Postcards cost 50c to send within New Zealand 2-3 days and $1.80 to send internationally 3-10 days. Letters up to DL size 130mm×235mm cost the same as postcards within New Zealand and to Australia and the South Pacific, with letters to other destinations costing $1.80 for economy service 10-25 days, and $2.30 for standard service 6-10 days.
New Zealand has a well developed and ubiquitous telephone system. The country's main phone company, Telecom, claims as of 2009 to have about 4000 payphones in NZ which can be easily identified by their yellow and blue colours. All of them accept major credit cards and a variety of phonecards available from retailers. You may have to look hard for a payphone that accepts coins.
The country code is 64. New Zealand telephone numbers can be looked up online at (http://www.whitepages.co.nz).
The emergency telephone number from all telephones is 111 you may need to use a prefix to get an outside line from business systems, usually 1. An emergency services call is normally answered with a voice request for Police, Fire or Ambulance, respond as appropriate and you will then be switched to the requested service. Other common international emergency numbers like 112, 911 and 999 may also work, but do not rely on it
New Zealand has a very high level of ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer, around 40% more intense than you will find in the Mediterranean during the summer. Sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended, especially if you are of European descent.
Visiting the doctor will cost about $50 and may vary between practices and localities. The New Zealand public hospital system is free of charge to Australian, British and New Zealand citizens but will charge other nationals for treatment received. An exception to this is in the case of any accident when the Accident Compensation Commission ACC will pick up the tab. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
New Zealand has high and equitable standards of professional health care comparable with Sweden or Australia. Tap water is drinkable but precautions should be taken against Giardia when tramping.
New Zealand has five nationwide free-to-air television channels, as well as some regional stations and several networks with sub-national coverage.
Free-to-air digital television is being rolled out with a total of 25 channels being broadcast.
Cable television is not well developed, but direct broadcast satellite technology is available across the nation, with both free-to-air Freeview Satellite (http://freeviewnz.tv/) and pay television through the Sky network.
Most hotels and motels have the national channels, some Sky channels and whatever else is broadcast in the local area. Most New Zealand televisions are equipped to handle Teletext which provides news, weather, sport, etc. in text format. The main page is page 100. Page 431, for example, is Auckland Airport arrivals and departures. Page 801 provides a caption text service for some TV programs which allows hearing impaired people to read subtitles.
New Zealand has a large number of radio stations, on both AM and FM, with at least one local station and a number of nationwide network stations broadcast in each major city or town.
National Radiois a government funded, non-commercial, spoken features style national network with some music. It broadcasts news and detailed weather forecasts, generally hourly, with detailed mountain and marine forecasts a couple of times a day on both AM and FM around 101 MHz FM. Operated by Radio New Zealand (http://www.radionz.co.nz).
There are a number of FM visitor information stations around the country.
relationship with australia
While Australia and New Zealand have close foreign policy ties, considerable intermigration and overlapping cultures, saying New Zealanders are basically Australians will not gain you any New Zealander or Australian friends. Although Australians and New Zealanders may seem the same to you, they do not consider themselves the same. It is pretty much the same relationship as with Canadians and Americans or with Irish and British.
Some Australians may joke about New Zealand being another state of Australia, but that does not make it one. In many ways, Australia and New Zealand have a similar outlook towards the other, with the same cliched jokes being made.
Despite the jokes about New Zealand, many Australians have a genuine affection for the New Zealanders. This can be traced back to ANZAC Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, participation in two world wars, particularly the Gallipoli campaign, North African Campaign, Korea, Vietnam, the Malaya Crisis, Solomon Islands, etc.
Generally, New Zealand English expressions follows British English. However, New Zealand English has also borrowed much from Maori and there are a number of other phrases that are not commonly encountered elsewhere or may confuse the visitor.
Bachpron. "batch" - Holiday home; often by the beach and comprised of fairly basic accommodation. In the South Island often called a crib.
Bring a platesee also; "Ladies a plate" means each attendant of the event should bring a plate of food to share with the other guests.
BYOBring Your Own. An addition to the name of a restaurant that may not have a liquor licence means that it is okay to bring your own wine to enjoy with your food, but they often charge a small corkage fee.
Clayton'sDescribing something as a Clayton's means that the item lacks full functionality or is a poor imitation of the real thing. From the name of the unsuccessful non-alcoholic whisky that was briefly marketed during the late 1970s/early 1980s under the catch phrase The drink you're having when you are not having a drink.
DairyConvenience store; corner shop, one few outsiders understand though heavily used by locals and find problems when travelling overseas and are surprised when asking where the dairy is.
Entry by gold (or silver) coin (donation)The admission charge to an event, exhibit, gallery or museum is by making a payment of a coin in the appropriate metal, often in the donation box at the door. The gold coins in NZ are the $1 and $2 coins, while silver are the 20c and 50c coins, and the 10c coin is copper. See also "Koha" below.
Half PieUsually a job or task not performed to satisfaction cf Maori Pai = good
JandalsFlip-flops to most of the world; Thongs to you Australians.
KiwiAlmost universally used for a "New Zealander"; named after an endangered flightless bird that lays the largest egg relative to body size and is one of the national emblems. This is not a derogatory term with most New Zealanders happily referring to themselves as Kiwis.
GlidetimeFlexible working hours, often worked by public servants. Under this system, workers can start and finish work at hours of their choosing between 7AM and 6PM, although they must work the core hours of 9.30AM-noon and 2PM-3.30PM and average 40 hours per week. Also the name of a comedy play about such workers.
Severe weather is by far the most common natural hazard encountered in New Zealand. Although New Zealand is not subject to the direct hit of tropical cyclones, stormy weather systems, from both the tropics and the polar regions, can sweep across New Zealand at various times of the year. There is generally a seven to ten day cycle of a few days of wet or stormy weather followed by calmer and drier days as weather systems move across the country. The phrase four seasons in one day is a good description of New Zealand weather, which has a reputation for both changeability and unpredictability. The phrase is also a popular Kiwi song.
Weather forecasts are generally reliable for overall trends and severe weather warnings should be heeded when broadcast. However both the timing and intensity of any weather events should be assessed from your own location.
You should always seek advice from the Department of Conservation when trekking in alpine areas. There are annual fatalities of both foreign nationals and New Zealanders caught unaware by the weather.
There are other natural hazards you may encounter, though far more rarely:
Strong earthquakesNew Zealand, being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, sits astride a tectonic plate boundary and experiences large numbers about 14,000/year of small earthquakes every year, a few about 200/year are noticeable and the occasional one causes damage and sometimes loss of life. The last big one causing serious loss of life was on 22 February 2011 10 km south east of Christchurch. It was a 6.3 magnitude with the depth a only 5 km, the death toll is expected to reach 200-220. The latest quake news is reported by GeoNet (http://www.geonet.org.nz/).
Volcanic eruptionsNew Zealand has a number of volcanoes that are classified as active or dormant. Only Mount Ruapehu and White Island have been active recently. Volcanic activity is monitored by GeoNet.
There are almost no poisonous or substantially dangerous animals. The katipo and redback are the only two venomous spiders and bites from both species are extremely rare. Serious reactions are uncommon and unlikely to develop in less than three hours, though you should always seek help at your nearest hospital, medical centre, or doctor. The white-tailed spider can also deliver painful bites but is not considered dangerous to humans. (http://www.healthed.govt....) No large mammalian predators are present and no large predatory reptiles. Certain species of Weta an insect, that looks a bit like a huge grasshopper or cricket can deliver a painful but harmless bite.
crime and security
While difficult to make international comparisons, the level of crime in New Zealand is similar to other western countries. Dishonesty offences, such as theft, are by far the most frequent type of crime. Travellers should take simple, sensible precautions such as putting valuables away out of sight or in a secure place and locking doors of vehicles, even in remote locations, as much of this crime is opportunistic in nature.
Violent crime in public places is generally associated with alcohol or illicit drug consumption. Rowdy bars or drunken crowds in city centres, or groups of youths in the suburbs, are best avoided, especially late at night and in the early morning. New Zealanders can be somewhat lacking in a sense of humour when their country or their sporting teams are mocked by loud or drinking tourists.
There are occasional disturbing high profile media reports of tourists being targeted in random violent robberies and/or sexual crimes. These crimes tend to happen in more isolated places, where the chances of the offender being observed by other people are low. The chance of falling victim to such misfortune is still low. Although crime statistics reflect an increase in violent crime, the increase is entirely explained by increased detection of family violence, a key focus area for Police. Tourists are unlikely to be affected, as such crimes usually take place in the privacy of New Zealanders own homes.
The New Zealand Police (http://www.police.govt.nz), a national force, are generally polite and helpful. Police regularly conduct drink-drive blitzes, often setting up screening checkpoints all around an area, including all lanes of motorways. Being caught drinking and driving will result in being invited to accompany the officer to a police station, or a roadside Booze Bus for an evidential breath test, blood test, or both. Being found with excess breath alcohol, or refusal to undertake testing will result in an arrest, appearance in Court, with a possibility of time in prison, as well as a hefty fine and disqualification from driving.
Fixed and mobile speed cameras as well as hand held and car speed detectors are used frequently. Police have no official discretion for speeding offences and will write tickets for all vehicles caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 km/h. In some locations, such as near schools, even exceeding the speed limit by only 5km/h will result in a ticket. Police have recently upgraded their pursuit training, following a number of deaths of both offenders and innocent third parties during vehicle pursuits.
In New Zealand, armed police are highly unusual and usually rate a mention in the media. Although all police officers are trained to handle firearms, these are normally openly carried only when the situation requires such weapons, such as an armed offender. Traditionally, New Zealand police carry only batons and offender control pepper spray. Tasers are currently being introduced in Wellington and Auckland. However, first response patrols will generally have recourse to firearms locked in their vehicle.