New Zealand dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $150
- Dorm beds or campsites per night: $20−45
- Main course in a budget eatery: up to $20
- Hop-on Hop-off bus pass (12 to 28 days): $699−1779
- Double room in a midrange hotel/motel: $130–200
- Main course in a midrange restaurant: $20–35
- Car rental per day: from $45
Top end: More than $250
- Double room in an upmarket hotel: $200−350
- Three-course meal in a classy restaurant: $80+
- Domestic flights: from $100
Haggling and bargaining aren't traditionally part of commercial culture in NZ. The only circumstances where you might have some luck are farmers' markets at the end of the day or large private purchases (buying a local guy's car for a knock-down price). Otherwise, the price is the price.
Bank cards are used for most purchases, and are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. ATMs are widely available in cities and larger towns.
ATMs & Eftpos
Branches of the country’s major banks provide ATMs (cashpoints) across the country, but you may not find them in the very smallest towns. It's generally better to decline the on-the-spot conversion rate ATMs will offer, although this depends on your home bank's rates and market movements.
Many NZ businesses use Eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale), allowing you to use your bank card (credit or debit) to make direct purchases and often withdraw cash as well. With over 52,500 devices connected to its New Zealand network, the system is close to universal. Just like at an ATM, you'll need your PIN unless it's a small purchase where contactless payment is available.
You'll need to open a bank account if you want to work in NZ in any capacity (including working holidays) and it's best to arrange this in advance. Some banks, such as ANZ, allow you to apply before you arrive and activate the account at a branch when you get here (armed with the requisite ID, usually a passport, certified translation if applicable, and proof of NZ residence). Proof of address might involve using an identity verification service. All interest earned on accounts is taxed at 33% (the highest rate) for those without an Inland Revenue (IRD) number.
Credit cards are widely accepted for everything from a hostel bed to a bungy jump, and are pretty much essential for car hire. Credit cards can also be used for over-the-counter cash advances at banks and from ATMs, but be aware that such transactions incur charges. Diners Club and American Express cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard.
New Zealand’s currency is the NZ dollar, comprising 100 cents. There are 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins, and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Prices are often marked in single cents and then rounded to the nearest 10c when you hand over your money.
Debit cards enable you to draw money directly from your home bank account using ATMs, banks or Eftpos facilities. Any card connected to the international banking network (Cirrus, Maestro, Visa Plus and Eurocard) should work with your PIN. Fees will vary depending on your home bank; check before you leave. Alternatively, companies such as Travelex offer prepaid currency cards with set withdrawal fees and a balance you can top up from your personal bank account while on the road.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Changing foreign currency (and to a lesser extent travellers cheques) is usually no problem at NZ banks or at licensed money changers (eg Travelex) in major tourist areas, cities and airports. However, withdrawing directly from ATMs usually secures the most favourable rates.
Tipping is completely optional in NZ.
Guides Your kayaking guide or tour-group leader would happily accept tips; and $10 is kind.
Restaurants The total on your bill is all you need to pay. If you like, reward good service with 5% to 10%.
Taxis If you round up your fare, don't be surprised if the driver hands back your change!
Amex, Travelex and other international brands of travellers cheques are a bit old hat these days, but they're still easily exchanged at banks and money changers. Present your passport for identification when cashing them, and shop around for the best rates if you can.