New Zealand Travel Guide
Traveling with a laptop does not present any problems in New Zealand, where the electricity supply is reliable. However, you will need a converter and adapter as with other electronic equipment. It pays to carry a spare battery and adapter, because they're expensive and can be hard to replace.
Most accommodations throughout the country, even in smaller, remote areas, provide Wi-Fi connections. Increasingly connections are offered free for guests; however, there remains a lot of inconsistency with regard to the cost and speed. In many cases you will need to pay about NZ$2 or NZ$5 for 10 or 20 minutes, or NZ$10 to NZ$15 for 24-hour coverage. City hotels seem to offer either free or expensive connections, up to NZ$25 for 24 hours. The Cybercafes website lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide.
The country code for New Zealand is 64. When dialing from abroad, drop the initial "0" from the local area code. Main area codes within New Zealand include 09 (Auckland and the North), 04 (Wellington), and 03 (South Island). Dialing from New Zealand to back home, the country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, and 44 for the United Kingdom. The prefixes 0800, 0508, and 0867 are used for toll-free numbers in New Zealand.
Dial 018 for New Zealand directory assistance. For international numbers, dial 0172. To call the Telecom "calling assistance," dial 010; for international operator assistance, dial 0170. To find phone numbers within New Zealand go to the White Pages website www.whitepages.co.nz.
Calling Outside New Zealand
To make international calls directly, dial 00, then the international access code, area code, and number required. The country code for the United States is 1.
AT&T Direct (000–911.)
MCI WorldPhone (000–912.)
Sprint International Access (000–999.)
With the increasing use of mobile phones there are fewer public pay phones to be found. Of those remaining, most phones accept PhoneCards or major credit cards rather than coins. PhoneCards, available in denominations of NZ$5, NZ$10, NZ$20, or NZ$50, are sold at post offices, dairies (convenience stores), tourist centers, and any other shops displaying the green PhoneCard symbol. To use a PhoneCard, lift the receiver, put the card in the slot in the front of the phone, and dial. The cost of the call is automatically deducted from your card; the display on the telephone tells you how much credit you have left at the end of the call. A local call from a public phone costs 70¢. Don't forget to take your PhoneCard with you when you finish your call or those minutes will be lost—or spent by a stranger.
Telecom has a reliable card called Easy Call, which covers minutes to the United States for as low as 3¢ per minute. You can add minutes to the card by using your credit card; unlike a PhoneCard, you don't need to purchase a new one when you're running out of time. Other phone cards include KiaOra and Talk ’n' Save (both sold by Compass Phone Cards), which operate in the same way; you can call the United States for as low as 3.9¢ per minute. You can buy these phone cards at gas stations, dairies, and most hostels.
The Net2Phone Direct Calling Card provides an affordable solution by utilizing local access numbers to make calls utilizing the Internet. This is used in the same manner as a regular calling card, but depending on the area from which you are calling there is sometimes a slight voice delay. Of course, Internet connections such as Skype and Viber can make communications with those back home even easier. It is advisable to use a headset for the best clarity and, if using in a cybercafé or other public area, in consideration of others.
Compass Phone Cards (0800/646–444 toll-free in New Zealand.)
Telecom Easy Call (0800/789–888 toll-free in New Zealand.)
Customs of the Country
In general, Kiwis are accommodating folk who are more likely to good-naturedly tease you about a cultural faux pas than to take offense, but there are a few etiquette points to keep in mind. First, the word "kiwi" refers to either people (New Zealanders) or to the protected kiwi bird, but not the kiwifruit. (If you’re asking for the fruit, ask for the whole thing: kiwifruit.) Also, don't lump New Zealanders in with Australians. A New Zealand accent does not sound just like an Australian one, or a British accent for that matter, and a Kiwi will be the first to point this out.
Be considerate of Māori traditions. For instance, marae, the area in front of a meetinghouse, should not be entered unless you are invited or unless it's in use as a cultural center. Only use the traditional hongi (touching foreheads and noses in greeting) when someone else initiates it.
If you're visiting someone's house, take along a small gift. Among gestures, avoid the "V" symbol with the first two fingers with the palm facing in—an offensive vulgarity.
Kiwi English can be mystifying. The colloquialisms alone can make things puzzling, not to mention rural slang. Known as "cow cockie" talk, this is what you'll hear when "girls" refers to someone's cows, and "gummies" (galoshes) are the favored footwear.
The Māori language has added many commonly used words to the New Zealand lexicon. For instance, the Māori greeting is kia ora, which can also mean "thank you," "good-bye," "good health," or "good luck." You'll hear it from everyone, Pākehā (non-Māori) and Māori alike. Many place names are Māori as well and can be so long as to seem unpronounceable. (A Māori word stands as the longest place-name in the world.)
The biggest communication glitch between New Zealanders and visitors often involves the Kiwis' eloquent use of the understatement. This facet of Kiwi speech is both blessing and curse. Everything sounds relaxed and easygoing... but if you're trying to judge something like distance or difficulty you may run into trouble. No matter how far away something is, people often say it's "just down the road" or "just over the hill." Ask specific questions to avoid a misunderstanding.
If you are driving a road maggot (campervan), be considerate of the drivers behind you. Pull over when safe and possible to let them pass.
There is etiquette when visiting a marae, best illustrated in the book Te Marae: A Guide to Māori Protocol, available through Raupo Publishing (www.penguin.co.nz).
New Zealand is big on sheep, and you might lose smarty points if you ask dumb sheep questions. "When do you cut their fur?" or "When do their tails fall off?" will elicit laughter: sheep have wool, and their tails are cut off as young lambs, a month or so after they are born. And remember, there isn't a sheep joke here that hasn't been heard.
Mobile-communications networks cover pretty much all of New Zealand, which operate on the GSM system. U.S.-based CDMA phones will work, as long as the phone has a dual-band switch so it can be switched to GSM. Contact your provider about specific requirements for your phone. Once in New Zealand you can purchase a SIM card (prices from NZ$25 to NZ$55). Keep in mind, however, that the phone must be unlocked.
Low-cost cell phones can also be purchased at Auckland, Queenstown, and Christchurch airports starting from NZ$29, or NZ$49 with credit, or a prepaid service plan. Look for a Vodafone stand in the arrival area of each airport.
Roaming fees can be steep: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a really low set fee (often less than 5¢).
If you just want to make local calls, buying a SIM card or cheap phone means you'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates.
If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.
Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobal.com.
Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.
Vodaphone (09/275–8154 or. www.vodarent.co.nz.)
It is illegal to drive and use a handheld mobile phone in New Zealand.