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Practical Information

Celebrated for its rich culture and style of life, New Zealand offers a myriad of inimitable opportunities for the discerning traveller. Nowhere else will you find such an intoxicating mix of food, wine, accommodation, wildlife and adventure.

The country is a walker’s paradise, with vast landscapes punctuated by mountains and lakes. Get off the beaten track or experience Maori culture, watch whales play off the coast or experience city life in Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown.

Language

New Zealanders speak English as a first language, although some may still speak traditional Maori.

Food & Drink

New Zealand's food scene has stormed ahead of the game in recent years both in quality of the food and the places where it is served. Often referred to as 'Pacific Rim' cuisine, there are obvious influences from Asia, Europe and other parts of the Pacific, fused with New Zealand's fresh produce. New Zealand lamb also features on almost every menu. For traditionally cooked Maori dishes it is really necessary to experience a 'hangi', a feast prepared in an underground oven, steam cooked in the natural thermal heat of the earth.

New Zealand's wine industry has firmly established itself on the international market. The most recognised regions are Marlborough, which is famed for its sauvignon blanc, and Hawkes Bay which produces excellent chardonnay.

Tipping

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.

Money & Expenses

The official currency is the New Zealand dollar. New Zealand dollar traveller's cheques can be exchanged at all major banks, international airports, foreign exchange bureaus, and all international credit cards are widely accepted. You will be able to access New Zealand currency from Maestro and Cirrus ATM machines (cash point machines) as long as you have a four-digit pin-code.

Social

New Zealanders are in general warm, friendly and hospitable, and are proud of their country and their heritage. Maori culture is an integral part of the New Zealand way of life and is a strong and growing influence. Social conventions need to be observed when visiting a 'marae', the traditional Maori meeting house. Such places are sacred, and should only be visited by invitation from the local tribe. There is a welcoming ritual which will be observed, shoes should be removed before entering the meeting house, and you should sit where indicated. Although this may sound rather solemn and formal, remember that once you have been invited to the marae you are extremely welcome. It is customary after such a visit to leave a donation towards the upkeep of the marae.

Travel Advice

Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.

When to go to New Zealand

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

* This is a rough guide to when to travel in the country as a whole. It may not necessarily apply to a specific itinerary or part of the country.

  • The best time to travelThe best time to travel
  • A good time to travel, some factors to be aware of A good time to travel, some factors to be aware of
  • Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year
  • Snow or ski season Snow or ski season
  • Travel is not recommended Travel is not recommended
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