Friday, January 29, 2010

New Zealand: Extending Your Stay

If your time in New Zealand has been too short, why not extend your stay?

You can apply for further visitor permits while you are In New Zealand, as long as you do not exceed the total maximum time allowed for visitors. In many cases this is nine months out of an 18-month period, but you may be eligible to stay for a maximum of 12 months. You’ll have to show that during your stay:
  •  you have supported yourself financially, and have enough money to continue supporting yourself
  •  you have not worked, been sponsored, or held a student permit.

If you gain this extension you will have to leave New Zealand at the end of the 12 months and remain away for 12 months or more before you can again return as a visitor.

For those interested in taking a course in New Zealand, you can take on a single course of study on a visitor’s permit, provided the course duration is less than three months. If you’re in New Zealand as a visitor and want to undertake a course of study that is over three months you can apply for a Student Permit. You’ll need to have an offer of a place from a New Zealand education provider

And for those interested to work in New Zealand, you can take certain business activities while in New Zealand on a visitor’s permit. However, if you want to work in this country and have a job offer from a New Zealand business that you wish to take up, you need to apply for a work permit. You must not begin working until the New Zealand embassy confirms that you have gained the work permit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Zealand: Top Adventures to Enjoy

In New Zealand, the outdoors is a way of life: adventures on water, snow, rock, and dirt pile up in every corner of this cluster of islands. New Zealand spans 1600km from north to south and offers everything from sub-tropic ambience to near sub-arctic temperatures, hissing geysers to glacial valleys. The island is a dream for adventurous souls, with adventure-loving locals and actively conserved lands (over a third of its acreage). Whatever you're hankering, New Zealand, has your fix.

Here are some top adventures you might be interested to try while you are in New Zealand:
Dive the Bay of Islands, Explore the Waitomo Caves, Witness White Islands Explosions, Tramp the Tongariro Circuit, Kayak Abel Tasman’s Coasts, View Marine Life at Kaikoura, Walk the Banks Peninsula Track, Walk a River of Ice, Tramp the Southern Alps, Riding the Queen Charlotte Track, Climb Wanaka’s Rock Walls, Exploring Stewart Island, Hike and Tube the Mohaka River, Canoe the Whanganui River, Ride the 42 Traverse, Cycle the Capital Coast, Experience Molesworth Station, Tramping in The Nelson Lakes, Ski Touring Around Mount Cook, Port Hills Paragliding.

So that should keep you busy for a while.  I'd love to see your pictures.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Zealand: How To Stay Connected

There are several ways to stay connected with family, friends, and business partners back home while you are travelling in New Zealand.

Telephone – New Zealand country code is 64. For example: to make a call to Auckland from the US you need to dial the US international access code (011) followed by the New Zealand country code (64) followed by the area code for Auckland (9) followed by the seven-digit telephone number. It’ll be: 011 64 9 123 4567.

To call home to, say, New York in the United States from anywhere in New Zealand you need to dial New Zealand international access code (00) followed by the country code for the United States (1) followed by the area code for New York (212) followed by the seven-digit telephone number. For example: 00 1 212 123 4567.

Most public phones take cards purchased from bookstalls; some also accept credit cards, but very few still accept coins.

Mobile Telephone – Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good, however.

Internet – There are Internet cafes in cities and smaller town central business districts. Travelers may access the Internet at many hotels.

Post Office – Airmail to the USA takes three to ten days. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00 and Sat 09:00-12:30 in some larger towns.
Now that you know your options there’s no excuse for not staying in touch. Have a great trip and stay connected!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Zealand: Where to stay

Let’s face it. Traveling can be expensive! But it doesn’t have to be if you organize your accommodation requirements well in advance and have a bit of flexibility with where you want to stay and exactly where you want to travel in New Zealand. It may be preferable to stay in a 5 star hotel accommodation everywhere when you travel, but this isn’t always possible if you are on a tight budget. Fortunately budget hotels, guesthouses, inns, motels, B&B’s (bed and breakfasts), lodgings, and hostels are among the convenient accommodations available in New Zealand.

The Windsor Hotel in Christchurch, NZ is a cross between a traditional hotel and hostel. This B&B has received rave reviews for its comfortable beds, quality mattresses, clean linens, and the fluffy robe that is provided in each room for middle-of-the-night bathroom visits.

B&B's seem to be the most prevalent throughout New Zealand but if a traditional hotel or hostel is more your style search here and find one that will fit to your needs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Zealand: Etiquette

New Zealand is a very friendly place to travel to, but it's important to learn the country's etiquette. You'll fit in much better and show more respect, especially if traveling to a Marae (Maori society).

Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand with Australia, as they are two distinct countries. If you are not familiar with New Zealand, spend time before your trip to learn about the history and culture.
  •  Understand that the word "kiwi" is not an offensive name when referring to New Zealanders. They will call themselves kiwis, too!

Talking is minimal while you are eating a meal. Conversations can occur before and after your meal.
  •  Dinners are reserved for social interactions only, therefore no business is discussed.
  •  Lunch is used for business conversations.
  •  It's not customary to tip in New Zealand. However, if the service was outstanding, a tip is most certainly appreciated!

If you chose to visit a Marae, ( sacred place that serves both social and religious purposes in Maori society):
  •  Marae (meeting grounds) are not tourist attractions - they are a vital and extremely sacred part of Maori life. Always ask permission before entering a Marae.
  •  Footwear is always removed before entering the meeting house.
  •  Don’t eat food until it has been blessed.
  •  Show your appreciation and respect by singing a song from your home country.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Zealand: Staying Safe on Your Adventures

New Zealand is a relatively safe travel destination. However, when it comes to your safety, it's important to take the same care in New Zealand as in your own country. One thing that all travelers want to do in New Zealand is walk- through forests, up mountains, along riverbanks and around lakes. It’s the easiest way to get into the landscape. The necessary safety precautions are vital in ensuring a worry-free and fun expedition.

Weather conditions in New Zealand alpine areas can change rapidly. Be prepared for cold wet weather if you plan to walk in the National Parks, whatever the time of year.

In wetter areas, particularly in Fiordland, sand flies can be pests, but are effectively controlled by use of an insect repellent.

Giardia is a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhea. To avoid contracting it, it is best not to drink water from lakes, ponds or rivers without first boiling, chemically treating or filtering it.

New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so be prepared to wear hats and sun block if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.

Although no vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand, it's a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit for your trip, particularly if you plan to go hiking, camping or to remote parts of the New Zealand.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Zealand: The Spoken Language

English, Maori and Sign Language are the three official languages of New Zealand.
Fun Fact: In April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language an official language.

The Maori language is now used by over 4% of the population. Maori words are becoming part of the general language used by all Kiwis (another name for New Zealanders), for example:
• kapai ("kar pie") = good
• whanau ("far know") = a family group
• manakai ("ky")= food.
More Moari words and concepts

The Haka is a generic term for Maori dance. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with spirited movements, stamping of the feet rhythmically while shouting. It can portray everything from a challenge to a welcome, from euphoria to defiance. If you get the chance, go see an All Blacks Rugby game and experience a Haka experience first hand!

The New Zealand Rugby team , The All Blacks perform the Maori war "dance", before each game.Go ahead and prepare yourself for the intense energy of the Haka by learning the words and dance!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Zealand- Money!

New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1 and $2. Bills have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. If you plan on carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand you will be required to complete a Border Cash Report.

To save valuable travel time it is recommended that you purchase foreign currencies before you leave. But do not worry! U.S dollars can easily be exchanged at Banks, New Zealand Post shops and some Hotels.

Banks should be able to tell you what the current exchange rate is with the New Zealand dollar. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand provides a monthly online summary of the New Zealand Dollar's average value against the US Dollar, the Pound, the Australian Dollar, the Yen and the Euro.

Find out the latest New Zealand and foreign exchange rates with detailed graphs on the New Zealand economy!

So ….How Much Will it Cost?
Here is a general list of what you can expect to pay in New Zealand for a few common items:

• A hotel breakfast NZ$10 - $25
• Dinner NZ$20 - $50
• Lunch snack/sandwich NZ$5 - $10
• Cafe lunch NZ$10 - $15.00
• A postcard stamp to anywhere abroad NZ$1.50
• Big Mac Hamburger NZ$4.45
• Cappuccino NZ$2.50 - $3
• Kodak Film NZ$7.95

FYI: Most New Zealand items are more expensive than in the US, but the trade off is in the excellent customer service you will receive (sans tipping)!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Zealand: How to Get Around

You made it all the way to New Zealand!  Now, how do you get to the places you want to see?

For freedom and convenience, it's hard to beat renting a car. You can get to out-of-the-way spots not particularly served by public transport, pick up and drop off at the airport and easily decide to take a detour on a whim. For a longer, more adventurous expedition, campervans are often the way forward. It's a mode of transport that's arguably bigger in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world, and there are some added advantages over renting a car. The flexibility and freedom remains, but there's also the chance to make substantial savings in terms of accommodation and eating — they come with beds and stoves and most of the time a toilet and shower!

For the non-drivers (or for those who prefer not to get behind the wheel), using buses to go from place to place is a feasible way of traveling around the country. Well, as long as you're not planning on going to horrendously out-of-the-way places. In the cities, buses are frequent and cover most places you'll want to go to, but travelling between destinations requires a bit of organization. Many intercity routes will only be served once or twice a day, so routes will have to be planned around departure times. It's usually the cheapest way to travel, however.

Another popular way of getting around is using specialized backpacker transport networks. These are private bus services that work on a hop-on, hop-off pass system. In essence, this means that you buy a pass in advance that goes on a certain route (be it a figure eight around the country, or just a quick jaunt around the East Cape), then book yourself onto the buses as and when you want them.

New Zealand's rather limited train network isn't particularly cheap, convenient or wide-reaching. But that's not the point. Getting a train in New Zealand is a fabulous part of the travel experience itself. Realistically, there are three routes, all of which are unbelievably scenic, so it's just a case of sitting back and enjoying the ride.

There aren't many ferry services in New Zealand, although the services from Auckland to the islands in the Hauraki Gulf are the obvious exceptions. There's also the ferry that nips across the Foveaux Strait from Bluff to Oban on Stewart Island. The great, iconic ferry ride, however, is from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island. On a glorious day, the three-hour crossing of the Cook Strait is a fabulous experience, finishing off in the Marlborough Sounds, although conditions can get very choppy on a bad day, so be prepared if you are .

If time is of the essence, then Air New Zealand has an extensive domestic airport, while Qantas and Virgin Blue are also muscling in. Smaller airlines such as Air2There and Soundsair tend to fill in the gaps.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Zealand: Food

New Zealand's cuisine has been described as Pacific Rim, drawing inspiration from Europe, Asia and Polynesia. This blend of influences has created a mouth-watering range of flavours and food in cafes and restaurants nationwide. For dishes that have a distinctly New Zealand style, there's lamb, pork and cervena (venison), salmon, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters, paua (abalone), mussels, scallops, pipis and tuatua (both are types of New Zealand shellfish), kumara (sweet potato), kiwifruit, tamarillo and pavlova, the national dessert.

For the outgoing and brave people who are willing to try anything, the Wild foods Festival is something you can't miss. Anything unusual and extreme is on the list of things to try.
Held every year in Hokitika, this festival is all about celebrating New Zealand's wild foods from New Zealand. People from New Zealand and the globe come to Hokitika every year to join in on this celebration of food. The Wild foods Festival has become so popular that it has gone on to win awards.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Zealand: What and How to Pack

New Zealand boasts more sheep than humans, as well as countless outdoor activities. Whether you plan to hike on the South Island, sail in Auckland or roam the countryside, it is suggested to dress in layers for optimum comfort.

Before you make your trip, acquaint yourself with New Zealand's seasons. Spring starts in September, summer in December, fall in March and winter in June. Prepare for warm summers and mild winters. Layer yourself with long shorts, khakis, simple cotton dresses, skirts, T-shirts and sweaters during the warmer months. A jacket is necessary for the fall, while a coat is your best bet for winter.

If your plans include a trip to the South Island, you want to check the regional temperatures, as some places that noted mountain ranges have higher altitudes with much cooler temperatures. Cold weather clothes are a must.

Pack sandals and a pair of walking shoes. You'll need hiking boots if you plan to take on any of the mountainous terrain. Take a swimsuit, sunglasses and sunscreen if you'll be visiting any of the country's many beaches.

Don’t forget to bring a light raincoat or an umbrella, as showers are possible any time of year. Also, remember an electric converter and adapter as it is always great to have them handy.

Enjoy your trip!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Continued Relief Efforts in Haiti

The relief efforts are continuing in Haiti and as more and more news stories break, more graphic and horrible photographs are released. I wont link them here because you can find them on many news sites already. These images and news stories are disturbing and very sad. Many photos and videos look like scenes from a violent movie and its hard to comprehend that it is actually happening. These are REAL people dealing with REAL devastation. Official numbers are not out yet on the death toll and those who have been injured(last checked the number was in the 10s of thousands), because it is only the beginning.

At the time the earthquake happened, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) had 3 medical clinics up and running in Port au Prince and surrounding areas. They have ALL been severely damaged. Passport Health has worked closely with DWB in providing them with supplies and vaccinations to help them in their medical endeavors around the world and we would like to ask all of you to help them as well.

They need it now more than ever. Donate now and 100% of your donation will go towards the Hatian earthquake relief.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Thank you for your support and our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrible tragedy.

New Zealand: Documents Needed for Entry

If you are a United States Citizen, you don’t need a visitor visa to come to New Zealand. If you need a visitor visa to come to New Zealand, you will need to meet below requirements:

• you are in good health
• you are of good character; and
• the visa you are applying for matches your intentions for your visits.

You will have to show New Zealand embassy/consulate your passport. This must be valid for at least three months past the date you are to leave New Zealand.

A proof that you have plans and the means to leave within the period of your permit is required. Suitable proof may include: actual travel tickets (confirmed or open-dated) out of New Zealand to a country which you have the right to enter; or written confirmation from an airline or travel agency that onward travel has been booked and paid for.

Evidence of funds will also be needed, that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay. This means you have a minimum of:

• NZ$1000 per person per month of the visit, or
• NZ$400 per person per month if accommodation has already been paid for – New Zealand embassy will require proof of prepayment, such as hotel prepaid vouchers.

Acceptable evidence of sufficient funds can be demonstrated in the form of: cash, travelers' checks, bank drafts, recognized credit cards with sufficient credit available – it is recommended that visitors have an up-to-date credit card statement.

Other acceptable evidence is a declaration by a New Zealand sponsor that they will pay for your accommodation and maintenance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake Devastates Haiti

I interrupt the regularly scheduled posting about NZ to post a very important message about the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday.

Volunteers traveling to Haiti to help with relief efforts need to use extreme caution to avoid disease and injury. Watch out for food and water borne-illness (such as Typhoid, Hep A) and be sure that you are up to date on all adult immunizations, especially Tetanus, as you will be encountering hazardous conditions with clean up of the island. Passport Health has all the above immunizations in stock and a Travel Medicine Specialist will review your health history to determine if you need any additional immunizations.

We also have supplies that can help you in your efforts, such as: First Aid Kit, Wound Care Kit, Foam Hand Sanitizer, Antiseptic Towelettes, Ceralyte (for Dehydration) and several choices for water purification.

Passport Health is reaching out to all volunteer and relief organizations and is offering extended ours throughout their national network of clinics. Call your nearest Passport Health Location today and we will work with your schedule to get you in to our office as soon as possible. Have a whole group going to help? We will come to you! Passport Health will also come on-site for departing volunteer groups.

Passport Health supports your efforts for helping the victims and families of this horrible tragedy.

Passport Health works closely with Doctors without Borders and has received word that at least 2 of their clinics in Haiti have been destroyed. Please help support their efforts by donating directly to them. 100% of your donation goes directly to the Haitian Earthquake Relief Fund.

DONATE NOW! to Doctors Without Borders!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Zealand: Cuisine

Something that most people look forward to, no matter where they travel is trying the local fare. New Zealand is a country full of wonderful and uniquely influenced dishes that are sure to make your taste buds happy and satisfy an adventurous palette.

New Zealanders have a diet rich in seafood because it is so abundant and delicious. A prime delicacy is toheroa (Paphies ventricosum). Toheroa (similar to a clam) is a large shellfish that lives mainly in the northern part of the country. It, unfortunately was over harvested in the past and has now become a protected species and may only be harvested with the proper permission. Toheroa fritters and toheroa soup are 2 delicious dishes that you will hopefully get a chance to try during your visit, but be prepared to pay for them at market value, which may be expensive.

Another great aspect of New Zealand is the wine. The special combination of soil, climate and water make for a unique flavor and variety. Soaking up the sunlight during the day and being cooled by the gentle sea breeze at night the vineyards are able to offer a taste like none other in the world. NZ is most well known for their Sauvignon Blanc, which goes great with seafood!

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Zealand: Languages

English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand. Maori became an official language in 1987.

In April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Maori and English.

New Zealand Sign Language or NZSL is the main language of the deaf community in New Zealand.

Check out this vid of the NZSL alphabet.


Did you know that if you come in to a participating Passport Health location for your flu shot or mist you get 10% off?

Well now you know!! Tell your friends and family and get everyone together for this great deal. Do your part in raising awareness of National Influenza Week by getting your flu immunization today! Offer extends to both seasonal influenza and H1N1.

Call your nearest passport health location and ask them about their availability

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Zealand: Famous for its beauty

When I think of NZ there are a few things that come top of mind: The colors blue and green, sheep and hobbits!

New Zealand is known as Middle Earth for its Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Zealand born Peter Jackson filmed the entire three films in various locations around New Zealand. Of the many locations in NZ that the trilogy was filmed, only 1 remains, Hobbiton.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Zealand: How to get there

So how are you going to get to New Zealand?

Getting to New Zealand is so easy with a choice of airlines flying from the United States every day.

Air New Zealand
Passenger Reservations & Enquiries
USA Phone: 1 800 262 1234
USA Freephone: 1800 262 1234

Passenger Reservations & Enquiries
USA Phone: 1 800 227 4500
USA Freephone: 1 800 227 4500

Air Tahiti Nui
Passenger Reservations & Enquiries
USA Phone: 1 310 662 1860
USA Freephone: 877 824 4846

Air Pacific
Passenger Reservations & Enquiries
USA Phone: 310 568 8676

Major Airports
New Zealand has a network of international and domestic airports.
While Auckland Airport serves the largest number of international arrivals and departures, airports in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Queenstown also receive flights from other countries.

Domestic airports make every part of the country accessible, from Kaitaia Airport in the far north to Ryan’s Creek Aerodrome on Stewart Island. Airport facilities vary according to the size of the local population.

Cruise on In
With 9000 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands New Zealand is a great cruise destination. All aboard!

Here are a few Cruise lines to get you on your way:

• Coral
• Crystal
• Cunard-
• Hapag-
• Holland America Line-
• Oceania Cruises

ONE LAST THING: Is your passport ready to travel?

Before you travel to New Zealand, check that your passport is ready for the trip. Your passport must be:
• Valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date.
• Not damaged, defaced or excessively worn.
• Showing a visa or permit, if you require one.

Do you need a visa or permit?
USA has a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand. If you hold a USA passport, you don't need a visa to enter New Zealand for up to three months. However, you are still required to provide:
• Travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements
• Evidence that your can support yourself in New Zealand (approximately NZ$1000 per month per person).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Zealand: A History

Ah New Zealand…..forever young!

Legend has it that New Zealand was fished from the sea by the god, Maui. If you look at an aerial map of the North Island it closely and ironically resembles a fish!

But …fact has it that New Zealand was the last land mass on earth to be discovered, making New Zealand the youngest country on earth.

Its fascinating history reflects both Maori and European heritage. Amazing Maori historic sites and “taonga” (treasures), some almost a thousand years old, are contrasts to many beautiful majestic buildings.

The first New Zealanders, the Maori, migrated from their ancestral Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. This was followed about 800 years later by extensive European migration. The influence of Pacific Island and Asian immigrants during the 20th century has helped shape New Zealand into an even more vibrant and diverse multicultural society. A walk around any New Zealand city today shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country it has become.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Zealand: Know when to go!

We are all so excited to be featuring New Zealand as the country this month.

Deciding when to visit can be tricky for most countries, but luckily NZ is beautiful all year round. The warmest months are September-April (remember NZ is in the Southern Hemisphere so the seasons are opposite from Northern Hemisphere countries).

New Zealand is one of the youngest and "un touched" countries in the world. It's landscape and scenery speak for itself (which is good because it's beauty may leave you breathless.)

Check out this amazing video about some of the many things that NZ has to offer.

Ready to go?

Thanks to

Monday, January 4, 2010

What's new this NEW YEAR!

It's hard to believe that it is already 2010! A NEW DECADE! Time sure flies when you're having fun and we certainly had our share of fun last year!

New year, new month...NEW COUNTRY OF THE MONTH! Thanks for learning about Thailand with us last month and we hope you are as excited as we are about our next featured country for January...NEW ZEALAND!

January also has much more in store for you: National Influenza Week. (yes it was originally scheduled for December 6-10, 2009, but it was rescheduled to Jan 10-16, 2010 due to the lack of vaccine available).

2009 was a scary/groundbreaking year for flu. H1N1 or Swine Flu made BIG news. While influenza is unpredictable, and while we do not know the likelihood of a future wave of H1N1 influenza, we do know that if more people are vaccinated, the disease is less likely to spread in the coming months.

Stay tuned for more flu news in the coming weeks and tomorrow...Let's plan a trip to New Zealand!