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Northland FAQ & Info

Facts About Travelling in Northland

When is the best time to visit Northland?

There are many activities and things to do all year round.

What is the climate like?

Northland is one of New Zealand’s warmest and only subtropical regions averaging 2000 hours of sunshine. The hottest months are usually January and February and the mildest winter months are June to August. Daylight savings come into effect from September to April.

What clothes should I bring?

Northland doesn't’t have extreme hot or cold weather; however, the weather can vary considerably during the day and night and can be unpredictable so pack layers of clothing and a waterproof jacket!

Is there anything poisonous in Northland?

Northland, along with the rest of New Zealand is lucky to have no harmful animals or venomous insects. There are two spiders to keep an eye out for, the white tailed spider and the extremely rare katipo, New Zealand’s sole poisonous native spider.

Is the water safe to drink?

New Zealand cities and towns have excellent water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Giardia is a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhea. To avoid contracting it, it is best not to drink water from lakes, ponds or rivers without first boiling, chemically treating or filtering it.

What's Northland food like?

From the freshest fish and chips to seven course degustation menus to farm gate stalls, artisan producers and food excursions are all part and parcel of the Northland culinary landscape.

When is the best time to go trekking/ hiking in Northland?

There are plenty of walks to suit all ages and fitness levels throughout Northland. Most walks are freedom walks which due to the region’s temperate climate can be walked all year round, although checking conditions with the locals is advisable.

Is it safe to hitch-hike & Freedom camp in Northland?

Our central message to freedom campers is: “Assume nothing – always ask a local”. Hitch-hiking throughout the whole of New Zealand is discouraged.

What is a 'Kiwi'?
  1. A flightless New Zealand bird (genus Apteryx, family Apterygidae) with hair like feathers.

  2. New Zealander.

What kind of night-life is available in Northland?

There are entertainment attractions throughout Northland to suit all tastes and budgets including theater, live music, concerts, movies, restaurants, pubs and bars.

What types of activities are available for children?

Northland has lots children orientated activities and attractions ranging from Farm Parks, Playgrounds, Aquatic Centres, Museums, the Kiwi House, kayaking, cycling, indoor rock climbing, ten pin bowling, bike tracks, a forest circuit (up to 12 metres high) with flying foxes.

Are there many free things to do in Northland?

Northland has many free attractions and activities to offer visitors. Boogie board at Waipu Cove, visit the Rainbow Warrior Memorial and the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, visit Tane Mahuta, the largest living kauri tree in NZ, surf at Sandy Bay, Oceans Beach or Apriaha Bay, fish off the rocks for snapper, pick Green lipped mussles and oysters off the rocks, sand surf, check out the remnants at Shipwreck Bay, drive along Ninety Mile Beach (check you are insured with your hire car company), visit the crystal clear waters of the freshwater Kai Iwi Lakes, mountain biking in Glenbervie Forest.

What is New Zealand's smoking policy?

Licensed premises (bars, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs, casinos) became smoke free indoors from 10 December 2004. The display of tobacco products in retail outlets was restricted, and a ‘smoking kills’ sign erected near the display from 10 December 2004. The access of those under 18 years of age to smoking products was further restricted.

What type of souvenir is unique to Northland?

Boutique Chocolate Factories, creative glass, kauri gum, ancient kauri products, Living Nature, Northland wine, Lemoncello, Macadamia Liqueur, carvings and art by Northland artists.

Safety for Visitors to Northland

Your Safety
New Zealand is generally a very safe place to travel with a relatively low crime rate, few endemic diseases and a great healthcare system. However, you should take the same care with your personal safety and your possessions as you would in any other country, or at home.

  • Keep copies of your important documents, e.g.. passport and credit cards, and keep them separate from the originals
  • Keep a record of the description and serial number of valuable items, e.g.. digital cameras
  • Keep valuable items with you at all times. Never leave valuable items or documents in vehicles
  • Dial 111 in emergencies.

Keeping Yourself and Your Possessions Safe
Crime rates in New Zealand are lower than many other countries, but you can help keep yourself and others safe by following these simple tips:

  • Carry a mobile phone and don’t hesitate to dial New Zealand’s emergency phone number if you feel unsafe or threatened - dial 111
  • Travel with someone you know and trust whenever possible. We recommend you don’t accept rides from strangers and don’t hitchhike.
  • Always lock your accommodation and vehicle and keep windows secure when unattended.
  • Store valuables securely, ideally in a safe at your accommodation. Never leave valuables in parked vehicles.
  • Never leave bags, backpacks, wallets or cameras unattended in any public place, especially airports, ferry terminals or railway stations
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery.
  • If withdrawing money from a machine, withdraw small amounts only - preferably during the day - and shield your pin.
  • At night, stay in places that are well lit and with other people. Don’t take short cuts through parks or alleyways. Take a taxi or get a ride with someone you know.
  • Avoid accepting drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended
  • Don’t leave maps, luggage or visitor brochures visible in your vehicle. These are obvious signs that you are a tourist and may have valuables.
  • If you are travelling by campervan, park it in designated areas whenever possible.
  • Carry a basic first-aid kit for use in emergencies
  • If any of your possessions are stolen or valuable items misplaced, advise local police as soon as possible.

Getting Help
The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111. It is a free phone call. If you have an emergency and need a quick response from the Police, the Fire Service, Ambulance or Search and Rescue, dial 111

There are Police Stations in all main towns and cities in New Zealand and in many rural locations. Contact details can be found in local telephone books. Don’t hesitate to contact the police if you feel unsafe or threatened. Do report any theft and crime to the police immediately.

Keeping Safe via Text Messaging

Vodafone and Telecom offer a txt messaging service for visitors.

You can send updates about your location and travel movements via txt to number 7233 [SAFE]. These details are kept on a central database which can be accessed by police if necessary. Each text message sent to 7233 will be acknowledged by an automated response, which advises you to call 111 and request police assistance if you are in danger.

Police and the New Zealand tourism industry encourage you to use this service as another way of letting people know where you are and what you are doing while in our country.

Safety in the outdoors
People can sometimes get caught out by New Zealand’s rugged terrain and unpredictable weather.

Seven safety tips to help you stay safe in New Zealand's great outdoors;

  1. Plan your trip: Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
  2. Tell someone: Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. Leave a detailed trip plan with the Department of Conservation (DOC) or a friend including a "panic" date, the more details we have about your intentions, the quicker you’ll be rescued if something goes wrong. You can find a helpful intentions form on the Doc website
  3. Be aware of the weather: New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes
  4. Know your limits: Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Going with others is better than going alone
  5. Take sufficient supplies: Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication such as a mobile phone and battery powered radio.
  6. Don’t rely on cell phone coverage and consider using a personal locator beacon, especially if you’re travelling alone
  7. If lost, seek shelter and stay where you are. Use a torch/camera flash to attract attention at night. Try and position something highly coloured and visible from the air to help a helicopter search during the day.

Safety in the water
New Zealand’s extensive coastline and network of waterways provide ample opportunity for swimming, boating and fishing. However many people are unprepared for the potential dangers of the water. We recommend that you visit Water Safety, for advice on how to stay safe on New Zealand's beaches and waterways.

  • If in doubt, stay out
  • Never swim or surf alone, when cold or tired
  • Swim between the flags: Beaches with potential hazards are often patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags. Between these flags is the safest place to swim. Listen to advice from life guards
  • Have an adult watching over children at all times
  • Learning to recognize rip currents
  • Always use safe equipment.

Other safety concerns
Although there are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in New Zealand, you should be aware of the following:

  • Variable Weather - Weather conditions in New Zealand alpine areas can change rapidly. Be prepared for cold wet weather, wherever you are, whatever the time of year
  • Giardia - Giardia is a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhea. To avoid contracting it, it is best not to drink water from lakes, ponds or rivers without first boiling, chemically treating or filtering it
  • Sunburn - New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear hats and sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.

Accidents and Health Insurance
With a little care and common sense, your visit to New Zealand should be accident-free. If you are injured here, you may need the help of the Accident Compensation Corporation ACC) - New Zealand's accident compensation scheme. In New Zealand, you cannot sue anyone for compensatory damages if you are injured. Instead ACC helps pay for your care - and that means paying towards the cost of your treatment and helping in your recovery while you remain in New Zealand.

You still need to purchase your own travel and medical insurance because ACC does not cover everything. ACC only covers treatment and rehabilitation in New Zealand, and usually you must pay part of the cost yourself. If you have a serious injury, with long-term effects, you may also be eligible to be assessed for lump-sum compensation once the injury is stable. The ACC does not pay any additional costs resulting from an accident, for example delayed or curtailed travel costs, travel home, treatment at home and loss of income in your home country.

We strongly advise you to arrange your own health insurance. New Zealand's public and private medical/hospital facilities provide a high standard of treatment and service but it is important to note these services are not free to visitors, except as a result of an accident.

Visitors bringing in a quantity of medication are advised to carry a doctor's certificate to avoid possible problems with New Zealand Customs. Doctor's prescriptions are needed to obtain certain drugs in New Zealand.

Exchange foreign currency at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which can be found at international airports and most city centres. Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted throughout New Zealand, with American Express and Diners Club accepted in most places.

New Zealand banks are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday with some open on a Saturday morning. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, supermarkets, 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.

Credit cards with ‘smart card’ technology (an embedded microchip that stores encrypted and confidential information) are generally accepted throughout New Zealand

NZ$ travellers cheques are available for purchase in some countries. However traveller’s cheques in any of the major currencies (British pound, Euro, US dollar, Australian dollar) can be exchanged into New Zealand dollars on arrival. NZ$ travellers cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.

All goods and services are subject to a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is included in the displayed price. Unfortunately 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.

Purchases are subject to ‘rounding’ up and down as the 1c, 2c and 5c coins have been discontinued in New Zealand. It is at the retailers discretion how they handle pricing but most retailers have adopted the ‘Swedish Rounding System’ which means that prices ending in 1 to 4 cents will be rounded down and prices ending in 6 to 9 cents will be rounded up.

Disabled facilities
Every building must provide ‘reasonable and adequate’ access for people with disabilities under New Zealand Law. There are a number of transport operators and accommodation providers that cater for people with special needs.

Most parking areas have specifically designated parking allocated for the disabled. You can obtain parking concessions and a temporary display card by contacting the NZCCS on 0800 227 225 (once in New Zealand). Visitors are recommended to bring your home mobility card or medical certificate as proof of disability.


It often feels like you are stepping back in time when you drive around Northland with one lane bridges, narrow, windy and unsealed roads and no long stretches of dual carriageways. The benefits however, mean that you get to experience driving through dense native forests, rural and coastal townships and spectacular coast roads.

Although New Zealand is a relatively small country it can take many hours to drive between cities and other destinations as road conditions can vary. Even when distances appear short on maps, hilly or winding terrain, unsealed roads or narrow secondary roads can slow your journey. Some roads are not safe for vehicles and insurance will not cover them so check with your rental company first. Overestimate journey times to ensure you have time to stop and enjoy the views and take regular breaks on long journeys to avoid feeling sleepy.

If you have either a current driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP) you can legally drive in New Zealand for one year. After 12 months you are required to convert to a New Zealand licence. This applies to each visit to New Zealand. In New Zealand all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their licence or permit at all times when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. The common legal age to rent a car in New Zealand is 21 years.

Make sure your driver's licence is current. If your licence is not in English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP. Contact your local automobile club for further details about obtaining a translation or an IDP.

Important rules

  • Always drive on the left-hand-side of the road.
  • Always keep on or below the legal speed limits indicated on road signs. The maximum speed on any open road is 100km/h. The maximum speed in urban areas is 50km/h.
  • Adjust your speed as conditions demand.
  • When traffic lights are red you must stop. When traffic lights are amber you must stop unless you are so close to the intersection it is unsafe to do so.
  • Do not pass other cars where there are double yellow lines - these indicate that it's too dangerous to overtake.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or child restraints at all times, in both front and rear seats.
  • Do not drink and drive. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in New Zealand and strictly enforced by police, with severe penalties for offenders.
  • Sign posting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km).
  • Helmets for riders of cycles and motorbikes must be worn at all times.
  • Rear and front lights on cycles are required at night.
  • Motorbikes should drive with a headlight on at all times.
  •  Cycling is not permitted on motorways.

Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only.

For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept angled two or three pin Type I plugs (as also used in Australia) depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.

Internet and Phone Access
Most public call-phones take cards purchased from bookstalls and newsagents, with a minimum value of NZ$2. Some public call-phones also accept credit cards, but very few accept coins.

New Zealand phone numbers appear online in the White Pages (alphabetical listings) and Yellow Pages (business category listings).

If you are bringing your mobile phone with you, check with your phone company before leaving about international mobile roam facilities available in New Zealand. Alternatively you can hire/buy mobile phones or SIM cards.

You will need a RJ45 type plug to be able to connect your laptop into a computer socket in New Zealand, and an adaptor with a flat two or three-point power plug to connect to the power supply.

Most accommodation providers nowadays provide internet access and some charges may apply. Both McDonalds and libraries offer free internet and there are many free wi-fi spots around Northland.

No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

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