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, eg passport and credit cards, and keep them separate from the originals
- Keep a record of the description and serial number of valuable items, eg 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.
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;
- 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.
- 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 www.doc.govt.nz
- Be aware of the weather:New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes
- Know your limits:Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Going with others is better than going alone
- 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.
- Don’t rely on cell phone coverage and consider using a personal locator beacon, especially if you’re travelling alone
- 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 Fishermen at Pouto (portrait)
- 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 recognise 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 diarrhoea. 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.
No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand.
Source: Tourism New Zealand