4 Best Ways to Take Travel Money to New Zealand in 2023
New Zealand is a super popular destination for Australian visitors, as well as a great expat location for people looking to live, work or study somewhere new. In fact, recent figures show that more than 40% of all visitors to New Zealand are from Australia - higher than the pre-Covid percentages.
If you’re planning your trip to New Zealand, use this handy guide to pick from 4 popular ways to take money to New Zealand, so you’ll be able to conveniently pay for things when you arrive, without excessive fees.
Best ways to take money to New Zealand
In this guide we’ll walk through 4 of the most practical and popular ways to take money to New Zealand, including our top picks for providers to look at, pros and cons. Here are the common ways to pay overseas that we’ll investigate:
Prepaid travel cards to use in New Zealand
Ideal for: setting your NZD budget in advance and making secure and convenient payments and withdrawals on arrival, with low fees and good exchange rates
Because New Zealand is a popular destination for Australian travellers, you won’t struggle to find a prepaid travel card you can top up in AUD and use for spending in NZD. There are several popular options on the market, from online specialist services, providers like Travelex or even the Post Office.
Prepaid travel money cards are usually linked to a multi-currency digital account which you’ll fund in advance of travel, and then top up as needed, with a card or bank transfer in AUD. Some cards ask you to switch from AUD to the currency you need before spending, while others will do the conversion automatically at the point of payment. Check the rules for the card you’ve picked as there are sometimes extra foreign transaction fees to pay if you don’t switch your funds over in advance, which can push up costs unnecessarily.
Travel money cards usually support several currencies - and in some cases, dozens. That means that it’s also worth looking out for a card with no inactivity fee and no ongoing charges, so you can just top up and use it again on your next trip to a country which uses a supported currency.
Wise - our pick for prepaid travel card
With this card:
- Hold and exchange 40+ currencies in your linked Wise account
- No annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement
- Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup
- Some free ATM withdrawals available every month
- Virtual and physical cards available
|Wise card pros||Wise card cons|
|✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate
✅ No foreign transaction fees apply
✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies
✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies
✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees
|❌ 10 AUD fee to get a card in the first place
❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limits to 2 per month, to the value of 350 AUD. Fees of 2% + 1.5 AUD after that
❌ Express delivery fees if you want to get your card as soon as possible
Pros and cons of taking money to New Zealand with a prepaid travel card
- New Zealand dollars are supported on most prepaid travel cards available in Australia
- Many cards support multiple currencies so you can use them again on your next trip
- Safe to use, as your prepaid card isn’t linked to your main everyday account
- Cards are available with no minimum balance or ongoing fees to pay
- Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
- Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
- ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
- Some cards charge a fee if you spend in an unsupported currency, or if you spend a currency you don’t hold in your account already
Travel debit cards to use in the New Zealand
Ideal for: no interest or penalty fees to pay for convenient spending in New Zealand with low fees and fair exchange rates
Travel debit cards are available from specialist services, or from your bank. Where they differ from your standard debit card is that you can also usually get travel perks and benefits, like insurance or airport lounge access, plus lower overall costs for overseas spending.
While you may be able to get a debit card from a bank, cards from digital specialist services can have some advantages. They’re often backed by a multi-currency digital account which can hold and exchange dozens of currencies. That means your card can be used beyond one trip to New Zealand if you pick one with low fees and a good selection of supported currencies. It’s also a handy way to set your budget in advance - just convert to the currency you need for spending before you travel and it’s easy to track your live spend in the destination currency (NZD in this case).
Another advantage of using a specific travel debit card rather than your bank card is security. If your travel card was lost or stolen there’s no connection to your everyday account, so you can simply freeze the card without worrying about anyone accessing your primary AUD funds.
We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - Revolut - next, and you can also read more about the best travel debit cards in Australia here.
Revolut - our pick for travel debit card for New Zealand
With this card:
- Hold and exchange 25+ currencies, free to spend currencies you hold
- Choose the account plan that suits your needs and spending, including some with no monthly fees
- Some fee free ATM withdrawals and currency exchange with the mid-market rate, based on the account tier you choose
- Extra perks like accounts for under 18s, plus cash back on card spending for top tier account holders
- Travel benefits offered for some account plans
|Revolut card pros||Revolut card cons|
|✅ Hold and exchange 25+ currencies, spend currencies you hold for free
✅ Choose from different account tiers to suit different customer needs
✅ Get some free ATM withdrawals every month, depending on the plan you pick
✅ Get some currency exchange every month which uses the mid-market rate - limits vary by account plan
✅ No card order fee
|❌ Ongoing fees apply for some account tiers
❌ Out of hours fees push up currency exchange costs on the weekend
❌ ATM fees of 2% apply once you exhaust your free withdrawals
Pros and cons of taking money to New Zealand with a travel debit card
- Top up in AUD in advance and switch over to NZD easily before you travel
- Spend and make ATM withdrawals with no interest, cash advance or penalty fees
- Many cards from specialist services are linked to multi-currency accounts you can use on future trips too
- Not connected to your main AUD account, adding a layer of security when you’re overseas
- Some transaction fees usually apply
- You may pay a fee when converting from one currency to another, which may be split out transparently, but which is often just rolled up in the exchange rate you get
- Some cards have monthly fees to pay to get full feature access
Taking cash in New Zealand
Ideal for: small purchases and tipping, and as a back up plan in case your card is out of action
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand publishes interesting information about how commonly cash is used in New Zealand compared to credit or debit cards. This shows that most people asked only used cash once or twice in the 7 days before being surveyed - and one third of people stated they never used cash. All in all, having a little bit of cash to hand while you’re in New Zealand is useful, but you probably don’t want to carry too much as most transactions will be more convenient by card.
Assuming you do decide to use NZD cash alongside cards to pay for things once you’re in New Zealand, you’ll be able to either convert Australian dollars for New Zealand dollars before you travel, carry AUD cash with you to convert when you get there, or make an ATM withdrawal on arrival.
Making ATM withdrawals in New Zealand is usually the easiest option as you don’t need to carry too much cash in AUD or NZD all at once, and if you use a dedicated travel card to make your withdrawal you may cut your overall costs, too.
|Cash pros||Cash cons|
|✅ Sometimes cash is the only option - for tipping and some very small purchases for example
✅ Convert in advance if you want to lock in a rate and set your budget for New Zealand
✅ Set your budget in advance so you know exactly what you have to spend
|❌ Carrying a lot of cash isn't particularly safe
❌ Using a card where it’s possible can be cheaper and there’s no ATM fee to pay
❌ Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Do I need cash in New Zealand?
Generally it’s a smart idea to have several payment options with you at any given time, just in case one is rejected. That means that most travellers to New Zealand choose to carry a bit of cash, as well as one or more cards, so they’ve always got a Plan B.
One of the most convenient options is to use a prepaid card or travel debit card to make ATM withdrawals in New Zealand dollars once you arrive in New Zealand, often with low or no fees, depending on the card you pick.
How to buy pounds on arrival in New Zealand?
If you carry Australian dollars in cash when you travel to New Zealand, you can exchange them with currency exchange stores in cities and tourist areas. Bear in mind though that airports and hotels usually don’t offer very competitive exchange rates, and very rural areas won’t have any currency exchange service available at all.
How to buy GBP in New Zealand?
You can also exchange AUD to New Zealand dollars in cash in Australia before you travel. Options like the Post Office and Travelex often let you order NZD online and collect your cash later in a branch. Fees and exchange rate markups may apply, and you’ll get a better rate with a service like Travelex if you use their travel money card compared to ordering New Zealand dollars in cash.
Best place to get New Zealand dollars from
There’s no single best place to get your travel cash. Providers pick their own rates and fees, which can vary widely. Shopping around is essential - bear in mind that it’s usually worth avoiding currency exchange in the airport, and heading to a city centre where competition drives down the overall price.
Best way to withdraw money overseas?
Withdrawing money from a local ATM once you arrive in your destination is convenient, and can be safer than carrying a lot of cash all at once - but it can also be expensive.
The exact costs you incur will depend on the specific card you use, including whether it’s a credit or debit card. With either card type you’ll need to check what foreign transaction fee is levied - this is often about 3% every time you withdraw. If you’re using a credit card you’ll usually also pay a cash advance fee which is a further percentage charge, and you may start to accrue interest instantly, too.
Getting a travel debit card, like the Wise card, can be a good option for taking money out from ATMs in the local currency. With Wise you get some fee free withdrawals every month, with low costs after that - plus there’s no foreign transaction fee, and you’ll get the mid-market rate every time.
How much cash can I take overseas
There’s not actually a cash limit for overseas - but you’ll need to report to AUSTRAC or at the border if you’re exporting currency (AUD or any other currency) of 10,000 AUD or more in value.
In reality, the more cash you carry, the more you’re risking if you’re unfortunate enough to be the victim of crime. Carrying a small amount of cash, plus one or more cards to make withdrawals as and when you need to, is usually a more sensible option.
Travel credit cards to use in New Zealand
Ideal for: spreading the cost of your holiday over several months and earning extra reward points as you spend
Travel credit cards often have low or no foreign transaction fees, or extra rewards when you spend in foreign currencies. Other cards come with benefits like free global wifi, lounge access or complimentary insurance. However, there are also usually fees to pay to use a travel credit card - such as an annual fee, cash advance fees, interest and penalties if you don’t clear your bill regularly.
Having access to a credit card when you’re overseas can be a good option when you need a card as a payment guarantee - such as when you check into a hotel or rent a car. Bear in mind though, that using a credit card at an ATM is a very expensive option, with cash advance fees and interest mounting up quickly.
Learn about the best travel credit cards in Australia here, and read on for more on our top pick.
28 Degrees - our pick for travel credit card
With this card:
- Order online and start spending with your virtual card instantly if approved
- No annual or monthly fees
- No foreign transaction or currency conversion fees
- Make ATM withdrawals overseas - fees apply for this service
- Unlock perks like discounts on travel bookings and internet roaming packages
|28 Degrees pros||28 Degrees cons|
|✅ No annual or monthly fees
✅ No foreign transaction fees - your payment is converted to AUD using the Mastercard exchange rate
✅ Repay your bill in full monthly to avoid interest or penalty fees
✅ Travel perks and partner discounts available
|❌ Cash advance fee of 3% or 4 AUD (whichever is greater), plus interest, when making an ATM withdrawal
❌ Interest charges apply if you don’t repay your bill in full monthly
❌ Subject to eligibility and credit checks
Pros and cons of travel credit cards to New Zealand
- Earn rewards and discounts, or get travel perks - depending on the card you pick
- Spread your costs out over a few months
- Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
- Credit cards are useful as a payment guarantee in some situations
- Interest and fees usually apply if you don’t pay back your bill immediately
- Cash advance and interest costs apply when using an ATM
- Eligibility rules apply
Travel requirements from Australia to New Zealand
Generally if you’re heading to New Zealand with an Australian passport you can enter for tourist reasons with no need to apply for a visa or visa waiver in advance. Bear in mind that entry requirements can change rapidly, so checking before you travel is always advised.
Check the government’s Smart Traveller website to learn more.
Does New Zealand accept Australian dollars?
No. You won’t be able to spend AUD anywhere in New Zealand. If you’re carrying dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for New Zealand dollars when you arrive.
Best currency to take to the New Zealand
You’ll only be able to spend in New Zealand dollars in New Zealand, so you can choose to either carry AUD in cash with you and convert on arrival, or to order your travel cash in New Zealand dollars before you leave. Bear in mind that exchange rates when converting AUD to NZD vary widely - you’ll often get a better rate using a specialised travel card, and making cash withdrawals in New Zealand to get your New Zealand dollars in cash.
Top travel money tips to New Zealand
Here are a few final tips to help your money go further while you’re away:
- Have several different payment methods in case one isn't accepted wherever you are
- Get a travel money card before you leave to make it easier and cheaper to spend and withdraw in New Zealand
Avoid common travel money traps in New Zealand with this handy guide.
How much money do I need per day in New Zealand?
Exactly what you’ll need to pay for your visit will depend a lot on what you like to do, and where in New Zealand you’ll stay. Generally New Zealand is a little cheaper than Australia for many things - although in popular tourist areas you’ll still pay a premium. To put this in context, overall, a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back in the region of 110 AUD, and a single bus ride could be around 3 dollars.
Do some detailed research to see how much things are likely to cost based on your plans and where you’re headed, so you can set your budget. Get more detailed cost information by city, from Numbeo.com.
How much does it cost to fly from Australia to New Zealand
Flight costs vary widely depending on where in Australia you’ll leave from and the time of year you’ll visit New Zealand. At the time of writing (August 2023), you can find flight deals from around 250 AUD to 350 AUD return depending on where you fly to and from, for example.
There’s no single best way to take money to New Zealand, and for most people, having a variety of ways to pay makes sense because then you have a back up plan if one payment method isn’t accepted.
Consider getting a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a travel debit card from Revolut - to use alongside your regular debit or credit card, and make an ATM withdrawal on arrival so you have a little cash for tipping and small payments. Using your specialist travel card can mean you get a good exchange rate, plus many have some free ATM withdrawals overseas. They’re also a safe option as they’re not linked to your home bank account, so even if you’re unlucky and have your card stolen the thieves can’t get to your everyday account.
Use this guide to decide which option to take money to New Zealand will work best for you, based on your own preferences and needs.
FAQ - Best ways to take money to New Zealand
Should I exchange money before I travel to New Zealand?
Spending using a card is more convenient and common in New Zealand, although having a little cash can also be smart. If you don’t plan to exchange money before you travel it’s very easy to make a cash withdrawal at an ATM on arrival. This can also be cheap, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut.
Can I withdraw NZD from a local ATM?
You can’t withdraw New Zealand dollars at an ATM in Australia, but you can use a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in New Zealand. Depending on the card you pick, your withdrawal may even be free.
Are prepaid travel cards a good way to take money to New Zealand?
Travel prepaid cards from services like Wise are a safe way to spend when abroad. With Wise you’ll also get mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees which can bring down the costs of your trip.
Can I use cash in New Zealand?
Yes. Cash isn’t particularly widely used aside from small purchases and tipping, but carrying some cash to use alongside your cards is a smart idea.