Frequently Asked Questions
What is the climate in New Zealand?
As a Southern Hemisphere country, New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, so summer is December to February and winter June to August. Average summer temperatures are 20 – 24deg; Celsius, winter 9 – 14deg; Celsius. The South Island is slightly cooler than the North.
What are the drink/drive laws?
New Zealand has an aggressive breath testing regime and strict penalties for drinking and driving. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg per 100ml. For drivers under 20 the limit is zero.
What medical and emergency facilities are there?
Dial 111 for Police/Fire/Ambulance emergency in NZ. Medical and emergency facilities are high quality and readily available, but not free to visitors. Comprehensive travel insurance is recommended.
What road rules apply in New Zealand?
In New Zealand, we drive on the left side of the road and give way to everything on our right. Police use camera and RADAR devices to catch speeders. Take your time and save your money for fun things. Obey the speed signs and watch your mirrors for traffic build-up behind you. Pull over and let others pass so you can enjoy the scenery.
Is there a Sales Tax?
New Zealand operates a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all items except financial services. Prices are usually expressed as inclusive of GST unless stated. Some trade and wholesale outlets will express prices excluding GST.
Where and when is the best skiing?
South Island ski fields in Canterbury and Queenstown have the most reliable snow coverage between July and September.
Sleepervan, Campervan or Motorhome ?
Sleepervans/campercars generally are normal cars or vans that have been converted for camping. Head room is limited and you will not be able to stand up inside (unless you are very short). Some will have self-containment certification, and will have a portapottie. In practice this is likely to be difficult to use inside the vehicle and you should rely on public toilet facilities or campgrounds instead.
Campervans tend to be small vans with a high-top. While they usually have self-containment certification, they will not have a shower, or toilet cubicle. Instead there may be a porta-pottie that you might need to set up indoors for night use. Because you can stand up and move around easily, you are able to use the toilet inside, but there is limited privacy.
Motorhomes are usually larger, and should have a toilet cubicle with an external removable cassette for ease of emptying. They may or may not have a shower facility also. They sometimes have hot water, and cabin heating but you should check this as not always the case.
What are standard opening hours?
Banking hours are 0930 – 1630, Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays. In larger centres, a full range of shops are open 0900 \ 1730 (and longer) including weekend trading. Hours vary in smaller centres. Those catering to the tourist trade are generally open longer.
What customs and quarantine restrictions are there?
New Zealand is an island and zealously guards its borders from introduced pests and predators. All items of camping and hiking equipment need to be clean and are likely to be inspected. Please check with your airline for current regulations.
What kind of electricity is supplied in New Zealand?
New Zealand runs on 230v/50Hz AC supply via slant pin outlets.
What are New Zealand road conditions like?
Very few New Zealand roads, except for major city motorways, are divided. Most roads are narrow two lane, with shingle or grass verges. Minor roads may not have surface markings and in some cases are unsealed. Allow plenty of time for local conditions when planning your journey. Be aware also that in New Zealand herds of farm stock are moved on the road.
Can we drink the tap water in New Zealand?
Yes. New Zealand’s tap water is thoroughly treated and sterilized.
What are the seatbelt laws?
All occupants (children included) are legally required to wear a seatbelt.
What are the speed limits?
New Zealand is a metric country so speeds are posted in kilometers per hour, distance in kilometers. New Zealand speed limits are posted in standard international format signs. In general, urban areas are 50kph (30mph), open roads are 100kph (60mph). Other limits are signposted. Please do not speed in NZ as widespread use of SPEED CAMERAS by police will result in fines.
What about tipping?
New Zealanders do not depend on gratuities for their income.
What are Road User Charges (RUCs)?
Road User Charges apply to diesel vehicles only. Petrol prices include RUCs already, when you purchase at the petrol station. Consequently petrol is more expensive to buy. For diesel vehicles, RUCs are paid per Km travelled, at a rate of $7.78 per 100kms (this can vary with the size of vehicle). The actual running costs for diesel and petrol vehicles are generally similar, once the RUCs are added.