- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in New Zealand. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
- Make sure you obtain appropriate travel insurance and understand what activities and circumstances are covered by your insurance policy, particularly if you are participating in snow or adventure sports. See Health.
- If undertaking adventure activities, make your own enquiries about safety standards and weather conditions.
- New Zealand is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity. See Additional information for comprehensive information about what to do in an earthquake or other natural disaster.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- register your travel and contact details , so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Australian citizens travelling on an Australian passport, or Australian residents who hold a current Australian resident return visa, do not need a visa or permit to visit New Zealand. However, Australians with criminal convictions or who have been deported from any country are advised to contact the nearest High Commission or Consulate of New Zealand well in advance of travel for advice on visa requirements.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest High Commission or Consulate of New Zealand well in advance of travel, or consult the New Zealand Immigration Service for the most up to date information.
New Zealand has strict quarantine regulations and instant fines are issued for failing to declare items for quarantine on arrival.
Australian citizens who hold dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship should use a current Australian passport to enter or leave Australia.
Australian passports must be valid on the day of arrival in New Zealand.
Safety and security
The levels of criminal activity in New Zealand are similar to Australia. Expensive goods left in vehicles and campervans are often targeted by thieves.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Money and valuables
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You can use an Australian driving licence to drive in New Zealand for a maximum of 12 months.
Take particular care when travelling by road, as ice, snow, fog and high winds can cause hazardous road conditions. Heavy rain can result in land slips across roadways. Details of road closures and warnings can be found at the New Zealand Transport Agency and New Zealand Automobile Association websites.
Roads in mountainous terrain and to most ski fields are often narrow, unpaved and may not have safety barriers. Some roads may require the use of snow chains or may only be accessible to four wheel drive vehicles. Not all railway crossings have barriers, particularly in country areas. For further advice, see our road travel page and the New Zealand Transport Agency’s brochure on driving in New Zealand.
Most tourists undertake adventure activities safely in New Zealand. However, adventure tourism activities have inherent risks, and there have been a number of serious accidents involving Australians and other tourists, some resulting in death. Some operators have been found to be negligent. You should be aware that safety standards may differ between individual operators and may differ from those in Australia.
Travellers need to make their own careful judgements about the risks involved in individual or group activities and of the safety standards of individual operators. We strongly recommend travellers seek information from individual operators about the safety standards adhered to, whether these standards are applied across the industry, and the risks involved in the activity. If appropriate safety standards are not adhered to, or safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment even if others don't.
We recommend travellers hold travel insurance and complementary accident or income protection insurance and understand what circumstances and activities are not covered by the policies. See our travel insurance page.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in New Zealand.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of New Zealand, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for possession and use of even small amounts of 'soft drugs' may include fines and possibly prison sentences. See our Drugs page.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to New Zealand. You should understand what activities and circumstances are covered by your insurance policy.
Ensure the travel insurance covers any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities (including snow and adventure sports and activities) are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Reciprocal Health Care Agreement
New Zealand and Australia are signatories to a reciprocal health care agreement. The agreement provides Australians with access to government medical facilities and care but does not provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions. In addition, the agreement does not cover additional accommodation costs, flights for family members or medical repatriation to Australia. The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does not replace the need for travel insurance. See Medicare Australia for more information.
If you wish to be treated under the reciprocal health agreement you must advise the local medical staff and show your current Australian passport or evidence of Australian permanent residency and a valid Medicare card. Further information is available from the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Medicare Australia.
Accident Compensation Corporation
Travellers to New Zealand who are injured in an accident are also covered for hospital treatment by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). Travellers need to be aware that this insurance scheme provides injury cover on a no-fault basis, so people who have suffered personal injury do not have the right to sue the at-fault party (except for exemplary damages). The ACC cover does not continue once you have departed New Zealand. For this reason we strongly recommended that Australians also obtain appropriate travel insurance before travelling to New Zealand. For more information visit the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) website.
Travelling with medication
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station or on the national emergency phone number 111.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can visit the New Zealand consumer affairs website to lodge a complaint, and let your travel agent know.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian High Commission
Level 7, Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower
186-194 Quay Street
Auckland City, New Zealand
Telephone: (649) 921 8800
Facsimile: (649) 921 8820
See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to New Zealand, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the High Commission or Consulate-General you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia. If calling from New Zealand call 0800 445 639.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. Ongoing updates and advice in the event of any natural disaster response will be found at the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website.
New Zealand lies along the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are thousands of earthquakes in New Zealand every year, but most of them are not felt because they are either small, or very deep within the earth. Each year there are about 150-200 quakes that are big enough to be felt. A large damaging earthquake could occur at any time, and can be followed by aftershocks that continue for days or weeks.
Comprehensive information about what to do in an earthquake or other natural disasters is available from the Get ready, Get thru website. In the event of an earthquake, advice provided by the Earthquake Commission includes:
- Move no more than a few steps to a safe place, drop, cover and hold on.
- Do not attempt to run outside.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops. Stay away from windows, chimneys, and shelves containing heavy objects.
- Hold on and stay there, and protect your head and body with a pillow and blankets.
- Move as short a distance as possible to find a clear spot, away from buildings, trees and power lines. Drop to the ground.
In a car
- Slow down and drive to a clear place away from buildings, trees and power lines. Stay in the car with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
In a lift
- Stop at the nearest floor and get out.
In the period after an earthquake, follow the directions of local authorities. Dial 111 in the event of emergency.
There is constant risk of earthquakes throughout New Zealand.
Recent Strong/Severe Earthquake activity
2016 Christchurch: A magnitude 5.77 earthquake occurred in the Christchurch region in February 2016.
2016 St Arnauld: A magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred in the Marlborough region (top of the South Island) in February 2016.
2015 Pongaroa: A magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred in the Manawatu region (lower North Island) in October 2015.
2011 Christchurch earthquake: A magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred in the Christchurch region in February 2011. The impact of the earthquake on the region was widespread and severe.
Authorities have made significant progress in removing, isolating and repairing affected buildings in Christchurch. However, rebuilding will take many years. City infrastructure, including water, sewerage and transport services, is operating normally. While many affected buildings in the CBD, eastern and seaside suburbs have been removed or fenced, damaged buildings remain throughout the area. Australians should not enter or approach affected buildings and should observe any security barriers in place.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure. Tsunami alerts in New Zealand are issued on the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website as well as broadcast in the New Zealand media.
Information about volcanic activity at Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, White Island and other sites of volcanic activity can be found on the GeoNet website. Volcanic eruptions are possible at any time and Australians visiting affected areas should monitor these websites, and ensure they are aware of the risks and what action to take in the event of an eruption.
In New Zealand, weather conditions can change quickly and severe weather is sometimes experienced. Weather conditions, forecasts and warnings can be monitored at www.metservice.co.nz.
Australians climbing or hiking are strongly advised to seek up to date information on local weather forecasts and track conditions from local Department of Conservation (DOC) visitor centres. Travellers, particularly in remote areas, are often stranded and/or injured due to rapid weather changes. Particular care should be taken to avoid creeks and rivers that may be subject to flash flooding after heavy rains. Make sure you register your details and plans with a DOC Visitor Information Centre and/or advise your family and friends of your plans.