05 August 2014


Hitchhiking is legal and still popular in New Zealand despite a few tragedies over the years.

The NZ Police do not officially endorse it; but there are some guidelines for the keen:

  • Hitchhike in pairs especially if you're female
  • Let someone know where you are going
  • Stand in a well-lit place if you are waiting for a ride
  • Stay off the road itself

The NZ Police have a downloadable 2-page guide to keeping safe for visitors to New Zealand (not just about hitchhiking so worth a quick read), that includes some traveling times and distances, police stations and i-sites too.


As for letting someone know where you are going, if you don't have a person in New Zealand that you keep in contact with on a day-to-day basis, there is a 24/7 service that is available to all users of the 3 major cellular telephone providers (Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees) called SAFE text.

Simply text your intentions or what you are doing to 7233 (SAFE); it is archived for 3 months (Vodafone) - 12 months (Telecom and 2degrees) along with the time and date and can be retrieved by the Police if necessary.  The text is free but they are NOT monitored nor can they store images or videos.  If it is an emergency you should still phone 111.

[Vodafone and 2degrees even offer this same service to their customers using their network SIMs overseas - roaming charges apply.]


For those up for a read before you arrive, check out New Zealand resident, Joe Bennett, former Briton, wrote about his adventure hitch-hiking around New Zealand in "A land of two halves"

Or this uncensored young male perspective by another Briton traveling from Wellington to Gisborne and return, for the Rhythm and Vines music festival.


Note that if you are the outdoorsy or adventure type there is an extra safety net for you in the form of an Outdoors Intentions sheet.

You can download the sheet, fill it in and send it to a trusted contact; or email to the same.

Or fill it in online directly with a monitoring service, who will confirm your details before and after your activity.



If perhaps you are looking for a cheap alternative to hitchhiking, there are often buses and airfares going at a good price if you are quick and can plan to be flexible (yes I know it sounds like an oxymoron!). 

29 July 2014


When you're visiting a new country there will always be comparisons made to what it's like back home, not in the least what things cost.

You can use the grocery prices we posted in our Cost of Living post to compare to what you know you pay.


An interesting community called Expatistan is collecting costs from around the world to draw comparisons of the cost of living between each town. 

From their current data, this is what they say are the differences between living in one of the top 7 countries (& Germany) from whence New Zealand receives the most visitors, and living in New Zealand itself.


  • Australia is 9% more expensive
  • China is 29% cheaper than living in NZ
  • United States of America is 7% more expensive
  • Japan is 26% cheaper to live in
  • Singapore is 31% more expensive than NZ
  • India is a whopping 74% cheaper 
  • Korea is 16% cheaper
  • Germany is 13% more expensive than in NZ


With the growth of this project the data will get more and more accurate, and more helpful for budgeting overseas travel.  It contrasts with other data like the Cost of Living Index at Numbeo though.  So while one may be technically more correct (for those resident long-term), the other seems possibly more humanly correct (for a traveller).


Not-withstanding here are some major currency exchange rates for easy reference:

    How much NZ$1 would buy overseas 2l of milk NZ$2.99
Australia (dollar)   0.90962 2.72
China (yuan)   5.29276 15.82
United States (dollar)   0.85539 2.56
UK (pound)   0.55372 1.66
Japan (yen)   87.1195 260.49
Singapore (dollar)   1.06246 3.18
India (rupee)   51.4039 153.70
Korea (won)   878.138 2625.63
Euro   0.63659 1.90


For those new to foreign exchange, the first column of numbers is what one New Zealand dollar would change to, to spend overseas in those countries.  ie one NZ dollar would change into €0.64 in Europe.   

The last column is what the cost of 2l of milk currently can be purchased for in New Zealand ($2.99) and what that converts to in the above currencies.


A popular foreign exchange rate calculator online is xe.com or download one of the many applications for your cellular phone: Android or Iphone.


While this is over-simplified, the complex version would take into account that the charges for good and services are related to the local wage, interest rates and so many other financial indicators that sometimes we simply can't compare apples with apples.

Here is a video that I found useful in getting my head around the complexities in a simplified way!!
Last but not least New Zealand has 10, 20, 50 cent coins, as well as $1 and $2 coins.  Paper notes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.  You can see a few of these in the What's our Budget? post.
22 July 2014

New Zealand is full of roundabouts


Arriving in New Zealand with an overseas drivers license will allow you to drive for up to 12 months.

After which you will need to present to a testing agent with the appropriate documentation, medical checks and licensing fee to convert your license to a New Zealand one.  Sometimes you may have to sit the theory and practical driving tests too.


A quick-start guide to driving here (pdf) might look like:

  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Carry your license at all times while driving.
  • Keep left.
  • 50km/h maximum speed around town.
  • Up to 100km/h maximum speed with good conditions on the open road.
  • Indicate for 3 seconds before moving left or right.
  • Red traffic light means STOP, orange means get ready to stop, green means GO.


You can buy the full Road Code from most stationers and NZTA agents and it's also on-line at the NZTA website at no charge.