New Zealand Travel Guide

New Zealand has been called God’s own country and the “Paradise of the Pacific” since the early 1800s. Travellers generally agree New Zealand deserves this description. A common mistake is not allowing sufficient time to travel New Zealand. Many travellers spend nearly all of their holiday time in Australia, then wish that they had spent an equal or longer time in this variegated archipelago. Relax and allow at least three or four weeks for each island! Lonely Planet named New Zealand the world’s top travel destination for the second year running (2003/2004), and it was voted best long-haul travel destination in the 2004 Guardian and Observer’s People’s Choice award. It has won the award in three out of the past four years. At the 2005 Condé Nast Traveller Awards, readers voted New Zealand as the best holiday destination in the world. New Zealand is also known by the Maori name of Aotearoa, which is usually translated as “(Land of the) long white cloud”.

New Zealand Travel Guide

New Zealand Travel Guide

HOW TO REACH

By plane – There are international airports at Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The main gateways are Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, and Tokyo. 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.

Passports, Visas and documentation – All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions including on employment. British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor’s Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries can be granted a visa-free visitor’s entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries. All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.

Quarantine – Because the economy is based on agriculture, importing even small quantities of most food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to limit the spread of animal and plant diseases and pests. New Zealand has some very strong biosecurity laws, which are taken very seriously by enforcement officials at border control. In addition, importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and results in instant arrest. If found guilty, you would be subject to a range of penalties from; hefty fines for minor offences to lengthy imprisonment for larger offences, after which you would be deported and prohibited from re-entering.

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 seconds after calling.

Severe weather is by far the most common natural hazard encountered in New Zealand. Although New Zealand is not subject to the direct hit of tropical cyclones stormy weather systems from both the tropics and the polar regions can sweep across New Zealand at various times of the year. There is generally a seven to ten day cycle of a few days of wet or stormy weather followed by calmer and drier days as weather systems move across the country. The phrase four seasons in one day is a good description of New Zealand weather, which has a reputation for both changeability and unpredictability. The phrase is also a popular Kiwi song. Weather forecasts are generally reliable for overall trends and severe weather warnings should be heeded when broadcast. However both the timing and intensity of any weather events should be assessed from your own location. Simply looking out the window is probably good enough to allow you yourself to predict what the weather will be like for at least the next 15 minutes or so, according to one eminent New Zealand meterologist, though knowing that Northerlies are warm, Southerlies are cold, westerlies are rainy but warm and easterlies are humid you can predict for yourself quite accurately.

RESPECT

Maori cultural experiences are popular tourist attractions enjoyed by many, but as with any two cultures encountering one another, there is room for misunderstanding. Some tourists have found themselves more confronted than they expected by ceremonial challenges and welcomes. These are serious occasions, and chatter and laughing during rituals is not recommended. People have been attacked by their entertainers to date for appearing to not treat it with the highest sacredness. You’d best have jokes and laughs later. There will be plenty of time to relax later when the hangi is lifted.

Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders are generally on good terms, but from time to time there have been frayed relationships between the two. Enter discussion about this with politeness and caution, or, of course, not at all.

Remember also, that New Zealand is still a very young nation by many standards and its identity is still being formulated. Commenting that New Zealand is subservient to the United Kingdom is sometimes admired and other times despised, and although New Zealand coinage is adorned with British royal figures New Zealand is an independent member of the Commonwealth and saying that New Zealand is almost identical can be offensive to some.

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