You will be able to make most of the purchases you need in your first few days here using your credit card. Practically all shops and businesses in New Zealand accept the major cards.
It is a good idea to use cash for some purchases. For example, taxis put a surcharge on fares paid with a card.
You can get cash from ATMs (automatic teller machines). They are easy to find here and they all have the Cirrus and Plus interbanking systems, so if you still have an account in your home country you will be able to access that.
Sooner rather than later you will need a local card, linked to a New Zealand bank. For information about setting up a bank account here check our Money and Tax section.
Shoppers’ rights in New Zealand are well protected by the Consumer Guarantees Act. The government's Consumer Protection website has all the details.
The Commerce Commission also has information about consumer rights in different languages.
Where to buy food
New Zealand supermarkets are open seven days a week until quite late in the evening. As well as food and drink, supermarkets here sell various household items. If you are aged 18 or over you can also buy wine and beer in supermarkets.
- If you are not able to get to a supermarket, you can choose from a smaller range of food items at a local ‘dairy’. A dairy is the Kiwi name for a small convenience or corner store.
- Some petrol stations sell basic food and household items too.
- You can usually find food from your home country in ethnic grocery stores.
- If you are a Muslim and have halal requirements, you can find halal butcheries and food stores in many suburbs.
- Most suburbs have cafes, restaurants and takeaway (takeout food) outlets.
Where to buy other things
New Zealanders get around by car, so the larger retailers tend to set up shop on cheaper land on the edge of town. They will either have their own store - sometimes a ‘mega store’ - or they will be part of a shopping centre, sitting alongside smaller specialty stores. Most New Zealand cities and towns have at least one shopping centre.
Most retailers are open at least six days a week, from 9:00am to 5pm. Weekend hours are sometimes limited in smaller towns.
- For larger purchases it pays to shop around. Stores regularly have sales and you can save money if you are prepared to wait for these.
- Bargaining is not common in New Zealand - shops usually stick to the advertised prices.
- The online shopping information company PriceMe has a price comparison tool you can use to get an idea of who the main retailers are here and what you might expect to pay for things.
- Another great way to save is by buying ‘recycled’, ‘second hand’ or ‘used’ goods. New Zealanders are great at this. Browsing TradeMe (our home-grown equivalent to eBay or Craigslist), where you can buy virtually anything second hand, is something of a national pastime.
- You can also get excellent bargains and ‘retro’ finds at the charity shops or ‘opshops’ that you will find in most towns and cities.