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 here 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$1.21 to the U.S. dollar, NZ$1.09 to the Canadian dollar, NZ$2.01 to the pound sterling, NZ$1.65 to the euro, and NZ$1.06 to the Australian dollar. Exchange rates change on a daily basis.