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New Zealand

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in New Zealand. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Make sure your travel insurance covers all the activities you might participate in. Check any insurance limitations and conditions carefully, especially for snow sports and adventure activities. See Local travel
  • Check weather conditions and activity operators' safety precautions before participating in any adventure activities. See Local travel
  • New Zealand is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity. See Natural disasters

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

If you are travelling on your Australian passport, or you hold a current Australian resident return visa, you don't need a visa or permit to visit New Zealand unless:

  • you have been convicted of any crime(s) or
  • you have been deported from any country.

If that is the case, contact a High Commission or Consulate of New Zealand well in advance of travel for advice on your visa requirements.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. For up-to-date information, consult a High Commission or Consulate of New Zealand or the New Zealand Immigration Service.

Other formalities

Australian/New Zealand dual citizens should use their valid Australian passport to enter and leave Australia.

New Zealand has strict quarantine regulations and instant fines are issued for failing to declare items for quarantine on arrival.

Passport

Australian passport holders and permanent residents must have a valid passport on entry and exit of New Zealand.

More information: NZ Immigration (Is my passport acceptable for travel to New Zealand)

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Australian High Commission for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Declare all currency in excess of NZD10,000 or foreign equivalent on arrival and departure.

ATM availability and credit card acceptance is similar to in Australia. Contact your bank to advise that you will use your cards overseas.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime rates in New Zealand are similar to Australia. Expensive goods left in vehicles and campervans are often targeted by thieves.

Civil unrest and political tension

Protests and demonstrations are generally peaceful. Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Adventure activities

Most tourists undertake adventure activities safely in New Zealand. However, these activities are inherently risky: there have been several serious accidents involving Australians and other tourists, some resulting in death. Some operators have been found to be negligent. Safety standards can differ between individual operators from those in Australia.

Think carefully about the risks involved in individual or group activities and of the safety standards of individual operators. Seek information from individual operators about the risks, the safety precautions they take and whether these meet or exceed safety standards applicable to their industry.

Safety risks tend to increase in severe weather and remote locations. Make sure your travel insurance policy covers all your activities.

  • Understand what circumstances and activities are not covered by your travel insurance and any accident and income protection insurance policies you hold.
  • If appropriate safety standards aren't met, or safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
  • Always use available safety equipment even if others don't.
  • If you're trekking or travelling in a remote area, prepare thoroughly; register your details and plans with a Department of Conservation Visitor Information Centre, carry a personal beacon which can be hired from locations throughout New Zealand.

More information: Adventuresmart (New Zealand)

Road travel

City roads and highways are generally in good condition. But ice, snow, fog and high winds can cause hazardous road conditions. Heavy rain can result in land slips across roadways.

Outside major cities there are few motorways. Overtaking opportunities are limited. Anticipate longer travel times than in Australia. Not all railway crossings have barriers, particularly in country areas.

Roads in mountainous terrain and to 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.

  • Familiarise yourself with NZ road rules before driving.
  • Drive defensively. Take particular care if there is ice, snow, fog or high winds.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Check the New Zealand Transport Agency and New Zealand Automobile Association websites for details of road closures and warnings before setting off on road trips.
  • Make sure you're equipped for the weather conditions and any possible changes.

More information:

Driver's licence

You can use your Australian driver's licence to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months. After that, you'll need to get a local licence.

More information: Driver licences (NZ Transport Agency)

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer if your policy covers you and any accidents when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Taxis are generally reliable and of a similar standard to Australia. Taxis and rideshare apps are regulated by the New Zealand Transport authority.

More information: New Zealand Transport Authority

Public transport

Bus, rail and ferry services operate throughout New Zealand. Take care of your belongings on public transport as petty crime does occur.

More information: New Zealand Transport Authority

Sea travel

A number of international cruise lines stopover in New Zealand.

More information: Going on a cruise

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in New Zealand.  

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Penalties for possession and use of even small amounts of 'soft drugs' may include fines and possibly prison sentences.

More information: Carrying or using drugs 

Alcohol laws

You'll need to provide photo ID to buy alcohol or to enter licensed premises. An Australian driver's licence is not accepted as identification under New Zealand law. Approved IDs include:

  • current passport
  • current New Zealand driver's licence
  • hospitality NZ 18+ card

More information: Approved ID

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

New Zealand recognises dual nationality.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while in New Zealand, contact:

  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline – 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information:

Health risks

Health risks are similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities and services are of a similar standard to those in Australia.

Reciprocal health care agreement

New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement. The agreement provides Australians with access to government medical facilities and care but:

  • doesn't provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions
  • doesn't cover additional accommodation costs or flights for family members
  • doesn't cover medical repatriation to Australia
  • doesn't replace the need for travel insurance.

To access services under the agreement, you'll need to advise the medical staff and show your current Australian passport or evidence of Australian permanent residency and a valid Medicare card.

More information:

Accident Compensation Corporation

If you're injured in an accident, you'll be covered for the costs of hospital treatment by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This insurance scheme provides injury cover on a 'no-fault' basis. The ACC cover doesn't continue once you have departed New Zealand so doesn't replace your need for travel insurance.

More information: Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

Natural disasters

You could encounter earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity and severe weather in New Zealand. The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management leads in responding to any natural disasters in New Zealand.

If a natural disaster occurs:

More information: Get ready, Get thru (NZ Government)

Earthquakes

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. There is constant risk of earthquakes throughout New Zealand. Large, damaging earthquakes have happened before and could happen again at any time. Aftershocks can continue for days or weeks.

Recent strong earthquakes include:

  • November 2016: magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Kaikoura (Canterbury region)
  • February 2016: magnitude 5.7 earthquake in Christchurch region
  • February 2016: magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred in St Arnauld (Marlborough region)
  • February 2011: magnitude 6.3 earthquake in the Christchurch region - widespread and severe impacts

What you need to do to protect yourself in an earthquake depends on where you are at the time. The Earthquake Commission recommends:

Indoors

  • Move no more than a few steps to a safe place, drop, cover and hold on.
  • Don't attempt to run outside.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from windows, chimneys, and shelves containing heavy objects.

In bed

  • Hold on and stay there.
  • Protect your head and body with a pillow and blankets.

Outdoors

  • Move as short a distance as possible to find a clear spot, away from buildings, trees and power lines.
  • Drop to the ground.

In 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 advice for all natural disasters, above
  • consider possible tsunami risks (see below)
  • anticipate travel delays in some areas and plan accordingly
  • reconfirm travel arrangements and availability of accommodation with travel agents and tour operators.

More information: Earthquakes

Tsunamis

New Zealand and the surrounding region's susceptibility to earthquakes means New Zealand is also susceptible to tsunamis. All of New Zealand's coastline is at risk of a tsunami. 

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management issues tsunami alerts, which are published on its website and broadcast by New Zealand media. But, a local source tsunami could arrive within minutes and there may not be time for an official warning.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management recommends that you move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can, if you're near the coast and experience any of the following:

  • Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • See a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • Hear loud and unusual noises from the sea

Don't wait for official warnings.

Walk or bike if possible.

More information: Tsunami information from NZ Civil Defence and Emergency Management

Volcanic Activity

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.

If you plan to visit active volcanos or surrounding areas:

  • monitor the GeoNet website
  • get local advice before visiting.

Severe weather

Weather conditions can change quickly and sometimes there is severe weather. Severe weather poses particular risks to those in remote areas. Creeks and rivers can be subject to flash flooding after heavy rains. Travellers, particularly in remote areas, are often stranded and/or injured due to rapid weather changes.

Wherever you are in New Zealand, monitor weather conditions, forecasts and warnings from Metservice.

If you are climbing, hiking or visiting a remote area:

  • seek up-to-date information on local weather forecasts and track conditions from local Department of Conservation (DOC) visitor centres or website
  • register your details and plans with a DOC Visitor Information Centre and/or advise your family and friends of your plans
  • carry a personal locator beacon
  • avoid creeks and rivers after heavy rains
  • on return, check-in with the DOC Visitor Information Centre or others you registered your plans with.

More information: Severe weather

Fires

Parts of New Zealand experience bushfires in hot and dry conditions. Follow local instructions if there is a bushfire.  

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, 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.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 111
  • Medical emergencies: 111
  • Criminal issues: 111 or contact local police at the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider. If you aren't satisfied with their response, you can visit the New Zealand consumer affairs website to lodge a complaint.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Wellington or the Australian Consulate-General in Auckland.

Australian High Commission, Wellington

72-76 Hobson Street
Thorndon
Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: (64-4) 473 6411
Fax: (64-4) 498 7103
Website: newzealand.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in New Zealand
Twitter: @AusHCNZ

Australian Consulate-General

Level 7, Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower
186-194 Quay Street
Auckland City, New Zealand
Phone: (649) 921 8800
Fax: (649) 921 8820

Check the High Commission Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the High Commission or Consulate-General in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources