Planning your trip to New Zealand
To help you plan the best time of year to visit New Zealand to try out horses, you may find the information on this page useful.
Contents of this page
- Getting to see possible horses at a Horse Trial
- Shave six months off the age of your horse!
- Seasons and weather
- What clothing to take (and specifically riding gear and horse gear)
- Sun protection in New Zealand
- New Zealand holiday periods
- Immigration/visa requirements for New Zealand
- Potential additional vetting requirements
- Prearrange electronic funds transfer
- Replaying from your video camera
- New Zealand plugs/adaptors
We recommend that, where possible, you plan to visit New Zealand at a time that allows you to attend at least one Horse Trial so that you can see your possible Clifton Eventer in a competitive environment. We generally give our horses a period of rest after the National Championships in May, as there are no affiliated Horse Trials during the winter months (June through to August inclusive). They are not brought back into serious work until August in preparation for the Spring season. For more information see the Clifton Eventers competition schedule.
You should be aware that the 'official' birthday for New Zealand horses is August 1st (unlike the Northern Hemisphere, which uses January 1st). Thus there is a small advantage in shipping (more precisely, registering) a horse back to the Northern Hemisphere after January 1st as it then continues to be the same age as it was in New Zealand for another 12 months, ageing another year the following January 1st and not August 1st.
If however you register a horse in the Northern Hemisphere between August 1st and January 1st it may have only a few months before it has to go up a year on January 1st.
Seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere, with January and February the warmest months and July the coldest. The climate is temperate - averages range from eight degrees Celsius in July to 17 degrees Celsius in January - but summer temperatures occasionally reach the low 30s in many inland and eastern regions.
Be warned that the weather in New Zealand, particularly in the Spring, can be very variable. Because the day starts out sunny it does not mean it won't be pouring with rain by the afternoon. So bring wet weather gear, even if you think you won't be needing it.
See the current forecast for Auckland:
It's advisable to bring rain gear, including some form of head protection, if you are planning to be in New Zealand outside the January/February time. Furthermore, apart from December through to April/May, the ground can get wet and, in winter, quite boggy, so bring gumboots at these times.
When not standing around a paddock, New Zealanders are usually pretty informal, not dressing up for dinner (unless it's the kind of place that's more expensive than the horse you saw earlier in the day!) If you have room in the suitcase, a sports jacket is a good idea along with perhaps one tie. In summer, men can wear sports coats, walking shorts, and long socks (buy them here). Women should consider packing a skirt and blouse.
Riding and horse gear
You will probably also want to bring your own riding gear. Try to keep what you bring to the essentials, as this will minimise potential problems on arrival and the MAF quarantine inspection. Make sure all such items are absolutely clean and pack them together in one bag. New Zealand operates very strict biosecurity procedures at airports and ports to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases of animals and plants. You are required to declare on arrival:
- Riding gear, including clothing, footwear and grooming equipment.
- Equipment and clothing used in association with animals.
In addition, you must declare if you have:
- been to a farm, abattoir or meat/dairy packing house.
- visited a forest or been hiking/camping/hunting in rural areas or parkland.
The advice we have received from MAF is that if you are bringing with you your own riding equipment please make sure that it is clean and free of any mud, hay or grass seeds (but you should be aware that clothing that is clean but looks 'well-used', particularly riding chaps, may be taken from you for fumigation.) You can then happily declare it in the knowledge that the inspecting officer will most likely wave you through. We recommend that you pack all such items together in one bag, as this will speed things up through immigration.
We strongly recommend that you do not bring with you horse gear unless absolutely necessary. It will be possible to borrow items, such as riding chaps, when you are here.
Please note that if you bring in anything that is used on a horse (e.g., saddle, reins, bits, rugs, etc.) or has considerable contact with a horse (e.g., riding chaps, boots, etc.), then MAF will almost certainly want to fumigate it, for which there is a charge of NZ$6.65. If you land before midday you gear can usually be collected after 8.00 am the next working day. The only exception to this policy of fumigation is if the gear is new.
The penalties are harsh. Fines are up to NZ$100,000 or five years in jail.
We do strongly urge you not to take a risk and to declare your riding gear.
You should also be aware that ozone-depleting chemicals have created a hole the ozone layer above New Zealand and thus unprotected skin is more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancers than in other places of similar latitude. Around midday on a cloudless day the burn time for unprotected skin can be as short as 15 minutes.
If you visit New Zealand from the Northern Hemisphere during the summer months (September to April, but particularly December to February), you will probably be coming at time when your skin is least used to the sun and thus it may burn very quickly, particularly if you are standing in the middle of a paddock without any shade. Make sure you therefore bring clothes that cover the vulnerable areas and a hat. Also use high-protection (i.e., SPF 15+) ointments.
Both hats and sunscreen are readily available and you may find it easier to buy them here rather than try to pack them.
The country's main holiday period is between Christmas and the end of January. This is also the period following Puhinui, New Zealand's major Three-Day Event, and thus many Two and Three Star horses are not in work during this time. Owners will tend to get them back into work from the start of February onwards.
To visit New Zealand, you may need to apply for a Visitor's Visa or Permit. Please check the New Zealand Immigration Service site for more information.
You should check with your own vet and your horse insurance broker before you leave to see whether they have any specific vetting requirements for any horse that you may decide to buy. It is unlikely that they will want anything more than the veterinary examination we recommend, but it is prudent to check this before you commission the examination.
You should discuss with your bank the procedure for transferring funds to a nominated account in New Zealand before your departure. Ensure that there are sufficient funds in the appropriate account and make sure both you and your bank know the correct authorisation procedure to activate a transfer. This will ensure that when it comes time to pay for the horse you have decided to buy that everything will go smoothly. Note that the exchanges rates quoted by your bank (and on this site) are based on a nominal 'middle' amount. This excludes the usual exchange rate 'spread' or the difference between the 'buy' rate and the 'sell' rate. This is the margin that the banks take for performing the currency conversion.
New Zealand uses 230 Volt / 50 Hertz (cycles) mains. If you are coming from a country that uses 115 Volts / 60 Hertz (like the US) you should check that equipment you want to use here is voltage auto-sensing (i.e., it automatically detects the mains voltage and adjusts accordingly). Most recent video cameras provide this feature.
Note that some equipment requires you to manually adjust the mains voltage by sliding a switch somewhere on the device or mains adapter. Visitors from countries that use 115 Volts / 60 Hertz (like the US) who want to use equipment that cannot be switched to 230 Volts / 50 Hz will need to buy a voltage adapter, which will not be cheap.
Mains plugs are the same as Australia: a flat, two-pin design similar in shape to a US mains plug but with the two flat pins inclined together at an angle (i.e., they are not perpendicular to each other, as with US mains plugs). Equipment that requires a separate earth uses a larger, third pin (also flat).
If you need to recharge video batteries or use a mains shaver, we recommend you purchase a suitable plug adapter on arrival in New Zealand. They can be bought at the duty-free shops in the arrivals hall before you come through immigration.