for barbeque
    • Bro (pronounced more like "bru") - Short for brother but used by males to address other males.
    • Bush - Forest. Usually meaning a native forest as opposed to a plantation forest.
    • Choice! - Cool, great.
    • Chur - Thanks or Choice. Sometimes used as Chur Chur, which can also mean Christchurch.
    • Cool bananas! - "It's good." Hardly used. If it is, it's usually directly at young children.
    • Sweet as! - Cool, good thing, No problem. Often abbreviated to just 'sweet'.
    • mint - in tip top condition.
    • chicks - girls.
    • oi - hey. Can be meant as a warning or jokingly, derives from punk usage.
    • eh - sometimes used at the end of a sentence to phrase it as a question, similar to Canadian usage.
    • Lindi - Lindauer Brut (popular wine in New Zealand)
    • pash - french kiss.


    Maori words and expressions

    • Kia Ora - Hello, welcome, literally good health. Often used as an utterance of agreement, especially during speaking at a hui.
    • Haere Mai - A greeting to a person arriving, while Haere Ra is a salutation to one leaving.
    • Hui - A meeting or gathering to discuss and debate issues in traditional Maori fashion. 
    •  Iwi - A Maori tribe or people, sometimes known as a Waka (canoe), as some iwi are named after the ocean going canoes that brought their ancestors to New Zealand.
    • Koha - A Maori term for gifts or donations. Often an exchange of gifts takes place. (Sometimes the admission signs say, "Entry Koha", meaning gold coin or what you feel like donating.)
    • Kai - Food. Common with both Maori and European.
    • Marae - A traditional Maori meeting or gathering place. Also a community centre.
    • Pakeha - The Maori word for New Zealanders of non-Maori descent, generally thought to have arisen from a Maori story about white creatures called 'pakepakeha'. Many New Zealanders do not refer to themselves as Pakeha with some finding it offensive, others however see the name as part of their unique identity.
    • Powhiri - A Maori ceremonial welcome. Especially to a marae, but now also may take place at the start of a conference or similar large meeting in New Zealand.
    • Whanau - A Maori (extended) family. Kinfolk.
    • Wharenui - literally big house, is the meeting house on a marae. Used often in advertising to alliterate with friends such as 'friends and whanau'.
    • Wharekai - literally food house, is the dining room and/or kitchen on a marae.
    • Wharepaku - literally Small house or more tongue in cheek "Explode House", - Toilet

    Getting Here

    New Zealand’s national air carrier is Air New Zealand.

    There are international airports at Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington New Zealand in the North Island and, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown in the South Island. The main gateways are Auckland Airport and Christchurch Airport, with Auckland Airport servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo. The others are largely restricted to flights from Australia. If you do take a flight through Australia, make sure that you have transit visa in case you need to get one. You'll not be able to get on your flight otherwise.

    Due to its large Polynesian and Melanesian expatriate communities, New Zealand has extensive direct flight options to South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

    Departure tax is included in the ticket price if flying out of Auckland. If you are departing internationally from other centres, you must pay $25 at the Bank of New Zealand counter or kiosks. Children under 12 are exempt, but still have to obtain an exemption sticker from the bank. If you don't have the sticker, you can check in, but you will not be allowed to progress through security. The departure fee can be paid by credit card, cash or a mixture. Use the opportunity to get rid of the last of your notes and coin, and pay the difference by credit.


    NZ Passport Applications & Visas

    These documents are issued by a division of the New Zealand government called internal affairs.

    Minimum validity of travel documents

    New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and Australian citizens and permanent residents need only present a passport which is valid on the dates they arrive in and depart from New Zealand.

     If you are a foreign national entering NZ as a visitor, student or temporary worker, you must present a passport valid either for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to depart NZ, or for 1 month beyond the date you intend to depart NZ if the issuing government has consular representation in NZ that is able to issue and renew travel documents (you should check with your issuing authority before travelling).

    Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter New Zealand visa-free as a visitor as long as they present a valid passport:

    Indefinitely: Australia (both Australian citizens and permanent residents)

    For up to 6 months: United Kingdom (British citizens and other British passport holders who produce evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK)

    For up to 3 months: All European Union member states, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong SAR (including British National (Overseas) passports), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vatican City.

    With the exception of Australian citizens and permanent residents, entry as a visitor does not permit employment in New Zealand.

    Quarantine and customs in New Zealand

    New Zealand has very strong biosecurity laws. The economy is based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases and pests. Do not think you can get away with bringing items in by not declaring, all hand and checked luggage will be x-rayed on arrival as part of the entry procedures.

    Currencies & Banking in NZ

    New Zealand had lots of major banks. Westpac, Bank of New Zealand, Kiwi Bank, ASB Bank, ANZ and the National Bank.

    Currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Other currencies are not readily accepted other than at some of the larger hotels and at banks throughout New Zealand. Attempting to make a transaction in a foreign currency may result in some light hearted bemusement.

    On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and before 1PM on Anzac Day (25 April), all but a few essential businesses must be closed. While many traders flout this regulation, the matter has for many years been being reviewed by the government. If you are in New Zealand on one of these days, ensure you have all your needs met prior to the date

    Electronic banking/purchasing

    New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town, even those without a bank. Most shops have Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with Eftpos, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around $10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash. Banks offer a wide range of telephone and Internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.

    Price negotiation

    Because of strong advertising laws, the displayed price is normally the purchase price for most goods sold in New Zealand. The principle The price stated is the price you pay is strongly ingrained in New Zealand culture.

    Taxes and fees

    Unless it says otherwise the price includes GST (Goods and Services Tax, or sales tax) of 15%. Some shops, especially in tourist destinations, will ship purchases overseas, as export goods which are not subject to GST. Ask about this service before making your purchase. Goods purchased and taken with you will be subject to GST. You can claim GST back on items to the value of more than $700 at the time of your departure as if you were exporting them. You must have the items and receipts with you. You should allow extra time air-side of the airport to process this transaction.


    In lodgings, restaurants, and bars the prices charged include the services provided and tips are not expected, though the practice is becoming more common, especially bars, cafes, and restaurants that

    cater for tourists. However, do not be surprised or offended if you receive bemused looks or if your tip is initially refused or questioned as tipping is still a relatively new phenomenon and it is also a form of courtesy in New Zealand culture to first decline such a gesture before accepting it. For some New Zealanders their unfamiliarity with tipping can make them ill-at-ease with it when travelling

    New Zealand Food & Eating Out

    New Zealand has a wide range of eating places, from fast food outlets to stylish restaurants. Many petrol stations have a convenience store with sandwiches or food such as pies that can be microwaved on-site. International fast food chains include KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Subway. On the North Island, try BurgerFuel, a New Zealand chain which makes freshly cooked burgers served with kumara chips and dipping sauce


    New Zealand's cultural majority, mainly British, do not have a definitive and recognisably distinct cuisine that differs markedly from the traditional British cuisine. However there are a number of small differences Roast kumara - the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) roasted in the same manner as potatoes and often served instead of or alongside. May also be deep fried like potato chips and known as kumara chips - nice served with sour cream but rarely done well as kumara cooks at a different temperature than potatoes, so it needs a skilled chef for the dish to be done perfectly.

    Pavlova, or pav, a cake of whipped egg whites baked to have a crusty meringue-like outside but soft in the middle, topped with whipped cream and decorated with sliced fruit. The dessert is also common in Australia, and there is debate between the two countries as to where it was first invented.

    ANZAC biscuits - Plain hard biscuits made primarily from oatmeal bound with golden syrup. Originally made for and by ANZAC troops during the First World War. Also found in Australia.

    Pies - New Zealanders eat large numbers of non-flakey-pastry meat pies containing things like beef, lamb, pork, potato, kumara, vegetables, and cheese. Some companies now market ranges of "gourmet" pies and there is an annual competition for the best pie in a variety of categories.

    Kiwifruit - A plum-sized green fleshed fruit, with fine black seeds in the flesh, originating from China, selectively bred in New Zealand, and first known to the home gardener as the Chinese Gooseberry. Now commercially farmed, with production centred on Te Puke but in many orcharding areas. Slices often served on pavlova. Known by its full name of kiwifruit and never shortened to kiwi in New Zealand, as kiwi are endangered birds or New Zealanders (note that kiwis refers strictly to New Zealanders; the plural for the birds is kiwi, with no "s").

    Whitebait - The translucent sprat or fingerlings of native freshwater fish species that migrate from spawning in the sea each year. After being caught in coastal river mouth set or hand nets during November/December, this highly sought after delicacy is rushed to all ends of the country. Served in a fried pattie made from an egg based batter. May be seasonally available from a local fish and chip shop. Is served without gutting or deheading.

    The Maori also have a distinctive cuisine…

    The hangi or earth oven is the traditional way that Maori cook food for large gatherings. Meat, vegetables and sometimes puddings are slowly steam-cooked for several hours in a covered pit that has previously been lined with stones and had a hot wood fire burn down in it.

    Kaimoana (literally: sea food) - particularly shellfish gathered from inter-tidal rocks and beaches as well as crayfish (rock lobster) and inshore fish caught on a line or with nets. Species such as paua (blackfoot abalone) and toheroa have been overfished and gathering restrictions are strictly enforced, while green mussels are commercially grown and sold live, or processed, in supermarkets. WARNING While it is almost extremely common to see people collecting shellfish, crustaceans and other kaimoana, there are a number of rules one must be aware of. often these are posted on signs at the approaches to the collecting area. If in doubt, check with a local. Rules may be seasonal or all-year catch limits set by the Ministry of Fisheries, or they may be that certain areas are reserved solely for tangata whenua, or a combination. Also at times areas may have a prohibition against them for health reasons


    New Zealanders have a reputation for enjoying their beer. Although there are now only three major breweries, there are many regional brands, each with their own distinctive taste and staunch supporters.

    Take care when and where you indulge in public. New Zealand has recently introduced liquor ban areas--that means alcoholic drinks cannot be consumed or even carried in some streets, such as city centres and popular beaches, at certain times of the day or night. Police can instruct you to empty bottles and arrest you if you do not comply


    To work in New Zealand you need to be a citizen or current permanent resident of either New Zealand or Australia, or else have a work permit or appropriate visa. If you are intending to work in New Zealand you should obtain a work permit along with any tourist visas you might apply for.

    Stay safe

    The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111. Ambulance, Fire and Police can be contacted through this service. Full instructions are on the inside front cover of every telephone book. It often is answered in the first 30 s after calling


    Very few places include free WiFi although it may be available for a charge.

    Internet access is available in cyber cafes and there are generally many of these in the major cities


    New Zealand has a well developed and ubiquitous telephone system. The country's main phone company, Telecom, claims (as of 2009) to have about 4000 payphones in NZ which can be easily identified by their yellow and blue colours. All of them accept major credit cards and a variety of phonecards available from retailers. You may have to look hard for a payphone that accepts coins.

    The country code is 64. New Zealand telephone numbers can be looked up online at

    Mobile Phones

    Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call *555 only to report Non-emergency traffic safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police

    Postal mail

    The national post office is PostShop. If you are staying in one place for a while, you can rent a PO Box from them. NZ Post also offer overnight and same day courier services across New Zealand.

    New Zealand Post (Poste Restante), Is available at Post offices across the country. This is an inexpensive service for receiving letters and parcels while you are visiting New Zealand from overseas.   New Zealand Post (Counter delivery), Is available nationally at local PostShop and some PostCentre outlets. Use the Counter delivery service if you need a short term mailing address of up to three months.   Postcards cost 50c to send within New Zealand (2-3 days) and $1.80 to send internationally (3-10 days). Letters up to DL size (130mm×235mm) cost the same as postcards within New Zealand and to Australia and the South Pacific, with letters to other destinations costing $1.80 for economy service (10-25 days), and $2.30 for standard service (6-10 days).


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