Feb 2016 we did a 25 day New Zealand tour with stopovers in Sydney and Melbourne. Below are some of my traveling tips:
Check out our world explorer for more information, maps, images and links to the places we visited.
Tipping … please don’t!
Not tipping will be strange for Americans but your quality of service will remain the same. The luggage people will not wait for a tip neither will your restaurant servers. On the plus side servers will not bug you as often as they do in America.
You will notice that the meals and services are more expensive in Australia and New Zealand. Those countries have a higher minimum wage and deem it to be the responsibility of the business to pay and care for its employees. Therefore that expense is already reflected in the price.
If you really must tip do it on merit not habit … and don’t be offended if it’s declined.
Your debit card is accepted everywhere. When making purchases if the pin fails then run it as credit and sign (or vice versa). This is an issue with banks dealing with the different terminals not your ability to pay.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted everywhere other brand cards are more limited.
Chip cards can encounter problems. Australia and NZ have been chip ready for some time but many American banks are not fully optimized for this service. If your card is chipped take a backup.
Be warned if you withdraw cash from an ATM the bank may disable the card temporarily while the bank verifies the withdraw. This is usually fixed within 24 hours with no action, faster if you call the bank.
As a general rule sales tax is included in all prices. There are exceptions but are usually marked excluding government services tax (Ex GST).
Australia runs close to dollar for dollar with America. NZ can be a cheap holiday due to the the exchange rate favoring the USD.
All banks and cards charge currency exchange and cash withdraw fees.
You can get currency cards where you preload an amount of foreign currency. Be careful of the loading and unloading fees. On the positive loading a card can guarantee an exchange rate.
Personally I use my debit card converting as we go, plus I don’t like carrying a lot of cash.
Australia and New Zealand drive on the left hand side of the road and the vehicles seat the driver on the right. The most common non lethal error is turning the wipers on instead of the indicator!
NZ is a great country for a driving holiday with most towns one to two hours apart. This means you can minimize driving and enjoy stopping and getting out for walks. Arriving at the next destination with time to get active.
Australia and New Zealand have a slower maximum speed limit and they use the metric system (Kilometers).
We have changeable driving conditions, narrow roads and many one way bridges. Through the mountain ranges anticipate extra driving time from the speed decrease, or stopping to look at views.
In New Zealand you can take the Interisland Ferry with your vehicle between the north and south islands.
Check out this website for more information on driving.