FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The information provided here is intended for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice. The information provided is up to date as at 1 February 2024 however travel information can change frequently. You should not rely on any information gathered here as a substitute for consultation with applicable agency and governing laws.
Your passport MUST be valid for at least 6 months after your intended date of return.
Visitors from the USA will need to hold an NZeTA before travelling to New Zealand. An NZeTA will last up to 2 years and cost approx. USD$9.00. Passengers who are transiting through New Zealand, are also required to hold an NZeTA, even if New Zealand is not their final destination.
Apply here for your NZeTA. If you are entering New Zealand you must also pay an IVL, which funds tourism infrastructure and helps protect our natural environment. You pay the IVL at the same time as you request your NZeTA. The IVL costs USD $24.00
Covid-19. Otherwise, no, New Zealand is disease free.
Medical services are not free to visitors, so health and medical is strongly recommend. US medical insurance is typically not accepted in New Zealand.
Please confirm your check in time with your outbound airline. Normally it is 2 hours prior to departure but please double check. If you are flying Air New Zealand please click here for Air NZ’s Baggage Allowance. Note: Air New Zealand will weigh your carry-on luggage. If you are flying to another destination in NZ other than Auckland - at time of check-in please ensure the airline agent checks your luggage to its final destination in NZ. You will be required to collect luggage upon arrival in Auckland to clear customs, however, you will re-check your bags once through Customs in Auckland.
IMPORTANT: If you have booked your own travel you should know that if you have booked flights 'within' New Zealand separately your luggage allowance on those flights will be 1 x checked bag (max 50lbs) and 1 x carry-on (max 15lbs). Extra baggage can be purchased prior to departure. Also, if we have booked your flights through our wholesaler, on-line check-in is not available.
New Zealand Customs & Bio-Security:
Once you start exploring New Zealand, you’ll see how this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Therefore it makes sense that we have a strict biosecurity system in place to stop people bringing in foreign pests and diseases. New Zealand customs are very thorough and strict! E.g. an undeclared apple could cost you a fine of up to NZD$400. If in doubt - declare!
If you declare restricted items you won’t be charged with any offense. The goods will simply be inspected for safety before you are allowed to enter the country. Some items may be treated (for example, fumigated) and then returned to you, while others may be prohibited from entry. For more information, visit: www.maf.govt.nz.
Prescriptions: If you take prescription drugs, bring enough to last the duration of your trip. Carry your prescription drugs in their original packing and have a letter from your doctor; this will help to eliminate any problems or delays with customs.
Border Cash Report: You must complete a Border Cash Report if you bring cash into or out of New Zealand, and the total value is NZ$10,000 or more (or foreign equivalent).
What you should declare when arriving in New Zealand:
The restricted and prohibited goods that you must declare on your Passenger Arrival Card and on arrival in the airport are:
· All food items down to the smallest ingredient.
· All plants and plant products (incl. wood)
· Live animals.
· Animal products (e.g. shells, feathers, hides).
· Water products like fish, shellfish, diving and fishing equipment.
· Used equipment e.g.
· Hiking and sportswear that has been outside urban areas.
· Any fishing or diving equipment including wetsuits.
· Tents and other camping equipment
· Hunting equipment including clothes, gaiters and backpacks.
· Any gear, including clothes, footwear and tools, used in any farming and forestry industry.
IMPORTANT: We strongly recommend you thoroughly check, clean and dry all dirty sports gear, outdoor equipment, footwear and hiking boots you wish to bring before packing.
Arrival in Auckland / Transferring to a domestic flight:
Arrival in Auckland transferring to a domestic flight. Please collect your luggage and clear Customs and Biosecurity. After clearing Customs and Biosecurity, if you have:
- More than 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time - please go to the Air New Zealand domestic transfer desk on the ground floor of the international terminal.
- Within 60 minutes of your scheduled check in time - please proceed directly to the domestic terminal using the free terminal transfer bus (runs every 15 minutes) or follow the sign-posted walkway for a 10 minute easy walk over to the domestic terminal.
Small Country - Great Attitude:
New Zealand may be a small country but it’s got a great attitude. Kiwis believe they can do anything and love a challenge to prove it. That ‘can do’ attitude has placed them at the top of many fields from social, science to sports.
· Original Maori name: Aotearoa (Land of the long white cloud)
· 2 main islands (North and South)
· Similar in length to California & Oregon combined
· Only 4.8 million locals
· 75% of the population lives in the North Island
· Over 1/3 of New Zealand is made up of protected parkland and marine reserves
· Nowhere in NZ is further than 100 miles from the sea
· New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated (with the exception of the polar regions)
Major Movies Filmed in NZ
· Chronicles of Narnia
· Hunt for the Wilderpeople
· Lord of the Rings – Trilogy
· The Hobbit
· The Last Samurai
· The World’s Fastest Indian
· The Piano
· Whale Rider
We're lucky in New Zealand to have relatively few troublesome pest species that bother humans in our bush, mountains, rivers and coastlines. There are no snakes, bears, leaches, dangerous spiders or other creepy crawlies that many other countries have. We do have annoying mosquitoes, sandflies, wasps and bees. New Zealand has endemic ticks (i.e., they occur here and nowhere else in the world). These species are host-specific and infest mainly birds. The main diseases of concern in some other countries are not currently present in New Zealand.
· All Blacks Rugby Team and their ‘Haka’
· John Walker - Walker - First person to run the mile in under 3:50
· Richie McCaw – All Black Captain
· Sir Edmond Hillary– First man to conquer Mt Everest
· Sir Peter Jackson – Movie Director
· Sir Peter Blake- Yachting legend
· Sir Earnest Rutherford – Split the atom
· Kate Shepherd - Women’s right to vote
· Katherine Mansfield – Literary giant
· Dame Whina Cooper – Maori justice
· Lorde – Singer/Song Writer
While English is the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, Maori is also an official language, in honor of the native people that originally inhabited the islands. About 13,000 people speak Maori today but as you travel our country you will see our cultural heritage present in many Maori place names, such as Tekapo, Rotorua, Akaroa and Waitomo.
A few key Maori words:
Kia Ora Hello or Thank You
Haere mai Welcome
Kei te pai Good
Haere ra Farewell
Ka kite ano Until I see you again
Climate & What to Bring:
New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. However, New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly. Be prepared for ‘four seasons in one day’. For weekly weather forecasts, please visit www.weather.co.nz
IMPORTANT: The sun is much stronger in New Zealand than other parts of the world. Please be sure to wear sunscreen every day and apply regularly.
Dress is informal and relaxed in New Zealand. Dining out in the evening is also relaxed. Men are generally not expected to wear suits and ties, except in a few of the most formal bars, lodges and restaurants. A tidy pair of pants, shirt and jacket or jumper will suffice.
We recommend packing lightly (there are laundry facilities available at most of the hotels and lodges). Following is a list of what we’ve found to be most useful in the areas that you’ll be visiting:
Sun Hat & Sunglasses
Shorts/ lightweight trousers
Lightweight shirts, long/short-sleeve
Fleece jacket/vest for layering
Gloves, a hat and warm socks (just in case of cold weather)
Light waterproof jacket and pants, such as a Gore-Tex® fabric, that breathes, as well as keeps you dry.
Swimsuit (also to go under wetsuit for activities i.e. ‘swimming with dolphins’, kayaking)
Camera and binoculars
Day pack, for carrying camera, binoculars, Water bottle, etc.
Sunscreen (or buy in NZ)
Insect Repellent (or buy in NZ)
Rechargeable battery charger
3 point adaptor (or buy in NZ)
If you take Prescription drugs bring enough to last the duration of your trip. See what to declare upon arrival section.
Food & Drink:
Fresh, innovative and delicious, New Zealand's flavoursome food and world-class wine are not to be missed – whatever you prefer; fine dining, relaxed café-style, tasting at the cellar door, mingling with local producers at farmers markets, or an authentic Maori hangi experience.
Innovative New Zealand chefs combine ingredients freshly harvested from garden, land and sea while Pacific influences, organics and indigenous foods make it unique. And, taste is paramount.
Coffee culture – you must try a barista-style coffee in NZ – there is no substitute!
Be sure to let us know if you have any dietary requirements/concerns so we can pass this information along to your accommodation and tour providers.
Tap (faucet) water in New Zealand is fresh, treated and is very safe to drink. City water is both chlorinated and fluoridated
Quintessential 'kiwi' kai (food):
From the sea
With more than 14,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand is home to some amazing seafood.
· Green-lipped mussels
· Whitebait fritters
· Bluff Oysters – in season
· Paua (abalone)
From the land
· World famous - Roast lamb
· Grass fed beef
· Pavlova – A meringue-type dessert that’s topped with cream and fresh fruit, Hmmm!
· The Jaffa, a hard coated orange flavoured candy with a chocolate centre, is a must!!
· The Pineapple Lump, pineapple candy coated in chocolate. Chewy delight!
· Hokey Pokey ice-cream – rich vanilla with chips of crunchy honey comb! Yum!
Wine, Cider & Craft Beers:
New Zealand punches well above it weight in this industry. New Zealand wine is distinctive for its purity, vibrancy and intensity. The long ripening period - a result of cool temperatures - allows flavour development whilst retaining fresh acidity, a balance for which New Zealand wines are renowned.
Craft beer makers in New Zealand are leading the way for new and innovative flavours that can be paired with food just like a fine wine! With over one hundred craft breweries and specialty craft bars from the far north to the deep south, no matter what part of our amazing country you find yourself travelling through there is a ‘craft beer somewhere’ just for you.
Goods & Services Tax (GST)
All goods and services are subject to 15% 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.
Duty Free Shopping (Save 15%)
Duty Free is available in many stores (not just airport stores). Be sure to ask when purchasing souvenirs or gifts if they offer Duty Free. It may mean you pay for the item, it is then shipped to Auckland airport where it is available from a collections counter just beyond passport control. Either way, you will be asked for your departing flight details so keep them handy.
New Zealand's unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$).
Coins: 10, 20, 50 cents, $1 and $2. Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
New Zealand uses the Swedish rounding system so all items are rounded up and down to the closest ten cents. Banks open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm and are normally closed at weekends.
International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving. 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 NZ must complete a Border Cash Report. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels, Bureau de Change kiosks (at international airports and most city centres).
Employees in New Zealand do not expect tips or depend on tips as part of their income; however recognition of great service is always appreciated.
You can order your foreign currency online before you leave, check with your bank or visit Travelex or International Currency Express, Inc. online at www.foreignmoney.com.
1. Before you go, call your card companies to let them know your travel plans. Transactions in another country could be declined as suspicious if your card company isn’t aware of your travel plans
2. Ask your card companies about foreign transaction fees and fees for withdrawals at an international ATM. Fees are usually associated (from both your home and ATM’s bank). Most international ATMs do not permit transactions involving multiple accounts, so your transaction will be routed to your primary account.
3. Make a list of the important international phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards.
4. Make sure your ATM PIN is in the proper format. Four-digit numeric PINs are standard in most countries.
5. Know your daily card limits before you leave and make sure they will fit your needs.
Note: Many credit card companies are now waiving foreign transaction fees so be sure to check.
The New Zealand dollar offers value for money, as the US dollar is stronger. Visit www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
Purchasing foreign currency from a bank or exchange bureau before you go overseas is generally not the most cost-effective option of exchanging money; you are usually charged a commission, and you won't get the interbank rate that you would if you used an ATM or credit card overseas but good to take a small amount as mentioned below.
Select a mix that suits your needs, it really depends on the type of purchases you may make whilst away and how comfortable you are with bank fees.
1. Foreign Cash - It’s always a good idea to at least exchange a little cash before you leave home perhaps NZD$200-$500 to cover any unexpected costs in the first few days. Prevents getting caught up in lines at Foreign exchange kiosks or locating an ATM at an unfamiliar airport.
2. Credit Cards are good for larger transactions and generally provide a competitive rate, which makes them a good complement to cash. However cash advances on your credit card can be expensive, use your debit card instead.
3. Debit or ATM card (with 4 digit pin) - You’ll often get a favorable conversion rate using a card for purchases and ATM cash withdrawals. While many card service providers charge a small fee for each purchase, the rates still are relatively competitive and make these cards a convenient travel option.
Driving in New Zealand:
You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have a current driver's license from your home country. In New Zealand all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their license at all times when driving.
Driving Safely in New Zealand:
New Zealand roads are probably different to what you're used to. Distances may seem short on paper, but our roads can be narrower than you're used to, cover hilly terrain, and vary from motorways to unsealed gravel roads. It's very easy to underestimate travelling times in NZ.
In preparation for your trip to NZ please click on and watch the DriveSafe video and also read the Avis Car Rental Driving Tips. Even if you have driven in lots of other countries please review and ensure safe travels for you and others sharing the New Zealand roads.
What’s different about driving in New Zealand?
· We drive on the left-hand side of the road
· Drivers give way (or yield) to all traffic crossing or approaching from the right.
· There is no free turn on a red light.
· The speed limit is 100km/h on the open road and 50km/h in urban areas.
· Not all railway crossings have active warnings
· Both drivers and passengers must wear a safety belt in both the front and back seats. All children under the age of five must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint when traveling in cars or vans.
· It's illegal to use a cell phone while driving.
More Information is available: http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/overseasdrivers/driving-in-nz.html
IMPORTANT: GAS UP! - If you are traveling the West Coast / Glaciers/ The Catlin’s regions of the South Island. There are limited petrol (gas) stations up/down the West Coast, between Wanaka and Nelson and Invercargill and Dunedin, therefore, be sure to fill the gas tank regularly.
Purchase an international plan for your US smartphone:
Check with your phone carrier if they have a reasonable international plan.
With this option when in NZ you would dial the +64 and area code to dial within New Zealand.
Purchase a NZ sim card for your US smartphone:
Check with your US carrier if your phone is unlocked – some carriers will prevent you from putting any outsider sim card into the phone, so be careful of this.
You will get a NZ phone number to use, but if you have any apps like whatsapp, wechat, viber etc, you can keep your US number for those. Your US voicemail will not be accessible via your phone while the NZ sim card is in it (you can swap them out for convenience).
The three main carriers in New Zealand are Spark, Vodafone and 2Degrees – all of which offer almost dollar-for-dollar same pricing. You can purchase a NZ sim card at any of their stores at airports and shopping malls in New Zealand.
Vodafone have two traveller sim cards available which both include calls and txts to NZ and back to the US at the same rate. All incoming calls and txts are free for you.
There is a NZ voicemail number you can call but it does cost 20c every time, the downside is that there is no extra credit on the traveller sims to be able to do this, so if you do want to check voicemail you will need to add a minimum of $20 credit.
Both the SIM card and smartphone available minutes can be easily recharged via phone in NZ.
New Zealand's electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts, and we use angled two or three pin plugs (the same as Australia) so you will need a plug adapter for any electronic devices you wish to use or recharge whilst in New Zealand. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only.
Most low-power devices (phone chargers, laptop power supplies) will work on both 110 and 220 volts but check the label on your device. If it states ‘110 volts’ only, then you will need an additional power converter as well.
You can purchase a plug adapter from Amazon.com, Radio Shack or travel stores in the US. You can also purchase upon arrival in New Zealand at Auckland airport.
Finding your way:
With today’s technologies there are a number of options as to what we use to navigate. We have provided the information of the options we believe are the best available currently.
Many but not all rental cars come with GPS navigation. We are unable to request therefore you should plan to use your phone GPS for navigation.
Smartphone Map APPS:
Apps like iMaps and Google Maps are great but do require continuous internet signal and moderate strength. New Zealand in rural areas can be spotty or non existent for short periods.
However you can use a backup app called MAPS.ME which is an electronic replacement of hard copy road maps. MAPS.ME is kept current and you can download and preload destination country before you arrive. MAPS.me still provides routes and voice directions similar to the iMaps or Google Maps.
If you are taking your smartphone and intend to use it in NZ and have a co-driver to handle the phone then you can save the hire fees associated with a GPS.
Before leaving home download the MAPS.me app and upload New Zealand, This can now be used as a companion to your Smartphone Maps (when internet reception is not available).
More Frequently asked questions:
Q. I have heard there may be an administration fee for using my credit card?
A. Hotels charge a 1.5-2% administration fee on all final accounts settled by credit card upon checkout, ie: internet access, room service etc). This does not apply to your hotel stay covered by your Active Downunder voucher.
Q. Can I buy NZ$ travelers checks?
A. NZ$ travellers cheques are not available for purchase. International visitors who wish to travel to New Zealand with travellers cheques should bring a major currency type of USD, EUR or Pound.
Q. Will I find reliable Internet access?
A. Hard to imagine when you come from the USA or Canada that full coverage cannot be taken for granted throughout New Zealand. There are still some areas (mostly more remote places) where internet service & cell phone coverage is either out of range, slow or patchy. However Broadband Internet is available in hotels, lodges and hosted accommodation; some provide free WiFi, some will charge for internet connections, many hotels offer business centers and/or a guest computer, generally in a public area.
Q. Can I get free WiFi everywhere?
A. New Zealand currently has limited access to free WiFi services, although the situation is gradually improving. Free WiFi hotspots are found predominantly in urban areas and are not common in small towns or rural regions. Some cafes provide free WiFi if purchasing food or drink. The CBD centres of Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Wellington offer free WiFi downtown. In addition Internet cafes are available and typically charge around NZ$5 per hour for access.
Q. Will I be able to do laundry?
A. Laundry facilities are available at most hotels and lodges in New Zealand. Sometimes there is a nominal charge for using the washer/dryer in a hotel, and other times you will need to pay a fee to have your laundry sent out by the hotel.
Q. Will I have access to a hair dryer?
A. The majority of properties we use in New Zealand have hair dryers available.
Q. Are mosquitoes also found in NZ?
A. Mosquitoes are found across New Zealand. New Zealand mosquitoes don’t carry diseases; in other countries they can be dangerous.
Q. Are Sandflies a nuisance in NZ?
A. They are not dangerous as the species that bite do not carry any infectious or transmittable diseases however they are a nuisance. They are often found at beaches, and at the edges of lakes or swamps. The West Coast and Fiordland (including Milford Track) are infamous for their Sandflies. They generally like to bite at the beginning and end of the day. Pack or buy a local strong insect repellent! The simplest way to avoid bites is to cover up when in areas prone to Sandflies
Q. What if a tour is cancelled due to bad weather?
A. If a tour operator cancels a tour due to bad weather, please keep the voucher and send to us via mail when you return to the USA. We will then provide a full refund. Refunds are not given if you simply decide you do not wish to participate.
Auto Insurance for Rental Car:
Your personal US auto insurance is not accepted in New Zealand. Included in your car hire booking with Active Downunder is daily insurance to cover damage to your vehicle, third party and public liability, Excess Reduction which reduces excess to $225 + GST and Airport Fee. (The term "excess” is the same as the term "deductible" used in the US).
The Excess reduction included will reduce your “excess” to NZ$225 + GST (depending on rental car company and car size) in the event of damage to the rental car.
Upon initiation of hire in New Zealand, the following extra’s can be added and paid direct to car rental company.
Total Protection Plan
The Total Protection Plan for NZ$9 + GST will cover you in case of damage to the headlights, windscreen or tire punctures.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal Accident Insurance NZ$4.50 + GST per day.
Personal Effects & Baggage Insurance
Personal Effects & Baggage Insurance NZ$4.50 + GST per day is available for purchase.
Roadside Assistance Package
This can be purchased for $6+GST per day.
Roadside Assistance Package covers:
o Out of fuel (Up to $10 fuel delivery)
o Key replacement for lost keys/lock-outs
o Flat Tyre Assistance
o Tyre Replacement (just the tyre – the rubber) excludes spare wheel/wheel cover/hub cap
o Flat Battery
Accident Compensation Act:
Liability in case of an accident is covered by New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Act. The Accident Compensation Corporation covers personal injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident. These are covered on a no-fault basis. This Act makes provisions for visitors to New Zealand. Visitors receive partial compensation and medical treatment for personal injury and death following an accident. This is valid whether the accident occurred on the road or elsewhere. Although benefits are additional to payments from personal sickness and/or accident insurance policies, visitors should ensure that they are covered with adequate travel insurance. The Act abolishes the right to bring any action for damages in respect of injury or death in any court in New Zealand. Visitors are protected from any claims for their negligence resulting in personal injury or death to third parties.
Additional Authorized Driver:
Your car reservation can only be made under one name. Additional authorised drivers can be added to the rental agreement at time of hire.
GST is 15%:
GST is New Zealand's Goods and Services Tax.
Other Car Hire Related Info:
Minimum driver age is 21 years.
There is no maximum driver age. If you have a current drivers license you can rent a car.
Late Ferry Fee
A late ferry fee of $50 + GST will apply for vehicle collection from a ferry location after 1830 hours.
Minimum hire period
Hires which are one way and less than 7 Days, a one way fee of $50+GST will apply and will be payable direct to car hire company in New Zealand. Note: this does not apply if you have a continuous hire and dropping at one location and collecting at another.
Rental car minimum hire period is 3 days per island/segment for cars and small SUV’s and 5 days per island/segment for speciality vehicles (ie: large SUV’s).
Insuring your trip:
Active Downunder has partnered with Allianz Global Assistance to offer our clients a variety of travel insurance plans*. We recommend purchasing travel insurance within 14 days of paying your trip deposit. Travel Insurance premiums are based on two things: age and total trip cost. For a quote at time of booking, please provide your date of birth and any non-refundable trips costs incurred for your trip. ie: if you have booked your own air travel or are traveling to other destinations before or after your Active Downunder trip, please let us know these costs so they can be included. We will then email you several different quotes, based on different plans and coverage levels. Just let us know which plan you would like us to purchase on your behalf.
Please be aware that if you purchase insurance and are unable to travel as planned, you must contact Active Downunder to cancel your travel plans within 72 hours of the incident, and then file your claim with Allianz Global Assistance by phone or by submitting an online claim form as soon as possible. Feel free to call us on 800 425 9036 or Allianz Global Assistance on 800 284 8300 with any questions.
*Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans. Insurance benefits are underwritten by either BCS Insurance Company or Jefferson Insurance Company, depending on insured’s state of residence. Plans available only to U.S. residents.