New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world. While crime is everywhere, even in the safest of nations, in New Zealand, crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Compared to many other countries, New Zealand is a happy and relaxed country, and violence and conflict among individuals and communities basically do not exist here.
Why New Zealand is Among the Safest Countries in the World
Healthcare in New Zealand
The kind of healthcare you can get in New Zealand depends on the services that you need, and there are many.
You have to remember this important hotline: 111, for emergency medical assistance. You can request for an ambulance to have you sent directly to the nearest hospital.
Here are some important healthcare tips you need to remember before deciding to stay or work in New Zealand:
- Find a General Practitioner (GP) – a GP is a medical doctor that is well-trained to help you with your medical needs, giving you expert advice or treatment.
- Public vs Private Healthcare – like many countries in the world, public healthcare is free while you have to pay for private medical service.
- Medication – you can visit the nearest pharmacy or chemist if you need to have medication. You can ask for a prescription from your GP for medicines that need them. Otherwise, over-the-counter drugs can be bought from the chemist or pharmacy.
- Healthline – Healthline is a telephone number: 0800 611 116, which is a free service for health advice. You will be directed to a registered nurse who can give health advice, refer you to a GP or help you find the nearest pharmacist or GP.
- Hospitals – New Zealand has around 40 public hospitals. If you want to locate a specific public hospital, you can look up its location at New Zealand’s Ministry of Health website. Almost all healthcare services are free to those who are qualified.
- Dental care – New Zealand has a program that basically helps kids under 18 years old get free basic dental care. However, for everyone else, Dental care is not free, and they are provided through the private practice of dentists and other related practitioners.
- Mental health – If you need mental health care, the fastest way to do so is to contact this important hotline number: 1737. Normally, the first thing you can do is contact your GP, then he or she will refer you to a mental health practitioner.
Is New Zealand Safe for Tourists?
As mentioned in the introduction, New Zealand is one of the safest places in the world, not just for its locals but also for tourists. However, it is not crime free, like every other country in the world, so you still need to follow safety precautions.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
Again, it is really important to know this hotline number: 111 for emergencies. Call this number if you need the police, an ambulance, or in case of a fire.
Here are some important tips from the New Zealand police that you need to follow to keep yourself safe:
- Don’t walk alone during the night and try to stay away from dark places.
- Know where the local police stations are.
- Don’t bring large amounts of cash or wear luxurious jewelry when you’re going outside.
- Let someone know where you’re heading and your estimated time of arrival.
- Don’t hitch hike alone, and try not to accept rides from strangers.
Road Safety in New Zealand
Here are some reminders from the New Zealand police regarding road safety:
- In New Zealand, cars are driven on the left-hand side. When you turn right, give way.
- Be well-rested before starting a road trip.
- The police are strict when it comes to speed limits, so you must follow them.
- Always carry your driver’s license when you are driving.
- A safety belt should be worn by everyone inside the car.
- You can’t use your cellphone while driving, unless you’re calling 111.
New Zealand has lots of nice outdoor places to go to for an adventure. However, before embarking on your journey, visit the government’s Adventure Smart website to be well prepared.
- Be sure that you know what your physical limitations are. Don’t overestimate yourself and be always careful.
- When boating, always wear a lifejacket.
- Before going out on an adventure, be sure to know the weather conditions during that time.
- Bring a smartphone or other devices that can help you call someone in case you need help.
- Before embarking on an outdoor adventure, let someone know of your plan.
What Tourists Need to Prepare for
Here are some important things you need to remember as a tourist visiting New Zealand.
- Go with the flow – booking and planning too much may sound like a good idea at first, but once you arrive at New Zealand, you’ll realize that you wish you hadn’t booked too much, as you’re almost always guaranteed to see better options.
- Enjoy each attraction – New Zealand is smaller than a lot of countries, but it has so much to offer. You can’t possibly go to every attraction. Don’t compromise giving each destination the time it deserves. Thoroughly enjoy each destination. For example, take 2 weeks to enjoy New Zealand’s North and South islands.
- Be friendly – New Zealanders are some of the friendliest people on Earth. Some can be shy though, but if you initiate by waving or smiling, or saying hello, then you will surely get that love back in return.
- Prepare for Jet lag – You will cross several time zones before arriving at New Zealand. Because of that, you will definitely experience jet lag. You should prepare yourself by drinking lots of water during the journey, reducing intake or not drinking alcohol altogether, and resting well during the flight.
Customs and Social Culture
Whenever you’re staying in another country, it’s really important to understand its local customs. However, this is easier said than done.
The best thing you can do to truly understand Kiwi culture is to take your time, immerse yourself in the environment, pay extra attention to little social differences, and keep an open mind.
Observe the locals. Watch what they do and if there’s something that confuses you, just ask and they will be more than willing to help you. New Zealanders are known to be friendly but reserved, or open but respectful.
New Zealanders love sharing food to other people. It is a way to strengthen the bond between a group of friends, and food and friendship really go hand in hand in New Zealand.
They also love bringing food to gatherings. One important component to socialization in the country is tea or coffee. Expect to be served tea or coffee when you are invited to visit a local’s home.
New Zealanders love to drink alcohol, but don’t worry if you don’t drink hard liquor. You can still go to someone’s house in New Zealand, politely let them know you don’t drink, and you will be served non-alcoholic beverages.
Socialization During Work
During work hours, its common to have social gatherings to eat and drink coffee or tea. During these special occasions, for example if a work colleague is having a birthday, people try to avoid talking about work.
Here are some common phrases you might hear:
- Shouting – this means someone is paying for the food or the drinks.
- Bring a plate – you tell this to someone if you want them to bring food to the social gathering.
Here are some common Kiwi manners you need to be familiar with:
- Kiwis are friendly but a bit reserved so try not to talk about matters that are too personal, like if they have children, are married or what their weight is.
- You can talk about weather, the sports, or how their weekend is, or how their children are doing. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.
- You can’t take your shoes inside someone’s home.
- You should not sit on tables or pillows.
- You might receive a kiss on the cheek as a greeting.
- Kiwis really love to help, so they don’t really like to say no directly, but in an indirect manner like “yeah nah” or “probably not.”
Natural Disasters in New Zealand
New Zealand’s geographical location make it seem vulnerable to all sorts of natural disasters.
For one, it is basically located in the middle of the ocean. For another, it is also located between two tectonic plates.
The risks include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, floods and storms. So what are the odds of these natural disasters happening in New Zealand?
Well, in New Zealand, as in many places in the world, the primary cause of death is not from a natural disaster, far from it actually, but physical illnesses.
In fact, according to recent studies, it is riskier to board an aircraft than to experience an earthquake or a similar disaster.
There have been 181 deaths due to Earthquakes in New Zealand from 1990 to 2012. So much more people have died from illnesses, mainly cancer, transportation accidents, accidents in general, and viral or bacterial diseases.
While the natural disasters are rare, New Zealand is still highly prepared for such occurrences to occur, and one of its primary objectives is to educate the masses about the risks posed by these disasters so that the general populace doesn’t lose perspective.
Earthquakes and Volcanic Activity
New Zealand has several active volcanoes. Moreover, it is located in a seismic zone so be always ready for earthquakes.
Here’s what you need to do in case of an earthquake happening:
- If you’re inside a building, drop cover and hold immediately. Stay inside and just leave if you’re sure that it’s already safe to get out.
- In an elevator, drop cover and hold as well. Get out to the nearest floor when you’re sure the shaking has stopped and it’s safe to exit.
- While outdoors, stay away from tall structures, like buildings, streetlights, trees and power lines, but don’t run too far away. Drop, cover and hold.
- At the beach or coastline, drop, cover and hold, and when the shaking stops, immediately go to high ground since there’s a possibility of a tsunami.
- While driving, pull over and park at a clear place. Wear your seatbelt and wait till the shaking stops. Then, proceed but stay away from ramps or bridges as they might be damaged.
- In the mountains, cliffs or slopes, watch out for landslides or debris.
Remember, in most cases, the injuries and deaths due to earthquakes are a result of collapsing buildings or bridges, flying glass or falling debris.
As a secondary after effect, earthquakes can also trigger many other disasters, such as tsunamis, fires, flash floods, avalanches and landslides.
After an earthquake, you should check yourself for possible injuries, listen to radio broadcasts for important announcements, and be on the alert for potential aftershocks.
In conclusion, New Zealand is pretty safe overall. Its most dangerous facets involve mother nature, traffic accidents, boating and beaches, and adventure sports. There are many adventurous people living in New Zealand, and accidents do happen. And of course you have the occasional problems involving individuals and small communities.
It’s not 100 percent safe, but the government is taking proactive measures to make it even safer than it already is. Some of the things the government have done that have vastly contributed to the country’s enhanced peace situation include the following:
- Strengthened gun control laws
- Measures to help mitigate child abuse and domestic violence by providing refuge to victims, giving the people more avenues to report incidents, and toughening the ability to arrest violators.
- Public awareness campaigns on several matters, including mental health, racism, sexism, and all sorts of violence, among others.
Because of these measures and of New Zealand’s solid foundations in general, the country has consistently ranked about Global rankings when it comes to peace. If you’re one who’s interested in working abroad, you should definitely consider working and living in New Zealand. Kia Ora!