Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

About New Zealand

New Zealand has a population of approximately 4.6 million people.  It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and consists of two main islands. The capital city is Wellington, while the largest city is Auckland, both in the North Island.

Wellington harbour, photo courtesy of Julian Apse


English is the predominant language spoken by most New Zealanders.Maori, the language spoken by the indigenous people of New Zealand, and New Zealand sign language are also official languages.A traditional Maori haka, photo courtesy of James Heremaia

Time zone

New Zealand has only one time zone for the whole country. New Zealand standard time is 12 hours ahead of UTC. New Zealand does, however, operate on daylight saving time between late September and early April, so in December New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of UTC.


New Zealand lies between 37 and 47 degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand enjoy moderate, maritime climate, weather, and temperatures. New Zealand does not have a large temperature range, lacking the extremes found in most continental climates.

However, New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly, as cold fronts can quickly blow in. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature. New Zealand's summer months are December to February, bringing high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild.

In Palmerston North typical temperatures during December are around 18–20C during the day, with an overnight low of 11–13C.  It can rain during December; the average rainfall is around 80 mm.

New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared with many other countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong during the summer months. In order to avoid sunburn, visitors should wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when they are in direct summer sunlight, especially in the heat of the day (11 am – 4 pm).

Hot water beach, photo courtesy of Adam Bryce


New Zealand currency is the New Zealand dollar. Coins have values of 10, 20, and 50 cents, $1 and $2. Notes are available in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Conversion rates can be seen here, but $1 NZ is typically worth around 0.7 USD, 0.6 EUR, 0.5 GBP, 0.9 AUD, 4.5 CNY or 75 JPY.

Tipping is not common practise in New Zealand.


You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months on a current driver’s licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit. You must carry your licence/permit at all times while driving. Driving is on the left hand side of the road, with typical speed limits of 50 kph in towns and cities, and 100 kph on the open road.

Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

Wi-Fi and mobile phones

Most hotels/motels provide free Wi-Fi, as do many of the eating establishments, libraries and i-Site visitor information centres. In addition, Inspire free wifi provides a service that covers almost all of central Palmerston North, with a data cap of 1000MB per device per month.

You can bring your unlocked mobile phone with you to New Zealand and buy a local SIM card here. These can be bought very cheaply and are significantly cheaper to use than roaming. There are 4 main mobile phone networks to choose from: Vodafone, 2degrees, Spark, and Skinny. SIM cards are available from many petrol stations, convenience stores, supermarkets, electronics stores, and specialist telecommunications stores; most networks have stores at international airports. There are also 2degrees, Spark, and Vodafone stores inside the Plaza shopping complex located on the Square near the conference venue. SIM cards can be bought as part of a bundle that includes some texts/data/calls, or bought separately and prepaid text/data/call packs can then be added on.

See more detailed information for international visitors here:

Alternately, if your mobile phone is not compatible with our networks, it is possible to hire a mobile phone while in New Zealand.


New Zealand’s electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts, and uses angled two- or three-pin plugs (the same as Australia and parts of Asia). Most hotels and motels provide 110 volt ac sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option.

Angled plug