International Travel

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Country Information

New Zealand

New Zealand
New Zealand
Exercise normal precautions in New Zealand.

Exercise normal precautions in New Zealand. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to New Zealand:

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Three months beyond the planned date of departure from New Zealand.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One page required for entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Not required for stays of less than three months. Starting October 1, 2019, an NZeTA or visa will be required.

VACCINATIONS:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


If you bring 10,000 NZD or more in cash or foreign equivalent, you will be required to complete a Border Cash Report.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Auckland
Citigroup Centre, 3rd Floor,
23 Customs Street East
Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone: +(64)(9) 303-2724
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (64)(4) 462-6000
Fax: +(64)(9) 303-1069
Email: 

U.S. Embassy Wellington
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon
Wellington, New Zealand
Telephone: +(64)(4) 462-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(64)(4) 462-6000
Fax: +(64)(4) 499-0490

Consular Services to U.S. citizens are available only at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland. Consular Services are not available at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington even in case of emergency. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland for consular assistance.

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on New Zealand for information on U.S – New Zealand relations. 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

If you are a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for a visa waiver and therefore do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less. You must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from New Zealand.

Visit the New Zealand Embassy website for the most current visa information.

International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)

Starting on July 1, 2019, U.S. citizens traveling to New Zealand for tourism, some student programs, or short-term business will have to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). This levy will be assessed when a person applies for an NZeTA (required starting October 1, see next paragraph) or New Zealand visa. The IVL costs 35 New Zealand dollars (NZD) per person. The IVL will not be required of passengers that are transiting New Zealand on a transit visa or transit ETA.

New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)

Starting on October 1, 2019, all U.S. citizens who will be traveling to or transiting through New Zealand under the visa waiver program will be required to have an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). This is true for cruise ship passengers as well. It can take up to 72 hours to process an NZeTA so we encourage all citizens to apply well in advance of their trip to New Zealand. The NZeTA is valid for multiple visits for up to two years. The NZeTA request system will be available from July 2019 but the specific launch date has not yet been specified. The cost of the NZeTA depends on the system used to request it: if you apply utilizing the forthcoming mobile app, it will cost 9 NZD; if you apply on the website, it will cost 12 NZD.

If your NZeTA application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa. See the New Zealand Embassy website for directions on how to apply.

Important notes regarding arrival into New Zealand:

A Customs Officer at the Port of Entry into New Zealand may examine items such as mobile phones, iPads, Android tablets, hard drives, laptops, and digital cameras. The Officer may ask for your password or ask you to enter it. Fines of up to 5,000 NZD may be enforced for failure to comply. Passwords are not kept, nor is personal data altered.

New Zealand has very strict biosecurity procedures to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases. All biosecurity-risk goods must be declared or disposed of in marked amnesty bins at air and sea ports. If you do not declare goods considered to be a biosecurity risk, such as honey, fresh fruit, seeds, and plants, you can receive an instant fine of 400 NZD.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, New Zealand. 

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Cook Islands: Cook Islands is self-governing in free association with New Zealand. U.S. citizen visitors do not require an entry permit for stays up to 31 days. Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months past the arrival date in the Cook Islands.

Safety and Security

While in New Zealand, you should review your personal security practices, be alert to any unusual activity, and report any significant incidents to local police.

Crime: The crime rate in New Zealand is relatively low, but theft from cars, recreational vehicles, and hostels is common, especially in areas frequented by tourists.

  • Do not leave passports or other valuable items in unattended vehicles.
  • Violent crime against tourists is rare; however, if you are traveling alone, you should be especially vigilant and avoid isolated areas.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: In an emergency, report crimes to the New Zealand Police by dialing 111. You may also contact the local New Zealand Police station for non-emergencies. Visit the website Find Police Stations for contact information. If you are on the Cook Islands, emergency numbers are: Police 999; Fire 996; Ambulance 998.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • direct you to the New Zealand Victims Information website for assistance
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Consulate for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in New Zealand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • In New Zealand, driving under the influence could land you in jail. Roadside sobriety checks by police are common. The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is lower than that in most U.S. states.

Furthermore, some laws are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Consulate immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Seismic Activity: Some heavily populated parts of New Zealand are in areas of high seismic activity. In recent years, several large earthquakes and aftershocks have occurred throughout the country, resulting in widespread damage to infrastructure, injuries, and deaths. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Adventure Sports: Many tourists come to New Zealand to participate in extreme adventure sports, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, rappelling, climbing, motorcycling, and kayaking. Injuries and death can result from participating in such activities. You should use caution and common sense when engaging in adventure sports. Make sure you have travel medical insurance and that it covers your sport. See our section on Medical Insurance below.

Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let someone else know where you are at all times. Before kayaking, check the river conditions and wear a life jacket. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center.

Visit the New Zealand Department of Conservation website for advice and direction on how to safely and legally hike, bike, etc. in New Zealand.

Imports: New Zealand is an island nation, and the government is serious about preserving its delicate ecosystem. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) strictly regulates what can be imported into New Zealand.

  • If you do not declare goods that could be quarantined, you can be fined up to 100,000 NZD and/or face up to five years in prison.
  • If you do not declare goods considered to be a biosecurity risk, such as honey, fresh fruit, seeds, and plants, you can receive an instant fine of 400 NZD.
  • When importing a pet, you will need thorough veterinary documentation and a quarantine period will be required.
  • The MPI may seize and destroy unfinished wood products, used hiking shoes, gardening tools, fresh food items, and items such as used pet carriers. Thoroughly clean any hiking equipment or sports gear prior to your arrival in New Zealand.
  • For more information visit the Biosecurity New Zealand website.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in New Zealand.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility AssistanceWhile in New Zealand, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States.

  • Every new building and major reconstruction in New Zealand must provide "reasonable and adequate" access for individuals with disabilities, but be aware that most buildings pre-date this requirement. Most facilities have wheelchair access.
  • Some buses in towns and cities are equipped to facilitate indvididuals with disabilities, but most public transport is not.
  • If you are planning a holiday and need information on facilities for individuals with disabilities, please visit the New Zealand Tourism website.
  • Most transport operators can serve individuals with disabilities, but it is a good idea to phone ahead to tell them in advance what your needs are.
  • Car parking allocated for individuals with disabilities is available in New Zealand. We suggest you bring a letter from your medical provider on his or her professional letterhead detailing your medical condition and your need for accessible parking. You can read more about how to qualify for accessible parking spaces on the CCS Disability Action website.

Students: See our Students Abroad page.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

  • Quality medical care is widely available in New Zealand.
  • Waiting lists exist for certain types of treatment.
  • Access to medical care may be less available in rural areas.
  • Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
  • Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 
  • We do not pay medical bills.

Medication: High-quality medication (both over-the-counter and prescription) is widely available at local pharmacies, although the name of the product may differ from the U.S. version.

  • If traveling with prescription medication, check the government of New Zealand regulations at New Zealand MedSafe to ensure the medication is legal in New Zealand. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging along with your doctor’s prescription. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas accept only cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in New Zealand, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

  • Renting a car or a camper is a popular way to enjoy New Zealand's natural beauty, but if you are unfamiliar with local conditions, you should be extremely careful. New Zealand has only 100 miles of multi-lane divided motorways. Most intercity travel is on narrow, two-lane roads. While these roads are in good condition, New Zealand's rugged terrain means motorists often encounter sharper curves and steeper grades than those found on the U.S. Interstate Highway System.
  • Use caution to avoid animals when driving in rural areas.
  • There is very limited cell phone coverage on large portions of scenic highway in the South Island, which is remote and has little traffic.
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way except in crosswalks. New Zealand law requires that cars stop at least two meters (approximately 6 feet) from a crosswalk that is in use.

Traffic Laws  

  • All traffic travels on the left in New Zealand, and you should exercise extra caution if you are accustomed to driving on the right. Driving on the wrong side of the road is a leading cause of serious injury and death for U.S. tourists.
  • Make sure to follow the posted speed limit signs. The speed limits are much lower than those in the United States.
  • Proceed carefully through intersections. Traffic circles are common throughout New Zealand. When approaching a traffic circle, always yield to traffic coming from the right--noting that traffic already in the circle has the right-of-way--and merge to the left into the circle. Left turns on a red traffic signal are not permitted.
  • New Zealand prohibits driving while texting as well as driving while using a cell phone.

Public Transportation: New Zealand has public transport systems in all major cities and some towns. Comprising buses, trains, and ferries, the public transportation system in New Zealand is generally easy to use and reliable. See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the New Zealand Transport Agency for information about safe driving in New Zealand.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of New Zealand’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to New Zealand should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings.

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in New Zealand. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: November 15, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Consulate General Auckland
Citigroup Centre, 3rd Floor,
23 Customs Street East
Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone
+(64)(9) 303-2724
Emergency
+(64)(4) 462-6000
Fax
+(64)(9) 303-1069

New Zealand Map