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Advice for month long trip

Advice for month long trip

Old Dec 10th 2013, 3:46 pm
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Default Advice for month long trip

My daughter is travelling to New Zealand (from the US) in a couple of weeks. She'll be there for a month on an organized bus tour travelling around both islands. None of us have ever been and know nothing about NZ.

She needs to take a decent amount of cash just for optional activities on the tour (1000 NZD probably). Obviously she needs to take some bank notes but was wondering if NZD traveller's cheques are something widely accepted there. She'll be taking her US ATM card and some credit cards (although she's not sure how close to ATM's she will be) but is nervous about taking a large amount of cash.

Also she is wondering about the cell phone situation. She has an iPhone 5 that is locked to Sprint in the US. That would work on its own but Sprint international rates are expensive. They will unlock it for free since we have been customers for years which would allow her to insert a nano-SIM (?) card in NZ. Alternatively, she also has an unlocked GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz phone that takes a regular SIM card. Are NZ SIM cards readily available? She's flying into Auckland.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Last edited by MarylandNed; Dec 10th 2013 at 3:50 pm.
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Old Dec 10th 2013, 4:51 pm
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Default Re: Advice for month long trip

I forgot to ask about charging electronic devices such as camera, iPhone 5 and Galaxy Tab 3. Does she just need plug adapters? Or does she need something to convert voltages. I'm under the impression that all recent electronic devices just need plug adapters but want to be sure that a voltage converter isn't required.
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Old Dec 10th 2013, 5:32 pm
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Default Re: Advice for month long trip

Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
My daughter is travelling to New Zealand (from the US) in a couple of weeks. She'll be there for a month on an organized bus tour travelling around both islands.
Jealous. By the way, if you're writing from Maryland, I enjoyed my visits to lovely Annapolis a few years ago. Didn't get to bash and pick at lobsters, though, so there's something to look forward to when I'm back there again.


Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
She needs to take a decent amount of cash just for optional activities on the tour (1000 NZD probably). Obviously she needs to take some bank notes but was wondering if NZD traveller's cheques are something widely accepted there. She'll be taking her US ATM card and some credit cards (although she's not sure how close to ATM's she will be) but is nervous about taking a large amount of cash.
Have you considered a pre-paid/stored debit card instead? Put some money on it and if it's stolen or lost, her entire credit limit isn't at risk. More flexible than traveller's cheques, accepted more widely and without needing to find somewhere to cash one. Especially useful as the banks close at about 4:30pm or so.


Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Also she is wondering about the cell phone situation. She has an iPhone 5 that is locked to Sprint in the US. That would work on its own but Sprint international rates are expensive. They will unlock it for free since we have been customers for years which would allow her to insert a nano-SIM (?) card in NZ.
Not sure how widespread nano-sims are over there; they're probably common now, but you can pick up standard-sized sims at the airport when you first arrive or in a range of outlets in towns. Unlike the UK, sims over there aren't given away for free and data plans can be a bit pricy. Still cheaper than data roaming, though. Last time I was over there, I found public wifi wasn't nearly as ubiquitous or as cheap as London or the East Coast of the US. Plenty of coffee places in smaller towns didn't have it, although McDonald's does if all you need to do is to check email and post some quick updates on Twitter or Facebook.


Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Alternatively, she also has an unlocked GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz phone that takes a regular SIM card. Are NZ SIM cards readily available? She's flying into Auckland.
Sim cards are readily available, but I was in a similar situation. I took my (then) locked smartphone and also took a quad band feature phone, an older but higher end model to put a NZ sim in. It met all the requirements for 2Degrees, but in Auckland airport, while waiting for my connection, no matter what we tried in the bookshop in the domestic terminal, the shop assistant and I couldn't get it to work. Had to wait until the next day, in another town, going to a Vodafone store and paying NZ$25 for a sim that worked. Came with a little top-up credit, but not much.

New Zealand's phone/data bundles for set periods can be a bit weird. They tend to give you tons of texts, but are measly with data and calls.


Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
I forgot to ask about charging electronic devices such as camera, iPhone 5 and Galaxy Tab 3. Does she just need plug adapters?
Yes. If you can find one, get one of those ones that have rotating flat pins as they're a bit more versatile. Mains voltage over there is 220v. And a USB lead for each device can also be incredibly handy for charging, like in plane seats for instance, or for the camera to back up pictures. I kept an encrypted USB key in my money belt on my person at almost all times with photos of my passort pages, contact numbers, bank details, flight tickets, schedules, online accounts and so on, in case I lost everything.

Plan a simple strategy for backing up photos from the camera to the cloud or a spare data card as there's nothing worse than losing a camera with all your pics on it... although I have to say, given what New Zealand is like and the kind of tour she'll be doing, with lots of outdoors stuff to do, I would urge your daughter to travel as lightly with as few valuables as possible. If it was me, I'd probably only take a tablet if it was small and the quad band phone or maybe just the iPhone, using it for all picture-taking rather than schlepping around with a DSLR on top of everything else. If she can do the whole month out of one bag or case with a small pouch for travel documents and small valuables, she'll enjoy herself far more. People tend to dress very casually in New Zealand, so no need to take tons of clothes and shoes.


Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Or does she need something to convert voltages. I'm under the impression that all recent electronic devices just need plug adapters but want to be sure that a voltage converter isn't required.
In most cases, you're right. But best to double-check on the manufacturer's website or google the model name of the device to get the full ins and outs in user guides and so on.
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Old Dec 10th 2013, 6:11 pm
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Default Re: Advice for month long trip

Def the pre paid debit card
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