New Zealand: Currency Exchange Guide

New Zealand is the most popular international holiday destination for Australians. Over 1.4 million Australians travelled to New Zealand in 2017, with a rise of almost 6% from 2016.

With cheap flights, and only a stone’s throw away, it’s little wonder that Aussies are flocking to this beautiful and diverse destination.

Explore Milford Sound, with breathtaking fiords, scenic walks and cruises. Take a tour of Hobbiton, ski in Queenstown, or see the glow worms in Waitomo Caves. New Zealand has it all – untouched natural beauty, adrenalin sports, charming cafes and wineries.

This article is a comprehensive guide to New Zealand’s money. Get an overview of New Zealand’s currency and how to make your holiday dollar travel further. Find out why cash is king when you visit New Zealand.

[Quick links]

  1. Currency basics
  2. Pay by cash
  3. Pay by credit card
  4. Exchange money at ATM
  5. Exchange money at airport
  6. Travellers cheques
  7. Travel money cards
  8. Exchange at money booths
  9. Exchange cash at your hotel
  10. Buy in Australia from exchange booth

Currency basics

Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD or NZ$)

The official currency of New Zealand is New Zealand dollar (NZD). It is similar to Australian currency as one New Zealand dollar is made up of 100 cents.

Notes:

  • $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100

Coins:

  • 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2

You can also use New Zealand dollars on Cook Islands, Nauru, Pitcairn Islands, Tokelau and Niue.

How much money do I need for my trip?

Travelling around New Zealand is similar in costs to Australia, depending on the cities you visit and how you spend your money. Tours are generally more expensive in New Zealand, while accommodation and car hire may be cheaper than Australia.

Budget:

  • Hostel: $35-$45
  • Fast food: $10-$15
  • Public transport: $3-$4
  • Beer: $8-$12

Mid range:

  • Guesthouse or mid range hotel: $80-$120
  • Restaurant: $35-$45
  • Car hire: $20-$40
  • Organised tour: $150+
  • Wine or cocktail: $10-$15

High end:

  • Luxury hotel: $250+
  • Fine dining: $80+
  • Private tour: $300+
  • Drinks at luxury hotel: $25+

Pay by cash

Although New Zealand is a safe country to visit, it is advisable to use the same level of vigilance that you would in Australia. Read our top tips for currency to find out how to keep your cash safe during your trip.

What should I pay for with cash?

Don’t get stung with hidden credit card fees including international currency conversion fees. Cash is king in New Zealand. Use cash to pay for food, public transport, souvenirs and drinks. Save your credit card for accommodation, car hire and tours.

What are the benefits of paying by cash?
  • Reduce high credit card and ATM fees.
  • It is the easiest to use, and in most cases the cheapest as well.
Is tipping required in New Zealand?

Tipping is not generally expected in New Zealand but is appreciated.

Pay by credit card

Credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and tourist shops. Although most stores will not have a minimum spend, it is advisable to pay by cash as you will have no nasty surprises with fees. Lock in a great deal with cash, by exchanging your Australian dollars to New Zealand dollars before your trip, and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you are in control of your budget and holiday spend.

MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in New Zealand. American Express is not always accepted. The down side of using a credit card in New Zealand include:

  • Cash advance fees
  • Foreign currency fees
  • Non-competitive exchange rate

Whenever you use your debit or credit card to pay for something, you will be charged a foreign transaction fee or foreign currency conversion fee. This is usually 2.5% – 3% of the transaction.

Examples:
  • $100 dinner @ 2.5% fee= $2.50
  • $300 tour @ 2.5% fee= $7.50
  • $200 car hire @ 2.5% fee= $5.00

Some merchants will ask you if you would like your transaction to be made in Australian dollars. Although this may seem like a convenient option, you will always get an unfavourable exchange rate. Transactions in Australian currency are calculated using Dynamic Currency Conversion. Choose to be charged in New Zealand dollars instead.

Tip: Before heading to New Zealand, you should let your bank know your travel plans so that your purchases are not flagged as fraud, and your account is not frozen.

New Zealand Walking on Bridge with Trees

Exchange money at New Zealand ATMs

Will my Australian credit or debit card work in New Zealand?

Most New Zealand ATMs accept Cirrus and Maestro (MasterCard) and Visa (Plus) cards. ATM machines are plentiful in New Zealand and you’ll find them outside banks, shopping centres and main shopping streets.

To find the closest ATM machine search here:

Most shops in New Zealand have EFTPOS, but may not be compatible with your Australian debit card. You’ll need to have a backup of cash and credit card. Contact your bank to find out international EFTPOS and currency exchange fees.

Exchange money at the airport

Airports typically offer the worst exchange rates and charge the highest fees. When bringing foreign currency to exchange at the airport make sure the notes are in good condition, with no tears or writing on them. Poor condition notes are often refused and the booth may require spotless notes.

Traveller’s Cheques

Milford Sound New Zealand Cruise Ship with Fjords

Most banks in New Zealand cash travellers’ cheques, as long as you provide suitable proof of ID. Banks are generally open on weekdays between 9.00am-4.30pm, and closed on the weekend.

Travellers’ cheques often have expensive fees and unfavourable currency exchange rates. Many places do not accept travellers’ cheques.

Travel Money Cards

Travel money cards work in a similar way to travellers’ cheques, only they’re more versatile and are used just like debit cards. They can be pre-loaded with foreign currency and cancelled if lost. Read our article about travel money cards and find out the hidden fees.

Not all travel cards are created equal. Some will offer you a more favourable exchange rate, while others provide the ‘fodder’ for this billion dollar industry. Even a few cents difference in the exchange rate makes all the difference.

To show you how much money you can save by using foreign cash, we got quotes to convert $1000 AUD to USD using a variety of foreign currency providers. Here’s what you get for your money:

You save $300 with the more favourable exchange rate.

How much money can you save?
  • 0.74 USD/AUD – $3700 USD
  • 0.76 USD/AUD – $3800 USD
  • 0.78 USD/AUD – $3900 USD
  • 0.80 USD/AUD – $4000 USD

ATM fees vary between travel cards. Expect to be charged between $3.50-$4.50, and conversion rates can range between 3%-6%.

Check the fees for reloading, currency conversion, buying the card and lost or stolen cards. These fees can put a big hole in your travel budget.

A smarter choice may be securing a good exchange rate back home and having a wallet full of local currency, with the additional support of a credit card, in case of emergency.

Exchange money booths

You’ll find money exchange counters at airports, hotels and banks. Don’t get stung with poor exchange rates, commissions and fees. Exchange your Australian currency to New Zealand currency before you leave for your trip. Remember, you’ll need New Zealand dollars as soon as you arrive in the country. Very few shops and retailers, including taxi drivers, will accept Australian currency.

Exchange cash at your hotel

Most major hotels will offer currency exchange facilities, but beware. The rate that they will offer you is usually poor compared to buying your foreign currency before leaving Australian shores.

Exchange your Australian dollar to New Zealand foreign currency before you leave for your holiday. With no fees, commissions and deals for seniors and students, you always get an unbeatable price at Crown Currency.

Exchange money in Australia before your trip

Exchange your money in Australia before your trip and lock in a terrific deal. Cash is king in New Zealand, so take plenty of cash to cover your day-to-day expenses including food, transport, souvenirs and shopping.

The benefits of exchanging foreign currency before your trip:

  • Don’t overspend and create a set budget for your trip.
  • Avoid hefty ATM fees in New Zealand.

At Crown Currency, you get great rates with no commissions, fees or hidden surprises. With over 80 currencies in stock, we can help you with the currency you need. Get your quote today and start planning your perfect New Zealand getaway.

Don’t miss our July, 2018 special deals. Contact us today to find out about our UNBEATABLE JULY RATES for New Zealand currency.


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Posted in Blog, Featured, Travel Money Guide
New Zealand mountains Cook Town
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