UK and other European Economic Association member driving licenses as well as American, Canadian, Australian, etc driving licenses are valid for use in New Zealand. However, on 01/06/06 a new law was introduced stating that in the event of a random police road check (or other police check) any renter (or registered driver) whose national driving license is not in English must also carry and present an internatonal driving license or an official and legally recognised English translation. In both cases the national driving license must also be presented alongside this document and no exceptions to this ruling are accepted. There is normally a minimum age limit for vehicle hires that also applies. We have dedicated a special section entitled 'Important rental info' for each of our rental company partners on our website where you can obtain more specific information on this subject.
Traffic drives on the left hand side and it is compulsory to wear a seatbelt. On the open road and in small town areas there are especially few vehicles on the roads. There are a number of roads that are narrow and winding and it is therefore advisable to factor this in when planning out your driving route.
Petrol and diesel costs range between approx. NZ$ 1.20 - NZ$ 1.80 per litre with diesel normally priced towards the lower end of this range. This price does vary from region to region and depending on current world oil prices. There are petrol stations right across the country. On the West Coast of the South Island and on the Catlins Coast there are larger than average distances between petrol stations so it is a good idea to fill up as often as possible in these regions.
UK and European visitors can use their digital mobile phone in New Zealand, as the Vodafone New Zealand network uses the same GSM system there that is used in UK/Europe and international roaming rates apply. American guests require a tri-band mobile phone and should check with their mobile phone provider in advance to ensure that they have access to the GSM roaming system.
The company 'MojoKnows' can provide New Zealand visitors with a useful service. They offer local support where you receive your own personal SMS service and you can rent a New Zealand SIM card from them which makes it cheaper to make local calls (than 'roaming calls') and to send cheap SMS text messages to your home country. For further information regarding this service please visit our partner MojoKnows online. It is also possible to purchase cheap phone cards from convenience stores (called 'dairies') with an individual dial-in code which you obtain by scratching a strip on the card. These offer relatively attractive international per-minute calling rates and can be used from any standard telephone and are different from the normal Telecom New Zealand phone cards which charge high prices for international calls.
Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday from 0900 until 1730hrs. In the larger cities most shops and supermarkets are also open from 0900 until 1730hrs on Sundays and many shops in these cities are open late on Thursdays and Fridays (up until 2100hrs in some cases). Small convenience stores - called 'dairies' - which can be found in any city or town, are open until late 7 days of the week.
Credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere. You can get money out at ATM machines with your credit card and in most cases with debit cards that have the 'Maestro' symbol on the back. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and the larger hotels.
In New Zealand a 'VAT-style' tax of 15% is charged with the purchase of goods and services. This tax is called GST ('Goods and Services Tax') and is almost always included in marked prices. It is also already included in all payments you make with us.
New Zealand has a large number of very well equipped camping grounds throughout the country. You can expect to pay between NZ$ 35 and NZ$ 45 per night for two people and one vehicle per site. Most camping grounds also provide large communal kitchen areas and well serviced bathrooms and toilet facilities as well as washing machines. You will receive maps and accommodation information when you pick up your vehicle. Most camping grounds provide allotments for motorhomes and tents only. However, the number of camping grounds that also provide fixed 'cabins' is increasing. You will receive a range of camping ground brochures and maps when you pick up your motorhome. The three most popular camping ground organisations are the 'Kiwi Camps': www.kiwiholidayparks.com , 'Holiday Accommodation Parks': www.holidayparks.co.nz and 'Top 10 Holiday Parks': www.top10.co.nz.
New Zealand is situated in the southern hemisphere and its seasons are virtually the opposite of those in Europe. New Zealand's Summer months are from December to February and it is important to book your motorhome well in advance for these months. The months of October, November and from March - May are also very good times to travel. New Zealand's Autumn is not as cold as what we are used to in the UK and Continental Europe.
New Zealand is a very long country from North to South and therefore has several climate zones. The north is subtropical, while the weather in the south is similar to that of northern Spain or central Germany, although snow is normally only likely in the alpine areas of the South Island. The weather is very changeable. Because of the extreme nature of the sun we recommend you protect yourself from the sunburn with adequate clothing and sun cream with a high protection factor. For online New Zealand weather information please see: www.metservice.co.nz.