Mission Of The Month: Get an adrenalin rush in New Zealand - but avoid nasty shocks
Spring is coming to the Southern Hemisphere and the sun is starting to soften the snowfields. From the Southern Alps to sub-tropical Northland, bars are full of British tourists telling tales of adventure during their stays in the land of the long white cloud, or Aotearoa – the Maori name for New Zealand. Many holidays here are not seen as complete unless they involve an adrenalin rush.
Most sky dives, bungee jumps, or jet boat adventures pass off without incident. But things can go wrong and when they do, some of the biggest problems are when people did not realise their insurance didn't cover them for the activity concerned. If you're seriously injured, getting back to the UK without insurance can be ruinously expensive.
Each year, around 280,000 Brits travel to New Zealand. Being half a world away, most British travellers put plenty of thought into their trip and most visits are trouble-free. When things do go wrong there are some familiar patterns to the work done by the High Commission's consular team and the NZ police.
The most frequent call is for a new passport, with many cases arising from camper van robberies. While camper vans are an excellent way to see the country, they are also attractive to thieves.
New Zealand's serious road accident rate is higher than the UK's. As there aren't any inter-city motorways, long drives are often through stunning scenery that affect concentration. Attempting this straight off a long-haul flight is particularly foolish: on these roads, tiredness really does kill.
However, on the whole, New Zealand is magnificent. So come on down, but plan well and avoid a trip to the High Commission.
Mike Cherrett is Deputy High Commissioner at the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand. For travel advice on New Zealand, and for travel everywhere else on the planet, see www.fco.gov.uk/travel.
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