We want all New Zealanders to have a safe and enjoyable time while travelling through our stunning country.

Although New Zealand is a safe place to travel, it pays to prepare and take a few precautions. Here are simple, responsible travel tips to help you and your family keep safe.

Tips for safe travel in New Zealand

To make sure you have a comfortable and trouble-free trip, we recommend following these simple steps.

  • Don’t hesitate to dial New Zealand’s emergency phone number if you feel unsafe or threatened - dial 111. 
  • If you're out at night, keep to well-lit places where other people are present. Don’t take shortcuts 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.
  • Always lock your accommodation and vehicle and keep windows secure when you're not around.
  • Never leave bags, backpacks, wallets or cameras unattended in any public place, especially airports, ferry terminals or bus/railway stations.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery.
  • If withdrawing money from an ATM, withdraw small amounts only - preferably during the day - and shield your pin.
  • If any of your possessions are stolen or valuable items misplaced, advise local police as soon as possible.

Staying safe in New Zealand's natural environment

While exploring our country, do not underestimate the risks associated with the great outdoors.

A walk in a city park is very different to a walk in a National Park. Take the time to learn about where you are going and seek advice from others, especially your local i-SITE or Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Information Centre, to be best prepared.

  1. Changeable weather: as you may know, our weather can change extremely quickly and can be severe at times. A day that starts sunny may turn cold, wet and windy. You must always be prepared for wet, cold weather if you are heading out into the bush, mountains, or water. On days when it is sunny, remember that New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce strong sunlight, so be prepared to wear hats and sunblock. Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for four seasons in one day. Check weather conditions and any alerts by DOC(opens in new window) before you set out on a walk or hike. Treat all weather warnings seriously. 

  2. Challenging terrain: Don't underestimate any "walk" outside of the main centres. You need to be reasonably fit to enjoy our bush, mountains and national parks. Check out the recommended level of fitness required for any walk before you head off. You also need the suitable clothing and proper footwear. A cheap raincoat will not keep you warm and dry in the bush or windy conditions. Shoes that you wear on the street will not be good enough when walking on muddy tracks or climbing over rocks. 

  3. Tell someone where you are going: Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. Leave a detailed trip plan with the Department of Conservation (DOC) or a friend, including a "panic" date, the more details we have about your intentions, the quicker you'll be rescued if something goes wrong. You can find a handy Outdoor Intentions form on the AdventureSmart website(opens in new window).

  4. Be prepared for anything and everything: Being well-prepared means considering everything above. You need the right clothing, footwear and equipment, and make sure you have enough food and water to cover you in an emergency. Follow all safety precautions as per the outdoor safety tips on the AdventureSmart website(opens in new window)

  5. If lost, seek shelter and stay where you are. Use a torch/camera flash to attract attention at night. Try and position something highly coloured and visible from the air to help a helicopter search during the day.

For more information, visit the AdventureSmart(opens in new window) website or the Mountain Safety Council(opens in new window) website.

Safety in the water

Our 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.

We recommend that you visit Water Safety(opens in new window) or AdventureSmart(opens in new window) for advice on how to stay safe on New Zealand's beaches and waterways.

  1. If in doubt, stay out.
  2. Try not to swim or surf alone, or when cold or tired.
  3. 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 life guards.
  4. If you have children with you, watch over them at all times.
  5. Learn to recognise ocean rip currents.

Volcanic activity

New Zealand is home to active and dormant volcanoes and many geothermal destinations. If you plan to visit a region with volcanic activity, it's essential to keep updated with the latest travel warnings. 

Thermal pools can be very hot (over 100⁰C or 210⁰F) or have toxic gases or fumes at the surface. Also, thermal pools can form a thin crust over the top of them that looks like a solid surface, but will break if a person stood on it. Thermal pools can be hidden under vegetation.

For your own safety, please ensure you and your children stick to the walkways, stay behind the barriers, and obey the safety signs. We recommend holding hands with young children when walking through the park.

Being an active geothermal area with uneven terrain, sturdy footwear is recommended. Jandals, sandals, flip-flops or high heeled shoes are not suitable.

Keeping safe via text messaging

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees offer a txt messaging service for visitors.

You can send updates about your location and travel movements via txt to number 7233 [SAFE]. These details are kept on a central database which can be accessed by police if necessary.

Each text message sent to 7233 will be acknowledged by an automated response, which advises you to call 111 and request police assistance if you are in danger.

Police and the New Zealand tourism industry encourage you to use this service as another way of letting people know where you are and what you are doing while in our country.

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