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General Info about Wellington, New Zealand

Currency
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.

Language
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.

Climate
Wellington enjoys a temperate climate with an average minimum of 12 degrees Celsius per annum and an average maximum of 22 degrees Celsius. It is particularly noted for its mild, warm sunny days but summer temperatures rarely exceed 35 degrees ensuring that it’s never unbearably hot. As well as this it is known as the windy city. Despite this title, it is not windy everyday. These gales usually take place in spring but when they do gusts can reach up to 170km per hour so hold on to your hats folks.

Time Zone
Wellington 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
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
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.

Visa Requirements
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.

Tourist Offices
The Wellington Visitor Information Centre is located at 101 Wakefield Street on Civic Square. It opens between 8.30am and 5.30pm from Monday to Friday and between 9.30am and 5.30pm at weekends. You should also not that it closes at 4.30pm at weekends during winter. There is also an information centre located at the airport in the city and this opens until between 6.00pm and 7.00pm daily with the exception of Saturdays when it remains open right up until 11.30pm.

You will also find information on outdoor activities at the Department of Converstaion Visitor Centre which is located in the Government Buildings which face Lambton Quay. This office opens between 9.00am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday and between 10.00am and 3.00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Telephones
Public telephones are commonplace throughout the city 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 Wellington is either 04 or 06. 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.

Currency Exchange
Changing both foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is not problem in Wellington and can be carried out in any branch of any bank. 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.

You will also find bureaux de change throughout the city and at the airport. These open for longer hours, usually between 9.00am and 9.00pm, and many also open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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.

Post Office
The main post office in the capital is located on Waterloo Quay and it is open between 8.30am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday but there are also numerous smaller branches scattered throughout the city so you shouldn’t have any problems with regards to mail while you are in Wellington.

Tipping
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.

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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