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General Info about Christchurch, New Zealand

Currency
New Zealand currency is New Zealand dollars ($) and Cents, based on the decimal system with 100 cents to the NZ Dollar.
Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2
Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100

Language
New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori. English is the predominant language spoken, and everyone will understand it. Maori is used predominately for rituals, and in Maori communities.

Climate
Similar to the rest of New Zealand Christchurch is particularly windy. It is a particularly cold area, though this is a pre-requisite for all skiing areas, which Christchurch can boast to be. During the summer maximum/minimum temperatures are 22º/12º respectively, and drop to 11º/4º during winter.

Time Zone
Christchurch is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight Saving commences at 2.00am on the 1st Sunday in October, when clocks are moved one hour forward, and ends at 2.00am on the 3rd Sunday in March, when the clocks are switched back one hour.

Opening Hours
Offices and Businesses: Monday - Friday 8am to 5pm (generally)

Shopping Hours
Monday - Friday 9am to 5.30pm, are the trading hours for all shops.
Thursday is late night shopping in the suburbs, and shops are open until 9pm.
Friday is late night shopping in the city, with shops open until 9pm.
Saturday 9am to 1pm, are the trading hours for central city shops, which are closed on Sundays.
Suburban Shopping centres are open from 9am until 5.30pm each Saturday and Sunday.

Electricity
Christchurch operates on alternating current (AC) 230 volts, 50hertz mains supply. Hotels and Motels usually provide 110volt AC sockets (20 volts) for electric shavers only. Australian style three blade plugs are used in New Zealand.

Goods and Services Tax
Goods and services in New Zealand are subject to 12.5% goods and services tax, commonly known as GST. Overseas visitors cannot claim back GST, however some stores sell goods to overseas visitors exclusive of GST provided proof of onward or return tickets is shown.

Visa Requirements
Australian citizens and current residents don’t need entry visas or work permits, they may stay indefinitely, if they have no criminal convictions.
Citizens and residents of the UK don’t need a visa, and are issued a visitor permit on arrival, which is valid for three months.
Citizens of the following countries don’t need a visa, and are issued an extendable visitor permit on arrival, which is valid for three months.
Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Kiribati, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Uruguay, USA.
Citizens of all other countries are required to hold a visa to enter the country. These are available from any NZ embassy and are usually valid for three months. Visitors must be able to show the following in order to qualify for a visa.
A valid passport that will not expire for the duration of your stay.
Sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay. This is set at NZ$1000 per month of intended stay, or NZ$400 if your accommodation has been prepaid.
An onward ticket to a country where you have right of entry.
Work permits of up to three years will be issued if applied for in your home country. The permit will only be issued if no New Zealand jobseeker can do the job you have been offered. If the work permit is applied for while in New Zealand, the expiration date of the permit will be the expiration date of your visitor permit.
Citizens of Canada, Japan and the UK aged between 18 and 30, can apply for a Working Holiday Permit before they arrive in New Zealand. This permits them to work, in a temporary position, while travelling around the country. It is valid for 12 months.

Tourist Offices
The Christchurch & Canterbury Visitor Centre
corner Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street, Christchurch
(will soon re-locate to Cathedral Square)
Phone: 03 379-9629

The Department of Conservation
133 Victoria Street, Christchurch
Phone: 03 379-9758
The Department of Conservation is a good place to obtain information regarding the South Island’s national parks and walkways.

AA or The Automobile Association
210 Hereford Street
Phone: 03 379-1280

Telephones
Public telephones are commonplace, though some only take phone cards. Phone cards are available at Visitor Information Centers, newsagents, convenience stores, service stations, and other outlets.
New Zealand International Access Code is 64.
The area code for Christchurch is 03.

Post Office
Christchurch has several post offices, open 9am to 4.30pm (Monday to Friday). Some agents are open on the weekends, though postal service only operates during the week.

Tipping
Many New Zealanders regard tipping as a foreign custom, although it is becoming more common. If you receive extraordinary service, a tip should be given, 5% to 10% of the bill is what is expected.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In New Zealand they take place on January 1st, February 6th, Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 25th, June 4th, October 22nd and December 25th and 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.

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