Visitors to New Zealand – Safety Guide

The brochure “Your Guide to Keeping Safe” contains a map showing where to find police stations and i-SITEs in major centers and a table of travel times and distances between different locations in New Zealand.

New Zealand is a relatively safe travel destination, but we are not free from crime. It is important that you take the same precautions to take care of yourself and your belongings as you would at home.

The brochure is also available in the following languages:

Here is some specific information to help you make your stay in our country safe and enjoyable.

Keep yourself safe

The emergency number for firefighters, ambulance and police is 111. Calls are free.

There are police stations in all major towns and in many rural areas.

  • Don’t walk alone late at night and avoid unlit areas.
  • Don’t take a lot of cash, valuables, or expensive jewelry with you.
  • New Zealanders are very social, but you have to be reasonable. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers and don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Be aware of those around you when using ATMs (cash machines) and hide your PIN code.
  • Hitchhiking or accepting travel from people you don’t know is not recommended. If you decide to hitchhike, the police strongly advise against traveling alone.
  • Make sure there is always someone there who knows where you are going and when you should arrive at your destination.

Keep your belongings safe

  • Always lock your home or vehicle and keep windows secure.
  • Do not leave valuables, maps, luggage, GPS devices or tourist brochures visible in parked cars or motorhomes, especially in scenic spots or at the start of trails.
  • If there is a safe in your accommodation, use it to store your valuables.
  • If you need to transport valuables in your vehicle, lock them in the trunk (trunk).
  • If you need to leave your belongings in your car / motorhome in plain view for a short time, try to have someone stay with the vehicle.
  • Keep a record of the description and serial numbers of valuables such as cameras. You can do this online on the SNAP website.
  • Do not leave bags, backpacks, wallets, cell phones or cameras unattended in public places, especially at airports, train stations or ferry terminals.
  • Park your RV overnight at a vacation park, Department of Conservation campground, or other specially designated location. If in doubt, check with the nearest i-SITE (official visitor information office).
  • Report lost or stolen items as soon as possible to the nearest police station.

Protect yourself around alcohol

  • The legal purchase age is 18 years old. If you look 25 or under, you may be asked for proof of age.
  • The only acceptable proof of age are a passport, New Zealand driver’s license or a card from the Hospitality Association of NZ 18+.
  • If you use a false proof of age document or give / loan one to a minor who knows they intend to use it to purchase alcohol, you could be fined of $ 250.
  • Most cities have alcohol bans in designated public places such as the central business district or around sports stadiums.
  • Drinking alcohol or having an alcoholic beverage container opened in a no-alcohol zone can result in a $ 250 fine or be arrested.
  • You can be fined for drinking alcohol on public transport, including taxis.
  • By law, intoxicated persons cannot be served alcohol or be allowed to enter authorized premises such as pubs, cafes, bars and hotels.
  • Authorized premises such as clubs and pubs must close at 4 a.m. Supermarkets and bottle shops can only sell alcohol from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • If you drink, have a friend take you home or take a taxi.
  • Look after your friends and make sure they get home safe and sound after drinking alcohol.

Staying Safe on New Zealand’s Roads

  • Drive on the left side of the road and give way when you turn right.
  • Always rest before starting a road trip, especially after a long flight to New Zealand.
  • You are required by law to carry your driver’s license when driving.
  • Obey posted speed limits – they are strictly enforced by the police. Fixed and mobile speed cameras operate throughout New Zealand.
  • All drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt. Children under the age of seven must be attached to approved child restraints.
  • It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving, except to make an emergency call to 111.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime. The penalties are severe and your vehicle could be impounded.
  • There is a blood alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20. This means that if you drive after even a drink, you can be charged with drunk driving.
  • If you are driving slowly, park where it is safe and let traffic pass faster.

Stay safe outside and around water

Before heading out and enjoying the many adventures New Zealand has to offer, visit the AdventureSmart website for tips and advice to help you prepare for your activities. You will also find Boating, Boating and Outdoor Safety Codes which contain simple steps to help you stay safe.

  • People often encounter difficulties because they overestimate their abilities or underestimate the risks.
  • Plan your adventure and tell someone where you plan to go. Be prepared in case things go wrong.
  • Know your limits and don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • Always wear a life jacket when sailing.
  • Check the weather and conditions before you go.
  • While enjoying the outdoors, please do not remove plants or other natural resources.
  • Pack the right equipment, including communications, so you can call for help.
  • Don’t rely on cell phone coverage. Consider using a personal locator beacon, especially if you are traveling alone.
    You can buy or rent a distress beacon.
    For two-way communications in remote areas, contact the Mountain Radio Service.

External intentions

When you use the outdoors for recreational activities, safety is your responsibility. Let someone know about your plans (outside intentions) as it could save your life.

Protect your credit cards and your identity

  • Be careful who you give personal information to.
  • Minimize the number of cards and IDs you carry in your wallet.
  • Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to lose sight of your credit card.
  • Keep your credit cards in a purse or wallet close to your body where they cannot be easily pulled out.
  • Protect your credit card number and PIN code so that other people around you cannot copy or capture it on cell phone or other camera.
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

Protect yourself via text messaging

New Zealand mobile operators Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees Mobile offer text messaging service to visitors.

You can send an SMS about your location and your movements to 7233 [SAFE]. This information is kept in a central database accessible on request by the police to help you find yourself.

It is also a good idea to leave detailed information about your travel plans with your friends or family back home.

Useful Websites


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Susan W. Lloyd

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