Tag Archives: New Zealand Travel

New Electronic Transport Authority: A recipe for chaos and confusion?

New Zealand ETA Visa - A Recipe for Chaos and Confusion

On February 25th, the details of the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) were confirmed by the New Zealand Government. The ETA, as described by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), is a “security and facilitation measure that will help speed things up at the border”.

Travellers who are required to hold an ETA before they travel to New Zealand will include:

• Travellers from visa waiver countries
• Australian permanent residents (with the exception of Australian passport holders)
• All cruise ship passengers, regardless of nationality
• Air and cruise crew

People in these groups will be able to apply for the ETA from next month, with the authority becoming mandatory to those wishing to enter the country from October 1st.

Applications for the ETA will vary in cost, from NZD $9.00 (if done via a mobile application) to NZD $12.00 (if done via the website). The decision process will take up to 72 hours (except in the case of emergency, which will require a different process and cost) and isn’t to replace any existing immigration requirements.

The initial application fees are said to cover the cost of running the systems, which will exceed $14 million per annum. The government will also implement a Tourism and Conservation Levy of $35 per person, which will go towards conservation and infrastructure costs. The levy, which exempts Australian Permanent Residents, will last for the same duration as the ETA.

The short timeframe between the introduction of the ETA and the date it becomes mandatory – which happens to fall in the middle of the official “China New Zealand Year of Tourism”–  will result in serious complications at the border. This raises the question: why can’t the government just slow down and do it properly?

The obvious answer? Revenue and possibly to keep pace with other partners in the international security network that have introduced the same thing.

While the initial application costs seem somewhat modest, there’s no doubt that $12 for every visa waiver visitor annually covers more than just implementation and admin costs. There is also no doubt that, like any tax or revenue-gathering exercise, this fee will soon increase.

Despite INZ’s claim that the authority is set to “speed things up at the border”, the rushed implementation of the system – and resulting lack of awareness for ill-informed travellers – will simply create chaos and confusion.

What will happen if someone fails to obtain an ETA in advance of trying to get on their flight? Will they be prevented from boarding? Or, if they are allowed to travel but arrive in New Zealand without an ETA, what will happen then? Are they stuck in the airport having to apply for the ETA before they pass through the border? As well as the 72-hour turnaround on applications the government has specified there must be an additional 72 hours’ gap between obtaining the authority and travelling. Are the travellers expected to wait out these six days at the airport?

This issue is especially concerning for visa waiver travellers who have already purchased tickets to travel prior to the implementation of the ETA. Because they have the waiver, these travellers have no reason to look at the INZ website and discover these changes. And, as they already have their tickets, there’ll be no opportunity for travel agents to warn them either.

Another major issue is cruise ship passengers. Kevin O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of the NZ Cruise Association, fears passengers will simply be turned away from the country. He’s advised that boarding 3500 passengers onto a ship already takes a considerable amount of time – anything that slows this down further could be detrimental for cruise liners.

A recent Cabinet paper suggests the tourism industry will see visitor numbers decrease by about 15,000 by 2021 – along with a $51 million hit to visitor spending – simply due to the introduction and associated fees of the Tourism and Conservation Levy. Throw in the costs and complications, waiting times, chaos, and confusion of the Electronic Travel Authority, and one can only wonder what blow the industry is about to take.

 

For more information on travelling to New Zealand, check out our article What You Should Know Before You Visit New Zealand

What you should know before you visit New Zealand

What you should know before you visit New ZealandSo, you’re thinking of coming to Nuw Zulund? Choice. We’ll be heaps stoked to see ya.

If that makes no sense, this article is for you. We’ve covered as much as we can about our big-little country to give you a heads up (before you visit New Zealand) on what you’re about to get yourself into .

You may know we’re a small country in the pacific, and we get the occasional mention from John Oliver. But there’s probably lots of things you don’t know about us. We’re often forgotten about on world maps, so we don’t really blame you.

If you have spotted us on a map, you’ll know we consist of two (and a half) islands.

Contrary to belief, we are not part of Australia. Nor can you walk there on a low tide.

We have a population of 4.794 million people, spread somewhat unevenly across 268,021 km2. Population is particularly dense around the city of Auckland.

The climate is good, as is the coffee, and we kinda do all know each other. We have a pretty relaxed attitude to most things (except rugby). Our speed limits are slow, but our sunburn comes on fast (not sure who put that hole in the ozone layer but it’s a bit inconvenient). And we don’t tip at restaurants.

So, what else do you need to know before you visit New Zealand? Read on.

Food

What do Kiwis eat? The typical New Zealand diet isn’t just hokey pokey ice cream and pāua fritters (ok, maybe in summer). We’re also famous for Pineapple Lumps, lamingtons, feijoas, kūmara, pavlova, mānuka honey, and the highly regarded kina (although it’s a bit of an acquired taste … and texture). Make sure you try some of these specialities while you’re here.

Thanks to our rich soils, nationwide close proximity to the ocean, and good climate, we are also spoilt with high-quality grass-fed meats, seafood, dairy products, and flavourful fruit and vegetables.

You’ll be able to find a weekly farmers market near most towns. These will give you a chance to experience all of the above as well as artisan products – bread, olive oils, honey, and so on.

When dining out, you’ll generally find most types of cuisine. New Zealand food is generally a mixture of various international influences, predominantly western – with a kiwi twist, of course. There isn’t a huge fine-dining presence, but you will find cuisine of every nationality and dietary requirement. If you are a carnivore, you must try a hot mince pie, which can be found almost anywhere that sells food (or petrol).

Hāngi is a traditional Māori method of cooking food in an “umu”, or earth oven. Layered trays of meat and vegetables are placed inside the umu atop some very hot rocks, then covered with wet cloth and soil before being left to steam for around 4 hours. A hāngi is as much an experience as it is a “mean feed”. There’s usually lots of people of all ages, and everyone has a part to play. If you get a chance to go to a hāngi on your visit to New Zealand, we definitely recommend it.

Language We have three official languages in New Zealand: English, Te Reo (or Māori language), and sign language. English (pronounced “Inglush”) is the most widely used.

Accent Apparently New Zealanders have the world’s sexiest accent. Don’t worry – we’re as confused as you are. As Damien Barr has previously advised: “Anyone attempting to speak Kiwi [needs to] simply swap ‘e’ with ‘i’”. So ‘eggs’ become ‘iggs’, and so on. This can often get us in a bit of strife – say, if one was to say “there was six on the deck”, or “he may be dead”, as shown by Flight of the Conchords.

Nature New Zealand is known for its beautiful natural resources, which we love. We’re a small country, so most places have access to several different natural environments. The furthest place inland (from the beach) is only 120 km away, and even that has a river. We’ve got some great bushy reserves, too.

We also love our native animals. The ocean has an abundance of beautiful creatures – whales, dolphins, penguins, etc. And don’t get us started on our birds. We have heaps of choice birds.

If you visit New Zealand, it’s imperative our natural resources are respected. Don’t touch the wildlife, take only photos, leave only footprints, and be aware of any places deemed “tapu” (or sacred) by Māori.

Dress New Zealanders are a casual bunch. Of course, we dress up for special occasions, such as meeting the Prime Minister – provided you haven’t just bumped into her at the shops. Business men and women dress quite corporate, and a very fancy event may require a tuxedo, but don’t be alarmed if you see someone wearing pyjamas to the supermarket (not everyone condones this). Also, bare feet are usually an acceptable form of footwear (this does not mean we are hobbits).

Speaking of Hobbits, Middle Earth is not just west of Wellington. We are not hobbits (some of us are quite tall), and if you go to Milford Sound, you shall pass (if you wish). But if you’re looking for your LOTR fix, you can visit the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata and the land of Mordor in Tongariro National Park.

Politics Jacinda Ardern. Need we say more?

LOTR, Jacinda Ardern, and our sexy accent is not all we’re famous for. OK, no need to bring up the sheep thing – we’re past that. We were first to allow women to vote, split the atom, climb Mount Everest, walk on Antarctica, and bungy jump. We invented the aeroplane, jogging, and the jet unit. We created lamingtons, pavlova, and beef Wellington. We’re also the homeland of Bruce McLaren, Sam Neill, Lorde, Stephen Adams, Sandro Kopp, Jean Batten, Taika Waititi, Rachel Hunter, Burt Munro, and more …. the list is long!

And finally …

Rugby Which we don’t need to really explain; you’ll hear all about it when you get here.

So if you’re ready to dip your bare-footed toes into the pacific waters of New Zealand, explore the land lurking under the long white cloud or try decipher the yarns of Aotearoa-eans, we welcome you, with wide-open sunburnt arms. The kettle’s on already.

And if you get here and fall in love with the place (or just our sexy accent) then pop on down to the NZIL office and we’ll jog you through the journey. Kai pai.