By Karen Shelford

New Zealand Information

Visitor Tips to Access Help & Services

Key New Zealand information to access emergency services, public holidays, driving etc… includes points for Rotorua.

Get your questions answered. Like, where do I go to for medical help, is my Driver Licence valid in NZ, how do I keep myself safe?

Accident & Illness *

Hopefully not but just in case you do end up ill or injured there are a couple of places where you can receive help.

In the first instance, if its not serious enough to warrant hospitalisation try Lakes Primecare situated towards the lake end of the city. They are an Accident & Urgent Medical Care Centre owned and operated by Rotorua's general practioners. You don't need an appointment and there are upfront costs involved.

Lakes Primecare
cnr Arawa & Tutanekai Sts
Ph 24hrs 348 1000
Hrs 8.00am - 10.00pm daily

Adjoining Lakes Primecare is the Lakescare Pharmacy where you can get prescriptions filled straight away.

Lakescare Pharmacy
cnr Arawa & Tutanekai Sts
Ph 348 4385
Hrs 8.30am - 9.30pm daily

If things are more serious you had better get along to our local hospital.

Rotorua Hospital
Pukeroa St
Ph 24hrs 348 1199

Patient Enquiries Ph 349 7977 8am - 4.30pm
Visiting hours are 2pm - 8pm daily

Tip - If you injure yourself in anyway while here you're covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). They provide no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand.

This includes accident-related costs such as medical transfer by ambulance or helicopter, surgery, hospital stay and rehabilitation. Be aware though, this only applies while you are in New Zealand.

If it's an illness you are dealing with then your medical insurance will kick in. You've got it right? Right. Here's crossing fingers you don't need these services

ATM Locations *

You will find these dotted handily all around the city, and New Zealand generally. They are at all the major supermarkets, outlying shopping centres, banks, and petrol stations. The ATMs accept most major credit/debit cards. If you stop anyone - apart from a tourist that is - they will readily point you in the right direction to find an ATM.

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Local NZ currency is the New Zealand dollar. $1.00 = 100cents. We have coins of 10, 20 and 50 cents. Notes are 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. When using cash the total amount is rounded up or down because the smallest coin is 10 cents. For example 57 cents is rounded to 60 cents or 54 cents is rounded to 50 cents.

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This section is a blend of New Zealand information on dressing as well as Rotorua. We are a pretty casual lot when it comes to dressing although I would say that this is the case worldwide now.

In Rotorua tidy casual seems to be the main uniform when eating at the majority of cafe bars and restaurants. A few may be a bit more upmarket so just check prior to going. If you're already out and about just enquire at the door. Rotorua eateries are well used to tourists and visitors passing by and popping in for a meal.

If you are in the bigger centers like Auckland there is more scope for a nightlife therefore the chance to dress up a bit more. When my 23yr old daughter lived in Auckland they would dress up to go nightclubbing. Back in Rotorua that same outfit would make her feel overdressed.

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GST - Goods & Services Tax

GST is added onto pretty much everything we buy or use in New Zealand. At this point in time it is 15%. Sellers are legally obliged to advertise the fact that a product or service price does not include GST.

Tip: As an international traveller, if you buy from a duty free store, you won't have to pay GST if:

  • the retailer arranges to send the goods home for you
  • arranges to send the goods to the airport of your departure
  • arranges to send the goods to an overseas customer.

Keep this in the back of your mind when considering costlier purchases. The cost of GST could quite possibly outweigh shipping or postal costs.

Ask the retailer to help you out.

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Emergency Services

New Zealand information relating to emergency services is standard nationwide.

Phone 111 for Ambulance, Fire, Police and Civil Defence. For Rescue Services and Gas emergencies, use 111 as well but ask for Police. The Deaf emergency textphone (TTY) number is 0800 16 16 16. This only applies to Ambulance, Fire and Police.

Contact details for non-urgent calls can be found in the local White Pages telephone directory. The White Pages also have details for animal emergencies, railway emergencies, electric power line faults, poisons and hazardous chemicals at the National Poisons Centre etc.

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You can drive in New Zealand if you hold a driver licence from another country - and it's valid of course - or if you have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

With the IDP you still have to carry your current Driver Licence. Don't be confused by the term 'Driving Permit' if that is how your licence is termed in your country. An IDP is totally different.

If your Driver Licence is in a foreign language you have to obtain an authorised translation.

It is a legal requirement to carry your Driver Licence at all times when you are driving here. You can be fined if you do not have it.

In New Zealand we drive a bit different from some countries. We also have some different road rules too so Click this link to leave New Zealand Information and go to the New Zealand Transport Agency and get the booklet download "Driving In NZ". A lot of good information is available on that page for visitors.

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Public Holidays

Rotorua gets super busy on holiday weekends. There always seems to be event/s on at these times so booking in advance is a good idea.

Something else to consider is the possibility of stocking up on food etc. prior to arriving. The supermarkets become a nightmare, and you don't really want to be spending a lot of time in them while on holiday do you? There is far too much else to be seeing and doing.

New Zealand Public Holidays 2022 2023 2024
New Year's Day¹ Sat 1¹ Jan Sun 1² Jan Mon 1 Jan
Day after NY Day² Sun 2 Jan² Mon 2 Jan Tue 2 Jan
Waitangi Day Sun 6 Feb² Mon 6 Feb Tue 6 Feb
Good Friday Fri 15 Apr Fri 7 Apr Fri 29 Mar
Easter Monday Mon 17 Apr Mon 10 Apr Mon 1 Apr
Anzac Day Mon 25 Apr Tue 25 Apr¹ Thu 25 Apr
Queen's Birthday Mon 6 Jun Mon 5 Jun Mon 3 Jun
Labour Day Mon 24 Oct Mon 23 Oct Mon 28 Oct
Christmas Day¹ Sun 25 Dec¹ Mon 25 Dec Wed 25 Dec
Boxing Day Mon 26 Dec Tue 26 Dec Thu 26 Dec

(1) observed on the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
(2) observed the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Tuesday if it falls on a Sunday.

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Anniversary Holidays

This is one further holiday observed annually - on different days depending on the region.

Area 2022 2023 2024
Wellington 24 Jan 30 Jan 22 Jan
Auckland 31 Jan 30 Jan 29 Jan
Nelson 31 Jan 30 Jan 29 Jan
Otago 21 Mar 20 Mar 25 Mar
Taranaki 14 Mar 13 Mar 11 Mar
Southland 19 Apr 11 Apr 02 Apr
Sth Canterbury 26 Sep 25 Sep 23 Sep
Hawkes Bay 21 Oct 20 Oct 25 Oct
Marlborough 31 Oct 30 Oct 04 Nov
Canterbury 11 Nov 17 Nov 15 Nov
Chatham Is 28 Nov 27 Nov 2 Dec
Westland 28 Nov 4 Dec 2 Dec

Source of information is Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Public Holiday Dates

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School Holidays

New Zealand information for school holidays: There is an approximate date for the end of the year as schools have a choice when it comes to both the beginning and end of year. There is standardised amount of days they have to be open which they have control over. Additionally, high schools have some longer holiday periods.

December closing dates should be no later than the 20th for the three years in the graph below.

Term Holidays 2022 2023 2024
End of Term 1 Apr 15 - May 01 Apr 07 - Apr 23 Apr 13 - Apr 28
End of Term 2 Jul 09 - Jul 24 Jul 01 - Jul 16 Jul 06 - Jul 21
End of Term 3 Oct 01 - Oct 16 Sep 23 - Oct 08 Sep 28 - Oct 13
End of Term 4 Dec 20 - 5-6 wks Dec 20 - 5-6 wks Dec 20 - 5-6 wks

Source of information is MOE - School Terms and Holidays

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Staying Safe

Although New Zealand is a relatively safe place to visit it still doesn't hurt to be safety conscious. Having spent seventeen plus years in the police force here I have seen my share of visitors get ripped off, assaulted etc. I don't want that to be you.

Here's the reality. If your motel room/vehicle gets cleaned out, including your travel documents, you are stuck. You will spend hours in the police station, sometimes days, trying to arrange new passports, tickets etc. It's doubly worse when there are language barriers. The poor visitor quite often ends up shattered with their mementos gone, photos gone, everything gone.

Once again, I don't want that to be you. The NZ Police website has indepth New Zealand information for travellers. It includes keeping safe on roads, personally, outdoors, possessions, cards and identity, text messaging and alcohol. I couldn't write it any clearer than what they have so click this link New Zealand Information- Visitor Safety in NZ to be taken to their page.

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Staying Safe in Rotorua

2 years on from the beginning of Covid, the face of Rotorua has changed a lot. Fenton Street, which is made up of motels, many of which are providing emergency housing, evidences this with a huge rise in social problems: alcohol, drugs, fighting, domestic violence and other crime. Permanent security guards are required to try and keep the low-lifes under control, and to protect the good ones amongst them. Police are constantly attending incidents at one or the other.

Those problems also spread into the inner city. It's safe to say you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

I don't know if and when we will get our city back but I sure hope it's soon.

CCTV cameras are positioned throughout the city. These are monitored a big part of the time by volunteers. If they see anything going down, the boys and girls in blue are off.

For a total about face, something else to be aware of that's peculiar to Rotorua is the thermal. It's all around us here so it pays to stay to the tracks. Our council does a good job in signposting the different areas but you never know where a new hole is going to pop up.

Another about face and it's not about safety as such. Any silver jewellery you have will tarnish here with the sulphur in the air. I gave up on wearing silver and just use stainless steel or white gold now. I couldn't stand all the cleaning.

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Tipping is not a normal practice in New Zealand. Unlike the USA, employees here receive a full wage and shouldn't have to rely on tips to survive.

I did go to a cafe in Auckland recently though, and when I went to pay by EFT-POS the machine said, 'do you want to enter a Tip amount.' That got right up my nose straight away.

If I think that I have been on the receiving end of spectacular service I probably would leave a tip. But to be asked for it. That's a no-no in my book.

You will probably notice - especially with cafes - money jars for leaving tips which is up to the individual, no pressure.

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Victim Support

New Zealand has a great community of volunteers who provide support to crime or trauma victims. This 24/7 service applies to both NZ locals and visitors alike.

Click to see the support services they provide which include practical and also financial assistance.

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Weather & Climate in General

For such a tiny little country - we're only 1600km long - New Zealand sure knows how to pack things in and that includes our NZ weather and climate.

At the top of the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) we have a sub-tropical climate right down to the sudden downpours with the hot steamy aftermath.

Contrast that with the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) where we still have glaciers and fiords and you can see that the weather in New Zealand operates at both ends of the scale.

What I find crazy is that the worlds' weather along with earthquakes and volcanoes seems to be getting topsy-turvy. Nowadays, places in the supposed colder South Island seem to get the higher temperatures in the summer whereas it used to be up North. It gets up to 35℃ (95℉) in Alexandra, Central Otago, with lows of -6℃ (21℉) in the winter.

You will find a lot of New Zealand information telling you that this is a land of contrasts and that you can easily get the four seasons in one day. Bottom line, be prepared for anything.

The Met Service provides in-depth weather reporting on NZ weather forecasts, tides, snow reports, radar maps and NZ weather maps.

If you are here for anything to do with water activities they also have a section on the marine weather forecast. Information is included for both coastal marine and recreational (lakes etc).

Additionally, clicking this link, Rotorua Weather will give you further Rotorua specific weather information.

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If there is anything I have missed in general New Zealand Information feel free to use my Contact Me Form with your question/s.

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