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travel details about New ZealandThe hongi is a traditional Maori greeting. Noses are pressed together and the ha, or breath of life, is exchanged and intermingled. The hongi is an integral part of the powhiri (welcoming ceremony).
image credit: James Heremaia

 

 

Facts & details to plan an
accessible vacation in New Zealand


new zealand travel information

What is a 'Kiwi'?
The kiwi is New Zealand's national emblem. It's a flightless bird with hair-like feathers and a long, slender bill which it uses to pull worms and insects out of the ground. Found only in New Zealand, it's active only at night in the wilderness areas of the country. It is possible to visit one of the many kiwi houses where you can watch Kiwi under special 'nocturnal' lighting.

New Zealanders often refer to themselves as Kiwis, and the term is also used as a short form for the famous kiwifruit. On the stock exchange, the New Zealand Dollar is also referred to as 'the kiwi'.

 

When's the best time to visit New Zealand?
You can visit New Zealand at any time of the year. Summer and winter temperatures vary by only about 10șC over most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal holiday destination all year round.
New Zealand has four quite distinct seasons, Spring (Sept-Nov), Summer (Dec-Feb), Autumn/Fall (Mar-May) and Winter (June-Aug). In summer there's plenty of sunshine, and activities in and around the water include rafting, snorkeling, diving and kayaking. You'll find snow on the mountains in winter and excellent skiing. Away from the mountains, New Zealand winters are mild and temperatures generally do not fall below freezing.
New Zealand's seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. This means that the warmest months are December, January and February, while the coldest are in June, July and August. Don't let cold months put you off - winters tend to be short and generally fairly mild.

What clothes to take to New Zealand?
Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night spots. Men are generally not expected to wear suits and ties except in a few of the top formal bars and restaurants in major cities.
In summer a light jacket or sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or you visit the high country. You can expect some rain, so include a light waterproof jacket or coat. Pack warm winter clothing if visiting between May and September. Layer your clothing.

About a passport or visa to enter New Zealand?
All visitors to New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the date you intend to leave the country.
Most visitors who intend to stay for less than three months do not require a visa. If you want to stay longer than three months, or your country of origin does not have a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand, then you will need to apply for a Visitor's Visa.
If you need more information look at the New Zealand Immigration Service website or the New Zealand Embassy website.

Credit cards and ATM cards in New Zealand
All major international credit cards can be used in New Zealand and Traveler's Checks are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores. If your credit card is encoded with a PIN number you will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs) situated at banks and shopping centers throughout the country.

Voltage of electricity supply in New Zealand
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz), although most hotels and motels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For electric scooters, wheelchairs all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, New Zealand power outlets only accept flat three or two-pin plugs.

International airports located in New Zealand
New Zealand's international airports are at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Some flights from Australia also land at Hamilton, Palmerston North, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The best time to go trekking/hiking in New Zealand
Tracks such as the Abel Tasman, Heaphy and Queen Charlotte Sounds Walkway located at the top of the South Island can be walked all year round. However, those tracks at higher altitudes such as the world famous Milford Track, Kepler and Routeburn are closed in the winter due to snow. You must book to walk the Milford and Routeburn tracks, which are open between October and April.

Types of accommodation are available in New Zealand
New Zealand offers a wide range of accommodation options from top-class hotels, exclusive lodges, motels, guest houses, and farm or homestays to holiday parks and backpacker hostels. You might also like the freedom to discover New Zealand at your own pace in a campervan. Two, four or six berth vans are available to rent, offering all the comforts of home including a shower, refrigerator and microwave.

What's a 'Farmstay'?
Farm and homestays are an ideal way to get to meet local people and experience a slice of New Zealand rural life. Very few farms are wheelchair accessible or even wheelchair friendly. Discuss your access needs with your travel planner for more details. Depending on your light access needs and the kind of farm, you may get the chance to share home cooked meals with your hosts and join in with milking cows, shearing sheep, lambing, kiwi fruit harvesting or whatever else is happening on the farm.

What hotel chains operate in New Zealand?
* Accor Group - (Ibis, Mecure Grand, Mecure, Novotel and Sofitel)
* Carlton
* Choice - (Comfort Inns and Quality Inns)
* Grand Chancellor
* Hilton
* Hyatt
* InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn
* Langham
* Millennium, Copthorne and Kingsgate
* Peppers
* Rydges
* Outrigger
* Stamford Plaza

What types of activities are available for children?
If you are thinking about visiting with your family, you can be confident that New Zealand has a wide range of activities to keep your children happy.
New Zealand's parks and large areas of unspoiled wilderness are ideal places to expand your children's appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors. Horse riding, snow activities, whale watching, fruit picking and wildlife centers and zoos are just some of the choices available.
If you are visiting the larger centers, you will find a range of theme attractions including Rainbow's End (Auckland), Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Center (Christchurch). Te Papa, New Zealand's interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Story Place, a haven for small children.
Most family restaurants have childrens' menus and high chairs. Many cafes also have high chairs, and a toy basket to amuse babies and toddlers is becoming increasingly common in both cafes and shops. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks. Adventure playlands such as Chipmunks or Lollipop's Playland are always popular with the very young and can be found in most main centers.

When are School Holidays in New Zealand?
The most up to date details for School Holidays in New Zealand can be found at www.moe.govt.nz.

Geography
New Zealand is situated in the South Pacific ocean, between latitude 34'S and 47'S. The country runs roughly north-south with mountain ranges down much of its length. Its two main islands (North and South) cover 266,200 sq km (103,735 sq miles), about the size of Japan or California and slightly larger than Great Britain.

Natural Environment
New Zealand's separation from other land masses about 100 million years ago allowed many ancient plants and animals to survive and evolve in isolation. Complementing our unique flora and fauna is a landscape that contains an unrivaled variety of landforms. In a couple of days drive it is possible to see everything from mountain ranges to sandy beaches, lush rainforests, glaciers and fjords and active volcanoes.

Flora
In spite of around 1000 years of native bush clearance by humans, about a quarter of the country still remains forested - mostly in high country areas. Most of these remaining areas are protected from exploitation in national and forest parks, where they can be enjoyed by all.
The characteristic New Zealand forest is a temperate, evergreen rain forest with giant tree ferns, vines and epiphytes - looking a bit like the popular image of a jungle. The giant Kauri, among the largest trees in the world, is now restricted to relatively small forest pockets in Northland and on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Fauna
New Zealand is a land of unique birds. The best known is the flightless kiwi, New Zealand's unofficial national symbol. Also flightless are the Weka and the endangered kakapo, the world's largest parrot which can just scramble up into shrubs and small trees.
Another unique bird, one capable of flight, is the inquisitive kea (native alpine parrot), which is renowned for its fearlessness of humans and cheeky personality.

New Zealand's Natural Heritage
What makes New Zealand's natural heritage so special?
Underlying New Zealand's physical attractions - its dramatic mountains, unpolluted beaches and green countryside - is an epic survival story of unique plants and animals. Cast adrift from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland, these ancient species evolved in isolation and struggled to survive in what renowned naturalist David Bellamy has called 'Moa's Ark' (named after New Zealand's native, but now extinct, giant flightless bird, the moa).
After only 1000 years of human settlement New Zealand has lost many native species. But impressive gains have been made in recent times to protect and enhance what is left. These include removing introduced pests from island wildlife sanctuaries, the establishment of 13 national parks, three maritime parks, two world heritage areas, hundreds of nature reserves and ecological areas, a network of marine reserves and wetlands, and protection for special rivers and lakes. In total, around 30 percent of New Zealand's land area is protected conservation land.
In addition, research and management programs have been introduced to aid the recovery of rare and endangered species like kakapo, kokako, kiwi and tuatara. You can learn more about these programs on the Department of Conservation website.
New Zealand welcomes everyone to experience and discover its unique and precious natural heritage. We ask only that you make as little impact as possible, so future generations may also enjoy it as you do.

Currency
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.

Exchange Rates
You can calculate the value of your currency in NZ Dollars using the newzealand.com currency converter on this page.  The rate you are offered in your home country is likely to differ slightly. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand provides a monthly online summary of the New Zealand Dollar's average value against the US Dollar, the Pound, the Australian Dollar, the Yen and the Euro.

Banking
Banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.

Goods and Services Tax
All goods and services are subject to a 12.5 percent 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.  

Tipping and Service Charges
Tipping in New Zealand is not obligatory, even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for good service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills.

Travelers Checks
NZ$ travelers checks are not available for purchase. International visitors who wish to travel to New Zealand with travelers checks should bring a major currency type of travelers checks with them in the future. For travel to our region AUS$ travelers checks can be purchased.

Disabled Facilities
New Zealand law requires that every new building and major reconstruction provide reasonable and adequate access for people with disabilities. Most facilities have wheelchair access, but it's always wise to check when booking.

Transport for the Disabled
Most urban transport buses are not equipped to cater for the disabled. Parking concessions are available for people with disabilities and temporary display cards can be issued for the length of a visitor's stay. In order to obtain a New Zealand card visitors should bring their home mobility card or medical certificate as proof of disability.

 

Image credit: Jocelyn Carlin

 

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