Safety and security
Crime levels are generally low, but street crime occurs in major towns and cities. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars and camper vans in major tourist areas (the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Don’t leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms. Use the hotel safe if possible. Keep passports, travellers’ cheques, credit cards, etc separate.
There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors, including during extreme sports activities. If you are taking part in extreme sports check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you are visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Make sure you register your details with a visitor information centre or leave details with family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.
You can use a UK driving licence to drive in New Zealand for up to a maximum of 12 months.
Although road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a while to get used to local driving conditions. Even the main highways can be narrow, winding and hilly. Read a copy of the Road Code - the official guide to traffic rules and traffic safety - before driving. Car rental companies should provide you with information about Whats Different About Driving in New Zealand.
In 2013 there were 254 road deaths in New Zealand (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2013.
You should take out private motor vehicle insurance. Accident victims don’t have a legal right to sue a third party in the event of an accident in New Zealand. Instead the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) helps pay for your care if you’re injured as a result of an accident. However, the ACC only covers the cost of treatment in New Zealand and delayed travel or loss of income in a third country isn’t covered. You should therefore make sure you have adequate travel and accident insurance.
Helmet laws are in force in the Cook Islands. Anyone using a bicycle, motorcycle or scooter must wear an approved helmet at all times.