NZ Bush Tip No. 6

Visit the Otago region in Autumn (late March) for the most spectacular display of fall colour.

click on images to enlarge

Pre-departure Info


Before you travel to New Zealand your passport must be:

  • Valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date.
  • Not damaged, defaced or excessively worn.
  • Showing a visa or permit, if you require one.

Visa or permit?

You do not need a visa or permit to visit New Zealand if you are:

  • A New Zealand citizen or Resident Permit holder
  • An Australian citizen travelling on an Australian passport
  • An Australian resident with a current Australian resident return visa
  • A British citizen and or British passport holder who can produce evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK (you can stay up to six months)
  • A citizen of a country which has a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand (you can stay up to three months)

Countries that have a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand

Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Korea (South)
San Marino
Saudi Arabia
Slovak Republic
South Africa
United Arab Emirates
Vatican City

If you come from one these countries, you don't need a visa to enter New Zealand. However, you are still required to provide:

  • Travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements
  • Evidence that your can support yourself in New Zealand (approximately NZ$1000 per month per person).
  • For more detailed information check out the Visa free countries section of the Immigration New Zealand website.


It is a condition of Nigel Perks New Zealand that all participants be fully insured with trip cancellation, medical and evacuation insurance as a condition of travel. Please see your travel professional or research the internet for providers of this type of insurance. Trip cancellation insurance is essential in the event you are unable to travel due to illness. Most policies also provide for cancellation in the event of illness of a family member.

Time zone

New Zealand very close to the international date line so is one of the first places in the world to see the new day, 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). In summer New Zealand uses ‘daylight saving’, with clocks put forward one hour to GMT+13. Daylight saving begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday of the following April, when clocks are put back to GMT+12.

Health and safety

New Zealand is one of the safest travel destinations in the world, with a relatively low crime rate, few endemic diseases and a first-class healthcare and accident compensation system. However, we recommend you observe the same precautions with your personal safety and your possessions as you would in any other country or at home.

Keep copies of your important documents, e.g. passport and credit cards, and keep them separate from the originals.

Keep a record of the description and serial number of valuable items, e.g. digital cameras.

Dial 111 in emergencies.

Safety in the water

Given New Zealand's subtropical climate, it is no surprise that New Zealanders like to spend so much of their leisure time in the water. However water can conceal hazards. We recommend that you visit Water Safety New Zealand's website , for advice on how to stay safe on New Zealand's beaches and waterways.

Accidents and health insurance

With a little care and common sense, your visit to New Zealand should be accident-free. If you are injured here, you may need the help of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) - New Zealand's accident compensation scheme.

In New Zealand, you cannot sue anyone for compensatory damages if you are injured. Instead ACC helps pay for your care - and that means paying towards the cost of your treatment and helping in your recovery while you remain in New Zealand. You still need to purchase your own travel and medical insurance because ACC does not cover everything. ACC only covers treatment and rehabilitation in New Zealand, and usually you must pay part of the cost yourself.

Visitors bringing in a quantity of medication are advised to carry a doctor's certificate to avoid possible problems with New Zealand Customs. Doctor's prescriptions are needed to obtain certain drugs in New Zealand.


No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand.


Tipping in New Zealand is optional and totally up to your personal discretion. Staff in restaurants and Lodges are fairly paid but they do appreciate reward for excellent service.

Private guides typically receive between US$20-100 per day from the group, depending on the level of satisfaction.


New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2; notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

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 New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.

Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres.

All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand. Travellers Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.

Exchange rates

You can calculate the value of your currency in NZ Dollars on many webites.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand provides a monthly online summary of the New Zealand Dollar's average value against the US Dollar, the Pound, the Australian Dollar, the Yen and the Euro.

Road safety

Many of our roads are scenic and traffic is low when compared to international standards.

If you're used to driving in the city, you should take care when driving on the open country roads. New Zealand has a good motorway system but weather extremes, the terrain and narrow secondary roads and bridges require drivers to be alert.

The following, general information is provided for your road safety:

  • Always drive on the left-hand-side of the road and give way to your right.
  • All road distances are measured in kilometres.
  • When turning left, give way (yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right.
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. There is no left turn rule as in North America.
  • The amber traffic light means stop unless you are so close to the intersection you can’t stop safely.
  • The speed limit on the open road is usually 100km/h (approx 60m/h). In urban areas the speed limit is 50km/h. Speed limits are strictly enforced by the police.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or child restraints at all times, in both front and rear seats.
  • During long journeys take regular rest and refreshment breaks.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders.

Refer to the Transit New Zealand website for country wide information on New Zealand roads. For up to date information on South Island roads you can also call toll free 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).

International driving licences and permits

You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). After 12 months you are required to convert to a New Zealand licence. This applies to each visit to New Zealand.

In New Zealand all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car in New Zealand is 21 years.

Make sure your driver's licence is current.


English is the common and everyday language of New Zealand. New Zealand is a multi-cultural society and you may hear many other languages spoken, including Maori , which is also an official language of New Zealand.


Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz.

For all equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept flat 3 or 2-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.


The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August.

In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30°C and in winter between 10-15°C. You can check on weather conditions in New Zealand on the New Zealand Met Service website .

While these temperatures are the norm, the weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature, particularly if you're going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.

Packing list

Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots. In summer a jacket and sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or you visit higher altitudes. You can expect some rain, so also include a light rainproof jacket or coat. If visiting between May and September, pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing.

Essential Items

  • 2 pairs trousers
  • 2 sweat shirts/jumpers
  • 1 fleece or warm jacket
  • 4 shirts - preferably long sleeve for sun protection
  • 2 pairs shorts
  • Sun hat that covers your ears
  • Socks and under clothing
  • Light weight thermal if you really feel the cold (can double as pyjamas)
  • Light weight rain jacket or wind breaker
  • 1 pair flip flops or ‘Teva’ style sandals
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes
  • 1 good torch/flashlight with extra batteries
  • Personal toiletries
  • Sunscreen and lip salve
  • Personal first aid kit and all medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun glasses with strings to hold them on
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Beach attire

Walking Safari Essentials

  • Light-weight boots that breathe (well broken in)
  • Comfortable padded socks
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Heavy duty water bottle
  • Daypack

Optional Items

  • Zip lock bags
  • Note book and pen
  • Guide books
  • Gadgets are always interesting – GPS, Leatherman, etc.
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