It has to be said first of all that New Zealand is a very safe country. Nevertheless, the two greatest threats are natural disasters, and ourselves. Let's get a bit more in-depth about the safety regulations to try to minimize the risk as much as possible.
You are most probably visiting New Zealand with a Working Holiday Visa which means you are on vacation. So take it easy and don’t hurry anywhere. Consider that you will be driving on the left side of the road (and shifting gear with your right hand). Everything will be new for you which you will need to adapt to which can take a few days. Adapting in full takes longer than it may seem so drive safe. For more information about driving read the separate article Driving.
Unexpected circumstances can be especially caused by weather which can change very quickly in New Zealand. So always have plenty of warm and waterproof clothing at the ready, even on a relatively sunny day. Also, use sun protection every time even if it is cloudy because the ozone layer there is very thin.
Quick weather change can also bring with it tropical cyclones with strong torrential rains and rapid floods or strong winds that sweep trees or break stones off rocks. In the case of such forecasts, it is better not to stay in places around tall trees or in lowlands and dikes where water can easily accumulate.
It is also good to have respect for the ocean. It’s not like in Croatia where you can fall into the water whenever and wherever you want. The ocean here is wild and strong and not always in a good mood. Currents are constantly changing. Do not swim alone, do not swim too far from the shore, and at some places, you should not swim at all. Stay away from the coast when kayaking and stay informed about currents before you go in the water. Always wear safety equipment such as vests and helmets.
Have you noticed how New Zealanders always carry big backpacks while mountain hiking? Better believe that they have good reason to do so. You should always have a first aid kit, warm and waterproof clothes, extra food, plenty of water and so on. They simply know that unexpected circumstances can always come up in nature.
So whether you decide to go for a longer hike yourself or in a group, do not forget to always follow the basic safety precautions:
- Learn about the current status of the route
- Take a good look at the route map
- Find out the weather forecast
- Always tell someone the plan of your route, the number of people on the trip and the planned return
- Keep quality shoes and plenty of warm and waterproof clothing
- Protect yourself from the sun (sunscreen, glasses, and headgear)
- Find out where the drinking water sources are and always have enough
- Take enough food for the whole journey
- Do not forget to fully charge the mobile phone you carry with you (but do not rely on it, you will probably be out of the signal)
- Always carry a first aid kit with you if you need first aid
- According to the route plan, do not forget to pack a cooker, a warm sleeping bag and more ...
We recommend a quality reliable travel insurance TrueTraveler to keep your mind relaxed in case of any problem.
If you get into the trouble, do not waste your time and report your situation on the phone number of the rescue service 111. Do not hesitate even if you can not connect or get any information about friends who did not return from the planned trip at the appointed time. Every minute could be important.
Almost everyone in New Zealand has some experience with earthquakes. The eastern coast of South Island is still recovering from the one in 2011. The earthquakes might also be followed by Tsunamis, that’s why escape zones are always highlighted at all public beaches. If you are so unfortunate to experience such an event, it is good knowing what to do, and always look out for after shakes.
Rain can come very suddenly and be very heavy for very long, which could close the roads and flood the cities. Parking and sleeping close to the water can often look romantic in the evening, but not every river will look as romantic the morning after those rains. Therefore, while parking, think not only of the distance from water but also of what you are on- concrete is better than a wooden dock.
It is probably good to realize that just like with any place in the world the best cure for crime is prevention. It usually has higher rates in cities and decreases the further away from civilization one is. Do not leave your valuables, electronics, or money without supervision and never leave them visible on the seats of your car while parking.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
There are many rules and laws and local people have a considerable amount of respect for them. Fines for speed or unfastened seatbelts may be high and there is usually no bargaining with police officers. Public toilets are almost everywhere and free so please use them. Also, respect the fire and fishing regulations.
You can often find cheap camps that do not provide trash bins. Anything to keep the price as low as possible. If you want to use these camps and appreciate their prices then respect the rules, keep the place clean and take all garbage with you. You can dispose of od it in the city or in special places called dump stations (you can find them in one of the travel apps that we've been written about in the article Apps and Websites). If caught of littering, you may be fined $200 just like if caught camping outside of camping sites.
We hope that we did not scare you too much but we just felt an obligation to remind you that moving to a different region brings with different morals, and in a foreign country it is always a good idea to proceed with respect to their rules, because nothing is easier than getting into trouble.