Drinking in New Zealand
My roommate and I were planning on getting some beers after work. She is 21 and I am 30 – she was carrying her ID, I forgot mine at home. As we entered the supermarket together, both of us were not allowed to buy any alcohol. I can’t remember the last time I had to show my ID in Germany, which might not come as a surprise because we can legally purchase beer at the age of 16. In New Zealand, however, you must be 18 and it is crucial for everyone to carry their ID. Luckily, we met a nice Maori who offered to buy us a six-pack of beer.
Driving on the left side of the road in New Zealand
Something that appears to be harder than it actually is – getting used to driving on the other side is quite easy when trying it on an empty road first. Additionally, road sings are way easier to understand than in Germany as they exactly tell you what to do – “Give way”.
If you’re staying for less than a year, it is not necessary to get an international driving licence. However, if you’re staying longer you must get a New Zealand driving licence.
Money in New Zealand
While you still find places that only accept cash in Germany, you can literally pay by card wherever you are in New Zealand. Therefore, I would recommend opening a bank account as soon as you’re there in order to avoid additional fees.
Communication in New Zealand
If you’re expecting good internet connection in New Zealand, I have to disappoint you. Normally, there are free Wi-Fi spots in every big city in Germany – this is not the case for New Zealand. Even the Wi-Fi at home does not always work seamlessly. Therefore, a good service provider is key!
Most backpackers get a prepaid card instead of a making a contract. I decided to try Sparks, which offers great deals that include free telephone minutes to Germany. This is especially great when you want to keep in touch with someone, like my grandma, that does not have Whatsapp.
Crime in New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the safest places on earth so that hitchhiking is told to be very safe here. Nevertheless, you should never trust everyone blindly but always be a little sceptical. Like in every big city, there is some crime here, too. That’s why you should give things a second thought, even if they appear to be harmless.
However, stealing is something that happens more often – keeping an eye on your valuables is important. We had to learn that while working as products kept on disappearing at our stands. Unfortunately, there are no hard consequences for stealing.
Natural hazards on-site
Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not offer a variety of dangerous animals. However, earth quakes happen more frequently – at the Federal Foreign Office you can inform yourself about the right behaviour in an emergency. Another thing that backpackers don’t take seriously is solar radiation and the ozone hole. That’s why applying sunscreen should be part of your morning routine!