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It’s only three hours away, but for a number of Aussies, the land across the ditch remains an unexplored destination. New Zealand draws visitors from around the world, flocking to see the Lord of the Rings-esque landscapes and throw themselves out of planes attached to a skydiving instructor. However, even though NZ is so close to home, there are still a few things you should know before you go.
If you are flying into New Zealand on an Australian passport you will not require a visa to enter the country. You can find out more at New Zealand’s immigration website. Because we’re almost the same country (at least to most people outside Australasia), New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal healthcare agreement, meaning you can get access to emergency healthcare while you’re there. However, this isn’t a replacement for travel insurance – ‘she’ll be right’ will only get you so far.
Despite what the guidebooks may say, for the majority of your interactions with Kiwis, you won’t find yourselves needing to converse in Maori. However, Maori culture is interwoven into New Zealand life, and the language, also known as Te Reo, is integrated into some common phrases as well as a large number of place names. With this in mind, you’ll make life a lot easier for yourself (as well as respecting the beauty of the Maori language) by learning a few simple rules of Maori pronunciation. Thankfully there are a number of handy pronunciation guides online, as well as a next level challenge of 100 Maori words every New Zealander should know.
Like with your passport, you can use your Australian drivers licence in NZ. You’ll be glad to know that not only do Kiwis drive on the same side of the road as we do, the road signs are fairly straightforward. You must give way to any traffic approaching or crossing from the right, and while you’re on the open road it is common courtesy to stay to the left unless passing other vehicles. Bear in mind that because of variable speed limits and winding coastal roads, it can often take longer to drive from one location to the next.
When buying alcohol, international visitors are required to show their passport as proof of age – your driving licence won’t cut it here, unfortunately. It may be more cost effective to buy a local SIM card for your mobile device than to do roaming on your Aussie SIM.
New Zealanders are renowned for being friendly, but don’t do anything you wouldn’t at home. In addition, Kiwis in general have a tendency to downplay a lot of things, so that “alright” scenery may well just be the most beautiful vista you’ve ever seen. Study up on some more “average” sights with our blog, three places in New Zealand you won’t find in any guidebook.
It may surprise you to know this, but most Kiwis aren’t able to hear their own accents. So asking them to repeat the words “deck” or “fush and chups” might not get the reaction you were hoping for. And please, no sheep jokes.