This document is meant to be an introductory guide for a typical trip to New Zealand, including places like Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Franz Josef and/or Fox Glaciers, Milford Sound and Queenstown. Other sources for more detailed information include the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/ith/precautions/en/) and Lonely Planet or similar country guides. As of posting date, American citizens will need a NZeTA or visa for travel to New Zealand; see US State Department https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/NewZealand.html for more information.
New Zealand is known as a very safe destination. Common sense will keep most travelers from being a victim of crime or other dangers:
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Use hotel safe for storing valuables, including passports.
- Be mindful as a pedestrian crossing streets. New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road, which means the closest cars when crossing a street will come from your right.
- Don’t carry large quantities of cash. Keep your wallet in a secure area.
- Don’t leave valuables in the car. If you must leave anything in the car, put it in the trunk before arriving at your destination.
- When visiting natural sights, stay on marked paths and follow signs.
- 111 is the emergency number for police, ambulance and fire services.
- If you need to see a doctor, there are urgent care clinics in some cities and larger towns. Alternatively, the hospitals offer urgent and other care. Your hotel should be able to assist with finding the nearest, most appropriate location should you need non-emergency medical assistance.
- For minor issues, consider going to the nearest pharmacy before incurring the cost of a doctor’s visit. The pharmacist may be able to recommend a treatment and/or medicine.
- Tap water is drinkable throughout New Zealand.
- New Zealand is known for adventure travel. Be mindful of your own limitations when participating in activities. Injury can happen when people overextend themselves beyond their typical fitness level.
- The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar. Current value is 1 USD= 1.50 NZD.
- Credit cards are widely accepted, though some smaller places may still deal only in cash.
- You do not need to exchange money ahead of time. ATMs are readily available in all cities and moderately-sized towns, though you can expect to pay about $5-7 average for a withdrawal. Find out if your bank has partner banks in New Zealand that allow you to take out money without charging a fee.
- Contact your bank(s) prior to travel to notify them of your travel plans. Many banks offer this service through their app or online.
- Bring your bank contact information (non-toll free numbers) in case you need assistance while traveling. Consider leaving a document with these numbers and your credit card numbers with someone at home in case you lose this information during travel and need it.
- Lodging, rental cars and some other services typically charge a credit card charge fee of 2-3%.
- Tipping is not expected in most circumstances, as service industry workers are paid a living wage. If someone goes above and beyond, it is nice to provide a small tip. Here are some guidelines for tipping:
- Bellhop – Not expected, but common at larger hotels – $1-2
- Restaurant – For exceptional service tip up to 10%
- Tour guide – Up to $5 per person for a full day tour.
- For most other services, it is not customary to tip.
New Zealand has such a diversity of geography that it is nearly impossible to communicate all of the complexities of the weather. Remember that NZ is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that their summer is December to February, with fall beginning in March, winter in June and spring in September. Summer is marked with highs of anywhere from 68 to 86 degrees fahrenheit. Winter highs generally hover in the 50s. Although New Zealand gets plenty of sun in the summer, rain is possible throughout the year.
In terms of packing, be mindful of what you usually need while traveling to evaluate whether you need everything on this list or if you may need to bring items not on this list.
- Passport (with photocopies, I also suggest leaving a photocopy with someone at home or even scanning a picture for me to have on file)
- Visa and or NZeTA (must apply and receive before trip
- Flight confirmation email/e-tickets
- Itinerary* (printed) including flight info, lodging, activities, transport
- Travel Insurance info* (printed)
- If you are traveling solo with your child(ren), you may be asked to provide a notarized letter from their other parent that you have permission to take them out of the country
- Driver’s license
*Available in Pocket Travel Consultant App
Layers is the name of the game in New Zealand. If you are traveling for more than a week, I recommend packing for approximately 5-7 days. Laundry services in hotels and in major tourist areas are common.
- Footwear – sturdy sneakers or walking shoes, sandals/flip flops, casual footwear
- Water-/windproof shell, thicker jacket if traveling in the winter
- Sun hat
- 4-6 pants, skirts, shorts
- 4-6 tops
- Fleece top, sweatshirt or sweater for layering
- 2-3 casual nice outfits (simple dress, polo/button down shirt, etc.) for dining out
- 5-7 pair underwear, 5-7 pair socks
- 1 or 2 swimsuits
- Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
- Wet wipes/antibacterial gel
- Travel-sized first-aid kit (including bandaids, tape, antiseptic cream among other useful items)
- Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or other fever reducer/pain reliever (adult and child/infant)
- Cortisone cream
- Feminine products
- Shaving supplies
- Nail clipper
- Hairbrush, hair supplies
- Contact lens supplies
- Prescription drugs as needed
- Cell phone, cell phone charger. Verify with your provider the international roaming policy and charges. Alternatively, you can purchase a SIM card at the duty free area in your arrival airport and use a NZ plan for your trip. If you plan to do this, be sure your phone is “unlocked” (iPhones usually aren’t, and this must be done stateside with your provider before you leave).
- Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
- Battery power pack/portable charger (for recharging phones on long travel days)
- Watch or travel clock if you don’t carry a cell phone.
- Moneybelt (I personally don’t use a moneybelt for most travel, but know many travelers do)
- Day pack (for hikes/walks/excursions)
- Plug adapter and/or voltage converter for NZ outlets
- Ear plugs
- Personal entertainment for each family member (Reading and writing materials, cards, small toys, sticker books, headphones, etc..)
- Reusable water bottle
- Handwashing laundry detergent (Woolite or Tide), sink drain cover and portable drying line
- Gallon-sized ziploc bags or similar, 2 per person (for all sorts of uses while traveling – from storing your electronics to separating clothes.
- Carseat (or a plan to rent if using rental cars or private transportation )
- Portable high-chair seat (Amazon has My Little Seat Travel High Chair)
- Diapering supplies for first few days (and plan to stock up when in larger cities)
- Lightweight travel stroller and/or baby carrier
- Formula & 2 bottles, washing liquid
- Sippy cup
- Travel crib (or plan for using hotel cribs/beds)
- Goggles, packable pool/beach toys (if you are staying at hotels with pool)
- Food pouches, granola bars, other individually packaged snacks