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Gap Year New Zealand :: essentials :: money and banks

Money and Banks

You'll get used to the New Zealand dollar and with 2.6 to the pound you'll have lots of them to get rid of! Plus their notes are made of plastic so you can go swimming with them in your pocket...

:: NZ Currency

The currency in New Zealand is the NZ Dollar. Currently you will get around 2.6 dollars to the pound. The money is made up of the following denominations: 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 in notes and 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, $1 and $2 in coins. The notes are made of plastic which is extra handy when you want to head off into the sea or forget to take it out of your washing!

:: Taking Your Money To NZ

There are a number of ways to get your cash out to NZ. Firstly, you can purchase travellers cheques and then exchange them in banks, hotels or exchange booths when you arrive. Alternatively, you can take cash out of a cash point, if you have a Maestro or Visa symbol on your cash card. It's worth noting that the charges to do this are between £1-2.50, so take out a fair amount of money at a time. Thirdly, once you have opened a bank account you can make an international money transfer from the UK.

:: Bank Accounts

If you are heading out to New Zealand for the year you will have no problem opening a bank account. You will need to show two forms of ID and then deposit an initial amount. A quick way to put your UK cash into your NZ account is to use the cash machines in the branch and then take the money to the teller. Employers will usually want your bank details so they can pay your wages in directly.

:: Credit/Debit Cards

You will be able to use UK credit and debit cards in NZ if they are either Visa or Mastercard. Kiwi cards use the EFTPOS system which is similar to our new Chip and Pin payment method. When you open an NZ bank account you will be issued with one of these cards.

:: Tax – All you need to know about everybody’s favourite subject!

There’s nothing like tax to confuse things, is there?! Unfortunately, whether you’re visiting or making a home for yourself, you’ll need to get to grips with these various rules. Take a look at our simplified guide below to try and get your head round it all!

Goods and Services Tax

Almost everything you buy in New Zealand will be subject to12.5% GST and prices usually include this charge. This tax is very similar to VAT in the UK. When purchasing more expensive items, we’d definitely recommend that you check with the retailer that GST is included to avoid any nasty surprises at the till. Visitors cannot claim this tax back as they can in other countries. However, when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor's home country address the GST will not be charged. Try contacting the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) for more details on this.


It’s worth remembering that international air and sea travel is, thankfully, free of GST!

Tax File Number

While working in New Zealand and getting paid you will have to pay taxes. Your employer will automatically deduct taxes from your wages, with the rate depending on how much you earn.

Once you’ve got yourself a permanent address or employer in New Zealand you’ll need to apply for an IRD number by completing an IRD number application (IR595). The best way to do this is to check out their website, where you’ll find everything you need to know and the correct forms to download. We suggest that when applying for the IRD number you use the address of your employer.

Once completed you must take this form, along with two forms of identification, to one of the PostShops, selected New Zealand Post retails outlets or AA Driver Licensing Agents. To find one of these locations take a look at the White Pages directory listed below. You’ll probably have to wait for around 8-10 days to get your IRD number; if you need it urgently give the IRD office a ring and they should be able to help you.

Remember, if you open a bank account during your stay in the country you should also provide the bank with this number.


White Pages –

Tax Refunds

It is possible that you’ll be eligible for a tax return when you leave New Zealand. In order to check your eligibility and claim this, you’ll need to make a formal claim and must be able to provide your IRD number with a bank account number or details of a credit card account into which the amount can be paid. It’s best to contact the IRD around a month before you leave the country and let them know that you’re a non-resident who has been working in New Zealand, and wish to claim the tax owed to you. They will be able to send you the appropriate forms to complete on finishing your job. These will need to be returned to the IRD with your bank or card details. It’ll be worth it in the end!

Departure Tax

On leaving New Zealand you will be charged Departure Tax, normally a charge of around $25 which will not be included in the price of your flight.


Tipping in New Zealand is at the customer’s discretion, although a 10-15% tip is recommended for a good restaurant with excellent service. Always check the bill as service is occasionally included. Tipping is expected in bars, pubs and taxis, usually at a rate of around 10%. If you’re staying in hotels, you should also tip hotel staff as their meagre wages rely on top-ups from guests.






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