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New Zealand
If you are thinking about serving in New Zealand, picture a beautiful natural environment, bungy jumping, and 45 million sheep—each of which describes something essential about the country. New Zealand has some of the world’s most beautiful harbors, fjords, snowcapped mountains, glaciers, geysers, and rolling green pastures, all easily accessible by car, boat, or train. With a common language and customs, Americans find New Zealanders accommodating and friendly, though influenced by their remote location. Agriculture dominates the economy, while urban life grows at a manageable pace. Outdoor recreation and sports are important pastimes, but Auckland and Wellington offer cultural performances, museums, and superb small restaurants and cafés. Families in particular thrive in New Zealand, where life is peaceful, pleasant, and safe.

With its internationalist outlook, anti-nuclear policy, and strong stands on global trade, New Zealand offers interesting political, social, and economic issues. Personnel assigned to posts in New Zealand will find their work challenging and demanding.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific, some 1,200 miles southeast of Australia. The country consists of two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The main North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, which at its narrowest point is about 15 miles wide. New Zealand’s total area, 104,440 square miles, is about two-thirds the size of California. All but 1% of its area is in the two main islands: the North Island with 44,281 square miles, and the less populated South Island with 58,093 square miles. Stewart Island covers 670 square miles and is located off the South Island’s southern tip. New Zealand also includes small outlying islands, which are difficult to reach from the mainland: the Chatham Islands, Raoul Island, and Campbell Island.

New Zealand has a highly varied terrain with mountain ranges and hill country dominating the landscape. A massive mountain chain, the Southern Alps, runs almost the length of the South Island. The North Island also has mountain ranges, and four volcanic peaks, including Mt. Ruapehu, which has been active (but not dangerous) since September 1995. These mountains, along with fjords, glaciers, lakes, hot springs, geysers, mudpools, and beaches, give New Zealand some of the most spectacular natural scenery on earth.

New Zealand lies in the Temperate Zone and has a generally mild, invigorating climate although with sharp regional contrasts. The rugged terrain of the country has a dramatic effect on the weather. Many parts of the country are subject to high winds and rains followed by sharp drops in temperature. January and February are New Zealand’s warmest months with July normally the coldest. Spells of cool, damp weather occur even in the summer, from December through February. Rainy winter days of June, July, and August are interspersed with days of brilliant sunshine and crisp, clear air. The table on page 2 shows statistics on climatic ranges for New Zealand’s three main centers: Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

October, November, and December are particularly windy months. Winds of 60 mph are not unusual, especially in the Wellington area, and on rare occasions they exceed 100 mph. As the mountainous terrain suggests, New Zealand lies in an area of active earthquakes and volcanism ringing the Pacific Plate. A major fault line runs through Wellington. Earthquakes are sometimes felt but rarely cause damage.

The Embassy also has responsibility for three smaller island territories falling outside New Zealand proper. These include two self-governing states in free association with New Zealand—the Cook Islands (pop. 13,700) and Nuie (pop. 1,865)—along with Tokelau, a group of three atolls which New Zealand administers.

The Embassy has no formal jurisdiction over Antarctica, but it provides significant assistance to scientists and other travelers bound for the only “continent without an Embassy.” The U.S. Antarctic Program operates out of Christchurch, from which it provides logistical support to McMurdo Station, South Pole-Amundsen Station, and numerous smaller field camps in Antarctica. The National Science Foundation leads the U.S. Antarctic Program but it receives support from about 60 U.S. Air Force personnel and an equal number of New Zealand staff deployed in Christchurch as “Operation Deep Freeze.” The U.S., New Zealand, and Italian Antarctic programs cooperate extensively both in Christchurch and in Antarctica.

In addition to the Embassy in Wellington, the U.S. has a Consulate General in Auckland. The Consulate General handles all consular work for New Zealand, including issuance of visas and passports. Auckland is also New Zealand’s commercial and trade center.

For information about New Zealand on the Internet see:;; and

Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

Mean Daily Maximum Absolute Maximum
Auckland 73–60 84
Wellington 68–51 80

Christchurch 70–50 95
Mean Daily Minimum Absolute Minimum
Auckland 60–46 37
Wellington 55–42 33
Christchurch 53–34 26
Rainfall and Sunshine
Average Annual Rainfall (mm) Average Annual Hours
of Bright Sunshine

Auckland 1,251 2,028
Wellington 1,246 2,053
Christchurch 635 2,088

Population Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand’s population was over 3.8 million as of 2001. According to the 1996 census, 83% of New Zealanders were of European descent (known here as “pakeha”); 15% were Maori; 6% were Pacific Islanders; and 5% were Asian. Maori are descendants of early Polynesian settlers and are considered New Zealand’s indigenous people.

About 75% of New Zealand’s population live on the North Island, and Auckland’s urban area, with 1,030,000 inhabitants, is the largest population center. With its significant Pacific Islander population, Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world. Also, more people live in the greater Auckland area than on the entire South Island. Wellington, the capital, is New Zealand’s second largest city. Including the Hutt Valley and other adjacent areas its population numbers 343,400. The Christchurch area, population 333,300, is third largest, followed by Hamilton with 161,700, and Dunedin with 112,900.

Throughout New Zealand the influence of Maori culture is evident in the names of streets, towns, rivers, and mountains, as well as in art, literature, and music. Historically, Maori accommodated reasonably well to the European culture that arrived in the early 1800s and quickly dominated the country. But poverty remains a problem, leaving Maori over-represented among New Zealand’s poor, its sick, its unemployed, and its prison population. More recently, a resurgent Maori identity has focused on cultural activities and Maori rights under the Treaty of Waitangi, which ceded sovereignty from the Maori chiefs to the British Crown. The Waitangi Tribunal has been charged with hearing disputes over land and resource rights, and recommending settlements to the Government to compensate Maori.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy based on the British model. The Governor General, customarily a New Zealander, performs the ceremonial role of head of state, representing Queen Elizabeth II. The executive branch of government is the Cabinet, led by a Prime Minister as head of government. The current Cabinet consists of 20 ministers, each of whom oversees one or more ministries or departments of government. Each of these is headed by a career civil servant, who usually bears the title of secretary or chief executive officer.

Parliament consists of one chamber, the House of Representatives. Two political parties, the center-left Labour Party and the center-right National Party, have dominated Parliament and the nation’s political life since 1935. The present Labour Party government was elected in November 1999, ending nine consecutive years of National Party rule. The Labour Party governs in coalition with the Alliance Party as a minority government—meaning it must rely on support from other parties to pass legislation.

The parliamentary term is 3 years. An election may be called at any time, but only two early elections have been held since World War II. Voting is not compulsory, but all voters must register at age 18. About 90% of the electorate vote in general elections. New Zealand has had universal male suffrage since 1879. In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation to give women universal suffrage.

Under New Zealand’s mixed member proportional representation system of elections (known as MMP), voters cast two votes: one for the local electorate Member of Parliament and a second for a political party list. Of the 120 Members of Parliament, 67 represent geographic electorates and 53 are MPs elected off the party list. In 1999, six seats were reserved for selection by Maori, and this number is likely to increase as a result of the 2001 census.

Since the first election under MMP in 1996, the number of parties in Parliament has increased. A political party must win either 5% of the party-list vote or one electorate seat to appear in Parliament. In addition to Labour and National, the Alliance Party, the Green Party, ACT New Zealand, NZ First, and United Future New Zealand are represented in the current Parliament.

New Zealand is a unitary state whose government at Wellington makes and directs all national policy. There are no state or provincial governmental entities, although local government with limited powers is divided into 12 regions with directly elected councils and 74 districts (15 of which are cities) with elected councils. A number of community boards and special-purpose bodies also exist.

New Zealand has diplomatic or consular posts in more than 45 nations and has more than 100 representatives accredited to foreign governments and international organizations.

New Zealand is a strong supporter of international institutions, including the United Nations. New Zealand military forces participate in over a dozen international peacekeeping and peace monitoring forces, including the UN force in East Timor and non-UN deployments in the South Pacific. New Zealand has pursued a foreign policy independent of the British Empire since 1936, although it remains an active participant in the Commonwealth. Strong ties of tradition and sentiment link New Zealand with the U.K.

The U.S. has had a diplomatic presence in New Zealand territory since 1838 when James Clendon opened the first consulate in Russell to serve whalers and seamen. In 1942, the U.S. became the first nation with an accredited diplomat in Wellington, and we have had an uninterrupted diplomatic presence in New Zealand’s capital since that time. Similarly, New Zealand opened its first overseas diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., in 1942.

New Zealand’s security relationship with the U.S. previously centered around the Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) security treaty of 1951. In 1986, the U.S. suspended its security guarantees to New Zealand under ANZUS because of legislation passed by the New Zealand Parliament which barred U.S. nuclear-powered or armed warships from entering New Zealand ports. The ANZUS treaty remains in effect but is active only between the U.S. and Australia, and the suspension of treaty obligations with New Zealand is referred to as the “unfinished business.” Despite limits on security cooperation resulting from the unfinished business, bilateral relations remain very strong on political, economic, and cultural fronts.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand’s larger cities offer high quality performances in music and the performing arts. Entertainment and arts sections of major newspapers promote upcoming performances by the professional (and amateur) theater and dance companies, the national and regional orchestras, choirs and the opera. With limited advance booking, one can also enjoy other live performances by local and traveling performers and companies, including internationally renowned performers and local talent.

The biennial International Festival of the Arts in Wellington features major international artists, performers, and writers, including many from the U.S. In recent years, the festival has included Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Other major cities are now developing similar festivals and several outdoor summertime opera performances have been established as regular events in different parts of the country. Concerts by major international contemporary/rock groups and solo artists are also staged throughout the year, although many such shows are confined to Auckland.

The metropolitan and larger provincial centers have public art galleries and museums that exhibit both New Zealand and touring international shows. All are active in promoting public education programs in association with their exhibition schedules. Wellington’s Te Papa Tongerawa (the Museum of New Zealand) has modern and interactive displays, as does the International Antarctic Center in Christchurch. The Auckland Museum and the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch’s Botanical Gardens are more traditional. City Art Galleries are also available in each major city. Auckland and Wellington also have several good dealer galleries. Maori art is particularly popular, especially in tourist centers such as Rotorua.

Scientific activity is largely in the hands of the universities and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MORST), which has a large and varied program. A number of scientific associations are active, including the New Zealand branch of Britain’s famous Royal Society. Wellington has public showings in Carter Planetarium, as well as an active astronomy club.

Primary and secondary education is adequate, but may involve significant adjustments from the U.S. system (see section on Dependent Education). Universities at Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North, and Hamilton offer undergraduate facilities comparable to those in the U.S. The normal undergraduate program leading to a bachelor’s degree lasts 3 years. Several teacher-training colleges and technical and business schools are available. Most universities offer evening courses and distance education at the university level, as well as adult education classes. New Zealanders have a keen interest in pottery making and weaving. Day and evening classes are available.

“Brain-drain” has been a significant topic of discussion in modern New Zealand society. Many commentators lament what they see as the recent departure of New Zealand’s “best and brightest” for other Western countries with larger economies, particularly Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. Others remain, however, and welcome the excellent lifestyle opportunities created by New Zealand’s relatively smaller economy.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

As an island nation with great natural and agricultural resources but limited population, New Zealand heavily depends on foreign trade and investment. Exports accounted for 30% of GNP in 1999 (compared with 11% for the U.S.). New Zealand’s main exports are meat, dairy, and fish products. Though the weight of these commodities has dropped from 75% of exports in the early 1970s, their share of exports during the 1990s remained steady at 45–46% despite government attempts to diversify economic activity. Manufacturing’s share of exports remained at 32% over the same period. Foreign investment grew sharply in the 1990s under government reform and privatization programs. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in New Zealand stood at $6.7 billion in 1999, second only to Australia’s $12 billion. U.S. investments are in such sectors as transportation, telecommunications and forestry.

The U.K. was for many years New Zealand’s principal market. With Britain’s entry into the then-European Community, however, New Zealand was obliged to diversify its export markets and has succeeded to a considerable degree. The U.S. is New Zealand’s second largest trading partner after Australia, with whom New Zealand has a free trade agreement.

The government’s heavy role in the economy was reduced in the late 1980s and the 1990s by successive Labour and National Party governments. During this period, sectors such as the railways, electricity, airlines and telecommunications were privatized, investment rules were loosened, trade barriers were reduced and labor markets liberalized. Some 10% of the labor force is employed in agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining; 22% in manufacturing and construction; and 68% in services.

Per capita GDP in 1999, an estimated US$13,487, translates into a comfortable standard of living for New Zealanders. Income is relatively evenly distributed, with limited extremes of poverty and wealth. The social security, national health, and old-age benefits systems are nationalized and comprehensive. A vast range of other social benefits are readily available.


Automobiles Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Although air, bus, and rail connections between cities are satisfactory, a personal car is a great convenience. Many points of interest and scenic areas are far from the cities, and some are accessible only by car. Rental cars are available. Registration license fees are payable each year in the month the vehicle was originally registered. The average Embassy staff person pays about NZ$450–$500 annually to insure a car. If you can supply a letter from your previous insurance company stating you have not had a claim during the preceding 12 months, a deduction is granted.

In the cities, roads are generally good and include a small number of expressways. Two-lane paved highways are the rule outside the major urban areas and between cities. Numerous curves and narrow roads or one-lane bridges are a hazardous feature of driving in some of the more scenic, but mountainous areas. Caution is advised.

Automobile Import Requirements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade Guidelines for the Diplomatic and Consular Corps provides the following requirements:

Any new or used motor vehicles imported into New Zealand must comply with New Zealand safety standards, certification, and registration requirements to enable issuance of a license and to permit road usage. Personnel on transfer to New Zealand are strongly advised to ascertain the requirements for the vehicle they intend to import. Such requirements vary depending on the manufacture and model of a vehicle. The owner must meet all costs, including quarantine/cleaning and vehicle compliance inspection, on arrival in New Zealand.

Left-Hand-Drive Vehicles. Only certain limited categories of left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles can be registered for operation on New Zealand roads. A special exempted category has been established for vehicles owned by diplomats assigned to New Zealand, provided the vehicle is re-exported. The owner must pay all costs involved in meeting New Zealand safety standards to register the vehicle. Because New Zealand has some unique requirements, e.g., spiral seat belts that cost hundreds of dollars per car, and because good used cars are very cheap, it is advisable not to bring an LHD car to New Zealand. Some have also had difficulty with LHD cars because of the narrow and winding roads.

Number of Imported Personal Motor Vehicles. Single staff may import one vehicle exempt from the 12.5% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Diplomatic staff with official family members who are eligible to drive may import and own up to two GST-exempt vehicles at one time. There is no restriction on importation if GST is paid.

GST Assessment on Sale of Imported Vehicles. GST is assessed on the depreciated value of the vehicle. A GST exempt vehicle sold or otherwise disposed of within the first 12 months of ownership will be subject to full GST calculated on its entry value. Where a vehicle is to be sold or otherwise disposed of after 1 year, GST will be reduced by 1/24th for each complete month of ownership in excess of 12 months. After 3 years of ownership, no GST is applicable. In cases of uncertainty regarding this provision, the NZ Customs Service should be consulted.

If the vehicle is sold to another privileged person, GST will only be payable if the vehicle is subsequently sold or otherwise disposed of to an ineligible person within the remainder of the 3-year period.

All motor vehicles are required to hold a valid Warrant of Fitness (WOF) at the time of licensing. This involves a periodic, at least annual, roadworthiness inspection. If the vehicle passes the inspection, it is issued with a WOF label valid for 6 to 12 months, which must be displayed on the windscreen. Members of the Corps are not exempt from the costs of obtaining a Warrant of Fitness.

Vehicle ownership details are a matter of public record in New Zealand. Any member of the public may obtain the ownership details of any vehicle on request. For this reason the Ministry recommends that members of the Corps use the address of the Mission or post when registering their motor vehicles.

Motor Vehicle Insurance. All vehicles should be appropriately insured to cover theft, damage, or accidents including third-party insurance. The average cost per car currently paid by Embassy staff is approximately NZ$450 to $500 per year.

Drivers Licenses. A valid drivers license is compulsory for people to have in their possession while driving. Under the NZ Transport (Driver Licensing) Rules of 1999, all members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and their private domestic staff arriving in New Zealand will on application be issued a New Zealand drivers license provided they hold a valid drivers license or permit issued from overseas. Those who have not previously held a driving license, e.g., children of diplomats, will be required to take the usual tests. In addition, privileged persons and domestic servants who come from countries which, like New Zealand, have a system of graduated level of drivers license, i.e., learner, restricted, and full, and who have not yet attained a full license, will be required to take the tests for each level. Privileged persons are exempt from payment of fees for all tests and for the drivers licenses.

The licenses issued to the diplomatic corps and to domestic servants will take the form of the standard New Zealand lifetime license but will be valid for 4 years from the date of issue. The Ministry recommends that all drivers familiarize themselves with the “New Zealand Road Code,” which can be purchased from most major bookstores.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Ample public transportation serves residents of New Zealand’s larger cities. Buses and taxis are available at reasonable fares. Commuter trains run from Wellington to Lower Hutt, Johnsonville, and Tawa, where official residences are located. Families living in some neighborhoods may not have access to train transportation. Buses are available, but families in these locations often will want a second car.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Airlines from many countries serve New Zealand through international airports in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. Official personnel assigned to the Embassy normally land at Auckland and travel the same day to Wellington, a 1-hour flight. Air New Zealand, Qantas, and small local carriers provide all in-country service. Regular flights exist between the main centers, with feeder service from provincial airports in most medium-sized cities, including tourist destinations like Queenstown, Nelson, and Rotorua.

Train service between Auckland and Wellington takes about 12 hours. Trains make several stops along the 400-mile route, giving passengers a chance to stretch their legs and eat. Scenic train trips are available in many places in New Zealand, including several on the South Island reported to be among the world’s most scenic train trips. Trains and tourist buses also connect most destinations, and packages are available which combine with travel on the Interislander ferry.

Travel between the North and South Island commonly occurs by the Interislander passenger ferry and other ships, which make the 3-hour one-way trip between Wellington and Picton (in the South Island’s Marlborough Sounds) several times daily. Vehicles can also be taken on the ferry. It can be expensive and difficult to reserve space for your car on the ferry during peak holiday times, but rental cars are available. Smaller ferries travel across Wellington and Auckland harbors, and some are used by commuters.

Car rental is available throughout the country. Companies in New Zealand charge an average daily rate of NZ$60–100 for a medium-sized vehicle with unlimited mileage.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Local phone service is good and international calls are priced quite reasonably. Most areas in the U.S. can be dialed direct, and connections are usually excellent. A 3-minute call to the U.S. costs under US$1. Special rates are available in the late evening and on weekends. Telecom NZ has offered weekend specials to the U.S. and Canada as low as US$4 per call for an unlimited length of time. International service to other parts of the world is equally good and reasonably priced.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Mobile phones are common in New Zealand and provide good service, although coverage is limited in outlying areas.

Internet Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Internet service is available from US$12 per month for a phone modem. High-speed Internet access is also available from US$50 per month. Fax service to and from the U.S. is excellent; commercial fax services are widely available.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

International airmail arrives from the U.S. almost daily and surface mail about once a month. Airmail from the U.S. takes 10–14 days and surface mail, 4-8 weeks. Address first-class mail, which requires international postage, to:

American Embassy
P.O. Box 1190
Wellington, New Zealand

American employees at the Embassy may use the Army Post Office (APO) operated by the U.S. Air National Guard Detachment in Christchurch. Letter mail by APO is usually 7 to 10 days. Personal mail received at the APO in Christchurch is forwarded to the Embassy twice weekly. Using the APO for parcel post shipments from the U.S. is advantageous, although the APO cannot accept liability for loss or damage to mail during shipment from Christchurch to the Embassy. Letters and parcels routed through APO require U.S. postage.

Certified mail may be used and parcels may be insured, but you should advise correspondents not to use registered mail, which under Army postal regulations can be released only to the addressee or his authorized representative (which means waiting until you or a colleague can visit Christchurch).

The APO address is:
American Embassy—Wellington
PSC 467, Box 1
APO, AP 96531-1001

The Pouch address is:
Department of State
4360 Wellington Place
Washington, D.C. 20521-4360

Radio and TV Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Radio reception is good. Local programs include music, news, and sports on both AM and FM. Radio New Zealand, the state broadcaster, provides reliable news and current affairs. The radio news includes some BBC reporting on international events.

Television is phase alternating line (PAL) color transmission. Programs are scheduled 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Four over-the-air stations broadcast for free, including two channels operated by state-run Television New Zealand. These channels include some evening programs commonly seen on U.S. networks. Cable and satellite television is available here and common in Embassy homes. Costs are about NZ$75 for a package including news (CNN and BBC), movie, documentary, and music channels. U.S. standard (NTSC) sets do not work in New Zealand. Do not bring them to post. Local prices for remote control color televisions range from NZ$500 (20" screen) to NZ$800 (25" screen). Multisystem sets are common and work well; they may also be purchased through the AAFES catalog service.

Video rental chains are common and reasonably priced, although they rarely carry NTSC tapes. A multisystem or PAL video cassette player is recommended. In video stores (and cinemas), movie releases are delayed somewhat relative to the U.S., but a wide selection exists. In major cities, video stores also rent video games and DVD movies.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

American magazines appear at local newsstands several weeks after publication, and the International Herald Tribune is only available by mail and arrives about 5 days late. The Pacific edition of Time is printed in New Zealand and that of Newsweek, in Australia. Magazines and newspapers should be sent by international mail or through the APO, not by pouch. Another option is to access U.S. media via the Internet. The Embassy Information Research Center carries a good stock of U.S. periodicals, the Sunday edition of the Washington Post and the New York Times, plus a number of reference materials. The Information Research Center also maintains the Embassy web site, the address of which is:

In the principal cities, morning and/or evening newspapers are published 6 days a week, except on certain holidays. Two national newspapers publish on Sunday, and two business newspapers publish weekly. Local news coverage is good, but international coverage is limited.

The following major New Zealand media have a presence on the Internet:;;;

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand has a socialized medical system. Medical services are considered excellent by world standards, but are not equal with those in the U.S. Americans are accustomed to more intensive diagnostic testing and to easier access to specialists and prescription medication. Some of the latest techniques and medicines are not yet available in New Zealand.

A local doctor serves as the post medical adviser. Each employee should locate a general practitioner in his or her neighborhood as soon as possible after arrival so that medical attention will be assured when required. Medical costs are quite reasonable by U.S. standards, with office calls costing less than US$20. Prescriptions are filled at nominal cost. Although private insurance is not common, the services provided in New Zealand have caused few problems for staff seeking reimbursement from their FEHB insurance providers.

For New Zealand citizens, much health care is subsidized. For example, medical care for children under age 6 is free. However, the guidelines for the Diplomatic and Consular Corps state that diplomatic and consular staff members, including locally employed foreign nationals, are not eligible for any publicly funded health benefits or social security benefits in New Zealand. They may receive medical care in the public health system but must pay for it. The exception to this policy is in respect to medical treatment received under the public system as the result of an accident, including motor vehicle accidents. Treatment in these circumstances is covered under the Accident Compensation system (ACC).

One of the primary differences between the U.S. and New Zealand medical systems is that in New Zealand it is almost impossible to see a specialist without a referral from a general practitioner. Waiting lists for surgery, especially in certain specialties, can be long.

Hospital facilities for surgery and in-patient care are considered adequate. Public hospitals have only a few private rooms. Some Embassy people seeking hospital care use private hospitals. Urgent care clinics and pharmacies operate on evenings and weekends in most suburbs. For normal pregnancies, obstetrical care is provided by a general practitioner or an OB/GYN with follow-up care provided by nurses from the Plunket Society, a voluntary agency subsidized by the New Zealand Government, which cares for mothers and children. Physiotherapy and chiropractic services are good and readily available.

Dental care is good. Routine cleanings are about NZ$65 and x-rays are $12 each. Wellington and Auckland have orthodontists with cost similar to that in the U.S.; periodontal treatment is available.

The services of opticians and oculists are good and available at reasonable rates.

Community Health Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Except for Hepatitis B, no endemic diseases exist. However, New Zealand lags behind other developed countries in vaccination levels and outbreaks of diseases such as measles and meningitis do occur. All preschool children in New Zealand are vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

Thanks to its location and seasonal winds, New Zealand has some of the world’s cleanest air. However, the damp climate and numerous flowering plants may trouble persons suffering from asthma, arthritis, rheumatism and sinusitis. Colds and flu are relatively frequent, partly as a result of frequent weather changes. BCG vaccination (against tuberculosis) of all 13-year-olds is performed in most schools but is voluntary. Because the vaccine causes a positive tine test reaction, parents may wish to have their children exempted from vaccinations.

The ozone layer is relatively thin over New Zealand. As a result, it has one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, making sunblock and hats very important.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Milk is pasteurized. All urban water supplies are chlorinated, and it is safe to eat raw fruits and vegetables. No inoculations are required for entry into New Zealand. Except for the pre-exposure to rabies and Japanese B Encephalitis vaccines, all other shots required for travel to points outside New Zealand can be obtained here. Oral polio vaccine is available locally.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The Mission’s size and budget limit spousal employment opportunities inside the Mission. At present, there are two designated Foreign Service National/American Family Member (FSN/AFM) positions in Wellington. Temporary clerical positions in the Mission become available from time to time.

Dependents may seek employment outside the Mission but must pay New Zealand income tax on income earned in New Zealand. The New Zealand pay scale is also very low compared to similar positions in the U.S. Mission dependents who have actively sought local employment have been successful.

American Embassy - Wellington

Post City Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Wellington is a city of superb views, with a spectacular natural harbor ringed by hills. Many Americans find it somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco or Seattle. Located where the North Island tapers to its end in the Cook Strait, Wellington’s land has been pushed up and twisted into a pattern of ridges and gullies. Settlement dates from 1840, when the first shiploads of settlers arrived under the auspices of the London-based New Zealand Land Company. The city was named for the Duke of Wellington and became New Zealand’s capital in 1865. Wellington’s Port Nicholson Harbor has many moods, but when the sun is shining, and the air is still, it is breathtakingly beautiful. The city and its suburbs extend like a huge amphitheater across the surrounding green hills.

Wellington’s aggressive terrain has a climate to match, and the threat of earthquakes is ever present. “Windy Wellington” is a term of abuse applied by some visitors unprepared for the city’s gales but a term of affection from residents who have long since come to terms with the vagaries of the local weather.

Except for a small area of flat land in the city center, most of reclaimed Wellington City clings to the steep hillsides. There is no room for expansion, except upward. Residential areas spread across the hillsides, providing many residents with spectacular views of the city and harbor below. The downtown area is dominated by a number of modern commercial office buildings and by the Parliament Buildings, notably the Executive Wing of Parliament known as the “Beehive.”

Located near the geographical center of the country, Wellington is a principal overseas shipping terminal. Wellington houses the head offices of all government departments and many national organizations.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The American Embassy is located in a modern Chancery building at 29 Fitzherbert Terrace in the Thorndon section of Wellington, near other embassies and New Zealand Government ministries.

The Embassy is traditional in its organization, with State Department Political/Economic (combined), Public Affairs, and Administrative Sections, and Agricultural, Commercial, and Defense Attache Offices. The Embassy has a complement of approximately 20 Americans and 30 FSNs, including a part-time Community Liaison Office (CLO) Coordinator. Contract local guards provide internal security. The Embassy has supervisory authority over American Embassy Apia, Samoa, which has one officer assigned as Charge d’affaires.

Public Affairs offices are in the Embassy. One American officer and 7 FSN employees administer an information research center and a broad program of informational and cultural activities.

Three Americans staff the Defense Attaché’s Office. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has an Attaché, FSN marketing assistant, and an FSN agricultural assistant. The Foreign Commercial Service has one FSN commercial assistant in Wellington.

Embassy office hours are 8:15 am to 5:00 pm, Monday–Friday; phone (644) 462-6000 Wellington during office hours.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Newcomers usually stay in a full-service apartment or motel with limited cooking facilities, or move directly into permanent quarters. Several hotels and apartment complexes offer comfortable accommodation at reasonable rates.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

All employees assigned to the Mission are provided government-owned or -leased furnished quarters. For specific housing information, write to the
general services officer.

Government-owned quarters. The Ambassador’s residence is a large two-story frame house in Lower Hutt. The 2-acre site was once part of a private botanical garden, and the grounds are among the most attractive in the area. The Deputy Chief of Mission’s (DCM) house, built in 1926, is gracious and the garden unusually beautiful. There is a two-car garage.

Most other government-owned houses are spacious, attractive, generally older homes that compare favorably to similar American houses of equal age. One house has five bedrooms, one has three bedrooms plus a sunroom, and most of the others have four bedrooms. All residences have one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half bathrooms. Many are not connected privately to any bedroom.

The DCM’s house and one other home are in Karori, a residential suburb in the nearby hills, about a 10-minute drive from the Chancery. The Ambassador’s residence, the houses usually designated for the Public Affairs Officer, the Agricultural Attaché and the Defense Attaché, and three other houses for senior officers are in residential areas in Lower Hutt. The drive from Lower Hutt is 15–25 minutes, depending on traffic. Regular train service between Lower Hutt and Wellington takes about 20 minutes. Other homes are in the suburbs of Khandallah, Churton Park and Tawa.

All government-owned or -leased residential properties are completely equipped with major appliances (range, refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer, dishwasher, disposal) and basic furniture and furnishings. The Ambassador’s residence and the DCM’s home are also furnished with silverware, chinaware, glassware, kitchen utensils, and linens.

Occupants of government quarters should bring pictures, books, stereo equipment, small appliances, and small objets d’art.

All government-owned residential properties have either gas or electric heating units, which vary in efficiency from fair to good. Most central heating units were installed after the residences were built, so the heating varies from room to room. Electric heaters supplement central heating in some houses.

Government-leased housing. American employees not placed in government-owned housing are assigned furnished government-leased housing. Many newer houses have two-car garages. Government-leased houses will probably not have central heating, but the Embassy can provide electric space heaters. Weather stripping in New Zealand lags behind that in the U.S. In winter months, houses can be drafty and chilly.

Furnishings Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Because the post provides furnished quarters, furnishings required by a new employee are those that are normally shipped in airfreight and limited shipment of household effects. Home furnishings are comparable with the U.S. Just about anything you would want to furnish a household is available in New Zealand. Wool blankets, paintings, and local pottery are reasonably priced. Furniture from New Zealand’s unique hardwoods is also popular.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The water supply for housekeeping purposes is good. In most houses and apartments, individual gas or electric heaters are used.

Few local houses or apartments have central heating. Even during summer, the average American may want to have the heat on at times.

Do not bring an American TV set unless you want to use it with an American-style VCR for viewing American videos. Local transmission uses the PAL system and multi-system equipment is an excellent option.

Electric current is 230v, 50-cycle, single phase, AC. Each Embassy housing unit is issued two step-down transformers. Standard U.S.-made electric clocks and phonographs will not run satisfactorily here without expensive adjustments. U.S. computers may be run without problems from the transformers. Neither American nor European wall plugs will fit the prevailing New Zealand three-pronged outlets. New Zealand-type plugs are readily available and may be attached to lamp cords, transformer wires, etc. Adapter plugs are usually available locally.

Food Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most familiar foods can be purchased in New Zealand. Wellington has many large supermarkets that resemble American chains, but some people shop at smaller stores and specialty shops, such as the greengrocer, butcher and delicatessen.

Staple items are in good supply. New Zealand is not a consumables post, but if you need a particular American brand or product, you might want to put some in your shipment. Many U.S. cereals are not available in New Zealand; nor are many U.S. brands of junk food. Local flour, vegetable shortening, and yeast are different from American products and certain seasonings, double-action baking powder, maple syrup, and Bisquick are not available. Check the quarantine rules carefully, as some items cannot be imported, including honey and popcorn. Substitutes for almost all items can be purchased here, and Internet grocery shopping is an option. For those who bake, you may wish to bring baking supplies, as measuring spoons and measuring cups denominated on the U.S. system, angel food cakepans, and cooking thermometers on the Fahrenheit scale are not available in New Zealand. There is no PX; however, staff may order from AAFES and other catalogs for delivery through APO.

Fresh meats are abundant and relatively inexpensive. Dairy products are excellent and cost somewhat less than in the U.S. Fresh pasteurized milk is completely safe for infants and can be purchased in dairy stores and supermarkets or through home delivery. Skim milk and cow milk substitutes are also available.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and reasonably priced, as are frozen foods. New Zealand prohibits import of frozen, refrigerated or uncooked meat, poultry, eggs and egg products, most honey, and pet food containing raw lamb or sheep meat. Most commercial pet food is acceptable.

Clothing Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Warm clothing can be worn comfortably most of the year. New arrivals should bring a good basic wardrobe, although you can supplement it through U.S. mail-order companies or on the local economy. The selection in New Zealand is not as large as in the U.S. but everything you need is available here.

Men Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Men wear spring-weight suits about 3 months of the year and heavier suits the rest of the time. Temperatures may occasionally call for a topcoat, but the most often-used outer garment is a raincoat. A topcoat with a zip-in liner is useful, although many purchase waterproof leather overcoats on arrival. Umbrellas are sometimes impractical because of Wellington’s high winds, but are highly useful at other times. Shirts, suits, topcoats, raincoats and sport-coats may be purchased locally, and, at the present exchange rate, are reasonably priced. Officers rarely need formal wear for black-tie functions. All male formal attire, except shirts and ties, can be rented.

Shoes are one item that is generally more expensive in New Zealand than in the U.S.

Women Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

In Wellington, summer cottons are practical for only 2 or 3 months of the year. Long-sleeved dresses of any weight, blazers, suits, heavier dresses, pant suits, slacks, sweaters, and skirts are comfortable the rest of the time. Darker, subdued colors are worn more frequently than bright prints. Good raingear is essential, and the same types of coats suggested for men are recommended. Wellington evenings are cool. Even when the weather permits wearing lightweight apparel, most women carry a light wrap or sweater to guard against sudden temperature changes. Female personnel may choose to bring a long gown and cocktail dress for occasional use. Skirts with a variety of dressy blouses and tops are useful for dinner parties.

Children Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Clothing for children and infants is available at reasonable prices. Some people supplement children’s wardrobes with mail-order clothing. School uniforms, which must be bought here, satisfy much of the clothing needs of most school-age children. Boys and girls at most secondary schools and most private primary schools wear uniforms which include a raincoat, shirt or blouse, pants or skirt, cap, socks or stockings, sweater (“jersey”), and blazer. Some public primary schools (ages 5 to 12) do not require uniforms. Away from school, children and teenagers wear essentially what they would wear in the U.S.

Bring a good supply of play clothes and dress clothing. For boys up to 12 years old, white shirt, tie, and sweater can be combined with school pants for dressy events. During most of the year, a jacket and a lightweight coat are useful. Children need cardigans or sweaters and warm pajamas for winter.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most toiletries and cosmetics are available, but imported perfumes and cosmetics are relatively expensive. Common household items (like cleaning equipment, repair materials, clothespins, and tools) are readily available. First-aid supplies are available, but over-the-counter medicines often carry different brand names than in the U.S. and some medicines are not available.

Imported wine and liquor can be obtained duty-free by persons entitled to diplomatic privileges. New Zealand is a wine-producing nation and offers some internationally renowned wines. New Zealand also brews excellent beers. A few brands of American wine, bourbon, and beer are obtainable from local suppliers, but choice is limited.

Basic Services Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

There are many barbers and beauty shops which do good quality work. Prices are comparable to those in the U.S. Appointments are necessary at most shops. Tipping is not customary. Dressmakers and tailors are skilled but are heavily booked and quite expensive. Dry cleaning services are good and readily available.

New Zealand is a do-it-yourself country and boasts many hardware stores. Workmen for minor household repairs are few. Electronic/radio equipment repair is good, but parts for U.S.-made items are often hard to obtain. Local repairers are not always familiar with most recent models of American appliances and equipment. Employees should bring wiring diagrams and service manuals for newer model appliances.

Auto repair work is satisfactory and is comparable in cost with the U.S. An oil change costs about NZ$96.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand nationals or permanent residents can be employed as domestic staff without restrictions. However, domestic staff in New Zealand can be quite expensive and limited in availability. If you bring a domestic staff person from a prior assignment to work for you here, you must acquire a visa for the person. Check with the Administrative Office at post for further details.

Bartenders, waiters, and catering services for dinners, cocktail parties, and buffets are available. The current U.S. dollar exchange rate makes this service fairly reasonable.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Virtually, all religious denominations can be found in the Wellington area. There are Anglican (i.e., Episcopalian), Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Jewish and Latter-day Saints congregations, as well as smaller groups.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Overview. Primary education is satisfactory, although differences in the educational systems have made the transition difficult for some students, especially those nearing the end of high school. Early childhood education is very good. Secondary schools are of high quality in some respects, but not all prepare children adequately for American universities. The Embassy has prepared a comprehensive comparative analysis of the New Zealand and U.S. education systems, which is available from the Embassy on request, and also from FSI’s Overseas Briefing Center, and the Family Liaison Office in the Department of State.

School Year and Holidays. Seasons in New Zealand are the reverse of those in the U.S. and so is the school year. School begins in late January or early February (just after the 6-week summer/Christmas break) and ends in December, when the summer vacation starts again. The school year since 1996 has been divided into 4 terms of about 10 weeks each, with short breaks of some 2 weeks during the months of March/April, July, and September/October. High schools close for the year in early December; public elementary schools in mid-December.

Major differences from U.S. Schools. The differences in school year and consequent grade placement are factors that affect all U.S. children transferring from the Northern Hemisphere, but there are other major distinctions, which can affect adjustment. For instance, there are no American or international schools in New Zealand. All children attend New Zealand schools, public or private, which teach a New Zealand curriculum. This curriculum has similarities to the British and Australian systems, but is not the same. Schools differ widely in their philosophies, degree of community-supported funding, and academic achievement levels. Many are single-sex schools.

The terms used to distinguish grade level are different from those used in the U.S. and vary from school to school. You may hear the terms Form, Standard, Class, or Year to describe placement. For example a child in third grade in the U.S. may be described as attending Standard 2 or year 4. High school achievement levels can have similar differences. Grade placement on arrival must be assessed for each student individually after discussions with the school. If a student is within the age range of his/her grade and is a good student, she/he can usually go ahead a grade. For example, if a student finished sixth grade in a Northern Hemisphere school in June, he/she would probably be placed in year 8 (or 7th grade in U.S. terms). A student arriving later in the year would probably join Year 7 (6th grade in U.S. terms), and enter Year 8 (7th grade in U.S.) at the beginning of the next school year in February.

New Zealand “colleges” are the equivalent of U.S. high schools, but often include students as young as primary school. The choice of schools, both public and private, is fairly wide, but none will be the same as an American high school. In the past, some parents of children age 12 and older have had difficulty finding schools they found satisfactory, especially as children approach university. New Zealand standards in math appear lower than in the U.S. and science is taught by mixing biology, chemistry and physics together throughout the year. Some students supplement their education by taking correspondence or independent study courses, especially for American history. The New Zealand education system may not prepare students for American universities.

Upon transfer back to the U.S., it can also be difficult for schools to assess what a student has learned in New Zealand schools. New Zealand report cards are progress reports rather than clear final grades, and there is no precise equivalent to an American transcript of grades or credits. Rather than report cards, New Zealand students’ examination results [National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), Bursary and Scholarship-level examinations] are the important requirements for placement in New Zealand tertiary education. In addition, there is no clear-cut diploma at the end of high school. Very few schools provide overall grade/class rankings, but they may provide them by subject for individual classes.

Choosing a School: Public and Private Options. American employees should consider the alternatives for older children as early as possible, particular as entry to some schools, public and private, is limited and very competitive. Parents should consider the school’s academic standards, size, and extracurricular options, as well as your individual child’s educational and social needs. If you have a preference for a particular school, be sure to advise the housing officer and CLO as soon as possible.

Like the U.S., New Zealand’s public school system is secular. Children start school at age 5 and must attend until age 16. Tuition is free in public schools, but charges are made for some books and supplies. The Ministry of Education’s web site ( includes helpful information about the New Zealand education system and some information about individual public schools. In all neighborhoods where the Embassy has housing, there are “decile ten” public schools (i.e., schools in the top 10% nationally ranked by socio-economic support level).

About one in nine New Zealand school children attends a private school, many of which are single-sex only. Most private schools are affiliated with a Christian denomination (e.g., Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic). The extent of religious input varies from school to school. Non-Christian U.S. families have found private denominational schools in which their children were comfortable.

The at-post education allowance adequately covers the cost of private schools. Tuition and other charges vary at private schools, and children at some schools must buy books and other supplies. Parents should not expect the at-post education allowance to cover uniforms (even where required) or field trips. In schools requiring uniforms, the cost may be as much as NZ$300–500 per child. Students who commute by public bus pay a reduced fare.

In recent years, Embassy children attended and had good experiences at the following private schools, although others are available (look on the Internet at:

Girls: Samuel Marsden Collegiate School (e-mail: in Karori (now also accepting boys to year 3);

Chilton Saint James School ( located in Lower Hutt; and Queen Margaret College ( next door to the Embassy.

Boys: Wellesley College ( in Eastbourne, across Wellington harbor from the central city; and Scots College (E-mail: near Wellington Airport.

Co-educational: St. Mark’s Church School ( in Wellington central city.

Because of specific prerequisites for entry into U.S. universities, American students may have to supplement their New Zealand high school courses. A few American students have felt that New Zealand schools discourage individual initiative and have chosen to finish their high school work in the U.S.

Early Childhood Education. A variety of very good, early childhood educational options are available in New Zealand. Kindergartens operate programs for children 3 to 5 years of age. Playcentre is a parent cooperative where parents take responsibility for the management and supervision of mixed age group sessions. Numerous private pre-school options are available, including Montessori and Rudolf Steiner programs. Educational opportunities for young children are plentiful: drama, dance, gymnastics, t-ball, swimming, musical tots, art courses, horseback riding-the list goes on and on. Embassy families with young children have found New Zealand very enjoyable.

Away From Post Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
New Zealand has some highly regarded boarding schools, but most away-from-post schooling takes place in the U.S. Students in grades 9 to 12 are eligible for an away-from-post education allowance.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Special education services are available for pupils whose educational requirements cannot be met by an ordinary school. The policy in New Zealand is to educate these pupils in ordinary classes as far as possible, and to provide separate classes and schools only where necessary. Most students enrolled in the special education services are primary pupils aged 5 through 12, but emphasis is now being placed on developing services for preschool children and secondary pupils.

Selected schools provide special classes for students who are intellectually and physically handicapped, visually handicapped, hearing-impaired, or emotionally disturbed. Classes are run in hospitals, and speech and reading clinics offer part-time tuition for selected pupils. Special day schools are provided for intellectually handicapped and some physically handicapped students.

The Ministry of Education administers six residential schools for pupils who cannot be cared for in special classes-two for hearing-impaired, two for mentally handicapped, and two for maladjusted pupils. It also has an advisory service on special education for hearing-impaired children and a psychological service. The Ministry maintains a close association with voluntary groups such as the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind and the Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Society.

Embassy dependents are eligible to receive Ministry of Education funding to pay for needed services such as taxi transportation to/from school, a teacher’s aid in the classroom and special equipment for home or school.

Recent experience has indicated that special education services in Wellington are not comparable to those available in the Washington area for either primary or secondary level pupils. Employees who expect to require special education for their dependents are advised to contact the Administrative Section (CLO) concerning their specific needs.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand is a paradise for sports enthusiasts. Golf courses are numerous, popular, and inexpensive. Tennis and squash courts are also very accessible. Private tennis and squash clubs are popular (especially with those seeking an indoor haven from the unpredictable weather in Wellington) and less expensive than the U.S. Jogging is very popular among both men and women. A Marathon Clinic is available and there is a chapter of the infamous Hash House Harriers. Horseback riding lessons and facilities for boarding of horses are nearby.

Sports attire for general outdoor activity is similar to that in the U.S, and some golf courses enforce a dress code of no metal spikes or jeans. Tennis and squash generally do not require white clothing. A wide variety of sports equipment is available, including golf clubs, tennis rackets, and scuba gear, but at higher prices than in the U.S.

All water sports are extremely popular in New Zealand. Wellington and Auckland harbors are among the world’s best venues for sailing. Sailing lessons are available at many yacht clubs and often include discounted yacht rental afterward. Sea kayaking, scuba diving, and other water sports are also popular. Among world-famous New Zealand dive sites are the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior and the Poor Knights, both north of Auckland. Within an hour’s drive north of Wellington are a half-dozen sandy beaches, used in summer for sunbathing and swimming. For those who find the sea water a bit cold, the Wellington area has excellent, public, indoor swimming pools.

Deep-sea fishing is good, and trout fishing is popular. Both require a fishing license. Fishing season opens October 1 (earlier for some South Island areas) and extends to April 30 in most South Island and North Island areas. Fishing is allowed all year on Lakes Rotorua and Taupo.

For hunters no license is needed, but permits are required to hunt on most lands and the availability of game is becoming restricted. Upland game shooting, which requires a license, is available.

Skiing is popular, despite the fact that the nearest major skifields are 220 miles from Wellington. Both the North and South Islands have good skiing most years. Although the facilities are adequate, they are less developed (and less expensive) than most U.S. ski resorts. Extreme sports, like bungy jumping, hang gliding and luge, are popular in tourist destinations like Rotorua and Queenstown.

Rugby is New Zealand’s “national game,” and the New Zealand national team, known as the “All Blacks,” has earned international acclaim for over 60 years. New Zealand also has gained international recognition in cricket, soccer, golf, lawn bowls, track and field, rowing, sailing, motor racing, horse racing, and distance running. NZ currently holds the America’s Cup sailing title and will defend it in Auckland in 2002. Spectator sports in Wellington received a boost from the opening of a new stadium in 2000. Tickets are available for national and international rugby, cricket, soccer, basketball and netball.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand’s natural scenery is among the most spectacular on the planet. Exploring this natural beauty by car, boat, and other means of transport is a most rewarding aspect of the country. The North Island is justly proud of its mountains, volcanoes, rivers, islands, and farm country. And the South Island, with its Alps, fjords, lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers, is equally scenic. Many personnel have said the highlight of their tour was a week to 10-day touring vacation on either island. Eco-tourism is becoming increasingly popular, especially on the South Island. Wildlife tours allow nature lovers to view sperm whales, dolphins, penguins, albatross, kiwi, and many species of rare birds.

Hiking and walking possibilities abound on both islands. In fact, the New Zealand national pastime may be hiking (known here as tramping). The country offers numerous scenic backpacking trails for overnight trips, including the famous Milford Track. Tramping clubs in Wellington sponsor outings on weekends and holidays. Many excursions are offered at reasonable prices, with transport, sometimes by boat or kayak, often included.

Some of the country’s major wine growing areas are only a few hours’ drive or ferry ride from Wellington and are a popular weekend destination, especially over the summer months. Wine and food festivals in Marlborough, Martinborough and Hawke’s Bay are popular.

Gardening is very popular and many public gardens are open to the public throughout the country. Flowers blossom year round, and grow in profusion in spring and summer. Camellias, rhododendrons, fuchsia, azaleas, and roses flourish, as well as many native New Zealand, Australian, and South African species.

Entertainment Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Public entertainment in urban centers has improved dramatically over the past 10 years. Although singles might find nightlife limited, pubs and restaurants on Wellington’s Courtenay Place are open well after midnight. Elsewhere in Wellington, dining out is popular and less expensive than in the U.S. There are numerous excellent small restaurants and cafes. Restaurants usually serve dinner until 10–11 p.m. on weekends, but close earlier on weeknights. Some restaurants not licensed to sell alcohol have “Bring Your Own” (BYO) licenses. BYO restaurants provide wineglasses and may charge a NZ$1–NZ$2.00 “corkage” fee per bottle. Tipping is not customary in hotels and restaurants.

There are a limited number of clubs for dancing. During winter, some business, charitable, and professional groups sponsor annual balls; many open to the public.

Wellington is known as the cultural center of New Zealand. Professional theater productions are staged during the season. Touring companies sometimes feature American musicals. Several intimate repertory theater groups and a number of amateur theatrical organizations also perform. Concerts by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, chamber music groups, and soloists are frequent. The New Zealand Opera Company offers several productions each year; performances are often superior. Every even-numbered year, Wellington hosts its highly acclaimed, 3-week “International Festival of the Arts” (see Arts and Culture section, previous). Most recently, the festival was accompanied by a fringe festival, featuring more avant garde type performances.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Because New Zealanders are so friendly and accessible, social life at the small posts in New Zealand often centers around friendships made with New Zealanders. Within the Embassy community, we hold welcoming and farewell parties, monthly Happy Hours and movie nights, and other activities. The Embassy also has a softball team.

The New Zealand-American Association, an organization consisting primarily of older New Zealanders with particular ties to the U.S., offers an organized way to meet New Zealanders. Its Ladies Auxiliary invites women employees and dependents to its monthly ladies’ coffee mornings. The Association of American Women (AAW), made up largely of younger women and families, is open to women employees and dependents. Both groups host traditional holiday events, such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July parties.

A Diplomatic Corps organization for those below the rank of Chief of Mission holds monthly luncheons from February through November, often with Cabinet Ministers and other prominent persons as guest speakers. The Diplomatic Corps has a spouse’s group, which meets monthly at a restaurant or other venue. A program of interest is usually presented.

A number of voluntary groups involved in charitable work are receptive to help from Americans, particularly those with special qualifications or experience. Scout activities are available for boys and girls. These groups also welcome offers of assistance.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most events require only American attendance, and no participation. These include: Opening of Parliament (Ambassador or Charg‚); Governor-General’s reception for diplomatic corps (All officers on the diplomatic list); ANZAC Day, the New Zealand equivalent of Memorial Day (Ambassador or Chargé and Defense Attaché); Waitangi Day Celebration (Ambassador or Chargé).

The Ambassador’s reception on the Fourth of July is the main recurring U.S. function. Representatives of other governments in New Zealand give official receptions on national days and other special occasions.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand is a rather informal country where the standards of private entrtainment and conduct are substantially the same as in the U.S. American participation in New Zealand social, home, school, and community life is invited and welcome.

There are no calling formalities, except for the Ambassador. Calling cards are generally used and officers will find them useful when calling informally on diplomatic collegues, New Zealand officials, and business representatives.

Special Information Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Post Orientation Program

As part of the post orientation program, each new staff member is briefed on arrival about Embassy procedures and post living conditions. New employees are assigned a sponsor who will help them settle in to their new neighborhood. The employee receives a welcome/household kit that includes basic household supplies like blankets, sheets, pillows, and kitchen utensils, for use until personal effects arrive.

Consulate General - Auckland

Post City Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Auckland is on a narrow isthmus between two harbors that open into the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, respectively. New Zealand’s largest city with a population of over one million, Auckland is the commercial and industrial center of the country. The primary international air and shipping ports are located here. A cosmopolitan city, Auckland is home to many immigrants including a large population from Pacific Island nations, earning it the moniker of the world’s most populous Polynesian City.

Auckland’s International Airport is outside the city, 13 miles from the Consulate General. Bus and taxi service is available to the center of town. Overseas ships, including a large number of cruise liners, dock in Auckland’s refurbished downtown harbor, home of the America’s Cup yacht race in 1999 and 2002.

Downtown Auckland has a modern skyline with numerous skyscrapers including the Sky Tower casino complex with its unmistakable space needle design. Five-star hotels are abundant. Attractive residential areas are close by, each of which has its own character. For example, the North Shore tends to be newer and reflects a relaxed atmosphere. Remuera is an older established suburb. Most homes are comfortable and many have magnificent views of the harbor.

Auckland offers education, medical care, and a standard of living comparable to Wellington.

Auckland’s temperatures are cool in winter and warm in summer. It is generally warmer than Wellington, but may receive more rainfall. Average annual rainfall is 50 inches; hours of sunshine per year average 2,140. Occasional storms are accompanied by fairly high winds, but they are not as significant a hazard as in Wellington. Because of high humidity and dampness in most houses, mildew is a problem, especially for leather goods. During summer, flies, mosquitoes, and other insects are troublesome because most houses are unscreened. Moths and silverfish are a threat to woolens.

About 5,000 Americans reside in the consular district, and as many as 900 American visitors are in the consular district at any given time.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The Consulate General is one of six foreign missions in Auckland, all of which rank as Consulates General. Twenty-eight other countries have honorary Consuls. The Principal Officer is an honored participant in city, civic, and social events. Three American officers and 11 Foreign Service nationals handle the full range of Foreign Service activities: political, economic, commercial, administrative, consular, and public affairs. Consular work occupies most of the Consulate General’s employees.

The Consulate General is on the third floor of the Citibank Center on the corner of Commerce and Customs Streets. The principal telephone number is (649) 303-2724; Foreign Commercial Service is (649) 303-2038; and Fax is
(649) 366-0879. A duty officer is available after hours and on weekends and holidays. The Consulate General Postal address is: United States Consulate General, Private Bag 92022, Auckland, 1. All agencies are located at the same address.

Letters, publications, and regulation-sized packages can be sent to the pouch address: Department of State, 4370 Auckland Place Washington DC 20521-4370. Packages from the U.S. can also be sent through APO in Christchurch, with onward stops at Wellington then Auckland. APO packages come by military airlift on a space-available basis. The address is United States Consulate General Auckland, PSC 467, Box 1, APO, AP 96531-1001.

The Consulate General occupies the entire third floor of the Citibank Center, a modern skyscraper a few blocks from the Auckland harbor. U.S. officers all have individual offices in a modern facility that was inaugurated in October 2000. The Consulate General offices are equipped with a small kitchen and employee lunchroom.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Auckland has first-class hotel facilities, including all-suite hotels. Apartments in downtown residential areas are available on short-term and long-term leases. Hotel rates are attractive by international standards.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

There is no government-owned housing in Auckland.

Government-leased housing. All-American employees are provided government-leased housing, which is government furnished, including major appliances. For furnishings and appliances, see the Wellington section, as conditions are comparable.

Food Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Food requirements are similar to those in Wellington.

Clothing Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Clothing requirements are similar to those in Wellington. Auckland winters are not as severe or windy as those in Wellington, but clothing requirements of Wellington otherwise apply. The maritime climate means that temperatures can vary considerably throughout the day.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Supplies and services available in Auckland are comparable with Wellington. Starbucks and other American chain restaurants are somewhat more prevalent in Auckland than in Wellington.

American personnel can buy cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, cosmetics, film, etc., duty free. Other items such as radios, stereo equipment, cassette players, watches, cameras, etc., are also available in duty-free shops both downtown and at the airport.

Basic Services Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Such basic services as dry-cleaning, laundry, shoe repair, beauty salons, appliance repair, and other repair services are often less than adequate and are expensive. Mail, milk, and newspapers are delivered daily. Trash and recyclables are collected weekly.

Auckland is covered by a regional bus service, which extends to the outlying suburbs and satellite towns. Service is good during the morning and evening rush hours but is not frequent at other times. Bus service is expensive. An automobile is indispensable in Auckland; however, parking is expensive. In contrast to the Embassy in Wellington, the Consulate General does not provide parking to officers. A ferry service operates frequently between the foot of Queen Street in downtown Auckland and Devonport, across the harbor. Commuter train service is limited. Although the cost of gasoline is high, more than 60% of New Zealand's work force use private transportation to get to work.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Servants are hard to find in Auckland. Few New Zealand families, regardless of social or economic standing, employ full-time servants, especially live-in workers. Some part-time help is available at about NZ$10 per hour. A part-time cleaning woman (referred to as “housekeeper”) is about the best that most people are able to find. Baby-sitters for evenings, generally neighborhood school girls, are available and are less expensive than in Washington; but daytime sitters are hard to find and expensive. Special nurses, called karitanes, are available to live in for short periods to care for young children while parents are away, or to help before and after birth.

In Auckland, it helps a great deal to be handy about the house. GSO services are limited. Extra help, especially waiters, is often useful when entertaining.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most religions are represented in Auckland; there are Church of England (Anglican), Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Jewish congregations.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Schools are available from kindergarten through university level. Children may attend kindergarten several half-days a week from the age of 3. Kindergartens usually have a waiting list of at least 8 months. There is stiff competition to secure a slot in the best schools. Children may begin school at 5 and are automatically accepted at public primary schools. School is compulsory between ages 6 and 15. See the Wellington section for detailed information about the New Zealand school system.

Some private and public schools provide transportation for day students. Facilities for athletics and other activities are adequate in all schools. Private schools vary considerably; public schools are nominally free; however, parents are required to pay numerous fees, buy books and school supplies to supplement the under-funded schools. Bullying has been a problem and needs to be closely monitored. Admission to public schools is determined by location; consequently, officers with school-age children should devote a substantial amount of attention to school zones. Private schools are available; however, admission to children of Consulate General staff is on the same basis as the regular New Zealand population and is not guaranteed.

The University of Auckland offers degrees in arts, science, commerce, law, and medicine. Music and art classes are provided in private schools and art classes in public schools at primary and secondary levels.

Away From Post Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Away-from-post education is usually in the U.S.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The University of Auckland, Auckland Technical Institute, and many secondary schools conduct extensive programs of adult education in commerce and the trades for hobbyists and those who work about the home. Auckland’s public libraries and the library of the University of Auckland provide a good if limited coverage of all major fields.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Aucklanders spend much of their time outside, and opportunities for outdoor activity abound. Most homeowners take pride in maintaining their lawns and gardens.

Many fine beaches are in and near Auckland. The city has five large swimming pools. Heated pools offer year-round activity.

Waitemata Harbor, with its irregular coastline and many islands, is a paradise for boating enthusiasts. About 4,000 sailboats of all classes participate in the Anniversary Day Regatta races.

The area offers several excellent golf clubs and two public links. In the past, the Consul General has been extended honorary membership in one or more of the golf clubs. Grass and asphalt tennis courts are in all sections of the city. Except for a few courts at schools, all are either private or club-owned. Organized midweek tennis for women is available at all clubs. Squash is very popular.

Waitemata Harbor and Hauraki Gulf have an abundance of fish. The Bay of Islands, Coromandel Peninsula, and Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty, are centers for big game fishing. Lake Taupo and several other lakes are notable for their abundance of rainbow trout, and fishing is permitted year round. Many trout streams and rivers exist. Although trolling is permitted in the lakes, and spinning in some sections of the major rivers, normally only flycasting is allowed in the streams.

Many places in New Zealand provide hunting for deer, wild pig, duck, and rabbit. Firearms are strictly regulated and gun owners should check with the Embassy Administration Section before bringing a weapon to post.

Good hiking trails are found in the mountains (particularly the Waitakere Ranges) near Auckland. Hiking or tramping clubs are popular. Many areas offer tramping opportunities. Rain gear is essential; good-quality, reasonably priced, and lightweight gear is available locally. Heavy-duty shoes are less useful than medium or lightweight shoes. Other camping gear (tents, bags, etc.) is available but expensive.

Bowling on the green is a popular sport, and clubs exist in all parts of the city. American-style bowling alleys are available in Auckland.

Halfway between Wellington and Auckland at Mount Ruapehu, snow skiing occurs through the winter months. Auckland offers ample opportunities for water-skiing and surfing.

Many good potters exist, and dyeing and weaving are popular.

Principal spectator sports include horseracing, autoracing, rugby, soccer, cricket, and tennis. American football and basketball leagues exist in Auckland, but the level of competition is comparable to U.S. junior college teams.

Sports attire for men and women is similar to that worn in the U.S., except that New Zealanders adhere more closely to the traditional forms of sports dress. Sports equipment is available.

Entertainment Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Auckland offers a number of first-class movie theaters downtown and many suburban ones. Most films are American or British, with French, Italian, and Swedish films shown occasionally.

Auckland has a professional repertory theater. Occasional plays or musicals are staged by touring overseas companies. The Grand Opera Society usually features one or two productions a year. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Regional Orchestra and various other groups perform frequent concerts and recitals.

The city has a museum containing many interesting relics of Maori and European life and an art museum.

Local events of interest include an annual agricultural and pastoral show, gymkhanas, and Maori concerts. The 3-week Auckland Festival held each May offers plays, concerts, recitals, art exhibitions, and a film festival.

A number of good restaurants and nightclubs exist; most close Mondays. Good meals are readily available. Traditionally, tipping is not practiced.

Radio reception is good and local stations offer a fairly broad selection of programs. American and other rock music is popular with local disc jockeys. Satellite TV channels broadcast dozens of stations 24 hours a day.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM
Auckland’s American and diplomatic communities are smaller and less cohesive than in many countries. Most American residents have been here for many years and have integrated into New Zealand society. However, many Americans belong to the American Club and/or the American Women’s Club. They are composed almost equally of Americans and New Zealanders who have lived in or have an interest in the U.S. The Principal Officer/Consul General is the patron of the American Club. Other officers and their spouses take part in the activities of the American Club, and women participate in the American Women’s Club.

The Consul General traditionally is invited to join the Auckland Rotary Club. The English-speaking Union usually extends honorary membership to Consulate General officers and spouses.

A new Principal Officer and spouse, where appropriate, make formal official calls on the Mayor and a few other officials. New Principal Officers should bring a reasonable supply of calling cards. Spouses will find informals convenient. Local engraving is more expensive than in the U.S.

The Auckland consular corps consists of the 6 career consuls general (or trade commissioners) and about 28 honorary consular officers representing other countries, most of who are New Zealand citizens. The senior of the career consuls general occupies the office of Dean of the Consular Corps. Although the Consular Corps usually has only one business meeting per year, each country traditionally has a social function honoring its national day. In addition, the consular corps normally holds an annual summer reception for the Governor-General.

Official Functions Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

The highlight of the annual social season is the Governor-General’s Garden Party, normally held in February during his/her summer residence in Auckland. The Principal Officer and spouse are invited to attend this function. The Mayor and City Council hold civic receptions for prominent visitors to the city several times a year, and the Principal Officer and spouse are often invited to these functions. The Principal Officer is invited to attend the annual Anzac Day service and lay a wreath at the Auckland Cenotaph. Normally, the Principal Officer plays a prominent role in the celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May.

The Principal Officer normally offers a reception in honor of the American Independence Day on or about the Fourth of July. At Thanksgiving, the American Club holds a dinner. The Principal Officer usually is asked to speak at the annual American Club and frequently receives invitations to speak before New Zealand social and civic clubs. The Principal Officer and spouse entertain frequently at the residence and are often invited to social functions. Other officers have the opportunity to speak to various groups and participate in official community activities.

Special Information Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Post Orientation Program

No formal orientation program is necessary, due to the size of the post. However, all American staff travel to the Embassy for orientation briefings.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Embassy staff members arriving at Auckland will have to change planes for a 1-hour domestic flight to Wellington. Travelers must transfer from the Auckland International to the Domestic Terminal. A free bus is available for the 5-minute ride. Travelers should allow a minimum of 2 hours to clear customs/immigration and transfer to the domestic terminal. New arrivals are met at the Wellington Airport, and should advise the Embassy in advance of arrival times. Train service between Auckland and Wellington takes 12 hours and is not recommended for new arrivals.

Although Embassy personnel who are transiting can seek assistance from the Consulate General at Auckland, they should not expect to be routinely met and assisted with onward transportation. A new officer arriving at Auckland for duty with the Consulate General will be met and assisted.

When traveling from the Northern Hemisphere, remember that the seasons are reversed in New Zealand and pack accordingly. When coming to New Zealand from the West Coast of the U.S., travelers lose a day crossing the international dateline. For instance, a passenger who leaves Los Angeles by air on the evening of April 14 will arrive in Auckland on the morning of April 16.

All new arrivals should inform the Embassy of travel plans and arrival dates so that they can be met and taken to their quarters.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Employees on the diplomatic list are granted duty-free privileges on arrival and during their tour of duty in New Zealand. During each 3-year period they may import or purchase one car duty-free per diplomat. Cars may be sold duty-free 3 years after first registration in New Zealand. Duty on cars sold before the 3 years is prorated. Non-diplomatic personnel are granted first-arrival privileges, which means exemption from payment of customs duty and sales tax on personal household effects imported within 6 months of arrival in New Zealand. Within 1 year of their arrival, non-diplomatic personnel may import or purchase one duty-free car.

Passage Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Employees and their dependents must have valid New Zealand visas.

New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture officials board many incoming international flights and spray the cabins with a non-toxic insect spray before passengers disembark. This is a routine procedure. Agricultural inspectors will question new arrivals and may examine their luggage and household effects to insure against the entry of agricultural diseases and pests. Everything made of wood, leather, and straw will be inspected very carefully and may be held for disinfecting. Do not bring food with you, as you may have to discard it at the airport.

Under New Zealand law, all arriving passengers are required (without exception) to complete an agricultural questionnaire, which is contained in the Passenger Declaration Form. Baggage of incoming diplomatic and consular representatives will be inspected only when New Zealand officials have valid reasons for assuming that it contains material prohibited or restricted by the quarantine regulations. In all other cases, exemption from inspection will be granted.

All footwear in one’s baggage should be soil-free, especially if the footwear has been worn on farms or in areas where animals are held.

To guard against the accidental introduction of pests and diseases please check the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) web site at

Pets Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Bringing a dog or cat to New Zealand can be a complicated and expensive (US$1,500 - US$3,000) undertaking. You may not import an animal to New Zealand without a permit, obtainable from MAF by mail. You should begin the permit process a minimum of 7 months before your planned arrival in New Zealand.

Quarantine restrictions for animals are very strict. The usual quarantine period of 6 months applies to pets imported to New Zealand from all countries where rabies has not been eliminated. For animals imported from certain countries, including the continental U.S., a special 1-month quarantine may be applied for, but it is not always granted. The 1-month expedited quarantine requires careful documentation and veterinary monitoring of the animal for a 6-month period before the date of importation. The animal will require several expensive tests-including rabies titer tests-and implantation of a microchip or tattoo to qualify for expedited monitoring. Further details are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry ( or from the only licensed quarantine facility for dogs ( Quarantine will take place in Auckland, even for those posted to Wellington. Permits to bring a pet into New Zealand will not be granted without a letter confirming reservations at the quarantine facility.

Transporting a pet to New Zealand is also difficult. As of 2001, the U.S. Government contract carrier prohibited carriage of animals in the cargo section of their aircraft, although exceptions have been made for USG officials traveling on orders. Other pet shipment options exist, but are complicated. Be very careful to check this out early in the process of making your airline reservations. Once in New Zealand, veterinary services and kennels are readily available.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

All firearms owners and users must obtain a firearms license, issued by the Police. Handguns and fully automatic weapons are not permitted. Registered gun clubs provide facilities for target shooting.

The 30.06 is perhaps the most desirable rifle for New Zealand game, but the .270, 6.5mm, 7mm, and their variations are widely used. The .308 is popular because the ammunition is locally made. A 12-gauge shotgun is an excellent choice for upland game shooting. To shoot waterfowl, shotguns with three or more shell capacities must be pinned (not plugged) for only two shells. Imported rifle and shotgun ammunition is available in most other calibers.

Those intending to import a rifle or shotgun must provide the Embassy or Consulate General with the following information in order to obtain import licenses: caliber, country of origin, name of manufacturer, serial number, and type. Contact post to obtain a copy of the firearms policy before arrival.

Following is an extract from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs Note No. 1983/14 of 10/19/83: ”New Zealand law on the importation, possession and use of arms and explosives is contained in the Arms Act and the Explosives Act.” It is an offense under these Acts to import arms or explosives without a permit; to possess arms without a permit (license) or to store explosives above a certain quantity without a license; and to carry pistols or explosives without the consent of the appropriate New Zealand authorities.

“Personal protection is not one of the reasons for which permission to possess such items will be given in New Zealand. In the case of members of diplomatic missions and consular posts, the Diplomatic Protection Squad provides protection. In the event that there are serious grounds for believing that the personal baggage of members of the diplomatic or consular staff of a mission or of their families contains arms or explosives, an inspection of baggage will be made in the presence of the person concerned, in accordance with Article 36(2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Article 50(3) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Any attempt by members of diplomatic missions, (or) consular posts, to import arms and explosives (without a permit) would be regarded by the Ministry as a potential threat to the safety and security of the New Zealand public. Appropriate action would be considered against the individual or mission concerned.”

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

New Zealand uses decimal currency. The New Zealand dollar is now valued at about US$2.06. Decimal coins in circulation are 5¢, 10¢, 20¢ and 50¢ pieces. Bank notes in use are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

The New Zealand Government’s foreign currency regulations do not permit currency transactions on the open market. However, local currency may be purchased with dollar instruments at banks, hotels, and certain stores. Only banks are permitted to reconvert local currency into U.S. dollars. Banks require a minimum of one day’s notice for such transactions.

New Zealand uses the metric system of weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM


All American staff members are exempted from payment of direct income taxes (spouses working on the economy must pay New Zealand income tax). Employees on the diplomatic and consular lists and administrative and technical staff are exempt from fees for drivers licenses, vehicle registration (all employees must, however, pay the Accident Compensation Corporation levy annually and payable at the time of vehicle registration), hunting and fishing licenses, radio and TV licenses, gun licenses, dog and cat licenses, and airport departure tax.

New Zealand has a 12-1/2 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) and all diplomatic and consular personnel in New Zealand must pay this tax.


Most personnel find it necessary and convenient to open a checking account with a New Zealand bank. In general banking procedures compare to those in the United States. The Embassy’s bank, WestPac, is within easy walking distance of the Chancery and provides accommodation exchange and the full range of banking services available in New Zealand.

Sales. Personal property, including automobiles, boats, personal computers, audio and video systems, photographic equipment, major household appliances (including air-conditioning units) and other high cost or high value items, imported by U.S. employees into New Zealand or purchased locally under diplomatic or consular privilege, must be exported upon departure of the employee(s) unless sold or otherwise disposed of in accordance with mission regulations and the laws, regulations and conventions of New Zealand.

Personal property, including automobiles, imported into New Zealand by United States employees, or purchased locally under diplomatic or consular privilege, must be for their bona fide personal use or that of their dependents and not imported solely with the intent of sale or transfer.

The Ambassador has delegated authority to the Administrative Officer to approve the sale of automobiles and other personal property.

Unless extenuating circumstances dictate (as approved by the Administrative Officer), sale of personal property should not be undertaken prior to 6 months from the termination of an employee’s scheduled departure from post.

Prior to the sale of personal property with an acquisition cost of more than US$300, authorization must be obtained from the Administrative Officer. New Zealand Government approval must also be obtained prior to the sale of any motor vehicle.

It is the responsibility of the employee to become familiar with and honor U.S. tax obligations incurred as a result of sale of property.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Belich, James The New Zealand Wars. Penguin Books NZ Ltd, 1998.

Chapple, G. 1981 The Tour. Paper. Reeds: 1984.

Cheyne, Christine Maree. Social policy in Aotearoa New Zealand: A critical introduction 2nd ed. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Clark, M. Beyond Expectations. Wm., Allen & Univen/Port Nicholson: 1986.

Oliver, H. and Williams, B. R., eds. Oxford History of New Zealand. Oxford University Press: 1981.

Orange, Claudia. The Treaty of Waitangi. Allen & Unwin, Port Nicholson Press with assistance from the Historical Publications Branch, Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1987.

Perry, P. E. (Paul Edward) New Zealand politics at the turn of the millennium: Attitudes and values about politics and government. Alpha Publications, 1999.

Rolfe, J. New Zealand’s Security: Alliances and Other Military Relationships. Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 1997.

Sinclair, Keith. A History of New Zealand (additional material by Raewyn Dalziel). Rev ed. Penguin Books, 2000.

Williams, Mark. Leaving the Highway: Six Contemporary New Zealand Novelists. Auckland University Press, 1990.

A Study of Economic Reform: The Case of New Zealand edited by Brian Silverstone, Alan Bollard, Ralph Lattimore. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1996.

Anthology of New Zealand Short Stories edited by Michael Morrissey. Auckland [N.Z.] Flamingo 2000.

Governing Under MMP: The Constitutional and Policy Challenges [editor, Ginny Sullivan]. Wellington, N.Z.: Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, 1999.

Health and Society in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Peter Davis and Kevin Dew; in association with Te Ropu Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pomare. Oxford University Press, 1999.

New Zealand and the United States 1840–1944. New Zealand Government Printer: 1972.

New Zealand Encyclopaedia (of New Zealand General Knowledge). Bateman: 1984.

NZIER Industry Outlook New Zealand Institute of Economic Research. Annual.

The New Zealand Official Year Book. Statistics NZ, David Bateman: Annual.

The Oxford illustrated history of New Zealand edited by Keith Sinclair. 2nd ed. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Public Bodies, Private Lives: A Century of Change in New Zealand Public Health [Duncan Anderson ... [et al.]. Social History of Health Group, Dept. of History, University of Waikato, 2000.

The Structure & Dynamics of New Zealand Industries edited by Michael Pickford & Alan Bollard. Dunmore Press, 1998.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Most stores and offices are closed on holidays. Public services such as transport continue operation, and travelers are not seriously inconvenienced. In general, holidays falling on weekends are observed on the following workday.

New Year’s Day January 1 and 2
Anniversary Day, Wellington Monday nearest January 22
Anniversary Day, Auckland Monday nearest January 29
Waitangi Day February 6
Good Friday Variable
Easter Monday Variable
ANZAC Day April 25
Queen’s Birthday First Monday in June
Labor Day Fourth Monday in October
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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