New Zealand Travel Advice and Safety

Ready to experience the magic of New Zealand? Expect stunning landscapes, thrilling adventures, and unforgettable experiences! But before you jet off, let’s ensure you’re fully prepared. From safety to health, local laws, and travel essentials, we’ve got you covered.

And don’t forget, for all your currency needs, Crown Currency Exchange is your trusted partner. So buckle up, your Kiwi adventure awaits!

Safety

Adventure Activities

We all love a good adrenaline rush, right? But remember, with great thrills come certain risks.

You see, while countless adventurers enjoy these exhilarating activities safely, there have been cases of serious accidents. Tragically, some have ended in fatalities. And it’s not always about bad luck or fate – sometimes, operators have been found negligent.

The safety standards can vary widely, not just between individual operators, but they might also be different from what you’re used to back in Australia. So, if you’re planning to indulge in your adventurous side, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Understand the Risks: Whether you’re going solo or as a group, make sure you’re aware of the potential dangers involved in the activity.
  • Check Operator Safety Standards: Do your homework and verify if the operators meet industry standards.
  • Weather and Location Matter: Severe weather and remote areas can heighten safety risks. Always stay updated on local weather conditions.
  • Insurance is Key: Before you jump off that plane or dive underwater, make sure your travel insurance covers these activities. Also, understand what your insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Safety First: Only book with operators who provide appropriate safety equipment and follow best practices. And don’t just let the gear sit idle – use it, even if others aren’t.

If your adventure takes you trekking in remote areas, don’t forget to:

  • Don’t forget to register your trip with a DOC visitor centre, and keep your loved ones informed about your plans.
  • Stay updated with the latest weather conditions and check in with the local DOC visitor centre before trekking in remote areas.
  • Always carry a personal locator beacon for safety, and avoid creeks and rivers after heavy rains.

Once you’re back from your hike, make sure you check in with your family and friends, the DOC visitor centre, and anyone else who knows your plans.

Civil Unrest and Political Tension

New Zealand is generally a peaceful place, and the same goes for their protests. But you know how it is; even the calmest gatherings can sometimes get a little heated.

So, if you happen to stumble upon a public protest or any large event, don’t panic! Just remember to stay alert and follow the travel advisories of the local authorities. They’re there to keep everything under control.

Climate and Natural Disasters

Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about something we all need to be aware of – climate and natural disasters. New Zealand, as gorgeous as it is, does have its fair share of Mother Nature’s mood swings.

Right off the bat, if you’re planning to visit Tairāwhiti, note that a local transition period has expired on 18 August 2023. You can get all the current updates from the National Emergency Management Agency website.

Now, the Kiwi land experiences a variety of extreme weather events and natural disasters. We’re talking bushfires, flash flooding, earthquakes, volcanic activity, even tsunamis. Sounds intense – but don’t worry, there are ways to stay safe:

  • Guard Your Passport: Your passport is like gold when you’re overseas, so keep it tucked away in a secure, waterproof spot.
  • Listen to the Authorities: The local authorities are pros at this. Make sure you heed their advice – they know what they’re talking about.
  • Stay Connected: Let your friends and family back home know where you are and what you’re up to. It’s always comforting to have someone back home who’s in the loop.

And, of course, stay informed. Keep an eye on local media and trustworthy sources like the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Navigating Earthquakes

Now, before you get alarmed, remember that most of these quakes are too small or deep to even notice. But each year, about 150 to 200 do pack enough punch to be felt.

Large, damaging earthquakes have happened and could potentially occur again, with aftershocks that can last for days or weeks. If an earthquake hits, remember the mantra: drop, cover, and hold. If it’s a strong one and you’re near the coast or a large body of water, head to higher ground immediately.

  • When Indoors: Find a sturdy object, take a few steps towards it, get underneath, and hold on. Don’t run outside, wait until the shaking stops. Stay clear of windows, chimneys, and shelves with heavy objects.
  • If You’re In Bed: Hold on to your bed, protect your head and body with a pillow and blankets.
  • When Outdoors: Find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines, then drop to the ground.
  • If You’re In A Car: Slow down, drive to a clear place (again, away from buildings, trees, power lines) and stay in the car with your seatbelt on until the shaking stops.
  • If You’re In A Lift: Stop at the nearest floor and get out.

After the earthquake, be aware of potential tsunami risks, prepare for travel delays, reconfirm your travel arrangements, and check your accommodation status with travel agents and tour operators.

Understanding Tsunami Risks

Given the region’s earthquake risk, tsunamis are a possibility we need to be aware of.

Every inch of New Zealand’s coastline could potentially face a tsunami. But don’t worry, as part of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, they’re on top of this. It’s the National Emergency Management Agency that takes care of the National Tsunami Advisory and Warning Plan and pops alerts on its website. These alerts are also broadcast by local media.

Now, here’s where things get a bit challenging. Tsunamis can sneak up on you in just minutes. There might not even be enough time for an official warning to reach you. So, if you’re hanging out near the coast and something feels off, like:

  • A powerful earthquake that has you struggling to stay upright
  • A gentle, rolling earthquake that goes on for a minute or more
  • An unexpected rise or fall in the sea level
  • Strange and loud noises coming from the sea

Don’t wait around for an official heads-up. Hustle to high ground or as far inland as you can immediately. If it’s feasible, consider walking or biking to avoid potential traffic jams. Remember, when Mother Nature throws a curveball, your quick thinking and instincts are your best defence.

Living with Volcanoes

Let’s talk about some of New Zealand’s most fascinating and fiery residents – active volcanoes. These giants can decide to wake up and erupt at any time, and their alert levels can spike quickly. So, you might find yourself needing to evacuate with little warning.

In the event of volcanic activity, here’s what you need to do:

  • Listen to and follow the guidelines given by local authorities – they know their stuff.
  • Pay attention to evacuation orders – when they say move, you move.
  • Don’t take official warnings lightly – they’re for your safety.

And if you’ve got a trip planned to visit these active volcanoes or their surroundings (and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see these natural wonders up close), be sure to:

  • Regularly check the GeoNet website for updates – it’s your go-to source for the latest info.
  • Get some local advice before you head out – it never hurts to have insider knowledge.

GeoNet provides up-to-date information about volcanic activity at various sites, including White Island, Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu, and other active volcanic locations.

Dealing with Severe Weather and Bushfires

New Zealand’s weather can be a bit of a drama queen, changing its mood quickly and without warning. One minute, it’s clear skies; the next, you’re in the middle of a severe weather episode.

Heavy rains can lead to flash flooding in creeks and rivers, turning peaceful streams into dangerous torrents in an instant. Rapid changes in weather could potentially leave you stranded or injured, especially if you’re off the beaten path.

So, what can you do?

  • Keep an eye on the weather conditions, forecasts, and warnings from MetService – they’re your window into what Mother Nature is up to.
  • If you’re out climbing, hiking or exploring remote areas, take extra precautions. Remember, better safe than sorry.

Now, let’s talk bushfires. During hot, dry conditions, parts of New Zealand can experience these fiery events. If there’s a bushfire:

  • Follow local advice – they’re the experts in dealing with these situations.

Crime

Petty Crime in New Zealand

Before you start worrying, let us reassure you that crime rates here are on par with those back home in Australia. But just like anywhere else, petty crimes do happen.

Thieves have a knack for spotting valuables left in cars and campervans. It’s like they have a sixth sense for unattended iPads, cameras, and that expensive pair of sunglasses you just had to have.

So, what’s the game plan?

  • Always keep your valuables out of sight or better yet, take them with you. Leaving them in your car or campervan is like sending a personal invite to thieves.
  • Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Remember, a little caution goes a long way in keeping your belongings safe. So, enjoy your journey and let’s keep it theft-free.

Terrorism

Terrorism – it’s a global menace, no doubt about it. But, don’t let it dampen your spirit or curb your wanderlust. Knowledge is power, and being informed is our best bet.

Terrorism, as defined by the FBI, involves violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organisations. It ranges from organised terrorism in conflict zones to radicalised ‘lone wolves’.

Now, the news can sometimes be overwhelming, and we get it. But here’s the deal – we can navigate these together. Here are some resources where you can keep yourself updated:

Health

Health Risks

When it comes to health risks, New Zealand is on the same page as Australia. But before you shrug this off, thinking – “Been there, done that”, let’s talk about it a bit more.

Just like back home, there are a few things you might want to keep an eye out for. The usual suspects – common colds going around, pesky allergies acting up with the change in environment, or sunburn from spending a little too much time under the glorious New Zealand sun.

So, what’s the plan?

  • Stay hydrated, eat healthily, and get enough rest – the ultimate secret of staying fit and healthy.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen, wear a hat, and don’t forget those sunglasses!
  • If you have allergies, keep your meds handy.

In essence, the same rules apply here as you do back home in Australia.

Medical Care

The medical facilities here in New Zealand are top-notch, much like what we’re used to back home in Australia.

But what makes it even better is the reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and New Zealand. This means, as an Australian, you can use public medical facilities and care here.

But hold up, there are a few things this agreement doesn’t cover:

  • The treatment of ongoing health conditions
  • Additional accommodation costs or flights for family members
  • Flights to get you back to Australia

So, it definitely doesn’t replace your need for travel insurance.

To access medical services under the agreement, you just need to show your current Australian passport or evidence of permanent residency, along with your valid Medicare card. Easy-peasy!

And if you happen to get injured in an accident, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has got your back. They cover the costs of medical treatment on a ‘no-fault’ basis. This means if you’re an accident victim, you don’t have a legal right to sue a third party.

But keep in mind that this cover wraps up once you leave New Zealand. Also, this doesn’t negate the need for travel insurance.

For more information, you can check out the following resources:

Medication

You might be surprised to learn that not all medications that you can easily get by prescription or over-the-counter in Australia are available or even legal in other countries.

In fact, some might even land in the category of illegal or controlled substances in New Zealand, even though they’re prescribed by your Aussie doctor.

So, what should you do? If you need to take medication with you, make sure to do your homework and verify that it’s permitted in New Zealand. And don’t forget to pack enough for your entire trip.

But there’s a bit more to it. It’s crucial to carry a copy of a letter or prescription from your Australian doctor. This should outline:

  1. The name of the medication
  2. The dosage you require
  3. Confirmation of your personal use

This way, you’ll be all set to enjoy your New Zealand adventure without any hiccups!

Mental and Physical Health

Especially if you’re managing an existing medical condition, it’s very crucial to consider how travel might affect your well-being.

So, what’s the first step? Make an appointment with your doctor or local travel health clinic to:

  1. Get a general health check-up
  2. Discuss how your travel plans could impact your health
  3. Plan any necessary vaccinations

Try to get this sorted at least eight weeks before your departure date. Trust us, it’s worth it!

Now, let’s say you’re in New Zealand, and you need some mental health support. Don’t worry, there are resources available for you:

  • Healthline – Call them up at 0800 611 116
  • Lifeline – Dial 0800 543 354 or send a free text to HELP (4357)
  • Samaritans – They’re available at 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – Reach out on 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Remember, taking care of your health is key to fully enjoying your travel adventures.

Travel Insurance

Let’s get real about something very important – travel insurance. Before you take off on your adventure, it’s crucial to ensure you’ve got a comprehensive travel insurance policy backing you up.

Why, you ask? Well, it should cover all overseas medical costs, and yes, that includes the big-ticket items like medical evacuation. Here’s the catch – the Australian Government isn’t going to cover these for you.

Here’s a mantra to live by – If you can’t afford travel insurance, then neither should be travelling. This holds true for everyone, no matter how healthy or fit you might be.

Without insurance, you could find yourself facing sky-high medical care costs. We’re talking about shelling out thousands of dollars upfront.

So, when you’re picking out your policy, it’s essential to verify:

  • The types of activities and care your policy covers
  • That your insurance has you covered for your entire trip (and don’t forget to check if any stopovers en route to your destination are included)

Remember, travel insurance is all about granting you peace of mind, so you can zero in on making amazing memories!

Local Laws

Australian Laws

Did you know some Australian criminal laws continue to have jurisdiction over you, even when you’re off exploring foreign lands? That’s right!

If you happen to break these laws while you’re abroad, you could find yourself facing prosecution back home in Australia.

So, remember to stay on the right side of the law, both at home and away. It’s all part of being a responsible global citizen and ensuring your adventures abroad are memorable for all the right reasons.

Dual Citizenship

New Zealand is one of those countries that recognises dual nationality. This means you can be a citizen of both Australia and New Zealand without any legal issues.

But here’s where it gets interesting. If you’re a dual citizen, it’s important to use your Australian passport when entering and leaving Australia. This might seem like a small detail, but trust us, it can save you a lot of hassle at immigration.

Local Law

When you’re in New Zealand, remember that their local laws and penalties apply to you, too. Some of them might even seem a tad strict compared to what we’re accustomed to back home in Australia. So, do your homework and familiarise yourself with their local laws before you set off.

If you somehow find yourself in a pickle and get jailed or arrested, don’t panic. The Australian Government will do its utmost to help under the Consular Services Charter. But here’s the catch – they can’t just wave a magic wand and get you out of jail or trouble. So, it is best to stay on the right side of the law.

Now, let’s touch on a few specific topics:

Alcohol laws

Thinking about having a drink? Just remember, you’re going to need a photo ID to purchase alcohol or step into any licensed venues. But here’s the catch – the only approved IDs are a current New Zealand driver’s licence, your up-to-date passport, or a Kiwi Access Card. So keep this in mind before you order that pint.

Customs requirements

Upon arrival, New Zealand Customs Service officers may examine electronic devices if they suspect they’re being used in criminal activity. This includes digital cameras, mobile phones, hard drives, portable tablets, and laptops.

Drugs

Possessing and using drugs can lead to fines and even prison sentences. So, it’s best to avoid any kind of drug use or purchase.

Firearms

If you’re bringing firearm items and ammunition into New Zealand, you must have a permit to import. We recommend leaving items that require a firearms licence in your home country until you get to New Zealand and have any necessary licence endorsements, a permit to import, and a New Zealand firearms licence.

Quarantine regulations

New Zealand is strict when it comes to biosecurity rules. If you don’t declare items for quarantine, you’ll be slapped with an instant fine. And if you make a false statement, you could face heavy fines and even prison sentences.

Travel

Visas and Border Measures

Visa Requirements

You see, most Australian citizens can enter New Zealand without a visa unless they have a criminal record or have been deported from any country by their foreign affairs department.

But, if you’re an Australian permanent resident, there’s a bit more to it. You’ll need to apply online for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before you begin your journey. Don’t worry, though; Australian citizens are exempt from this rule.

To get the most accurate information, it’s always best to refer directly to the New Zealand Government Immigration website.

Now, if you’ve been deported from any country or have been convicted of any crimes, you should contact a New Zealand Visa Application Centre for advice well before your travel.

Navigating Border Measures

It’s essential to stay updated with the latest requirements before booking your travel. This includes both land and maritime borders.

Speaking of maritime borders, New Zealand has thrown open its maritime borders to all vessels. This includes cruise ships, foreign-flagged vessels, specialist vessels used in exploration and research, and recreational vessels (like small craft and yachts).

For more information, check out the Ministry of Health Maritime Sector website.

Passport

The 6-Month Rule

Some countries have this rule where they won’t let you in unless your passport is still good for at least six more months beyond the date you’re planning to leave their turf. This rule can apply even if you’re just passing through or making a pit stop.

Now, here’s where it gets a bit tricky. This rule isn’t always applied consistently. Different airlines and governments might give you different advice, which can be quite confusing.

The last thing you want is to be stranded in a foreign country because your passport isn’t valid for long enough. It’s important to remember that these aren’t rules set by the Australian Government. So, checking your passport’s expiry date before you travel is crucial.

If there’s even a hint of doubt that it’ll stay valid for long enough, it might be a good idea to consider renewing your passport.

What to Do If Your Passport is Stolen or Lost

Your passport isn’t just a bunch of pages; it’s like the golden ticket to your identity, and that makes it tempting for individuals who might want to use it for illicit activities.

Just keep in mind that there could be people out there trying to pull a fast one on you to get their hands on your passport. So always keep it in a safe place. Think of it as a treasure that needs to be guarded at all times.

Now, if the worst happens and your passport goes missing or gets stolen, don’t panic. Instead, act swiftly and inform the Australian Government as soon as you can.

Here’s how:

So, while we hope you never have to deal with a lost or stolen passport, it’s important to know what to do just in case. Keep your passport safe, but remember, if something does happen, swift action can help resolve the situation quickly.

The ‘X’ Gender Identifier and International Travel

Your Australian passport ticks all the boxes when it comes to international standards for gender and sex, including the provision for an ‘X’ gender marker. But you might not know that not every country is on the same page when it comes to accepting a passport that shows ‘X’ in the gender or sex field for transit or entry.

To keep your travels as smooth as possible, it’s a smart move to get in touch with the nearest consulate, embassy, or high commission of the country you’re heading to before you set foot on the plane.

By doing so, you can make sure they’re welcoming with passports that have ‘X’ markers. It’s all about being prepared and avoiding any unwelcome surprises at the border.

For more information, don’t forget to check out Smartraveller’s Guide for LGBTI+ travellers. It’s a great resource that provides valuable insights and advice for safe and hassle-free travel.

Money

When you’re exploring the stunning landscapes of New Zealand, you’ll be dealing with the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). If you’re carrying over NZD $10,000 or its equivalent, you need to declare it when you arrive and depart. And this isn’t just about cash – it applies to all forms of currency.

Cards Accepted Here

Just like in Australia, most places in New Zealand accept debit and credit cards. But remember, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand for those small vendors or unexpected situations where cards might not be accepted.

Crown Currency Exchange: Your Go-To for Foreign Exchange

And when it comes to getting your hands on some New Zealand dollars, Crown Currency Exchange is the place to go. As the #1 foreign exchange in Australia, we offer competitive AUD to NZD rates with absolutely no hidden fees or commissions. It’s a straightforward and hassle-free way to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running in New Zealand.

Local Travel

When it comes to exploring New Zealand, driving can be an excellent way to take in all the stunning scenery. However, there are a few things you need to know about local travel.

Your Australian Licence Goes a Long Way

Good news! Your Australian driver’s licence will see you through for up to a year of driving in New Zealand. After that, you’ll need to swap it for a local driver’s licence.

Road Conditions

Driving in New Zealand is similar to what you’re used to in Australia. They also drive on the left lane of the road, so you don’t have to worry about any new driving patterns.

What you will need to be aware of are the road conditions, which can vary significantly between cities and rural areas. You might encounter fog, high winds, ice, snow. and even wandering animals that can make driving a bit of an adventure. And let’s not forget, heavy downpours can sometimes trigger huge landslides on the roads.

Once you’re out of the major cities, motorways become a rare sight, which means overtaking might be a bit of a challenge, and your travel time could stretch more than you’d like.

If your travels take you up into the mountains or to the ski fields, brace yourself for narrow, unpaved roads that might lack safety barriers. You could find yourself needing snow chains or even a 4WD vehicle to access certain areas.

And most importantly, using a mobile phone while driving is a big no-no in New Zealand. The only time it’s okay is for 111 calls during real emergencies. But you’re good to go with hands-free devices and two-way radios.

Before you hit the road,

  • Familiarise yourself with local road rules.
  • Exercise caution in adverse weather conditions like fog, high winds, ice, or snow.
  • Make sure you’re always in the loop about road warnings and closures by keeping tabs on updates from New Zealand Transport Agency.
  • And don’t forget, being prepared is key! Gear up for both the current weather conditions and any possible changes Mother Nature might throw your way.

Public Transport

Buses, ferries, and trains are the way to go in New Zealand, making it a breeze to zip around. These services, all run by the New Zealand Transport Authority, make getting from A to B convenient.

Now, while you’re enjoying the ride on public transport, please don’t forget to keep an eye on your belongings.

Air Travel

As for air travel, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade isn’t the go-to for information on the safety of specific flight paths or commercial airlines. But you can get the latest news on New Zealand’s air safety profile by checking out the Aviation Safety Network.

Sea Travel

If you’re planning to cruise around New Zealand, you’ll be glad to know that several international cruise lines have stopovers here.

Taxis

Taxis and rideshares are generally reliable for both New Zealand citizens and tourists, with standards similar to those in Australia. Rest easy knowing that the New Zealand Transport Authority regulates these services.

Motorcycles

If motorbiking is your thing, make sure your travel insurance covers the use of a quad bike, motorbike, or similar vehicle. And remember, safety first – always wear your industry-standard helmet.

Local Contacts

Emergencies

We all hope our travels go off without a hitch, but it’s smart to be prepared for the unexpected. Here’s the insider info on managing emergencies while you’re in New Zealand.

Who’s to Call?

  • Police Assistance: If you need immediate police assistance, dial 111. For non-emergency situations, you can dial 105 or reach out to the closest police station. If you’ve been a victim of a crime, always ensure you request a police report.
  • Medical Emergencies: In case of a medical emergency, remember that help is just a phone call away. Dial 111 to get the medical assistance you need.
  • Insurance: Make sure your insurance provider’s 24-hour emergency number is at your fingertips. You never know when you might need it.
  • Fire and Rescue: Should you find yourself in a situation that requires fire and rescue services, don’t hesitate to dial 111. They’re there to help.

While we hope you won’t need this information, being prepared can make a world of difference when you’re far from home.

Consular Contacts

When you’re off exploring the world, it’s comforting to know there’s someone in your corner. If you’re an Aussie in New Zealand and need some assistance, here’s who you can turn to.

First things first, take a look at the Consular Services Charter. It outlines all the details of how the Australian Government can step up to help you when you’re overseas.

For consular assistance, you’ve got two main points of contact – the Australian Consulate-General in Auckland or the Australian High Commission in Wellington.

Australian Consulate-General

Over in Auckland, the Australian Consulate-General is there to provide consular assistance and other related services. That includes passport and notarial services, as well as emergency assistance for Australians in trouble. Their contact details are as follows:

Address: Level 7, HSBC Tower, 186-194 Quay Street, Auckland City

Fax: (+64 9) 921 8820

Phone: (+64 9) 921 8800

Australian High Commission, Wellington

The Australian High Commission, Wellington, is a valuable resource for Aussie travellers in New Zealand. Their contact details are as follows:

Address: 72-76 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington

Fax: (+64 4) 498 7103

Phone: (+64 4) 473 6411

Website: newzealand.highcommission.gov.au

Social Media

Don’t forget to visit the High Commission’s website for details on their operating hours and any heads-up about temporary shutdowns.

24/7 Consular Emergency Centre

If you’re in a bit of a situation and can’t get in touch with an embassy, don’t panic. Just dial the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre. Call 1300 555 135 if you’re in Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 if you’re overseas.

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