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Birds in New Zealand

Before there were humans in New Zealand, there were animals and loud ones at that! There were initially a lot of birds, but wings became unnecessary for some, as they did not have predators that they needed to fly away from. The kakapo parrot, the takahe and the moa (which is now extinct) are all examples of flightless birds. The Maori and Europeans brought with them predators to these birds, such as rats and other animals. These predators, combined with the lessening and loss of habitat, led to a number of these birds becoming extinct, or, at the very least, lessened in number.

New Zealand’s national symbol is actually one of these flightless birds. It has nostrils on the end of the beak and is called the kiwi. The kiwi is endangered, and hard to find in nature. Many kiwi houses exist at zoos, parks and preservation locations, to prevent them from becoming extinct. These birds require experts to handle them, as they can be extremely dangerous and territorial; if you do happen to see a kiwi in the wild, do not approach it.

Other birds native to New Zealand include:

  • The kea is one of the most intelligent birds in the entire world. These birds are known to be playful, sometimes to the point that they can be a nuisance to humans. For example, they will attack houses or cars, just to steal some rubber
  • The weka is actually cute as far as birds go. It is also a flightless bird and is known to take, and hoard, shiny objects
  • The takahe is known for its indigo feathers that contrast with its red beak
  • The tui has a natural collar and has a song that could make you melt
  • The morepork owl got its name from its call, that is heard most often after the sun goes down

Different Casinos in New Zealand

If gambling in a casino isn’t your thing, isn’t accessible or seems like a lot of work, New Zealand allows and has several different online gambling platform such as gamblers.co.nz which is only one of many. This offers a more accessible experience. Both on and offline gambling is a somewhat controversial topic and whether it should be encouraged or not is up for discussion.

There are five land based casinos that operate in New Zealand. Let’s take a look at each:

  • Dunedin Casino; This casino has been around since 1999 and is located in, you guessed it, Dunedin. The Gambling commission suspended their gambling license briefly in 2006 after it was brought to light that a woman gambled over $6.5 million over three years, something that is not ethical or legal.
  • Christchurch Casino; This casino is located in the city of Christchurch. It is one of the biggest in the country and was opened in 1994. At the time that it opened, it was the first in the country. There are over 500 slot machines and over 34 table games. In addition, if you are hungry or thirsty, there are three restaurants and two bars. You do have to be 20 to enter.
  • SkyCity Auckland; This is both a casino and event centre located in the Business District of Auckland. It was the second casino that opened in the country and still remains the only one in Auckland. There are over 1600 gaming machines and 100 tables but also a theatre that seats over 700 people, 12 different restaurants and bars and even two hotels.
  • SKYCITY Hamilton; This casino and event location opened in 2002 and is owned by SkyCity. The complex is a casino, 9 restaurants, a function centre and a bowling alley all in one.
  • SKYCITE Queenstown; Since 2000 this casino has been serving the Queenstown area. It has 8 tab;le games, 86 machines and even more in the VIP lounge.

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand is very different from driving in the United States. Here are some of the main rules of the road to help you be great driver in New Zealand:

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road.

New Zealand drive on the left hand side of the road which means the driver sits on the right. This can be hard to get used to. One way to keep yourself in line is to make sure that your body as the driver is in the middle of road and your passenger should be on the edge of the road.

  • Stay Alert;

The driver must always stay alert and not let themselves get too tired. If you are jet lagged, tired after a long day or not prepared to drive, then take a break, take a rest or have someone else drive. Be safe and be smart, especially when in a different country.

  • Many New Zealand roads are windy, steep or narrow.

A variety of conditions make the roads in New Zealand a little tricky, even for those who live in the country and frequent the roads. This means that for tourists, visitors and those new to the area, these roads can be dangerous, hard to manoeuvre and require a lot of focus and attention as well as confidence.

  • Drive sober;

Make sure not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol for your own safety, the safety of others in the car as well as the safety of others on the road. Be aware of your state and make sure to make a backup plan in the event that you have or may have had too much to drink

  • Have emergency numbers in your phone.

This is a good idea in case you break down in a rural area or you require immediate assistance.

Banking and Currency in New Zealand

In New Zealand, the currency is the New Zealand dollar and it is known to rise and fall with the prices of its key exports, such as dairy products. The currency is known to be volatile and therefore risky for investors, but often pay off well.

Currently the NZD is worth 0.66USD which is relatively standard, with some day to day fluctuations. The New Zealand Dollar is currently worth 0.56 Euros which has gone down steadily over the last month, having gone from 0.58 EUR to 0.56 in a matter of just hours.

The coins come in 10, 20 and 50 cents as well as one and two dollar coins and the notes or bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars, very similar to the denominations of Canadian coins and bills. However, the 1, 2 and 5 cent coins have recently been discontinued so some prices are subject to rounding, either up or down, depending on the price. Since they use the Swedish rounding system, anything ending in 1-4 is rounded down and 6-9 is rounded up.

Speaking of foreign currency, you can trade your foreign currency for New Zealand dollars at hotels, banks and even designated kiosks.

Interestingly, despite the volatile currency, there is absolutely no restriction on the amount of your home or foreign currency that can be brought in or taken with you from New Zealand, the only requirement is the completion of a form for amounts greater than NZ$10 000.

In terms of taxes, goods and services see a 15% tax, known as the GST which is always included in the price you see on the price tag. The only time you will not have to pay GST is if you have a major purchase shipped to your home address.