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New Zealand

New Zealand is spread over three relatively small islands with modern and efficient transport, quiet roads, plenty of flights and two stunningly scenic rail journeys. The plant and animal life are also excellent offering opportunities to see the varied birdlife (including kiwis), seals, dolphins and whales. Enjoy the chance to explore two of the richest New World wine regions on the planet, taste wonderful cuisine, stroll on moody beaches, tramp through the national parks or over alpine passes.

Practical Information

Area: 270 534 km² (104 454 miles²)

Capital: Wellington. Population: 423 765

Population: 4 million

Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD symbol: NZ$) = 100 cents

Government: Constitutional monarchy since 1907.

Tipping: Service charges and taxes are not added to hotel or restaurant bills. Tips are not expected.

Legal drinking age: The minimum drinking age in a bar is 18

Time zone: New Zealand: GMT + 12 (GMT + 13 from the first Sunday in October to the third Sunday in March), Chatham Island: GMT + 1275 (GMT + 1375 from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March)

Languages: English

Additional descriptions

New Zealand: Social customs

Should a visitor be invited to a formal Maori occasion, the hongi (pressing of noses) is common. Casual dress is widely acceptable. New Zealanders are generally very relaxed and hospitable. Stiff formalityRead more is rarely appreciated and, after introductions, first names are generally used. Smoking is restricted where indicated. It is banned in pubs and restaurants.

New Zealand: Food and local specialties

New Zealand has a reputation as a leading producer of meat and dairy produce with lamb, beef and pork on most menus. Venison is also widely available. Locally produced vegetables, such as kumara (a sweetRead more potato), are good. There is also a wide range of fish available, including snapper, grouper and John Dory. Seasonal delicacies such as whitebait, oysters, crayfish, scallops and game birds are recommended. New Zealand is also establishing a reputation for French-type cheeses: bleu de Bresse, brie, camembert and montagne bleu. Things to know: Many picnic areas with barbecue facilities are provided at roadside sites. Restaurants are usually informal except for very exclusive ones. Waiter service is normal, but self-service and fast-food chains are also available. Some restaurants invite the customer to ‘BYO’ (bring your own liquor). Bars have counter service and public bars are very informal. Lounge bars and ‘house bars’ (for hotel guests only) are sometimes more formal and occasionally have table service. There is some variation in licensing hours in major cities and some hotel bars open Sunday, providing a meal is eaten. In most hotels and taverns, licensing hours are 1100-2300 except Sunday. The national specialties are: Kumara (native sweet potato) in Auckland. Feijoa (local fruit) and golden-fleshed Zespri Gold kiwi fruit from the Bay of Plenty. Battered fish and chips from Gisbourne. Pavlova (a large roundcake with a meringue base topped with cream and fruit) from Taranaki. Salmon and mussels from Marlborough. New Zealand boasts world-class domestic wines and beers, some of which have won international awards. A wide range of domestic and imported wines, spirits and beers is available from hotel bars, ‘liquor stores’ and wine shops. Merlot (Auckland and Wairarapa), Chardonnay (Bay of Plenty, Gisbourne, Wairarapa and Canterbury), Pinot Gris and Noir (Auckland, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Central Otago), Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough and Wairarapa). New Zealand draught beer and lager.

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