New Zealand General Information
Trading banks are open Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm. Automatic teller machines are operated by all the banks and are widespread.
Traveller’s cheques may be cashed at any trading bank and at most large hotels, in tourist areas and at large retail stores. If you’re staying for a while, a wise move would be to make one of your first calls to one of the nationwide banks to open an account and obtain a card for the ATM machines.
For more information contact Robert Dwyer, State Manager Migration Services, ANZ, 1st Floor, 20 Martin Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia. Tel: (00612) 227 1802. Fax: (00612) 227 1885.
Most shopping centres have at least one “late-night shopping” a week, when shops stay open until 9pm. Neighbourhood convenience stores, known as dairies, are generally open from 7am until 10pm and many petrol stations, which often stock food and groceries, are open 24 hours.
All international credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners’ Club) are accepted in New Zealand and are widely used.
Currency exchange is available at all banks, Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange Offices and at International Airports.
At the time this publication went to press, the exchange rate was £1 = $2.31. Check newspapers for the latest rate.
New Zealand summer time is in force from the first Sunday in October until the third Sunday in March.
New Zealand’s building codes require minimum standards of accessibility for disabled persons, but those laws have only been in force for a relatively short time and so many buildings do not conform.
Travellers with disabilities would be advised to telephone ahead to their chosen accommodation. All of the major carriers have excellent provision for disabled passengers but all prefer advance notice of particular needs so that they can make arrangements.
By law, guide dogs may accompany you anywhere there is public access. Unfortunately, New Zealand has very strict animal importation laws and no animal may pass into the country without a six-month quarantine period, so owners of guide dogs who are planning to visit for less than six months cannot be accompanied by their dog.
Like the British, New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. Speeds and distances are metric, so road signs will advise of distances in kilometres. Speed limits are 100km/h on the open road and 50km/h in built-up areas.
You will need an international licence (throughAA/RAC). The minimum age for rental car hiring is 21 years. Drinking and driving is frowned upon and the police have the power to stop any vehicle and test the driver for alcohol consumption.
230/240 volts, 50 hertz is the standard household supply, so you will need to use an adaptor if you are taking any electrical appliances. Most hotels and motels also provide 110 volt, 20 watt sockets for electric razors.
Travelers wonder,Lonely Planet, Travel Survival Kit, New Zealand. Lonely Planet, Tramping in New Zealand.
Doctors and other medical facilities are listed in the front of the telephone directory. You do not have to register with a doctor first. Medical services, except in the case of accident, are not free, so personal medical insurance is recommended.
Visitors are covered for personal injury by accident, irrespective of fault, under the New Zealand Accident Compensation laws. Benefits include medical and hospital expenses, but not compensation for loss of earnings outside New Zealand.
Sixty per cent of New Zealand’s export earnings are from agriculture and horticulture, so agriculture and quarantine regulations are strict to prevent the importation of disease and pests into the country.
There are about 3.5 million dairy cattle in New Zealand, mostly in the North Island and all are pasture fed. Sheep outnumber people 20 to 1 (another thing Aussies tease Kiwis about), the national flock being some 60 million strong, mostly raised on hilly country farms. About a quarter of the country is still covered in native forest, much of it in protected national parks and reserves, to which the public has full access.
Native trees are all evergreen, as is the most common and economically important introduced species of tree, the radiata pine. Vast plantings of pine, particularly in the central North Island, sustain a major export industry.
It is always safest not to hitch.
English is the common language of New Zealand and Maori is also an official language, although you are unlikely to hear it spoken in the street, except perhaps in rural communities in the north and east of the North Island.
Liquor is available from a large variety of outlets. Most restaurants and many cafes serve liquor and, of course, there are also pubs, bars and nightclubs. Opening hours vary, but most pubs and bars are open from 11am to 1am, nightclubs usually stay open until at least 3am. In smaller cities and towns, there may not be many premises open later than 11pm.
Visitors planning to bring large quantities of pharmaceuticals into the country should carry a doctor’s certificate to avoid customs problems.
The country is scattered with national parks, forest parks, historic parks and maritime parks, all of which are protected areas and open to the public free of charge. Permits are needed to hunt or fish in the parks. There is a small charge for the use of huts and other facilities.
There is a post office in most communities, but, if there isn’t one, stamps and postal services are usually provided by at least one shop in town.
Other momentos with a uniquely New Zealand flavour could be an objet d’art crafted from native timber, jewellery of the New Zealand jade, greenstone, or perhaps something decorated with paua shell, the multicoloured shell sometimes known as sea opal. Beware the cheap and nasty touristy trade rubbish.
New Zealand has strict smoke-free legislation and smoking is not permitted in just about every public enclosed place, except for marked areas. In practice, this means most workplaces, shops, restaurants, buses, trains, aeroplanes and the like. Difficulty in enforcing the law means that it applies only haphazardly in pubs and bars.
All goods and services in New Zealand are subject to a 12.5 per cent goods and services tax (GST). This is usually included in the displayed price. Goods and souvenirs purchased from duty free shops are exempt from GST on presentation of travel documents.
Most urban areas have taxis available from ranks in the central areas and on call by telephone 24 hours a day. Taxis are not cheap. If you are on a budget, use sparingly.
Direct dialling is available from almost all telephones in the country. Many pay phones are card operated and the cards are available from bookstores, newsagents, petrol stations and other retailers. There are also coin phones. National and international calls may be charged to your credit card.
Dial telephones have mostly been replaced by touch-tone phones, but if you do find a dial phone out in the wilderness somewhere, note that the numbers on the dial are the opposite way around to those you will be used to.
The New Zealand sun is fierce, made stronger by the hole in the ozone layer above. You should always wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
School holidays, generally, are:
- Summer: Mid-December to end of January
- Autumn: Middle two weeks of May
- Spring: Last week in August to mid-September
University students’ holidays are extended in summer from mid-November to early February.
No vaccinations are required for visiting New Zealand, but a tetanus booster is always wise. See the stopover immunisation chart on page 33 if you are travelling to other countries besides New Zealand.
All domestic water supplies in New Zealand are treated and the water is safe to drink straight from the tap. Giardia is found in some rivers and lakes in the back-country, but the water is quite safe to drink if boiled beforehand.
Don’t forget the seasons in New Zealand are the reverse of the northern hemisphere; summer is from December through March, autumn March-May, winter June-August and spring September-November.
The climate is generally moderate, but there are obviously regional variations. In general, it gets cooler as you travel south. Average summer daytime temperatures range from 25° Celsius in the north to 10°C in the south, while the winter temperatures range from 15°C in the north to 5°C in the south. Overnight temperatures, particularly in the south, can dip below freezing in winter.
It rains a lot in New Zealand, even in the summer. That’s because of the proximity of the ocean, but there are exceptions to that rule. Most of the rain falls in the western parts of the country, so areas tucked into the lee of the mountain ranges can be dry, and sometimes hit by drought.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
There are no dangerous animals in NZ. The only poisonous insect is the very rare spider, the Katipo. Mosquitoes and sandflies can be a nuisance, but carry no disease.
They can normally be controlled with insect repellent. So no worries when camping out in the wildneress, just respect the beauty of the place, and have a heap of fun!
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