Overall, New Zealand is a safe place to travel, but the same basic rules of common sense apply as they do anywhere in the world.
Anyone in New Zealand can make contact with the New Zealand Police at any time, including international visitors. So, in the unlikely event you find yourself the victim of a crime, do not hesitate to call 111 or visit the nearest police station. There is no charge for Police help and you can rest assured our police force is one of the most trusted in the world, without the corruption prevalent in many other countries.
Staying safe in the New Zealand outdoors
Camping in New Zealand is very safe, with extremely low levels of incidents reported. Of the thousands of people who need emergency treatment each year through our Search and Rescue service only a handful are campers.
Hiking and mountain bike incidents are significantly higher. Being unprepared is by far the biggest reason people encounter problems.
Read the weekly weather report
While it’s almost impossible to predict the weather accurately in New Zealand, it’s helpful to consult the weather reports for the week leading up to your trip.
You won’t be able to know for sure, but you’ll get a fairly good idea what condition the tracks and rivers will be in – you won’t want to head into the hills if it’s been raining consistently in the days preceding your trip.
And you certainly shouldn’t embark on a hike or bike ride in an area with extreme weather warnings.
Check New Zealand’s weather online at www.metservice.co.nz and visit the local DOC Visitor Centre before you set out for the most recent updates on track closures, hazards and warnings.
Know your limits
Over the past few years, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Mountain Safety Council have increasingly been reporting rescues involving international tourists.
The main reasons for the rise in tramping incidents are lack of preparation and inexperienced hikers and bikers stepping too far outside their comfort zone.
In New Zealand, things can change very quickly – rivers can suddenly swell and weather in the bush can rapidly close in.
Anyone heading in to the bush must go prepared for the worst – this means packing:
- More food and water than you think you need (on an overnight hike, pack an extra days food; even on short walks take high energy snacks and plenty of water)
- Layers of warm clothing and waterproofs (even in the height of summer)
- Sun protection (including sunglasses, sunscreen and brimmed hat)
- First Aid kit (a basic kit including a whistle, survival blanket, panadol, bandages and dressings can help save your life if anything goes wrong)
- Compass and map (if you don’t know how to use them, find out!)
- Small torch or headlamp
- Insect repellant
Tell someone your intentions
Before you start your tramp or bike ride, be sure to tell someone what your plans are, even if you’re only heading off on a day walk or short bike ride.
Consider telling your accommodation provider and drop in to the nearest DOC visitor centre to fill in the intentions book.
If you’re staying overnight in a DOC hut, be sure to write your details in the visitors book so your steps can be more easily traced in case of emergency.
And of course, don’t forget to let your contacts know you’ve arrived back safely – otherwise an unnecessary search could be launched in your honour!
We provide all our customers with free safety information from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council – please be sure to read it.
Don’t freedom camp
Not only are you placing New Zealand’s precious natural environment at risk, you are also placing yourself and loved ones travelling with you at considerable risk of attack, theft and other criminal activity.
Do everyone a favour and only stay in organised campgrounds. Take a look at www.doc.govt.nz for more information on some beautiful campgrounds that are also great value for money.
How safe is it to travel New Zealand alone?
Most solo travelers, including women and younger travelers, find New Zealand a very safe place to travel.
There are some basic rules to keep in mind, mostly following the principles of basic common sense:
- Avoid hitchhiking, particularly in remote locations and along busy main roads.
- Stay in organised accommodation – never freedom camp.
- Keep in touch with loved ones and give them updates on your whereabouts.
- Connect with locals and other travellers through trusted, verified activities.
- Head in to the outdoors with an organised group.
- Trust your instincts – avoid strangers who make you feel uneasy.
- Never leave valuables unattended – even for a brief moment and even in remote locations.
- Choose activity providers that come recommended and have a good reputation.
- Do not walk alone after dark – even in towns and cities where you feel very safe.
- Call 111 at any time anywhere in New Zealand if you feel threatened in any way – the NZ Police take all calls seriously, and there is no charge or risk for international visitors to make contact with them.