New Zealand is a safe place to travel, but it pays to prepare and take a few precautions so that your time here is comfortable and trouble-free.

Before you travel to New Zealand 

  • take copies of important documents like your passport, driver’s licence and credit cards and pack them separately from the originals
  • buy travel insurance that will cover you for any loss of expensive items like laptops or cameras, and cover any medical or travel costs associated with illness, accidents or injuries. (See more on Accidents)  

Important numbers to know 

  • the emergency number for police, fire and ambulance in New Zealand is dial 111. Calls are free. Don’t hesitate to dial it if you feel unsafe or threatened
  • New Zealand has a Visitor Safety text message service that is available free to mobile phones using network services from Vodafone, Spark or 2degrees. You can send text updates about where you are and your planned travel movements to 7233 [SAFE]. These texts are not monitored but are kept on a central database that police can access if necessary. Police and the New Zealand tourism industry encourage you to use this service as another way of recording your movements and plans while in New Zealand
  • if you need to contact the police for a non-urgent matter, dial 105.

Staying safe while travelling in New Zealand

  • Don’t hitchhike or accept lifts from strangers. 
  • Always lock your accommodation and vehicle and keep windows secure when you're not around. 
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery. 
  • Store valuables securely, ideally in a safe at your accommodation. Never leave valuables or important documents in parked vehicles. 
  • Never leave bags, backpacks, wallets or cameras unattended in any public place, especially airports, ferry terminals or bus/railway stations. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Keep in touch with family or friends overseas to let them know of your movements. You can also make a record of your movements by texting them to 7233 [SAFE]. 
  • New Zealand warmly welcomes LGBTQI+ visitors and has a strong anti-discrimination stance. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time, call the police on 111. 

Staying safe in New Zealand’s outdoors

Most visitors come to New Zealand to enjoy our unique natural environment – but it can be easy to underestimate the risks associated with our great outdoors.  

Take the time to learn about where you are going, plan a safe route and seek advice from others. Talk to staff at the local i-SITE Visitor Information Centre or Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Information Centre on how to best prepare for heading into New Zealand’s bush or mountain areas. 

Know your limits 

A walk in a city park is very different to a walk in a National Park. 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 the recommended level of fitness required for any walk before you head off. 

Plan your trip and tell someone where you are going 

Plan out your route, leave the details with someone and give a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. You can find a handy Outdoor Intentions form(opens in new window) and more useful information on the AdventureSmart(opens in new window) website. The more details you provide about your intentions, the more quickly you can be located and rescued if something goes wrong.  

Be prepared  

You need the right clothing, footwear, equipment and supplies for any time in the outdoors. A cheap raincoat will not keep you warm and dry in the bush or in windy conditions. Shoes that you wear on the street will not be good enough when you are walking on muddy tracks or climbing over rocks. Even a short bush walk in summer on the outskirts of Auckland requires sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen, snacks and plenty of water. Always 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. 

Check the weather  

New Zealand’s weather can change extremely quickly and can be severe at times. A day that starts out sunny may turn cold, wet and windy. You must always be prepared for wet, cold weather if you are heading into the bush, the mountains or onto the water. On days when it is sunny, remember that the sun’s UV rays are stronger in New Zealand than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear a hat and sun block. Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for four seasons in one day. Check weather conditions and any alerts from DOC(opens in new window) (Department of Conservation) before you set out on a walk or hike. Treat all weather warnings seriously. 

If lost, seek shelter and stay where you are 

New Zealand has highly skilled search and rescue teams throughout the country. If you get lost, seek shelter and wait. 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 website. 

Safety in the water

New Zealand’s extensive coastline, beaches, rivers and lakes provide plenty of opportunities for swimming, surfing, diving, boating and fishing. However, many people are unprepared for the potential dangers of the water. We recommend that you read the beach safety tips on the Surf Lifesaving NZ website or visit AdventureSmart for advice on how to stay safe on New Zealand’s coastline and waterways. 

Top tips for beach safety in New Zealand:

  • 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
  • look for signage warning of dangerous currents, rips, or no jumping (off bridges or wharves)

Volcanic activity

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

Accidents and health insurance

We strongly advise you to arrange your own travel and health insurance for your time in New Zealand. New Zealand's public and private medical/hospital facilities provide a high standard of treatment and service, but it is important to note these services are not free to visitors, except as a result of an accident. 

If you are injured in an accident while visiting New Zealand, your care will be paid for in part by New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation(opens in new window) (ACC)(opens in new window). In New Zealand, you cannot sue anyone for compensatory damages if you are injured. Instead, ACC helps to pay for your care, which includes paying towards the cost of your treatment and assisting in your recovery while you remain in New Zealand.

You will still need your own travel and medical insurance because ACC does not cover everything: 

  • ACC does not cover illness, nor does it cover injuries while in transit to or from New Zealand (such as getting on or off a boat or plane)
  • ACC only covers treatment and rehabilitation in New Zealand and usually, you must pay part of the cost yourself
  • ACC does not pay any additional costs resulting from an accident, for example, delayed or curtailed travel costs, travel home, treatment at home and loss of income in your home country

Medication and vaccinations

Most travellers must meet COVID-19 vaccine requirements for travel to New Zealand. You can find the latest travel advice on covid19.govt.nz.

Visitors bringing in a quantity of medication are advised to carry a doctor's certificate to avoid possible problems with New Zealand Customs on arrival. Doctor's prescriptions are needed to obtain certain drugs in New Zealand. 

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