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Australia

Australia immediately conjures images of the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, big-wave surfing, miles of Outback and a rather strange, and endearing, assortment of animals. While the country’s main cities offer charm, glamour, unique festivals, a well-preserved historical heritage, fabulous beaches and fun events, it’s also a land of immense contrast and captivating nature. The nation offers something for just about everyone – from water lovers, desert wanderers and canyon climbers, to arts and culture buffs, historians, and foodies. The country’s vast size makes it almost impossible to take it all in during a single visit, but you can pick and choose a perfect holiday according to your personal preferences.


Banking and Currency

Currency

Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.

Banking

Banks are normally only open weekdays 9h30-16h00 Monday to Friday, some stay open until 17h00 on Fridays. In larger metropolitan suburban centres, major banks are increasingly opening on the weekend, too.

Credit cards such as American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB are accepted in Australia. Traveller's cheques are not as widely accepted in Australia as in many other countries.

ATMs can be found in all major towns and cities. However you may have limited or no access to ATMs in small towns and outback areas.

Travellers' cheques are widely accepted in major currencies at banks or large hotels. However, some banks may charge a fee for cashing traveller's cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in a major currency.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Hire cars are readily available in all major towns. Australians drive on the left and all cars are right hand drive. Having access to your own car has the advantages of being able travel at your own pace, explore remote areas and visit regions with no public transport. However, as the country is so vast, this form of transport can be time consuming.

A faster option would be to make use of the numerous affordable, frequent, fast flights between major centres. 

Reliable, frequent long-haul coach services are available countrywide but they are not always cheaper than flying and are time consuming.

Trains in Australia are slow, expensive and infrequent but the scenery is great. Opt for a sleeper carriage rather than an 'overnighter' seat.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Standards of hygiene in food preparation are very high. Milk is pasteurised and meat and vegetables are considered safe to eat. Care should be taken, however, if preparing 'bush tucker' in outback areas as some insects and fauna are highly poisonous unless properly cooked. 

'Bush tucker' is food from Australia's endemic flora and fauna and can be lean and quite delicious; kangaroo meat in particular is growing in popularity since being made legal to trade to eat only in the past two decades. For all the advent of fine dining and exotic menu items, however, the humble barbecue remains for many the quintessential Australian food experience. Various beaches and parks have barbecue stations that can be used by the public. Steak, prawns and beer tend to feature prominently.

Seafood is an integral part of the cuisine scene in all its shelled and scaled forms. Production of organic foods is increasing to meet demand and is these days widely available in the cities and larger towns. There are fine dining restaurants throughout the larger cities, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, where big-name chefs have helped to give Australian cuisine an international reputation for bright, creative gastronomy. Regional food markets and increasing numbers of food festivals across the states are a great way to sample fresh produce. Look out for things like farmhouse cheese, speciality sausages and local fruits. 

The major vineyards (wineries) are outside Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide. The largest single wine-growing region is in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, two hours' drive from Adelaide, where high-quality red and white wines are produced. Various wineries, breweries and distilleries are open for public visits. 


Climate and Weather

Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year but the climate can vary due to the size of the continent. The northern states typically experience warm weather much of the time, with the southern states experiencing cooler winters. Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimetres. Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia's seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring. 


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Clothes in natural fibers will work better in the heat and it is worth popping in a lightweight sweater, cardigan or pashmina wrap for cooler weather or overly fierce air conditioning.

Travel light and buy your toiletries there. Must haves include sunglasses and wear plenty of high factor sunscreen.

If you are planning to visit very hot areas then a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline to prevent burning is recommended. A sunhat is also very useful in the intense sunshine.


Internet Availability

Australia has generally good internet access in most tourist destination. When you’re booking accommodation it’s easy enough to scan the the room descriptions with increasing numbers of properties offering Wi-Fi.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in Australia are ‘Type I’ (AS/NZS 3112). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in Australia usually supply electricity at 220-240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 220-240 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


New Zealand

There aren't many places on this planet where travellers are so well catered for – in terms of both man-made enticements and splendours of the natural realm. New Zealand is bigger than the UK, with one-fourteenth the population size. Filling in the gaps are sublime forests, majestic mountains, and the stunning lakes, beaches and fjords that have made this country one of the best hiking (locals call it 'tramping') destinations on Earth. It’s renowned worldwide for having a relaxed, friendly, spacious and outdoor adventure lifestyle (think sport, walks, BBQs, and beaches). When you combine this adventurous outlook with a stunning backdrop you start to see why travellers rate New Zealand as the action/adventure/adrenalin capital of the world!


Banking and Currency

Currency

The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD; symbol: NZ$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of NZ$100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of NZ$2 and 1, and 50, 20 and 10 cents.

Please note that In November 2006, the New Zealand Reserve Bank introduced new, smaller 50-, 20- and 10-cent coins. The old 5-cent coin has been phased out. Old coins can only be exchanged at the Reserve Bank.

There are no restrictions on the import and export of either local or foreign currency, subject to declarations for cash amounts of NZ$10,000 upon departure or arrival.

Banking

Banking Hours: Monday to Friday 9h30 to 4h30. Some banks are open on a Saturday until 12h30

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted.

Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.

International credit cards and ATM cards will work as long as they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Check with your bank before leaving home.

Travellers' cheques can be exchanged at official rates at trading banks, large hotels and some shops. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Euro, Pounds Sterling or Australian Dollars. American Express, Visa and Thomas Cook cheques are the most frequently accepted.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

With so many things to do and spectacular places to see, choosing how you travel around New Zealand is as important as choosing where you want to go.

Your choice of transport will depend on how quickly you want to get from A to B. Plane, train, bus, boat, car or caravan – you could even cycle if you’re feeling adventurous.  In most cases getting there is all part of the fun so hire a motor home to see the sights at your own pace, or jump on a train for a scenic tour through remote areas often inaccessible by road.  

For travel between New Zealand's islands, hop on a plane or ferry. Daily flights are available between domestic airports. Several passenger and vehicle ferries offer services between the North, South and other islands.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

The cuisine in New Zealand is very seasonal and relies heavily on local produce. As the islands are very agricultural there is a wide variety of fresh foods always available. The influences are largely British although there are Asian influences creeping in and takeaways are becoming more popular.

New Zealand is an island nation with its waters containing a large variety of fish and seafood. Despite this, until recently shellfish hasn't played an important part in the diet of New Zealanders. The consumption of fish has traditionally been low as meat has been the main preference for meals. Having said this, fish and seafood has always been significant in the Maori diet and you will notice that the names of many of them are still used today in Maori.


Climate and Weather

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as - 10°C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine.

Because New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel south. The far north of the country has an average temperature of about 15°C, while the deep south has a cooler 9°C average. January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

New Zealand is typically an informal place so pack casually for comfort.

Famous for having four seasons in one day; our advice if you are traveling even in the summer is to pack a light jacket or pashmina shawl just in case the weather turns cooler or if you're visiting higher altitudes. You can also expect some rain, so include a light raincoat.

Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots.

New Zealand is renowned for its outdoor activities, so make sure you take swimming gear, hiking shoes, trekking pants/shorts, sunhat and sunglasses, as well as plenty of sunscreen

If you plan to do much walking then lightweight walking shoes or sneakers are fine.


Internet Availability

Chances are that you’re arriving in New Zealand with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop – or a mixture of all three. If you’re looking to stay connected to the internet everywhere you go, it’s recommended that you purchase a plan from one of New Zealand’s main networks. Free Wi-Fi hotspots are generally found in main cities only and can be sporadic throughout the rest of the country. Purchasing a plan from a network will allow you to have access to a mix of data, calling and texting throughout your trip to suit your communication and connection needs.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in New Zealand are Type I (AS/NZS 3112). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in New Zealand usually supply electricity at230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


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