For most travelers, New Zealand is not an expensive destination. The cost of meals, accommodations, and travel prove comparable to larger cities within the United States and somewhat less than in Western Europe. Premium-grade gasoline costs more than it does in North America.
Prices throughout this guide are given for adults. Substantially reduced fees are almost always available for children, students, and senior citizens.
Banks never have every foreign currency on hand, and it may take as long as a week to order. If you're planning to exchange funds before leaving home, don't wait until the last minute.
ATMs and Banks
Your own bank will probably charge a fee for using ATMs abroad; the foreign bank you use may also charge a fee. Nevertheless, you'll usually get a better rate of exchange at an ATM than you will at a currency-exchange office or even when changing money in a bank. And extracting funds as you need them is a safer option than carrying around a large amount of cash.
EFTPOS (Electronic Fund Transfer at Point of Sale) is widely used in New Zealand stores and gas stations. ATMs are easily found in city and town banks and in shopping malls. The number of ATMs in small rural communities continues to grow, but there are still areas where ATMs or banks are few and far between. For example, there are no ATMs on Stewart Island. All the major banks in New Zealand (Bank of New Zealand, Westpac, and Auckland Savings Bank) accept cards in the Cirrus and Plus networks. The norm for PINs in New Zealand is four digits. If the PIN for your account has a different number of digits, you must change your PIN number before you leave for New Zealand.
MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards throughout New Zealand.
Reporting Lost Cards
American Express (800/528–4800 in U.S.; 12/9271–8666 for New Zealand offices. www.americanexpress.com.)
Diners Club (800/346–377 for New Zealand offices; 09/359–7796 from U.S. www.dinersclub.com.)
MasterCard (800/627-8372 in U.S.; 0800/449140 toll free in New Zealand. www.mastercard.com.)
Visa (800/847–2911 in U.S.; 09/522–3010 for New Zealand offices, toll free. www.visa.com.)
Currency and Exchange
New Zealand's unit of currency is the dollar, divided into 100 cents. Bills are in $100, $50, $10, and $5 denominations. Coins are $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢, and 10¢. At this writing the rate of exchange was NZ$1.16 to the U.S. dollar, NZ$1.22 to the Canadian dollar, NZ$1.89 to the pound sterling, NZ$1.66 to the euro, and NZ$1.26 to the Australian dollar. Exchange rates change on a daily basis.
In New Zealand, be prepared for weather that can turn suddenly and temperatures that vary greatly from day to night, particularly at the change of seasons. Wear layers. You'll appreciate being able to remove or put on a jacket. Take along a light raincoat and umbrella, but remember that plastic raincoats and nonbreathing polyester are uncomfortable in the humid climates of Auckland and its northern vicinity. Many shops in New Zealand sell lightweight and mid-weight merino wool garments, which are expensive but breathe, keep you warm, and don't trap body odor, making them ideal attire for tramping. Don't wear lotions or perfume in humid places like Southland, either, since they attract mosquitoes and other bugs; carry insect repellent. Sand flies seem drawn to black and dark blue colors. Bring a hat with a brim to provide protection from the strong sunlight and sunglasses for either summer or winter; the glare on snow and glaciers can be intense. There's a good chance you'll need warm clothing in New Zealand no matter what the season; a windbreaker is a good idea wherever you plan to be.
Dress is casual in most cities, though top resorts and restaurants may require a jacket and tie. Some bouncers for big city bars will shine a flashlight on your shoes; if you like these kinds of places bring some spiffy spats. In autumn, a light wool sweater or a jacket will suffice for evenings in coastal cities, but winter demands a heavier coat—a raincoat with a zip-out wool lining is ideal. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. You should have a pair of what Kiwis call "tramping boots," or at least running shoes if you're planning to trek, and rubber-sole sandals or canvas shoes for the beaches.
MetService. New Zealand current and forecasted weather. www.metservice.com.
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