New Zealand Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our New Zealand Traveler Information guide.
At AARDY.COM we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following New Zealand Traveler Information should help you make the most of your trip to New Zealand.
Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: Three months beyond the planned date of departure from New Zealand.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One page required for entry stamp.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) or visa is required.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: If you bring New Zealand Dollars (NZD) $10,000 or more in cash or foreign equivalent, you will be required to complete a Border Cash Report.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Consulate General Auckland
Citigroup Centre, 3rd Floor,
23 Customs Street East
Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone: +(64)(9) 303-2724
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (64)(4) 462-6000
Fax: +(64)(9) 303-1069
U.S. Embassy Wellington
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon
Wellington, New Zealand
Telephone: +(64)(4) 462-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(64)(4) 462-6000
Fax: +(64)(4) 499-0490
Consular Services to U.S. citizens are available only at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland. Consular Services are not available at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington even in case of emergency. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland for consular assistance.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on New Zealand for information on U.S – New Zealand relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)
As of October 1, 2019, all U.S. citizens who will be traveling to or transiting through New Zealand under the visa waiver program are required to have an NZeTA . This is true for cruise ship passengers as well. It can take up to 72 hours to process an NZeTA so we encourage all citizens to apply well in advance of their trip to New Zealand. The NZeTA is valid for multiple visits for up to two years. The cost of the NZeTA depends on the system used to request it: if you apply utilizing the mobile app, it will cost NZD $9; if you apply on the website, it will cost NZD $12.
If your NZeTA application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa. See the New Zealand Embassy website for directions on how to apply.
International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)
As of July 1, 2019, U.S. citizens traveling to New Zealand for tourism, some student programs, or short-term business are required to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). This levy is assessed when a person applies for an NZeTA or New Zealand visa. The IVL costs NZD $35 per person. The IVL is not required of passengers that are transiting New Zealand on a transit visa or transit ETA.
Visit the New Zealand Embassy website for the most current visa information.
Important notes regarding arrival into New Zealand:
A Customs Officer at the Port of Entry into New Zealand may examine items such as mobile phones, iPads, Android tablets, hard drives, laptops, and digital cameras. The Officer may ask for your password or ask you to enter it. Fines of up to NZD $5,000 may be enforced for failure to comply. Passwords are not kept, nor is personal data altered.
New Zealand has very strict biosecurity procedures to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases. All biosecurity-risk goods must be declared or disposed of in marked amnesty bins at air and sea ports. If you do not declare goods considered to be a biosecurity risk, such as honey, fresh fruit, seeds, and plants, you can receive an instant fine of NZD $400.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, New Zealand.
Cook Islands: Cook Islands is self-governing in free association with New Zealand. U.S. citizen visitors do not require an entry permit for stays up to 31 days. Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months past the arrival date in the Cook Islands.
Safety and Security
Crime: The crime rate in New Zealand is relatively low, but theft from cars, recreational vehicles, and hostels is common, especially in areas frequented by tourists.
- Do not leave passports or other valuable items in unattended vehicles.
- Violent crime against tourists is rare; however, if you are traveling alone, you should be especially vigilant and avoid isolated areas.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at 111 and contact the U.S. Consulate General Auckland at +64 9 303 2724.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
If you are on the Cook Islands, the emergency police number is 999.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Direct you to the New Zealand Victims Information website for assistance.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Consulate General for assistance.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in New Zealand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- In New Zealand, driving under the influence could land you in jail. Roadside sobriety checks by police are common. The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is lower than that in most U.S. states.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Consulate General immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Natural Disasters and Weather Conditions: Natural disasters do occur in New Zealand and include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, and cyclones. In addition, weather conditions can change quickly leaving you stranded or injured, particularly if you are in an isolated area.
- For information on how to prepare for a crisis visit our webpage Crisis Abroad: Be Ready.
- For information on seasonal storms visit our webpage Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones. In addition, New Zealand’s Meteorological Service has a Tropical Cyclone bulletin with updated warnings.
- Monitor meteorological websites such as the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
- Visit MetService for forecasts and official warnings.
- Visit The Department of Homeland Security and the CDC websites for information on how to prepare for a specific natural disaster.
- Always follow the advice of local authorities.
On December 9, 2019, the volcano on Whakaari/White Island erupted while tourists were visiting. This led to numerous casualties, including deaths of American citizens. The volcano remains active and further eruptions are possible. We recommend that tourists avoid Whakaari/White Island and follow the advice of local authorities.
There are many areas in New Zealand with active volcanoes. Tourists are encouraged to visit GeoNet.org.nz for up-to-date information on volcanic alert levels, as well as other geological hazards in New Zealand. Again, we recommend that tourists follow the advice of local authorities.
The National Emergency Management Agency provides timely information to citizens and visitors through an Emergency Mobile Alert. This service is broadcast from local cell towers to all capable phones in the area and is designed to provide targeted messaging to areas affected by serious hazards. Messages will only be sent when there is a serious threat to life, health or property.
Adventure Sports: Many tourists come to New Zealand to participate in extreme adventure sports, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, rappelling, climbing, motorcycling, and kayaking. Injuries and death can result from participating in such activities. You should use caution and common sense when engaging in adventure sports. Make sure you have travel medical insurance and that it covers your sport.
Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let someone else know where you are at all times. Before kayaking, check the river conditions and wear a life jacket. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center.
Visit the New Zealand Department of Conservation website for advice and direction on how to safely and legally hike, bike, etc. in New Zealand.
Imports: New Zealand is an island nation, and the government is serious about preserving its delicate ecosystem. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) strictly regulates what can be imported into New Zealand.
- If you do not declare goods that could be quarantined, you can be fined up to NZD $100,000 and/or face up to five years in prison.
- If you do not declare goods considered to be a biosecurity risk, such as honey, fresh fruit, seeds, and plants, you can receive an instant fine of NZD $400.
- When importing a pet, you will need thorough veterinary documentation and a quarantine period will be required.
- The MPI may seize and destroy unfinished wood products, used hiking shoes, gardening tools, fresh food items, and items such as used pet carriers. Thoroughly clean any hiking equipment or sports gear prior to your arrival in New Zealand.
- For more information visit the Biosecurity New Zealand website.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in New Zealand.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. While in New Zealand, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States.
- Every new building and major reconstruction in New Zealand must provide "reasonable and adequate" access for individuals with disabilities, but be aware that most buildings pre-date this requirement. Most facilities have wheelchair access.
- Some buses in towns and cities are equipped to facilitate individuals with disabilities, but most public transport is not.
- If you are planning a holiday and need information on facilities for individuals with disabilities, please visit the New Zealand Tourism website.
- Most transport operators can serve individuals with disabilities, but it is a good idea to phone ahead to tell them in advance what your needs are.
- Car parking allocated for individuals with disabilities is available in New Zealand. We suggest you bring a letter from your medical provider on his or her professional letterhead detailing your medical condition and your need for accessible parking. You can read more about how to qualify for accessible parking spaces on the CCS Disability Action website.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
For emergency services in New Zealand, dial 111.
Ambulance services and quality medical care are widely available in New Zealand. Waiting lists exist for certain types of treatment. Access to medical care may be less available in rural areas.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. If they do not, you should consider emergency or comprehensive traveler’s insurance. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.
See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the government of New Zealand regulations at New Zealand MedSafe to ensure the medication is legal in New Zealand.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Consulate maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Adventure Travel: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: While in New Zealand, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
- Renting a car or a camper is a popular way to enjoy New Zealand's natural beauty, but if you are unfamiliar with local conditions, you should be extremely careful. New Zealand has only 100 miles of multi-lane divided motorways. Most intercity travel is on narrow, two-lane roads. While these roads are in good condition, New Zealand's rugged terrain means motorists often encounter sharper curves and steeper grades than those found on the U.S. Interstate Highway System.
- Use caution to avoid animals when driving in rural areas.
- There is very limited cell phone coverage on large portions of scenic highway in the South Island, which is remote and has little traffic.
- Pedestrians do not have the right of way except in crosswalks. New Zealand law requires that cars stop at least two meters (approximately 6 feet) from a crosswalk that is in use.
All traffic moves on the left in New Zealand, and you should exercise extra caution if you are accustomed to driving on the right.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road is a leading cause of serious injury and death for U.S. tourists.
- Make sure to follow the posted speed limit signs. The speed limits are much lower than those in the United States.
- Proceed carefully through intersections. Traffic circles are common throughout New Zealand. When approaching a traffic circle, always yield to traffic coming from the right--noting that traffic already in the circle has the right-of-way--and merge to the left into the circle. Left turns on a red traffic signal are not permitted.
- New Zealand prohibits driving while texting as well as driving while using a cell phone.
Public Transportation: New Zealand has public transport systems in all major cities and some towns. The public transportation system in New Zealand is generally easy to use and reliable.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of New Zealand’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to New Zealand should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in New Zealand. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.
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