New Zealand Travel Planning
General Travel Information
New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. Capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum. Wellington’s dramatic Mt. Victoria, along with the South Island’s Fiordland and Southern Lakes as simply spectacular. The population of New Zealand is just 4 million people so it is wonderfully uncrowded!
The majority of flights arrive in Auckland (AKL), New Zealand’s largest city located towards the top of the North Island. Domestic flights connect Auckland with 24 other airports throughout the country. The average flight time from the United States west coast is 12 hours.
Try not to over pack. Most hotels offer laundry service. Proper golf attire is required (t-shirts, collarless shirts, un-cuffed golf shorts are not allowed on the courses or in the clubhouses). Casual wear for the evening. Suggest packing a few warm jackets & long sleeve shirts. Rain jacket and waterproof shoes recommended as well (hopefully not needed!).
We highly recommend traveling with a light carry golf bag in a canvas style carrying case. Large golf bags and hard carrying cases can cause problems when traveling since it takes up a lot of vehicle space.
New Zealand is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +12 Standard time). In their daylight months (last Sunday in September until first Sunday in April), the clock is moved forward one hour (GMT +13 Daylight time).
New Zealand is seventeen (17) hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time during their daylight months.
When it is 12 midnight in New Zealand, it is:
- 7 am in New York, Montreal, Atlanta, and Miami
- 6 am in Chicago, Dallas, and Winnipeg
- 4 am in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver
The time conversion websites are most useful!
To call home to the US direct, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number. If you decide to call from your hotel room, always check the cost as an additional service charge is generally added by the hotel. These charges can be expensive! You can have your mobile phone activated by your service provider to use it either for text messages only or text and call.
Customs operates on the red (declare) & green (nothing to declare) channel system. For more detailed information, we suggest visiting www.customs.gov on the Internet. US, Canadian & UK citizens do not require a Visitor Visa for entry to New Zealand (other nationals will need to check to see if there country has a visa wavier agreement). For Americans, a passport is required for identification. Visitors from other countries require a passport valid for at least three months longer than their intended stay.
New Zealand’s unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$). All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand, with Visa and MasterCard accepted most widely. Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2. Notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres.
New Zealand banks are open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday. Some are also during weekends. Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.
Goods & Services Tax
All goods and services are subject to a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) included in the displayed price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back, however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor’s home address the GST will not be charged.
Tipping in New Zealand is not obligatory, even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for good service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add service charges to their bills.
Golf Club Information
Visitors are welcome in the clubhouses in New Zealand. After golf smart casual attire is suggested.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Many clubs throughout New Zealand will not allow golf shoes (spiked or spike less) in the clubhouse. We advise bringing a pair of street shoes with you to each golf course.
Carts & Caddies
Riding carts and caddies (where available) can be requested in advance by The Golf Travel Group. Cart fees can be included as part of your tour package and in some cases inclusive of the green fee. Caddie fees are paid direct on the day of play in local currency.
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club, however, handicap cards are not mandatory for play.
New Zealand is home to a temperate climate with high sunshine hours and moderate rainfall. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as quite cold in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures. The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.
Vibrant and uplifting, spring in New Zealand lasts from September to November. Average daytime temperatures during spring range between 19 degrees Celsius (66F) in the north to 16 degrees Celsius (60F) in the south. Expect a mixture of weather — crisp, sunny days can briskly change to cooler temperatures with spring showers.
Opposite to that of the northern hemisphere, New Zealand’s balmy summer season runs from December to February. With average high temperatures ranging from 21 degrees Celsius to 26 degrees Celsius (80F), summer in New Zealand is hot without being muggy. Sunshine hours are high, and rain is not overly common in most places.
Avoid the crowds, but still enjoy the sunshine — Autumn is a great time to travel in New Zealand. Long, sunny days tend to linger long into New Zealand’s autumn, and with average high temperatures of between 18C and 25C (78F), you’ll hardly notice summer has ‘officially’ ended. Nights begin to get chilly around mid-April. Because it’s no longer high season, you won’t encounter the busy crowds.
New Zealand’s mountains come alive with skiers & snowboarders in winter, & the crisp days are perfect for walking, cycling and soaking in hot pools. While our winter months do bring cooler weather and rain to parts of the country, many locations only experience a mild winter. High temperatures range from between 10 to 16 degrees Celsius (48 – 60F), but our ‘winterless North’ hardly experiences colder days at all. In the South Island, frosts and heavy snowfall is common — ski season is world-class.
Other Items To Know
Exploring New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes by car, campervan or motorhome is a popular way to get around.
In New Zealand they drive on the left hand side of the road and their vehicles seat the driver on the right. Always drive on the left hand side of the road in New Zealand. If you’re used to driving on the right hand side of the road, this can be a challenge at first to remember especially when pulling out into traffic. Remember — if you are driving, you will be seated in the middle of the road — your front seat passenger will be the on edge of the road.
New Zealand’s diverse terrain means roads are often narrow, hilly and windy with plenty of sharp corners. Outside of the main cities, there are very few motorways. Most of our roads are single lane in each direction without barriers in between. Maps don’t show how narrow and windy roads can be. What might look like a short trip can take a long time so always allow for more time than you think you might require.
Speed limits and road signs will be well posted.
New Zealand Is On The Metric
New Zealand follows the international metric system. Temperature, distance, velocity and weights are in metric units. 1km is equal to .6 mile. 80 km/hour is equal to 50 mph. 28 degrees C is equal to 80 degrees F.
While English is the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, there are two actual official languages in New Zealand. Maori became an official language in 1987 while in April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Maori.
Major Cities & Regions
Geographically, over three-quarters of the population live in the North Island, with one-third of the total population living in Auckland. The other main cities of Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton are where the majority of the remaining New Zealanders (Kiwis) dwell.
- Wellington (capital city, located on the southern end of the North Island)
- Auckland (most populated / Auckland International Airport)
- Hamilton (famous for being chosen to play The Shire in The Lord of the Rings & Hobbit movies)
- Christchurch (stretches out from the ocean to the Alps and full of variety)
- Queenstown (one of the most visited regions)
- Fiordland (one of the most dramatic & beautiful areas to explore)
Passport & Drivers’ License
A valid U.S., Canadian or other national passport is required. To drive a car, a valid driver’s license is sufficient.
You do not need a visa to visit New Zealand if you are:
- Australian citizen or resident
- UK citizen and/or passport holder (you can stay up to six months)
- A citizen and passport holder of the USA, Canada or another country which has a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand (you can stay up to three months).
If you don’t meet the above, then you’ll need a visitor visa, which allows you to holiday in New Zealand for up to nine months.
Credit Cards & ATMs
Most credit cards are widely accepted and are useful for buying gas, shopping, dining out, etc. The most widely used are Visa and MasterCard. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are open 24-hours daily. At ATMs displaying the Cirrus, Plus or Interac international banking network symbols, visitors can withdraw New Zealand funds using their own personal automated banking cards or credit cards. The visitors’ bank sets the exchange rate. In addition, be sure to advise your bank and credit card company that you are traveling and will be using your credit card for purchases in New Zealand.
Golf Handicap Card
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club, however, it is not mandatory to play the courses.
In New Zealand, electricity is at 230 or 240 volts; therefore, an adaptor is necessary for most electrical appliances. Some of the hotels have sockets for electric razors at 110 volts. The best place to purchase such an adaptor is before your flight at the international airport duty free shop, as they are not generally stocked in local stores.
Vacation Travel Insurance
There are varieties of travel insurance that cover everything from health and accident costs, to lost baggage and trip cancellation. They can be obtained with one blanket policy, or they may overlap with coverage you already have. It is best to consult your insurance agent to determine what coverage is best for you.