|Still current at: 04 September 2011
Updated: 31 August 2011
Travelling to the Rugby World Cup? See our Rugby World Cup page.
If you are visiting remote areas of New Zealand, ensure that your journey details are made known to local authorities or friends/relatives before setting out. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous, especially in winter.
Motor vehicle insurance is not a legal requirement in New Zealand. This is because New Zealand law has removed the right of accident victims to sue a third party in the event of an accident. See Safety and Security - Road Travel.
There is a low threat from terrorism in New Zealand. However, you should be aware of the global risk of terrorist attacks, which could be in public places, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
Around 288,100 British nationals visit New Zealand each year (source: Statistics New Zealand). Most visits are trouble-free. See General - Consular Assistance - Statistics.
There is no British consular representation on the Cook Islands, or the islands of Niue or Tokelau. Travellers are advised to contact the NZ High Commission if they require assistance when travelling to these islands. See
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to New Zealand. See General - Insurance.
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a low threat from terrorism. However you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public places including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See our Terrorism Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Crime
Street crimes occur in major urban areas. Reports of thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars/camper vans in major tourist areas (e.g. the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Do not leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Do not leave valuables in hotel rooms, but use safe boxes when available. Keep passports, travellers' cheques, credit cards, etc separate. See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel
There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors; these also include extreme sporting accidents. If you intend to participate in extreme sports do check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you intend visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Ensure that you register your details with a Visitor Information Centre or family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas so keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Whilst road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a little while to get used to local driving conditions. Even the main highways can be narrow, winding and hilly.
In 2009 there were 384 road deaths in New Zealand (source: MoT). This equates to 8.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2009.
Read a copy of the Road Code (the official guide to traffic rules and traffic safety) before driving. Particular attention should be given to the section covering the right of way rules, which are different from other countries. UK driving licences are valid for use for a maximum of 12 months. Motor insurance is not a legal requirement in New Zealand. Therefore, private motor vehicle insurance is recommended.
See our Driving Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel - Accident Compensation Commission
Accident victims do not have a legal right to sue a third party in the event of an accident in New Zealand. Instead the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) helps pay for your care if you are injured as the result of an accident. However, the ACC only covers the cost of treatment in New Zealand and delayed travel or loss of income in a third country is not covered. Travel and Accident Insurance is again recommended.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Cook Islands
Most visits to the Cook Islands are trouble-free. Check that local water sports and tour operators have adequate insurance. The level of serious crime is low, but incidents of petty theft do occur. Do not leave your belongings unattended. Use hotel safes for passports and valuables.
Medical facilities are limited and therefore medical evacuation by air ambulance may be necessary. In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation to mainland New Zealand is likely to be the only option for treatment and you should make sure your insurance policy covers this eventuality.
The current Dengue Fever risk is moderate. For more information see this NaTHNaC information sheet.
Check with local visitors' bureaux on local customs/courtesies.
There is no resident British Diplomatic Mission in the Cook Islands and currently no Honorary Consul in the Cook Islands. British citizens needing assistance should contact the New Zealand High Commission:
Physical address: 1st floor, Philatelic Bureau Building, Takuvaine Road, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Postal Address PO Box 21, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Telephone +682 22 201 Fax +682 21 241
Routine consular matters are covered by the British High Commission in Wellington.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Niue and Tokelau
Most visits to the islands of Niue and Tokelau are trouble-free. Check with local visitors’ bureaux on local customs/courtesies.
Medical facilities are limited and therefore medical evacuation by air ambulance may be necessary. In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation to mainland New Zealand is likely to be the only option for treatment and you should make your insurance policy covers this eventuality.
There is no resident British Diplomatic Mission in either Niue or Tokelau. Routine consular matters are covered by the British High Commission in Wellington.
British nationals needing assistance in Nuie should contact the New Zealand High Commission:
Address: Tapeu, Alofi, PO Box 78NIUE,
Tel: +683 4022; Fax: +683 4173,
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 0730 to 1200hrs, 1300 to 1600hrs.
British nationals needing assistance in Tokelau should contact:
The Honorary British Consul in Samoa:
PO Box 1953, Apia
Telephone: +685 27123
Mobile: +685 7733562
Safety and Security - Political Situation
New Zealand Country Profile
The importation of illegal drugs is punishable by up to 8 - 12 years' imprisonment. New Zealand has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, but there are still isolated incidents of homophobic related crimes. Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly when visiting rural areas.
See our Your Trip page.
Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Your passport must be valid for three months beyond the date you are leaving New Zealand.
Entry Requirements - Visas
New Zealand’s immigration rules are strict, particularly in the areas of employment. Anyone wishing to work requires a visa allowing employment. British passport holders can enter New Zealand as a visitor for up to six months on arrival without a visa, provided they can satisfy an Immigration Officer that they meet the requirements of the Rules. Visitors must have an onward ticket. For further information before travelling on exactly what is required at immigration, please contact the New Zealand High Commission in London.
Entry Requirements - Quarantine and Bio Security
New Zealand has very strict bio-security regulations. It is illegal to import most foodstuffs (meat and meat products, honey, fruit, dairy produce etc) and strict penalties are handed out to those breaking these rules. You may also need to take care when importing wood products, golf clubs, footwear (which may have soil and dirt attached), tents (for the same reason), fishing equipment and items made from animal skin (e.g. crocodile handbags). The immigration arrivals card has full details. If in doubt, declare possibly illegal possessions to a Ministry of Agriculture official or dump them in one of the bins available at the airport. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a heavy fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment. As a result of these quarantine procedures, you should expect some delay on arrival.
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
For information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the New Zealand High Commission in London
State medical facilities in New Zealand are excellent and there is a stronger emphasis on preventative medicine than in the UK. Standards of hospital, medical and dental treatment in New Zealand are comparable to those in the UK. There is a reciprocal agreement between Britain and New Zealand to enable citizens of either country to enjoy (subject to certain conditions) the benefits of the National Health Services of the other country if permanently or temporarily resident, (i.e. not in the other country as a visitor). Despite the reciprocal agreement and the Accident Compensation Commission you are strongly advised to obtain travellers’ health insurance before leaving the United Kingdom.
Due to its southerly position, the ozone layer over New Zealand is thinner than elsewhere and sunburn times are shorter than in the UK. During the summer you should wear a hat and apply a high factor sun block.
Research has shown that asthma sufferers may be more at risk of an attack in New Zealand and sufferers should be suitably prepared.
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 2,400 adults aged 15 or over in New Zealand were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.1% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information see our HIV and AIDS page.
Seek medical advice before travelling to New Zealand and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. NHS Direct (0845 46 47) can provide you with advice on the vaccination requirements for New Zealand.
For further information on endemic diseases, health outbreaks and vaccination requirements, health outbreaks for New Zealand you should check the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel.
See our Travel Health and Eat and Drink Safely pages.
New Zealand is located in a seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes. Follow the advice of local authorities in the event of a natural disaster.
A significant 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch on 22 February 2011, causing widespread destruction and multiple fatalities in the city centre. There are frequent aftershocks. All services outside of central Christchurch and Lyttelton, including tourism businesses, are operating normally. Some central parts of the city of Christchurch are not accessible to the public. If your travel plans include Christchurch city, contact your travel agent, accommodation, attraction or tour operator directly to confirm any bookings. Christchurch airport is open for international and domestic flights and all major highways connecting with other parts of New Zealand are open.
The independent New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Commission has been established to disburse emergency and hardship grants from the Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal. This includes grants for overseas visitors who have been affected by the earthquake. For more details and information on how to apply, visit www.redcross.org.nz. See the websites of NZ Police, Civil Defence and Tourism New Zealand for more information on the recent earthquake in Christchurch.
General - Insurance
You should take out appropriate comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. If you intend to participate in adventure activities, such as bungee jumping, water boarding, white water rafting, etc, ensure that your travel insurance covers these types of activities. Check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then see our When Things Go Wrong page.
General - Consular Assistance
Routine consular matters are covered by the British High Commission in Wellington.
General - Consular Assistance - Statistics
Around 288,100 British nationals visit New Zealand each year (source: Statistics New Zealand). Most visits are trouble-free. 161 British nationals required consular assistance in New Zealand in the period 1 April 2010 - 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident: 121 deaths; nine hospitalisations; and 16 arrests for a variety of offences.
General - Registration
Register with the FCO's LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.