Frequently asked questions
Travelling to New Zealand — new Visa requirements
From 1 October 2019, some visitors and transit passengers must have an Electronic Travel Authority and pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy before travelling to NZ.
Before you travel to New Zealand, please check if you need an New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).
Further information here -
Why should my dream vacation be with Real New Zealand Tours?
- We offer self-drive and private driver trips (fully guided) also escorted small coach tours with bespoke customised itineraries prepared by New Zealand based travel specialists
- We are one of the world's best boutique luxury travel specialists, try us - you'll like us
- We are 100% "Kiwi" owned - New Zealand based and specialise only in New Zealand touring
Please also refer to our Testimonial pages and our 5 Star Trip Reviews -
- We care about you! and therefore include much more than others, please see below
- Geoff has over 25 years of Tourism Industry experience and will personally help you plan your trip
- With every confirmed booking you will receive your very own personal programme with handy hints
- You will travel daily in superb luxury and comfort in our modern spacious air-conditioned vehicles
- Kiwis are proud of our unique and fascinating Maori culture, which we will share intimately with you
- We have rich tales to share of our history, our legends and our future, immerse yourself in real New Zealand
- We donate funds to a non-profit making Penguin Conservation project managed by Dr Chris Challies, a world leading authority on Penguins. When booking your trip with Real New Zealand Tours you are actively supporting this wonderful project to protect endangered White-Flippered Penguins, thank you.
- Your preferred standard of accommodation
- Suitable luxury transport as requested or advised
- Some attractions and activities as per your itinerary
- New Zealand Government Goods & Services Tax (G.S.T.)
- Our quality customer care service 24/7 regarding any questions or concerns while in N.Z.
- All fees payable to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, National Parks, World Heritage sites etc
- We include in all Real New Zealand Tours a "Meet and Greet" service for all our valued visitors, so on arrival and departure from the airport, we will take good care of you
Included at no extra cost with Private driver trips (fully guided)
- Lake Taupo famous Huka falls
- Diamond lake walk, hike Wanaka
- Ata Whenua scenic movie Te Anau
- Kaikoura Ohau point waterfall Seal colony
- Auckland spectacular Mount Eden lookout
- Wellington spectacular Mount Victoria lookout
- Te Papa “must see” National museum Wellington
- Sightseeing Arrowtown historic gold mining village
- Walk, hike Aoraki - Mount Cook National park Hooker valley - icebergs
- Lake Tekapo, Mount John café, Lonely Planet rate as one of the top café’s in the world!
- Yealands Internationally Award winning Seddon "Seaview" winery, the world’s most sustainable
- Personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, communication charges, WiFi, etc
- Any airfares (unless specified) any Travel insurance, personal spending, lunches, dinners, optional attractions and activities
- Any gratuities, tips. While visiting New Zealand it is not Kiwi custom nor common to tip, however whenever you experience exceptional service, then you may well be inclinded to offer say a tip of 10% (of a restaurant meal for example)
What is a ‘Kiwi’?
The Kiwi, New Zealand's National emblem, is a flightless bird with poor eyesight but has a very strong sense of smell. With hair-like feathers and a long, slender bill which it uses to pull worms and insects out of the ground. Found only in New Zealand, it is nocturnal, so only active at night in wilderness isolated areas of the country. You are welcome to visit one of the many "Kiwi houses" where you can watch these fascinationg creatures under special ‘nocturnal’ lighting.
New Zealanders often refer to themselves as Kiwis, and the name is also used for world-famous Kiwifruit. On the stock exchange, the New Zealand Dollar is also referred to as ’the Kiwi’.
Keep in touch with loved ones, family and friends, most locations we stay at provide this either complimentary or for a very small fee.
Most of our accommodation providers offer this service for a very small fee, including drying facilities
New Zealand has a temperate mild climate in summer with high sunshine hours similar to Italy and Florida, and with only moderate rainfall. Much of the country lies near the coast, which means mild temperatures. The average temperature decreases as you travel south. December, January and February are the warmest months with June, July and August being the coldest months of the year. In Auckland, North Island, summer temperatures average 24C/75F, with on average eight days rain each summer. Christchurch, South Island, summer temperatures average 22C/72F and has on average seven days of rain during summer. We do recommed daily to carry a jacket - our weather can be very changeable
When is the best time to visit New Zealand?
Summer is best, mid October to the end of April when the climate is near perfect with long hot days and daylight saving time. January and February are the hottest months. October to the end of April is the busiest visitor period, therefore the months of September and May are ideal as it is not too busy these months. School holidays are mid December to late January. In January and February sometimes it can be very difficult to secure your preferred accommodation unless you have pre booked well in advance, especially in locations like Christchurch, Queenstown, Wanaka and Nelson (South Island) and in Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo (North Island).
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly recommend full Travel insurance prior to any travel.
Although New Zealand is one of the safest destinations in the world, you should still maintain the same sensible precautions with your personal safety and possessions as you would in any other country or when at home. We strongly recommend you arrange comprehensive travel insurance cover before departing home. No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand.
New Zealand has a truly world-class injury scheme called Accident Compensation Cover. This means that in the unlikely event you are injured while in New Zealand - you should well be entitled to help. It is important to note that A.C.C. is only for accidental injury cover.
If you were hiking and you twisted your ankle, or you fell off a horse - your medical care would be covered by A.C.C. However, if you felt ill, sick, and wished to see a doctor, you would not be covered by ACC.
What currency is used in New Zealand?
The same New Zealand dollar is used in both the North and South Islands. There are many free mobile apps you can download 24/7 to check currency exchange rates.
Money, tax, tipping
New Zealand banks are normally open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, seven days a week. All major credit/debit cards are accepted (they must have a four digit pin) if you are not sure about this please check with your bank before departing. It is also prudent to notify your bank of which country you are travelling to (with dates). ATMs (Automatic teller machines) are widely available. All goods and services include a government tax of 15% (G.S.T.). Tipping is not common and certainly not expected, however when you feel the service given has been exceptional perhaps you could kindly tip to show your appreciation, maybe 10% of your bill.
Three official languages spoken
English, Maori and New Zealand Sign language.
Our Guides (Private driver trips)
Generally, our guides speak only English, Spanish, French or German, however if you require any other foreign speaking guide please advise us in advance of your tour and we will be pleased to arrange this for you.
Dress and clothing recommended
Day to day dress is informal and casual, even when dining (supper) in the evening. It is recommended you carry a jacket or sweater most of the time, New Zealand’s weather can change quickly especially in the mountains or high country and at altitude.
What is the voltage of electricity supply in New Zealand? Do I need to take a converter?
Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz), although most hotels and motels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept flat three or two-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.
New Zealand Law requires that all new buildings and any major reconstruction provide reasonable and adequate access for people of all abilities. Mobility car parks are common.
New Zealand can be very proud of its efforts in this regard. Our beautiful country is very user friendly for all abilities. Mobility access is common in restaurants, retail shops, malls, public toilets, public facilities, and parks. We warmly welcome all abilities.
Are there any poisonous animals in New Zealand?
New Zealand has no snakes nor dangerous wild animals like lions and tigers! making it very safe for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities.
Is it safe to drink tap water in New Zealand?
New Zealand cities and towns mostly have excellent water supplies and in most locations tap water is fresh and safe to drink, if not, there will be a notice on the wall or similar, to advise you not to drink this water (or talk to the locals on arrival). Smaller remote locations and villages, say along the West Coast of the South Island for example - we would recommend buying and drinking bottled water only. Any water taken directly from rivers, streams and lakes should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered before drinking to avoid stomach upsets. This does not mean these areas are neccessarily polluted, however New Zealand is covered by many farms and you never know with 100% certainty whether an animal has perhaps died and fallen into a water-way
Customs & Quarantine requirements
Please visit Customs New Zealand and Bio Security New Zealand websites for updated information on what food items and others that can be bought into New Zealand.
Please be warned, New Zealand has very strict importation rules because being a small island nation there is a great need to protect the agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture industries.
Do I need to book ahead?
Yes highly recommended, New Zealand’s peak tourism season runs from October through to the end of April and is busiest in mid summer months, December to February. During this period it is strongly recommended that you book any tours well in advance to ensure the availability of your preferred accommodation. Outside these months there is a less need to book in advance, except in resort towns such as Queenstown, Wanaka, and Rotorua.
Please note: You may at times be asked for your credit card details or other form of security when you check in at your accommodation. This is at the discretion of each accommodation provider and is in no way a policy of Real New Zealand Tours Limited.
School Holidays in New Zealand
The most up to date details for School Holidays in New Zealand can be found at www.moe.govt.nz
Drone use in New Zealand
If you are intending to use a drone for capturing footage while on holiday in New Zealand, it is important to be aware of New Zealand's rules and regulations surrounding their use.
Please visit this airshare website below for more information -
Our "Kiwi" Tips To You ...
Best priced souvenirs and genuine Kiwi woollen products visit "Tin Shed" Rangitata 2 hours south of Christchurch road to Aoraki-Mount Cook and Geraldine. Ask for Rose she'll look after you, I've known Rose for 27 years! - say Geoff, Real New Zealand Tours recommended them! Located on a working sheep and grain farm, enjoy
Travel tip 2, when visiting Franz Josef glacier village, this is very cool, book the Blue Ice restaurant and be picked up in a stretched limousine! (ex Las Vagas) a truly fun way to start and end your evening. Chris is the driver, book with Alma (owner) once again mention Geoff, Real New Zealand Tours recommended them - she’ll look after you bigtime!
More handy "Kiwi" tips ...
Auckland don't miss our beautiful Viaduct basin, luxury boats, yachts, Americas Cup base and fine dining in a lovely vibrant harbourside setting
Wellington a drive up Mount Victoria well worth the time
Kaikoura best dining"The Pier" fresh fish caught daily. Drive up top of the Peninsula for stunnung 360 views on a clear day - an awesome sight
Christchurch best dining the "Curators House" Botanical gardens beside the beautiful tranquil Avon river - Spanish cuisine
Queenstown best dining the "Bazaar" restaurant 6th floor Rydges hotel, book early - and a window seat. Watch up close 5 International chefs, open kitchen, unique and well worth a visit
West Coast, just south of Hokitika don't miss beautiful Lake Mahinapua, turn off to the right signposted, old hotel on left
Te Anau enjoy a local movie Ata Whenua
Milford Sound don't forget your sandfly insect repellant. Cool track behind the buildings, cafe, petrol pump - fabulous views on a clear day, quite steep but worth the effort. The headstone of the very first settlers can be seen.
Please contact us for further information, after all we have over 26 years' of local Kiwi experience!.