New Zealand - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Weather & Climate like in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere * Spring is September - November * Summer is December - February * Fall is March - May * Winter is June – August.

While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures.

The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.

Cell phone usage in New Zealand?

At the time of your balance payment, we will request your cell phone details so that we may contact whilst traveling if necessary. We recommend you contact your cell plan provider prior to departure to discuss international calling/texts/data plans. Once in New Zealand for any data usage check for wifi connections at your accommdation. We highly recommend you switch off your data roaming option at all times except when you deem it necessary to download data when not connected to wifi.

What is the customs quarantine procedure like when entering New Zealand?

There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.

Can I bring Tax Free/Duty Free items into New Zealand?

Visitors to New Zealand may purchase duty-free goods, which are not subject to local taxes, from airport duty free shops on arrival and departure. Duty-free stores in downtown Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will deliver purchases to aircraft departure lounges.

Apart from your own personal effects, and as long as you are over 17 years of age, you are allowed the following duty-free concessions:

200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars, or a mixture of all three weighing no more than 250 grams

4.5 liters of wine or beer (six 750ml bottles) and one 1125ml bottle of spirits, liqueur or other beverages

Goods up to a total of NZ$700 are free of duty and tax, but goods in excess of this may attract both duty and tax.

What is and how much is the Departure tax?

A departure tax of NZ$25 has to be paid at the airport when you leave New Zealand. Please note this tax is not included in your ticket price.

What languages are spoken in New Zealand?

English is the common language of New Zealand. However, as New Zealand is a multicultural society, you may hear other languages spoken including Te Reo Maori, the official language of New Zealand. The vast majority of New Zealand place names are of Maori origin.  A Maori phrase you’ll be sure to hear and see is Kia ora which means hello.

What is the time difference between New Zealand and the U.S.?

New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the new day, 17 hours ahead of EST or 20 hours ahead of PST.  In summer New Zealand uses ‘daylight saving’, with clocks put forward one hour to EST+18/PST+21. Daylight saving begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the third Sunday of the following March, when clocks are put back to EST+17/PST+20.

What currency is used in New Zealand?

New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2; notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand. However, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.

Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centers.

How should I obtain cash in New Zealand?

Whilst exchange facilities are available at international airports and changing travelers checks can be done at most banks we recommend cash withdrawals be made from bank ATM’s. Nearly all New Zealand ATMs accept US bank cards, the rate of exchange is very competitive and the transaction is small (the fee will very from bank to bank)

What Taxes are currently in place in New Zealand?

All goods and services are subject to a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) included in the displayed price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back; however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor's home address the GST will not be charged.

When and how much should I tip in New Zealand?

New Zealanders do not expect tips for normal service - even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills.

What electric voltage currency is in use in New Zealand?

230/240 volts, 50 Hz, 3 pin plugs. The power supply is 220/240 volts AC. Sockets accept three-flat-pin plugs so an adaptor is needed. 110v appliances will need a voltage converter.

Do I need insurance when traveling to New Zealand?

Before your visit you should arrange sufficient medical and travel insurance. Ensure the policy is adequate to cover costs for ambulance or helicopter rescue, emergency surgery, or transportation home. Accidents (but not illnesses) are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which ensures that residents and tourists alike are not charged for any medical treatment required as a consequence of an accident suffered in New Zealand. This covers both physical and psychological damage. In cases of minor injuries you may have to contribute to the cost of the initial doctor’s visit. The ACC scheme means you can’t sue anybody for damages.

We offer travel insurance policies – ask your Aspire Down Under consultant for more details.

Do I need to get any specific vaccinations before entering New Zealand?

For questions regarding COVID vaccination speak with an Aspire agent.

For other vaccinations they are not required unless you have come from, or visited, a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival.

Is all water safe to drink in New Zealand?

It is safe to drink tap water anywhere in New Zealand. Bottled mineral water is available throughout the country.

What precautions should I take to protect myself from the sun/weather in New Zealand?

New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear hats and sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.

Weather conditions in New Zealand alpine areas can change rapidly. Be prepared for cold wet weather if you plan to walk in our National Parks, whatever the time of year

What is the beach safety like in New Zealand?

Beaches with potential hazards are often patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags - Water Safety New Zealand recommend that between these flags is the safest place to swim on these beaches.

What do I need to know about driving in New Zealand?

New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 50 km/h (30 mph) and on country roads and highways, 100 km/h (62mph) unless signs indicate otherwise. Strict drink-driving laws apply. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times.

Visitors may drive in New Zealand on a valid overseas driver’s license for the same class of vehicle or an International Driving Permit. Licenses must be carried when driving. If the driver's license is not in the English language, the visitor must carry a translation with the permit.

Entering New Zealand with controlled drugs on you or in your baggage?

If you arrive in New Zealand carrying controlled drugs on you or in your luggage, you may import them provided that you declare the controlled drugs on your passenger arrival card to present to New Zealand Customs Service - demonstrate to NZ Customs that the drug:

  • is required for treating a medical condition for you or for someone under your care and control who is travelling with you
  • has been lawfully supplied to you in the country of origin
  • is no more than one month’s supply

To demonstrate that the controlled drug has been lawfully supplied for the treatment of you or someone under your care you should:

  • carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the controlled drug(s) and the name and strength of these drugs
  • carry your medicines including controlled drugs in the original labelled containers.

Can you provide restaurant recommendations in New Zealand?

Your Aspire agent will be happy to provide restaurant recommendations.

What should I pack?

Document Checklist

  • Passport and Visa paperwork
  • Photo ID
  • Copies of itinerary, Summary of services & Evouchers, ID, and passport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Bank cards (be sure to advise your bank of your travel plans down under.)

What to Bring:

  • Swimming Wear
  • Beach towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Light & Rain Jacket/umbrella
  • Camera
  • Medication - (If you are taking prescription medication in your carry-on, you will need to bring a doctor’s note or copy of your prescription)
  • Toiletries
  • Comfortable shoes (for outdoor activities & walking)
  • Sandals/flip flops
  • Going out shoes
  • Jeans/pants
  • Shorts
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Short sleeve shirts
  • Jacket
  • Sleep wear
  • Travel-sized toiletries
  • First Aid travel kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Electrical converter/universal plug**

** The electrical current in New Zealand is 240/250 volts, AC 50Hz. The New Zealand three pin power outlet is different from that in North America so you will need an adapter socket. If your appliances are not 240/250 volts you will need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V or 11OV appliances are usually found in leading hotels.

Hiking in New Zealand consider bringing:

  • Plastic pack liner
  • Waterproof pants/ jacket
  • Zip-off Hiking pants
  • Hiking boots
  • Thermals – (Pack layers because the weather can change in an instant)
  • Quick dry shorts/ pants
  • Hiking poles
  • First Aid Kid/ Strapping tape
  • Snacks
  • Wool socks
  • A warm Hat & Light gloves (depending on the time of year)
  • Sunhat & sunglasses (depending on the time of year)
  • water bottle
  • Torch/Flash light


Start planning your New Zealand custom journey - if you have additional questions   Email Us