Moving from US to NZ for 3 months...tips?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by hayduke, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #1
    We are headed to Auckland, NZ for three months (Jan-Mar) and are looking for tips about anything and everything. My wife and two kids (1 and 3 YO) will be with me. We've already found a furnished house in Remuera, have a car figured out, and have the phone/internet figured out too. Mostly I'm interested in some tips on how to juggle the exchange rates and tips about places to go and things to see. We'll probably do a lot of day and overnight trips from Auckland.

    Specifically, does anyone have any ideas about how to lose the *least* amount of money with the exchange rates? I don't usually worry about it for a 1 or 2 week trip, but 3 months is a different game. I've thought about bringing traveller's cheques and opening a bank account so that I can use local ATMS etc and pay the rent with a local check. I also want to find a US credit card that has minimal fees for foreign charges. Any suggestions? Not sure if I can get an NZ credit card. What is the best way to handle this? I just paid US$35 to wire money to secure the house. Ouch!
     
  2. theBB macrumors 68020

    theBB

    Joined:
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    #2
    Well, I don't have any experience with NZ in particular, but here is what I can think of:

    I think all Visa and MasterCard credit cards you can get in the US charges 3% transaction fee for your purchases in a foreign country's currency. However, they might also get you a better exchange rate than what you can get at the currency exchange shops on street corners. At least in Europe banks refuse to do any small scale currency exchange, so the only way you can take advantage of interbank rates may be using a credit card. Besides, not having to carry cash might be worth 3%. If Travelers' Cheques get stolen, I don't know how protected you would be compared to cash.

    I would check to make sure you can open a bank account over in NZ. If so, carrying Travelers' cheques to open a bank account is probably gonna cost you only about 0.5%-1% in fees. Probably the lowest charge you can get. Make sure the bank in NZ does not charge you a transaction fee for depositing them into your new account.
     
  3. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    #3
    Waiheke Island is a lovely little trip. It's an hour or so ride on the car ferry from the mainland. Some lovely beaches, vineyards, &c.
     
  4. pknz macrumors 68020

    pknz

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    #4
    Mmmm Waiheke is nice.

    What sort of stuff are you into?

    Keen to travel while you are in NZ?
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    I'm not going to recommend anything very specific, but if you have 10-14 days, you can see a great deal of the south island. :) There's just more to do on the south island, I think.
     
  6. erconway1943 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    #6
    Exchange here before you go

    Depending on where you are currently living, you might check with a local bank on buying NZ funds now. You could look into the recent market history and judge if there is a financial advantage. The big advantage is no fees unless your current institution would charge you something. In the end, one thing for certain. Take time to smell the roses. Life is short. ENJOY!
     
  7. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #7
    there is a damn fine Indian shop in Nelson. You'd be a fool if you didn't go there.
     
  8. hayduke thread starter macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #8
    Thanks for the replies thus far.

    I'll look into exchanging in the US and taking the cash with us, but carry a lot of cash isn't ideal. Traveler's Checks are nice because you have to countersign them and if they are lost/stolen they are generally replaced promptly (I've done this before whilst kicking about in southern Africa). If I recall, however, there is a fee for purchasing traveller's checks as well. Also, I've heard that CapitolOne does not charge transaction fees for foreign exchange, but I can't verify that yet.

    I've heard a lot about Waiheke and will definitely check it out. In general we are into beaches and hiking, but at a different pace than in the past. The kids aren't interested in hard core backpacking. They just want to go to the park/zoo/beach/picnic for a few hours.

    We'll probably end up on the South Island for one or two week long trips.
     
  9. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #9
    I'm not sure about NZ, but in France, we were hard-pressed to find shops willing to accept Travelers Checks. And we were traveling with a Frenchman to boot!

    Your mileage may vary....
     
  10. foidulus macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    #10
    ATM is the way to go

    I have been living in Europe but been paid in dollars for the last 2.5 years, and I ONLY exchange money through an ATM. Talk to your bank about fees(and being able to use your card overseas), but its the way to go. Cash exchanges and even travelers check exchanges tend to involve too many fees. Whenever I use my ATM card, I get about the same rate that I find on Yahoo finance.

    Your bank may charge extra fees on top of that(I have a deal with my bank that allows me to get unlimited foreign currency withdrawals for $50 a year), and you might want to change banks before you go.

    Regardless, thanks to Bush the dollar is pretty much at record lows worldwide and wherever you go things are going to be expensive.....:rolleyes:
     
  11. pknz macrumors 68020

    pknz

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    Location:
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    #11
    Auckland
    Harbour Bridge climb/bungy
    'Hole in the Rock' Cruise
    Swim with Dolphins
    Kelly Tarltons
    Waiheke
    Rangitoto

    Waitomo
    Glowworm caves

    Queenstown
    Bungy Jump
    Gondola
    Skydive
    Shotover Jet
    Milford Sound Cruise
    Earnslaw Cruise

    Kaikoura
    Swim with whales/dolphins/seals

    Franz Josef/Fox Glacier

    also, if keen white water or black water rafting can be done in quite a few locations.

    101 Must-do's for Kiwis
    Things to do in New Zealand
    NZ Tourism
    Also, you can visit MagnumMac for all your Mac needs. Two stores in Auckland, and a store in all large cities.
     
  12. sunfast macrumors 68020

    sunfast

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  13. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #13
    My tip: eat a cricket.

    Hey so you're just moving for 3 months? Is this a dream vacation or do you have to work?
     
  14. mac-convert macrumors 6502a

    mac-convert

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    Are we there yet?
    #14
    Also, make sure you have a good camera. This sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity. You'll look back later and treasure it.

    And - isn't it summertime there?
     
  15. atari1356 macrumors 68000

    atari1356

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    Feb 27, 2004
  16. Davowade macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    #16
    Ok, some general tips.

    * Drivers in Auckland are pretty crazy.
    * Get some really really good sunscreen and avoid sunburn like the plague.
    * EVERYWHERE in NZ pretty much has EFTPOS for paying with an ATM or credit card, so even try setting up an NZ bank account.
    * The northern beaches are great, try Omaha, Tawharanui, Pakiri and Waipu cove for day trips.
    [​IMG]

    Also if you like mountainbiking, try woodhill in auckland's west. One of my favorite spots.
     
  17. hayduke thread starter macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #17
    Great tips and links. I'll have to look into the EFTPOS thing more. Sounds like it is basically a debit card set-up via an NZ bank, but it directly transfers the money to the retailer. The bank makes money by charging the buyer and renting EFTPOS equipment to the merchant. Does that sound right? Anyone know if a non-Kiwi can easily set-up an NZ bank account?

    The trip is a mix of work and play. I work in academic research, so I have some projects that I'll spend time on while there, but my understanding is that the folks I'll work with don't work the hours that I do in the states. I should be able to work less, play more, and travel on the weekends, plus at least two two-week trips.
     
  18. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #18
    You're correct on how Eftpos generally works - think of it like a US debit card that doesn't require a credit card logo for you to use it. I highly recommend opening a bank account and using Eftpos whenever possible, reserving your credit card only for large purchases (like plane tickets) where the additional consumer protection would come in handy. That 3% fee will really slam you on small purchases once they start to add up. (Oh, and I have a Capital One card myself, and I can tell you that they definitely DO charge you a conversion fee. Bastards.)

    Since you'll be there for a fair amount of time, I would open an account and transfer a lump sum all in one go, so you will only pay one currency exchange fee. I opened an account with ASB, which has a Migrant Banking branch on (I believe) Albert Street in Auckland - they specialize in short-term accounts for travellers and will give you the best rates for your situation. Generally most landlords prefer you to pay rent via direct debit, which is another reason it's helpful to open a bank account. People rarely use checks here.

    Remuera is a lovely neighborhood and very convenient to the CBD. Auckland drivers are crazy, yes, but so are all other big-city drivers. Just don't get freaked out by the lefthand-side-of-the-road thing and you'll be fine. And avoid the Harbour Bridge at rush hour if at all possible. ;)

    Your kids will love the Auckland Zoo, it's one of the best zoos I've ever been to. Kelly Tarlton's is also nice, a fairly small aquarium but still good for the kids. Mission Bay is a great little neighborhood along Tamaki Drive with ice cream parlors and a little beach, only like a 10 minute drive from Remuera. Piha is also a good beach to the west, but be careful of the water as there are powerful riptides there. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Paihia and the Bay of Islands to the north, if you have a long weekend (particularly for Waitangi Day as it sounds like you'll be there over February). I spent five months there and it's an absolute paradise. Fishing, dolphin swimming, great nightlife, historical stuff...plus the best weather in the country. I'm in Wellington at the moment and it's JUUUUUST starting to get warm, so looks like you'll make it here just as the last of the nasty windy weather starts moving out...lucky you, lol.
     
  19. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #19
    :)

    OP, prepare yourself for the best fish and chips in the world, and the miracle that is hokey-pokey icecream.
     
  20. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

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    Aug 25, 2006
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    New Zealand
    #20
    And bubble 'n squeak. ;)
     
  21. hayduke thread starter macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #21
    Great tips BadlyDrawnGirl & BlueVelvet. I suppose I'll learn about hokey-pokey and bubble-n-squeak in a few months. I'll see if I can't get an account set-up before we arrive. Not sure if that is possible. Does ASB have ATMs all over Auckland and all of NZ? Or do they only offer EFTPOS?
     
  22. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #22
    Sorry, can't help you there. I left NZ for London almost 20 years ago. :eek:

    BadlyDrawnGirl, you have a PM. :)
     
  23. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #23
    All banks in New Zealand offer Eftpos (as far as I'm aware). ASB has ATMs pretty much all over the place - and I believe you can set up an account before you get there, just go to asbbank.co.nz and have a hunt around and see what you can find. Even if you can't, it's not a big hassle to set it up at the Migrant Banking branch once you're there. Just take an adequate amount of cash and have your credit card on hand to tide you over for the first few days, and your transfer should go through in one or two days.

    BlueVelvet, checking it now. ;)
     
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Location Location Location
    #24
    Best fush and chups in the world = Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia. They have convinced me that it's true.
     
  25. BadlyDrawnGirl macrumors member

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    Location:
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    #25
    They're wrong; it's in Mangonui. :D
     

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