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Frequently asked questions about vacations in New Zealand

WHAT ARE TYPICAL AIR COSTS TO NEW ZEALAND?
Airfares can change at any time, so statements of approximate costs must be taken as only a very rough guideline. You can look for prices in the $800 to $1000US in the NZ winter (june-august), $1600-$2000 in the winter..jan-feb, and in-between these amounts in the spring and summer. Remember to book as early as you can, since there are a limited number of the least expensive seats, and they sell first. Intra-NZ fares are in the $100-$200 range for the most part. We at newzealandtourist.com will search a variety of sources to find the lowest fare for you: our own computer reservation system, the internet, the airline sites, wholesalers and consolidators, and tour companies.

Always make your reservations as early as possible, since availability of seats can become scarce as you approach the flight date. Courtyard Travel, Inc. , the travel agency underlying newzealandtourist.com, uses consolidators (who buy in bulk volume) to obtain the lowest available prices; this can cut $100-200 off the standard price in many cases. And, from time to time, special discounted fares are offered by the airlines. And, Consolidators, special wholesale houses, can be searched for fares that are lower than the standard Computer Reservation System prices.

Departure taxes must be paid separately from the tickets, at the time of departure. They range from $NZ 20 to $NZ 35, depending on the departure city.

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
The oceans that surround it temper New Zealand’s climate. Apart from isolated areas of the central South Island, the country does not experience great extremes of heat or cold. New Zealand has a particularly unpolluted atmosphere with average daily sunshine hours ranging from seven to eight hours in summer and four and five in winter. Weather systems move from west to east.

Mean Temperatures in Selected Cities (deg F)
  Summer
Dec-Jan-Feb
Winter
Jun-Jul-Aug
City max min max min
Auckland 75 54 59 48
Wellington 68 55 54 43
Christchurch 72 54 54 37
Queenstown 72 50 50 34
Dunedin 66 52 52 39

DO I NEED A VISA?
While a valid passport is required, U. S. citizens do not need visas for stays less than 3 months, provided:

  • you hold an onward or return ticket to a country you have a right to enter
  • you have a valid passport, WHICH DOES NOT EXPIRE UNTIL AT LEAST THREE MONTHS AFTER YOUR DEPARTURE FROM NEW ZEALAND.
  • you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in NZ — approximately NZ$1000 per month per person.

WHAT ARE SOME WEBSITES FOR MORE DETAILED NZ INFORMATION?

  • A good contact for more detailed information is www.travel.state.gov/new_zealand.html.
  • The NZ embassy’s home page is www.nzemb.org.
  • NZHOST is a comprehensive information database of NZ tourism activities and services.
  • There are more than 100 Visitor Information Network (VIN) centers spread throughout the country, providing information on a national, regional, and local basis.

HOW DOES NZ CURRENCY COMPARE WITH US CURRENCY?
The New Zealand dollar (NZ$) is valued at about 55% of the U. S. dollar (1 USD = NZ$1.63 as of October 2008).

WILL I NEED VACCINATIONS?
No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand, but information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention hotline for international travel (1 877 394-8747 or www.cdc.gov).

IS IT OK TO DRINK THE WATER?
New Zealand cities and towns have excellent public water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water in back country rivers and lakes may contain the parasite giardia, which can cause stomach illness. Such water should be boiled, filtered, or chemically treated.

WHAT ARE THE CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS?
Incoming travelers must declare food, plants, and animals, and certain items such as camping gear and golf clubs. Some items such as firearms (without a permit), pornographic videos, and telecommunications equipment are prohibited. Check the New Zealand customs website at www.customs.govt.nz for details. Heavy fines can be imposed for violations.

IS THERE GAMBLING IN NEW ZEALAND?
There are a limited number of Las Vegas style casinos in NZ. One is located in Auckland as part of the Sky Tower complex, while others are located in Christchurch and Dunedin.

WHAT IF I HAVE A MEDICAL PROBLEM?
Quality medical care is widely available, but waiting lists exist for certain types of treatment. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U. S. can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

WHAT TYPE OF CLOTHING IS APPROPRIATE?
New Zealanders dress casually for most occasions. While traveling in New Zealand’s late spring and summer, clients should pack cotton and other cool washable clothes. A sweater or medium-weight jacket for cooler weather and evenings is advisable. During New Zealand’s late fall and winter months, warmer clothing and all season coats are recommended. Comfortable shoes and a light raincoat are a must for all seasons since rain can be expected at any time of the year and many of New Zealand’s activities or attractions involve outdoor participation.

WILL MY ELECTRICAL DEVICES WORK?
New Zealand’s electrical supply is 230/240 volts, 50 cycles, so 110 volt hairdryers and other U. S. electrical devices will not work without converters. Most hotels provide 110 volts for electric shavers.

WHAT SHOULD I WATCH OUT FOR?
There are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in New Zealand, but in the outdoors you should take precautions against sunburn. New Zealand’s clear, unpolluted atmosphere produces sunlight stronger than most countries, so be prepared to wear hats or sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.

DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT CRIME?
Crime in New Zealand is comparatively low but has increased in recent years. The most prevalent crime is theft or attempted theft from cars, camper vans, and hostels. To help protect against theft, do not leave passports or other valuable documents in unattended vehicles. Violent crime against tourists is unusual.

AM I EXPECTED TO TIP?
Tips in New Zealand are given in appreciation for extra-special service and consideration or kindness at the discretion of the visitor, particularly in restaurants for waiter service, in bars or room service. Service charges are not ordinarily added to hotel or restaurant bills.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
December is probably the worst – kids are out of school, availability of lodging is the lowest, and air fares are the highest. The spring, fall, and winter are all better, with spring and fall optimal, say March (fall) and October (spring).

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