You’ll 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’s a good idea however 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’re 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’ll be able to access that.
Sooner rather than later you’ll 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 Ministry of Consumer Affairs site has all the detailShopping | Consumer Affairs
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’re aged 18 or over you can also buy wine and beer in supermarkets.
If you can’t 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.
Likewise, some petrol stations have basic food and household items.
Most suburbs have cafes, restaurants and takeaway 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’ll either have their own store - sometimes a ‘mega store’ - or they’ll 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. Bartering isn’t common - shops usually stick to the advertised prices.
Stores regularly have sales and it can pay to wait for these.
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 score excellent bargains and ‘retro’ finds at the charity shops, or ‘opshops’ you’ll find in most towns and cities.