Direct flights to New Zealand are available from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu and the average flight time is 12 hours. The majority of flights arrive in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city located towards the top of the North Island. Domestic flights connect Auckland with a number of other airports throughout the country.
Cruising is another popular way to get to, and explore, the country. Most cruises to New Zealand depart from Australia and the Pacific Islands and some are round-the-world journeys.
Book a Flight to New Zealand
You'll be enjoying stunning landscapes and meeting friendly locals in no time.These airlines fly to New Zealand from the United States:
Air New Zealand
Air Tahiti Nui
New Zealand's unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$). All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand, with Visa and MasterCard accepted most widely.
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.
When you visit New Zealand you will immediately become aware of the Maori language, as the vast majority of place names are indigenous. At first you may be puzzled by the seemingly impossible-to-pronounce names. In fact, Maori has a logical structure and, unlike English, has very consistent rules of pronunciation.
How do you say Onehunga, Whangamomona and Nguru?
The Maori language consists of five vowel sounds: a e i o u (‘a’ as in ‘car’, ‘e’ as in ‘egg’, ‘i’ like the ‘ee’ in ‘tee’, ‘o’ as in ‘four’, ‘u’ like an ‘o’ in ‘to’). There are eight consonants in Maori similar to those in English — ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘p’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘w’. There are also two different consonants — ‘wh’ and ‘ng’. Many Maori pronounce the ‘wh’ sound similar to our ‘f’. The ‘ng’ is similar to our own ‘ng’ sound in a word like ‘sing’, except that in Maori, words can start with ‘ng’.
Kia ora = Hello in the Maori language
Try these expressions:
Kia ora Hello Kia ora tatou Hello everyone Tana koe Greetings to you (said to one person) Tana koutou Greetings to you (said to three or more people) Nau mai, haere mai Welcome Kei te pehea koe? How’s it going? Kei te pai Good Tino pai Really good Ka kite an? See you again
Maori language revival
The Maori language is considered a national taonga (treasure) and is spoken by around 23 percent of New Zealanders. The language is undergoing a revival, with initiatives like Maori Language Week, Maori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Maori language television station all playing a role in growing Te Reo.
New Zealand is generally a very safe place to travel with a relatively low crime rate, few endemic diseases and a great healthcare system.
However, you should take the same care with your personal safety and your possessions as you would in any other country, or at home. Take copies of your important documents (like your passport and credit cards), and keep them separate from the originals. You should also keep a record of the description and serial number of valuable items (like digital cameras). And remember, in an emergency dial 111.
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.
-ACC does not pay any additional costs resulting from an accident, for example delayed or curtailed travel costs, travel home, treatment at home and loss of income in your home country.
We strongly advise you to arrange your own health insurance. New Zealand's public and private medical/hospital facilities provide a high standard of treatment and service, but it is important to note these services are not free to visitors, except as a result of an accident.
Medication and vaccinations
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.
While tipping is customary for certain services in America, it isn’t common in other places around the world - like New Zealand.
Restaurant workers do not work only for tips in New Zealand, so do not feel obliged to leave a tip when paying your check. If the service was excellent, leaving a 10% gratuity is more than generous and your waiter or waitress will certainly appreciate it.
Tipping taxi drivers in New Zealand is not a common practice. If you attempt to tip your driver, it may even be refused. It is common to leave your change for the driver, if for no other reason than making the paying process easier. If you insist on tipping the driver, 10% or less is reasonable, but do not be surprised if they refuse to accept your tip.
Tipping is customary at hotels in New Zealand, so tipping $1-$2 per bag carried and $1-$5 for room/maid service is viewed as a nice gesture. If the concierge does you a favor or provides you with excellent service, tipping $10-$15 is more than acceptable.
Tipping tour guides in New Zealand is common as their services are aimed at tourists. While gratuities are not necessary, if you feel your tour guide did an exceptional job, tipping a few dollars will likely not be refused.
Don’t feel pressured to leave a tip when at a spa in New Zealand, but feel free to tip if you feel you received outstanding service. Leaving 5-10% is considered generous.
Knowing when and how much to tip when traveling in New Zealand can be confusing, so if you are unsure, ask a receptionist or concierge. They will likely clear up any concerns you may have.
Tipping is not expected in New Zealand, as it is in the United States, rather it is viewed more as a bonus. So when travelling in New Zealand, do not feel obligated to tip but feel free to do so if you believe you have received outstanding service.
With so many things to do and spectacular places to see, choosing how you travel around New Zealand is as important as choosing where you want to go.
Self-drive a rental car on one of our recommended trips, or take a bus or coach if you want to let someone else do the driving.
For travel between New Zealand's islands, hop on a plane or ferry. Daily flights are available between domestic airports. Several passenger and vehicle ferries offer services between the North, South and other islands.
When you arrive in New Zealand, you’ll need to be carrying a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date. Many people will qualify for visa-free entry, but depending on your country of origin, some will need to apply for a visa before they travel.
Do you need a visa or permit?
You do not need a visa or permit to visit New Zealand if you are:
-A New Zealand/Australia citizen or Resident Permit holder
-An Australian citizen travelling on an Australian passport
-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).
If you come from Visa-waiver countries, you don't need a visa to enter New Zealand, but are still required to provide:
-Travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements
-Evidence that you can support yourself in New Zealand (approximately NZ$1000 per month per person).
Younger visitors might want to consider applying for a working holiday visa.
If you are travelling to New Zealand via an Australian airport, you may also need an Australian visa – consult your travel agent or airline if you are unsure. Transit visas will also be needed for all people travelling via New Zealand, unless they are specifically exempted by immigration policy.
You will need to complete a Passenger Arrival Card before passing through Customs Passport Control. A passenger arrival card will be given to you during your flight; if not, cards are available in the arrival area.
Customs prohibited and restricted goods, Biosecurity risk goods
After you’ve cleared passport control, you should collect your baggage and proceed through customs and biosecurity checks. In order to protect New Zealand and it's environment, certain items are not allowed to be brought into the country, have restrictions for entry or must be declared if they are deemed to present a biosecurity risk.
Your baggage may be sniffed by a detector dog and/or x-rayed, and it may be searched to identify any risk goods you might be carrying..
Allowances and duty free concessions
As a visitor to New Zealand you may be entitled to various concessions and duty free entries on some of your goods. If you are 17 years or older, you are entitled to allowances for alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.
New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine.
While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures.
The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) and in winter between 10-15ºC (50-60°F).
Seasons and clothing requirements
As New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, it has opposite seasons to those living in the northern half of the world.
Summer: December – February
Summer in New Zealand is moderate to hot, with temperatures hovering around 20-30 degrees celsius. In most places you can wear shorts and a t-shirt or singlet during the day, adding a light jumper at night.
Autumn/Fall: March – May
Temperatures during this time are a little cooler than summer but the New Zealand weather can be excellent. Suitable clothing includes light pants or shorts, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved top. It can cool off at night more during this season, so make sure you are prepared with a warm sweater.
Winter: June – August
Winter in New Zealand brings colder weather to much of the country, with snow in the south and rain in the north. You’ll need jeans, long-sleeved tops and coats in most places, and if you’re heading into the mountains thermals, gloves and thick sweaters are also a good idea.
Spring: September – November
Spring brings weather of all types – expect everything from cold, frosty, clear days to sunny and hot. Make sure you are prepared for this type of weather if you are visiting during this time. Jeans are good and layers work well on top, as they can be added and removed depending on what the weather brings.
Four Seasons in One Day
New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you're going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.
Most places in New Zealand receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas - Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough - receiving over 2,350 hours. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.30pm. New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong.
The sunlight here can quickly burn skin from September to April, especially between 10am and 4pm, even on cloudy days. Be 'SunSmart' by using these three simple steps when you go outdoors: Stay in the shade whenever possible. Wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses. Use SPF 30+ sunscreen. Reapply every 2 hours.
New Zealand's average rainfall is high and evenly spread throughout the year. Over the northern and central areas of New Zealand more rain falls in winter than in summer, whereas for much of the southern part of New Zealand, winter is the season of least rainfall. As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, the high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.
Snow typically appears during the months of June through October, though cold snaps can occur outside these months. Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the north, and the Southern Alps in the south. It also falls heavily in inland Canterbury and Otago.