The currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar which is made up of 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and the coins in use are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2.
New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori. English is the predominant language spoken, and everyone will understand it. Maori is mainly used for rituals and in native Maori communities.
Taupo enjoys a temperate climate but it can be slightly colder than other parts on the North Island. Temperatures range from lows of ten degrees Celsius to highs of 25 degrees in summer and from lows of –3 degrees to 12 degrees Celsius in winter. Winds are prevalent too. Southeasterlies are dry and cool while Northerly and Northwesterly usually bring rain.
Taupo 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.
Most shops are open from 9.00am until 5.30pm from Monday to Friday with late night shopping until 9.00pm one night per week – usually Thursday or Friday. They also open between 9.00am and 1.00pm on Saturdays. As well as this, most suburban shopping centres now open on Saturdays and Sundays between 9.00am and 5.30pm. Office hours are generally between 9.00am and 5.00pm and banks open from 9.00am until 4.30pm from Monday to Friday.
Electricity in New Zealand is 230 Volts AC, 50 Hz and the plugs used are the same three- pin variety used in Australia.
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.
Australian citizens and current residents don’t need entry visas or work permits and may stay indefinitely if they have no criminal convictions. Citizens and residents of the UK don’t need a visa. They are issued with 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 amount 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.
The Taupo Visitor Information Centre is located on Tongariro Street. This office deals with any accommodation, transport or activities which you may wish to book as well as exchanging currency. Open between 8.30am and 5.00pm daily, the centre will also provide you with a free map of the town as well as Department of Conservation information and permits.
Public telephones are commonplace throughout but many of the more modern models now only take phone cards. These are available at Visitor Information Centres, newsagents, convenience stores, service stations, and other outlets. The country access code is 64 and the area code for Taupo is 07. It is worth noting that even when dialing within a region this latter code must be used even if the town you are calling is only a few kilometres away.
Changing both foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is not problem in Taupo and can be carried out in any bank. You will find branches of the following throughout the town: ANA Bank at 42-46 Horomatangi Street, ASB at the corner of Horomatangi and Tongariro Streets, Bank of New Zealand on Tongariro Street, National Bank of New Zealand on Tongariro Street, National Bank of New Zealand at the corner of Tongariro and Tamamutu Streets and Westpac Trust at 27 Horomatangi Street. All banks are open between 9.00am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday.
Exchange rates may vary slightly from branch to branch but amounts are really not significant. Furthermore at most banks you will not have to pay a service charge for exchanging traveller’s cheques. As already mentioned, you can also change foreign currency in the Visitor Information Centre, particularly useful at weekends when all banks are closed.
All major credit cards are also widely accepted and if you have the PIN you can also use these to receive cash in compatible bank machines. The same applies to bankcards which are members of any of the international banking networks including Cirrus and Plus.
The main post office in Taupo is on Horomatangi Street and it is open between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday and between 9.00am and noon on Saturday.
In New Zealand, tipping is not compulsory as it is in America and some parts of Europe. It is considered as a ‘thank you’ for good service rather than an obligation. If you decide to tip the amount should be in accordance with how good you felt the service was. Between ten and fifteen percent of the bill is considered reasonable.
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.