All the best tips and tidbits of information you should know before visiting New Zealand!
New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful and photogenic countries in the world. That’s something you probably already know (and probably the main reason you want to visit). With that obvious fact aside, I want to share some other things you need to know before visiting New Zealand.
Some of the things on this list are very straightforward, useful tips, while other things are just interesting facts you might be surprised by at first. These are things that I didn’t know until I went to New Zealand and experienced them for myself. It’s interesting to notice the little differences in cultures, in every day life, in general attitude, in everything. I spent a year working and traveling the country, so I picked up on these things slowly, and by the time I left, none of it seemed out of the ordinary to me.
Overall, this list is filled with things you should know before visiting New Zealand. These little tips, facts, and observations will give you an idea of what to expect, and might answer questions you didn’t know you had yet. And when you get there, something that might have confused you will now make total sense!
So keep these things in mind when planning your trip to New Zealand, and keep them in mind as you travel the country.
Top Things to Know Before Visiting New Zealand
1. There are 3 types of Kiwis in New Zealand: the fruit, the bird, and the people.
2. New Zealand is in the Southern hemisphere, so their seasons are opposite to ours in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is June-August and Summer is December-February (roughly).
3. Wi-fi is not always easy to come by. It can be very slow or even non-existent in many places. Free and/or unlimited wi-fi is even harder to find, so expect to pay for every MB you use.
4. New Zealand is a casual, laid-back kind of place. There’s no need for fancy clothes or dressing up to go somewhere. It’s more important to pack active and outdoor clothing than to pack nice things.
5. Sales tax (GST) is usually included in listed prices, so the price you see is exactly what you’ll pay.
6. The smallest coin in New Zealand’s currency is a 10 cent coin. If you pay in cash, the price will be rounded to the nearest 10 cents. So don’t be surprised if the price changes slightly between card payment and cash payment.
7. Tipping is never required or expected. You might find tip jars at some cafes, but it is not customary.
8. EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) is New Zealand’s debit system. This simply means you are paying with a bank card, and funds are for immediate transfer.
9. Possums are not welcome in New Zealand. Don’t be surprised if locals encourage you to hit them while on the road. (These are not the same as the opossums in America.)
10. New Zealand conservation efforts are strong. The conservation department is determined to get rid of invasive species, protect its natural environment, and return it to what it was before foreign plants/animals were introduced.
11. When flying into the country, you will not be allowed to bring in most foods (especially fruits, nuts, agricultural products, etc). You will also need to declare any food items in your luggage, but a lot of stuff will need to be thrown away before going through immigration.
12. Same goes for outdoor gear. If you are bringing hiking boots, tents, or any other gear that has been used before, there is a risk of carrying organisms that could be harmful to New Zealand’s environment. So they need to be properly cleaned before packing them, and they need to be declared upon arrival.
13. Of the 4.6 million people living in New Zealand, 1 million live in Auckland.
14. You’ll hear a lot of New Zealanders hating on people who live in Auckland (sometimes jokingly, sometimes not).
15. Despite speaking English, it might take you a minute to catch up with all of the different words and phrases used in New Zealand (especially if you’re American). Kumara is a sweet potato. Capsicum is a bell pepper. Jandals are flip flops (or thongs)…the list goes on.
16. If you want to buy alcohol, you’ll need your passport. Overseas driver’s licenses are not accepted.
17. Kiwis (the people) are pretty chatty. You’ll never get away with just a “hello” or “how are you”. They are friendly and quite open, so wave, smile, and chat away.
18. Drip or filter coffee isn’t a thing—asking for a regular coffee will only lead to confusion, or you getting something you weren’t expecting. Most coffee you find at cafes is espresso based, but you can expect instant coffee packets at hotels. New Zealand does espresso well, though, so be sure to get your caffeine fix with a flat white.
19. The term “WOOFing” is used loosely here. It’s a catch-all for any work-for-accommodation arrangement, not just farm work.
20. In small towns, that random air raid siren noise is actually just a way to alert volunteers that there is an emergency (fire, ambulance, etc). Don’t be alarmed, it is not the apocalypse.
21. The weather can be very fickle. One moment the sun is beating down on you, and the next you’ll catch a chill in the wind. Always be prepared and pack layers.
22. The sun really IS much stronger in New Zealand. Wear plenty of sunscreen, or else you’ll end up with a nasty sunburn.
23. In New Zealand, you’re never too far from the beach—in fact, the farthest you’ll ever be is about 120 km!
24. Beware of sandflies! In areas near water (especially on the South Island) you’ll be greeted by little black flying bugs that will leech onto exposed skin and bite. They aren’t exactly harmful, but they do leave behind some EXTREMELY itchy bites. Cover skin with light layers and wear bug spray.
Those are the top things you need to know before visiting New Zealand! I hope these tips/facts/observations (whatever they are) are helpful to you as you as you travel the country.
Pin image to save & share!