Facts

  • Population: 4.7 million
    • Around three-quarters of the population lives on the North Island
  • Major languages: English, Maori
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 80 years (men), 83 years (women)
  • Electricity: 230V/50hz
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
  • Emergency Number: 111 (All Emergencies)

Geography

Notes

  • Two main islands along with a number of smaller islands.
  • The capital city is Wellington
    • The largest city is Auckland
    • Other cities include, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Tauranga and Napier.
  • Pack good hiking boots. NZ terrain can be challenging. That’s a good thing.
  • New Zealand combines a rustic blend of Western and Polynesian culture with stunning scenery.

Trivia

  • Wellington is the most southerly national capital in the world.

Tourism

  • Canadians do not require tourist visas for stays of up to 90 days
  • Visitors are drawn to the vast amounts of glacier-carved mountains, lakes, beaches and thermal springs. Because of the islands’ geographical isolation, much of the flora and fauna is unique to New Zealand.
  • In December, January and February you will find the beach destinations crowded with locals and tourists.
  • Probably the best time to visit New Zealand is in spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) when the temperatures are more moderate.
  • All visitors must obtain a permit to enter Tokelau from the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office in Apia, at least two weeks prior to travel.
  • Visa and Immigration information
  • Tourism New Zealand, Wellington:+64 4 462 8000 or NewZealand.com

Climate

  • The New Zealand climate is fairly temperate, with fairly predictable conditions over longer periods. The summer months in New Zealand are from November to April. The North Island has mild winters and warm and humid summers. The South Island has lower temperatures with colder winters. Snow falls on all the mountains in winter. The western sides of the islands tend to be very rainy, while the eastern parts are shielded from ocean winds by the mountain ranges.
  • April is still OK. May is unpredictable weather. June is almost impossible in some areas.

Overland

Note: It’s not possible to drive to NZ. (Sorry. Someone asked.)

  • Temporary importation of a vehicle into New Zealand (NZ Transport Agency)
    • By a resident of another country, usually for a maximum of 12 months, while remaining registered in its country of origin.
    • If you don’t have a valid carnet, you must apply to the New Zealand Customs Service for a temporary import entry.
  • The best way to explore New Zealand in depth is with your own wheels. If you plan to be in NZ for a few months, you might consider buying or bringing your own vehicle.
  • Road Traffic: Keep left! Kiwis drive on the left. Most vehicles are right hand drive (RHD)
  • Winter conditions, especially in the mountains and on South Island can be tricky. Consider snow tires and chains.
  • Parking is fairly relaxed in NZ. You must however remember to park in the direction of the traffic.
  • Paid parking isn’t generally expensive except in the cities.
  • All vehicle occupants must wear a seat belt.
  • Traffic lights follow the Vienna Convention, as in most western countries. You may not turn left on a red light unless indicated by an arrow.
  • There are many slow twisty roads, one-way bridges, and gravel roads, all of which require a more cautious driving approach. And watch out for sheep!
  • Only overtake vehicles when it’s safe to do. Never cross a solid line on your side of the centre line.
    • One of the biggest road hazards in NZ are international drivers. Some 30% of collisions involve non-local drivers. Traffic in New Zealand is generally light, however the geography lends itself to getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles. A good dose of patience and knowledge of NZ rules of the road will go a long way towards safety.
  • Drink-driving is a serious offence and a significant problem in NZ. It’s the same as in many countries around the world. Alcohol and drugs don’t mix with driving. Exercise caution — watch out for other drivers. The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.05% for drivers aged over 20, and 0% (zero) for those under 20.
  • At single-lane bridges (there are a surprisingly large number), a smaller red arrow pointing in your direction of travel means you must give way to oncoming traffic. A large white arrow means you have the right of way.
  • Speed limits on the open road are generally 100 km/h. Within built-up areas the limit is usually 50 km/h.
    • Speed cameras and radars are used extensively.
  • It’s illegal to drive while using a mobile phone (cellphone).  Pull over if you need to make a call or send a text message.
  • Plan for extra travel time. Driving in New Zealand can take longer due to our winding roads and lower average speed. Take it easy and take your time. Enjoy the journey!
  • NZ’s Automobile Association provides emergency breakdown services.
  • Importing a vehicle temporarily to New Zealand
  • Drive Safe NZ

Adventures

  • Mount Taranaki (Map)
  • Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park (Map)

World Rankings

Travelling with Pets

  • New Zealand imposes strict limitations on importing dogs and cats. Prior to traveling to New Zealand, you will need to complete several requirements. More information is available at this NZ government site.
    • A period of quarantine is most likely required.
    • The following breeds are prohibited from entering: Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro de Presa Canario, American Pit Bull Terriers, and any hybrid of these.

Useful Resources

Safety and Security

  • New Zealand has a reputation as one of the safest destinations in the world.
  • However, as with everywhere, take sensible precautions against petty theft and other crimes of opportunity.

Foreign Embassies in New Zealand

  • Australian High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 473 6411
  • British High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 924 2888
  • Canadian High Commission, Wellington: +64 4 473 9577
  • Honorary Consulate of South Africa, Wellington: +64 4 815 8484
  • Honorary Consul General of Ireland, Auckland: +64 9 919 7450
  • United States Embassy, Wellington: +64 4 462 6000

News about New Zealand

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