COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: New Zealand is a stable parliamentary democracy, which recognizes the British monarch as head of state. It has a modern economy with many tourist conveniences and efficient local services. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on New Zealand for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit New Zealand, please take the time to tell the U.S. Consulate in Auckland about your trip. If you enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Your friends and family can more easily get in touch with you in an emergency.
All consular functions, including American Citizen Services, are provided by U.S. Consulate General Auckland.
The U.S. Consulate General in Auckland
Third floor of the Citigroup Centre, 23 Customs Street East
(between Commerce and Queen Streets),
Telephone: (64) (9) 303-2724
Emergency after-hours telephone: (64) (4) 462-6000
Facsimile: (64) (9) 366-0870
The U.S. Embassy in Wellington
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington
Telephone: (64) (4) 462-6000
Emergency after-hours telephone: (64) (4) 462-6000
Facsimile: (64) (4) 471-2380
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: If you are a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for a visa waiver and do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less. You must have a valid passport. Visit the New Zealand Embassy website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of New Zealand.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO 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.
Stay up to date by:
Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
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.
Do not buy counterfeit and/or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in New Zealand is “111.” You should also contact U.S. Consulate General, Auckland. We can:
In New Zealand, a private organization called Victim Support works both independently and with the New Zealand Police to assist victims of crime. Victim Support is available 24 hours a day by calling 0800-842-846 (0800-Victim) or e-mailing email@example.com.
Please see our “Help for American Victims of Crime in New Zealand” and also our “Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas,” including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in New Zealand, you are subject to its laws. New Zealand’s laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. If you break local laws, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution; therefore, it is very important to know what is legal and what is not. There are also some things that might be legal in other countries, but are still illegal in the United States and may result in your prosecution, such as buying pirated goods or engaging in child pornography.
New Zealand officials generally notify the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested; however, that is not always the case. To ensure that U.S. consular officials are aware of your circumstances, request that New Zealand police and prison officials notify the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland as soon as possible.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Some heavily populated parts of New Zealand are in areas of high seismic activity. In recent years, several large earthquakes and aftershocks 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. All too often, injuries and even death 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 these 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.
Imports: New Zealand is an island nation, and the government is serious about preserving its delicate ecosystem. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) imposes strict regulations regarding 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 NZ and/or face up to five years in prison. If you do not declare goods considered to be a biosecurity risk, such as fresh fruit, seeds, and plants, you can receive an instant fine of $400 NZ. 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. For more information please visit the Biosecurity New Zealand web site.
Accessibility: While in New Zealand, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation 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 people 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 cater to the disabled, but most public transport is not. If you are planning a holiday and need information on facilities for disabled people, please visit the Immigration of New Zealand’s website and the New Zealand Tourism website. Most transport operators can serve people with special needs, but it is a good idea to phone ahead to tell them in advance what your needs are.
Car parking allocated for individuals with a disability is available in New Zealand. We suggest you bring a letter from your medical provider, detailing your medical condition and your need for accessible parking on his or her professional letterhead. You can read more about how to qualify for accessible parking spaces on the CCS Disability Action website.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Quality medical care is widely available, but waiting lists exist for certain types of treatment. 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. 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.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It is very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. In many places, doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does not go with you when you travel, you should take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in New Zealand, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. 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. 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. Right turns on a red traffic signal are not permitted.
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 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. Make sure to follow the posted speed limit signs. You should also use caution to avoid animals when driving in rural areas. Please note that there is very limited cell phone coverage on large portions of scenic highway in the South Island, which is remote and has little traffic.
Roadside sobriety checks by police are common, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to immediate jail time in New Zealand. Furthermore, New Zealand prohibits driving while texting as well as driving while using a cell phone.
Make sure to look carefully in all directions before crossing a street or roadway, and always use crosswalks. Pedestrians do not have the right of way except in crosswalks. New Zealand law requires that cars stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk and that cars stop at least two meters (approximately 6 feet) from a crosswalk that is in use.
Public transportation, including buses, trains, and taxis, is for the most part reliable and safe.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. We also suggest that you visit the New Zealand national tourist office and the Land Transport Safety Authority website for specific information concerning the operation and rental of motor vehicles, as well as driving and licensing information for new residents and visitors.
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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for New Zealand dated April 3, 2013, without substantive changes.