Top events in New Zealand

April
01

The town of bursts into a palette of beautiful golds, reds and burnt oranges in Autumn, so much so that artists and painters alike, are inspired...

April
10

The Echo Walking Festival has been designed to give local and visiting ramblers a structured timetable in which to sample the scenic delights of...

April
22

One of the largest festivals in Australasia with international and local artists.

Milford Sound, New Zealand
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Milford Sound, New Zealand

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New Zealand Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

270,534 sq km (104,454 sq miles).

Population

4.4 million (2013).

Population density

16.1 per sq km.

Capital

Wellington.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Jerry Mateparae since 2011.

Head of government

Prime Minister John Key since 2008.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs have three angled flat pins. Most hotels provide 110-volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only.

Widely held to be one of the most breathtaking countries on the planet, New Zealand is a phenomenal travel destination. The rugged mountains and remote valleys that thrust the destination into the world’s spotlight through The Lord of the Rings trilogy tell only part of the story – you’ll also find beaches, fjords, lakes and gorgeous swathes of forest, not to mention age-old Maori culture, forward-looking cities and, famously, a world-class array of outdoor activities. Not only does it pack a punch as hard as an All Black tackle, but it's also incredibly easy to travel around. What’s not to love?

Split into two main landmasses – the North and South Islands –New Zealand is a deceptively diverse and complicated destination that rewards both first-time and repeat visitors. The North Island is less visually dramatic than its southern counterpart, but it is home to around two thirds of the country’s inhabitants. The majority of the major urban centres are here, including the capital, Wellington, and the increasingly dynamic city of Auckland. But nature is still a major player, thanks to volcanoes, thermal regions and the magnificent Bay of Islands.

The South Island is home to far fewer people, but boasts the country’s most spectacular scenery. Empty beaches, soaring mountain ranges, glaciers, fjords, wide-open expanses – they’re all here. Outdoor enthusiasts can take their pick from tramping (hiking), cycling, climbing, white-water rafting, caving, zorbing, sky-diving, bungee jumping and more. Christchurch, a city bouncing back with extraordinary creativity from earthquake damage, is also here.

New Zealand has also developed into one of the cleanest and greenest countries in the world. There are 14 national parks throughout the country and almost a quarter of New Zealand is protected land. What else? There’s wildlife, wine and a cultural resurgence that’s seeing local films, literature and art gaining more and more attention.

The country’s overall blend of Maori and European culture provide New Zealand with a unique character – and its landscapes provide it with a unique setting.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 26 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Crime levels are generally low, but street crime occurs in major towns and cities. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars and camper vans in major tourist areas (the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Don’t leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms. Use the hotel safe if possible. Keep passports, travellers’ cheques, credit cards, etc separate.

Local travel

There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors, including during extreme sports activities. If you are taking part in extreme sports check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you are visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Make sure you register your details with a visitor information centre or leave details with family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.

Road travel  

While road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a while to get used to local driving conditions. Even the main highways can be narrow, winding and hilly.

In 2012 there were 308 road deaths in New Zealand (source: DfT). This equates to 7.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.

Read a copy of the Road Code (the official guide to traffic rules and traffic safety) before driving.

UK driving licences are valid for use for a maximum of 12 months. You should take out private motor vehicle insurance.

Accident victims do not have a legal right to sue a third party in the event of an accident in New Zealand. Instead the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) helps pay for your care if you are injured as the result of an accident. However, the ACC only covers the cost of treatment in New Zealand and delayed travel or loss of income in a third country is not covered. You should make sure you have travel and accident insurance. 

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