- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in New Zealand.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- New Zealand is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity. Comprehensive information about what to do in an earthquake or other natural disasters is available from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission. See Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for more information.
- Australians in the Canterbury region should be aware that aftershocks, although slowly diminishing, will continue for several years following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Significant earthquakes are still possible. While many affected buildings in the CBD, eastern and seaside suburbs of Christchurch have been removed or fenced, damaged buildings remain throughout the area. Australians should not enter or approach earthquake damaged buildings and should observe any security barriers in place.
- Strict access controls are in place in central Christchurch. These restrictions change regularly as more areas are declared safe. See the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority website for updates on cordon zones.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Personal injury and income protection insurance is also strongly recommended for travel to New Zealand. Australian visitors can incur significant medical and travel costs or loss of income as a result of accidents in New Zealand and are not entitled to compensation for these from New Zealand’s national accident compensation scheme after return to Australia.
- 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.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. 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.
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.
New Zealand has strict quarantine regulations and instant fines are issued for failing to declare quarantinable items 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. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
The risks of criminal activity are similar to Australia. You should exercise the same caution as in Australia. Expensive goods left in vehicles and campervans are often targeted by thieves.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in New Zealand, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in New Zealand.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Australians are advised to take particular care when travelling by road. Hazardous road conditions caused by ice, snow, fog and high winds can occur. 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. You should drive cautiously and you may need suitable 4WD vehicles or snow chains. Not all railway crossings have barriers, particularly in country areas. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
Many tourists safely undertake adventure activities in New Zealand. However, many adventure tourism activities have inherent risks, and there have been a number of serious accidents involving Australians and other tourists, some resulting in deaths. Some operators have been found to be negligent. You should be aware that safety standards in New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry 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. 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.
Please refer to our Aviation Safety and Security travel bulletin for information.
When you are in New Zealand, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that may appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for possession and use of even small amounts of 'soft drugs' may include fines and possibly prison sentences.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, 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.
Australians seriously injured in accidents in New Zealand may suffer significant financial losses from loss of income or medical expenses on return to Australia. New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Act 2001 generally removes the right to sue for losses arising from personal injury sustained in accidents in New Zealand (e.g. motor vehicle or adventure sports accidents). The Act also excludes Australians from obtaining the ongoing income support provided to New Zealanders and from coverage of any medical expenses outside New Zealand. Also not covered is illness, medical evacuation following an accident, disrupted travel plans, lost deposits, assisted emergency travel home or travel for a relative to visit you. For more information visit the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) website.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to New Zealand. We strongly recommend you also obtain separate personal accident or income protection insurance policies that will cover lost income or medical expenses in Australia arising from accidents in 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 adventure sports / 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.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
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's website 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.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For more information see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
You can obtain consular assistance from:
Australian High Commission
72-76 Hobson Street
Wellington, New Zealand
Telephone (64-4) 473 6411
Facsimile (64-4) 498 7103
Level 7, Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower
186-194 Quay Street
Auckland City, New Zealand
Telephone (649) 921 8800
Facsimile (649) 921 8820
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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
New Zealand lies along the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Comprehensive information about what to do in an earthquake or other natural disasters is available from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (www.eq-iq.org.nz). 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 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.
2011 Christchurch earthquake: A magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred in the Christchurch region on 22 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. However, the rebuilding of Christchurch will take many years. Some roads remain closed and some buildings will not be rebuilt due to earthquake related risk. City infrastructure, including water, sewerage and transport services, is operating normally. Christchurch City Council advises that tap water delivered through council pipework is safe to drink.
Australians in the Canterbury region should be aware that aftershocks continue and, although diminishing in strength and frequency, are expected to continue for several years in the Canterbury region. Significant earthquakes are still possible.
While many affected buildings in the CBD, eastern and seaside suburbs of Christchurch 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. Strict access controls are in place in central Christchurch. These restrictions change regularly as more areas are declared safe. See the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authoritywebsite for updates on cordon zones.
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 ensure they are aware of the risks and what action to take in the event of an eruption. Volcanic activity on White Island is high.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. 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.
In New Zealand, weather conditions can change quickly and severe weather is sometimes experienced. Weather conditions 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.
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.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities in New Zealand we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.