Safety in New Zealand - Is it safe to travel to New Zealand?

Ranked as the second safest country in the world, the island country of New Zealand is one of the best places to travel, and safety in New Zealand is always a high priority. While the feeling of safety can be a luxury in many countries, New Zealanders are habitual to it. However, it is natural and also rational to worry about one's safety while travelling to a foreign country. It is vital to prepare for any unanticipated situation which might occur. "Pray for the best, prepare for the worst" should be the mantra for everyone. Having said that, in New Zealand, the chances of something negative happening are very small. 

Tips for ensuring safety in New Zealand

  • Take the same care as you would in any other country, or at home.
  • Take copies of your important documents (like your passport and credit cards), and keep them separate from the originals.
  • Keep a record of the description and the serial number of valuable items (like cameras, tablets and smartphones).
  • Carry a mobile phone and don’t hesitate to dial New Zealand’s emergency phone number if you feel unsafe or threatened - dial 111. Calls are free.
  • Travel with someone you know and trust whenever possible.
  • We recommend you don’t accept rides from strangers and don’t hitchhike.
  • If you're out at night, keep to well-lit places where other people are present. Don’t take short cuts through parks or alleyways. Take a taxi or get a ride with someone you know.
  • Avoid accepting drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended.
  • Carry a basic first-aid kit for use in emergencies.

How to keep your belongings?

Although safety in New Zealand overall is very reliable, crimes like theft and pickpocketing are quite common. Hence, it is necessary to stay alert and vigilant. 
  • Always lock your campervan or the accommodation you are staying at whenever you are not around. Do not keep important documents loose in your vehicle/accommodation.
  • Park your campervan only in designated areas and do not venture around in secluded areas.
  • Do not carry/withdraw large amounts of cash or jewellery.
  • Do not leave your bags, wallets, cameras and other belongings unattended in any public place.
  • If you get robbed or your belongings get stolen, report immediately to the local police.

Safety in New Zealand While Travelling by Public Transport 

Public Transport in New Zealand
Source
Travelling by public transport in New Zealand is overall safe. To save you from any inconvenience, below are some tips and advice to help you travel easily:

  • INTERCITY BUSES: Since New Zealand has a low population density, providing extensive public transport facilities is non-viable. Therefore, intercity buses are more frequent and built-up in important/crowded cities like Auckland, Queenstown, etc. Thus, if you plan to travel to a less-crowded place then buses might not be a good option. 
  • RENTING A CAR: Renting a car is a very common and reasonable option in New Zealand. There are many companies providing this facility like Jucy, Omega and Apex. However, if you are not habitual to driving on the left, it is better to get used to it first.
  • HITCHHIKING: Not to hitchhike is the safest option one can have. There are some people everywhere who might not be safe to travel with, in a car. However, if you want to or if the need arises, the New Zealand Police strongly advise not to travel alone and to travel short distances. 
  • KIWI EXPERIENCE BUS: A safe alternative to hitchhiking, the Kiwi Experience is a bus network designed especially for tourists. Travelling on selected routes these are flexible and hassle-free facilities you can "hop-on and hop-off" from, anywhere you want. 

Safety in New Zealand - Food

Food
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Food hygiene and safety in New Zealand is moderately safe. There have been complaints of food-borne illnesses with Campylobacter food poisoning as the main cause. Some foods like raw meat and seafood are susceptible to carry harmful bacteria, therefore keep caution. Follow the 3 C's rule of the Kiwis - Clean, Cook and Chill and prevent yourself from becoming ill.

Staying Safe in the Water in New Zealand

New Zealand’s extensive coastline and network of waterways provide ample opportunity for swimming, boating and fishing. However, many people are unprepared for the potential dangers of the water. Here is a guide on how to stay safe on New Zealand's beaches and waterway
  • If in doubt, stay out.
  • Never swim or surf alone, or when cold or tired.
  • Swim between the flags. Beaches with potential hazards are often patrolled by lifeguards, who put up yellow and red flags. Between these flags is the safest place to swim. Listen to advice from lifeguards.
  • If you have children with you, watch over them at all times.
  • Learn to recognise ocean rip currents.

Drinking and Smoking Laws in New Zealand 

Warning
Source
You can buy cigarettes and drink if you are 18 years or older. You have to show an approved ID proof to enter licensed premises and buy alcohol. You can be fined up to NZD 2000 if you do not follow the law. It is illegal to smoke indoors including in restaurants and bars. 

DRUG LAWS

New Zealand has strict drug laws. It is illegal to use, possess or traffic drugs. Penalties range from a fine of NZD 500 to imprisonment up to 14 years for its supply and manufacture.
You might find people smoking Cannabis(most common in NZ) at parties, concerts and bars but it is still illegal!

LAWS RELATED TO DUMPING AND LITTERING

New Zealanders are extremely conscious and protective of nature and the environment. Tourists are expected to take the "Tiaki Promise" by which they commit to becoming guardians of nature. Littering is punishable with a fine ranging from NZD 100 to NZD 400.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

  • POLICE, AMBULANCE OR FIRE- 111
  • In case it is not an emergency and you want to report it to the Police - 105
  • Reporting a minor traffic incident - *555 from your mobile phone.

Safety in New Zealand For Women Travellers 

New Zealand ranks as the safest country in the Asia Pacific for women. Women are generally very safe while travelling New Zealand, although always take the common precautions:
  • While it is safe till the night, avoid walking alone at midnight.
  • Never hitchhike alone and stay wary of creepy strangers.
  • Stay cautious and have a safe means planned to get back to your accommodation when you are away.
  • Sexual harassment is uncommon in New Zealand, however, that does not mean it does not happen.

Safety in New Zealand for LGBTQ Community

New Zealand is a pretty fantastic place for LGBTQ people and has acted as the torch-bearer of LGBTQ rights and legalising gay marriages in the past. There is a full range of laws that protect and support the community. Hence, travellers can enjoy all that it has to offer and not self-censor and worry about perceptions and their safety.

New Zealand is a fantastic country to travel to and if you are careful and cautious enough, you will have the time of your life!

This post was published by Vidushi Nigam

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