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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for New Zealand

New Zealand - Consular Information Sheet
April 13, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: New Zealand is a highly developed, stable parliamentary democracy which recognizes the British monarch as sovereign. It has a modern economy, and tourist facilities are widely available. The New Zealand Tourist Board, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at http://www.newzealandtourism.com.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens eligible for a visa waiver do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less. For more information about visa waivers and entry requirements contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 328-4800, the Embassy’s home page at http://www.nzemb.org, or the Consulate General of New Zealand in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 207-1605.

CRIME INFORMATION: Crime in New Zealand is comparatively low but has increased in recent years. The most prevalent crime is theft or attempted theft from cars, camper vans and hostels. To help protect against theft, do not leave passports or other valuable documents in unattended vehicles. Violent crime against tourists is unusual.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police, and the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Quality medical care is widely available, but waiting lists exist for certain types of treatment. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provisions for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital of doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning New Zealand is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

All traffic travels on the left in New Zealand, and many roads are only two lanes. Drivers should exercise extra caution if accustomed to driving on the right. Cars turning left must yield to oncoming cars turning in the same direction. This is especially important to remember on two-lane roads. Proceed carefully through intersections and be wary of drivers who may run yellow and red lights. Drivers should use caution to avoid animals when driving in rural areas. Pedestrians are advised to look carefully in all directions before crossing a street or roadway, and to use crosswalks. Traffic always yields to the right and pedestrians do not have the right of way except at crosswalks.

For specific information concerning the operation and rental of motor vehicles, contact the New Zealand Tourist Board via the Internet at http://www.newzealandtourism.com or the Land Transport Safety Authority at http://www.ltsa.govt.nz.

AVIATION OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of New Zealand’s civil aviation authority as category 1 - in compliance with international aviation standards for oversight of New Zealand’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the United States at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: New Zealand’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from New Zealand of certain items, including firearms and agricultural products. Handguns may not be brought into the country, and a permit for other firearms must be obtained from the New Zealand police immediately after arrival. Tourists have also faced police inquiries as a result of importing or brandishing toy weapons. The Ministry of Agriculture of New Zealand has stringent requirements for the entry of food and agricultural products. Travelers are required to declare any items that come under agricultural quarantine restrictions as stated on the customs form at the port of entry. Heavy fines have been levied against those attempting to bring in undeclared prohibited items. For more information, contact the New Zealand Customs Service at http://www.customs.govt.nz and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry at http://www.maf.govt.nz. It is also advisable to contact the Embassy of New Zealand in Washington, D.C. at (202) 775-5200, or one of New Zealand’s consulates in the United States, for specific information regarding customs requirements.

New Zealand Customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org or via their web site at http://www.uscib.org.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not always afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating New Zealand’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in New Zealand are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Vessels used to import or convey prohibited drugs are liable to seizure.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In 1998, a New Zealand court ruled that Section 21 of the New Zealand Maritime and Transportation Act of 1994 does not require foreign-flagged pleasure craft to pass a safety inspection before setting sail from New Zealand. Nevertheless, New Zealand’s Director of Maritime Safety urges the owners of such craft to ensure they are adequately equipped and have sufficient crew for an ocean voyage. In particular, carrying an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is recommended.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Some heavily populated parts of New Zealand are located in an area of very high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes can and will continue to happen. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.

CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children or international parental child abduction, refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/U.S. EMBASSY AND CONSULATE GENERAL LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting New Zealand are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland by mail, phone, fax or in person, where they can obtain updated information on travel and security.

The U.S. Consulate General in Auckland is located on the fourth floor, Yorkshire General Building, Corner of Shortland and O’Connell Streets. The telephone number is (64-9) 303-2724. The fax number is (64-9) 366-0870. See also the Consulate General home page via the Internet at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~amcongen/.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Wellington closed on May 15, 1996. All routine consular services and most emergency services are provided by the Consulate General in Auckland. The Embassy only provides emergency consular services to Americans in or near Wellington. U.S. citizens in the Wellington area experiencing genuine emergencies such as arrest, serious illness, or life-threatening accidents may contact the U.S. Embassy in Wellington for assistance. The U.S. Embassy is located at 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington. The telephone number is (64-4) 472-2068. The fax number is (64-4) 471-2380.

For after-hours emergencies anywhere in New Zealand, a duty officer can be contacted by telephone. Persons seeking such assistance after hours may call (64-4) 472-2068; after listening to a brief recording, the caller may leave a message on the voice mail system, describing the nature of the emergency and giving a point of contact. The phone system will automatically call the duty officer in Wellington or in Auckland, who will listen to the message and take the appropriate action.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Christchurch closed on April 1, 1995.

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