There are many local clubs or church groups you can join to do leisure activities in your spare time.  Clubs include those on bridge, arts, sports, tramping and hobby groups.  At polytechnics/institutes of technologies, colleges of education, universities and schools, there are a range of sports and interest clubs to join.  Joining a club is a good way to meet New Zealanders.  

Some clubs have language exchange meetings with New Zealand students studying a foreign language.  Taking part is a good way to meet New Zealand students.  

Being safe around water [1]

Because of the nature of the country, many recreational activities are based around water and you need to be careful when swimming or learning water sports or activities. 

Many of New Zealand’s most popular beaches are patrolled by Surf Life Savers.  These are people qualified to advise people on safety at the beach and are on hand to help if people are in trouble in the water.  The Surf Life Savers put up two flags when they are on duty.  The flags are usually bright red and yellow and show the area of the sea that is safest to swim in.  This is also the area that they will be watching closely.  Always swim between these flags. 

If you want to enjoy New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, swimming pools, and beaches or participate in any water-based activity you should: 

  • learn to swim (contact your local city council swimming pool for details about lessons)
  • always swim (or kayak or fish) with someone else. Never go alone
  • make sure you swim between the flags at the beach.


New Zealand is blessed with a large number of excellent fishing spots and fishing is a popular recreational activity. Each year thousands of people go fishing and take large numbers of finfish, rock lobsters and shellfish. If not managed properly this can seriously affect local fisheries. Therefore, it is vitally important for the sustainability of New Zealand’s fishery resources that all fishers help to conserve the resource so that generations to come will also be able to enjoy a day’s fishing. 

There are restrictions on recreational fishers regarding the amount and size of fish they are allowed to take.  If you go fishing, the main things to remember are:

  • Don’t take more than the daily limits
  • Don’t take undersized fish
  • Don’t sell or trade your catch

Only those people physically involved in taking finfish, rock lobster and shellfish are entitled to claim their catch within the daily limits. Occasionally people go over quota to sell produce on the black-market.  You should not buy from these people. 

You should also be aware of the restrictions on the fishing gear and methods you can use. 

The rules for fishing vary depending on the area you are fishing in.  Before you start, you should get a copy of the recreational fishing rules for the area you’re in.  There are four main areas:

  • Auckland and Kermedec Area. This covers from the East Cape to just north of New Plymouth.
  • Central Area, which covers the rest of the North Island.
  • Challenger Area, that covers the top of the South Island.
  • Southern Area, which covers the remainder of the South Island.

You can obtain a copy your nearest Ministry of Fisheries’ office.  The Auckland and Kermadec area brochure is available in Chinese, from the Auckland Regional Office.  In all other areas, the brochure is available in English only.  Go to: for a list of Ministry of Fisheries’ offices throughout New Zealand.  

Fisheries Officers and Honorary Fisheries Officers closely monitor fishing areas. People caught breaking the fishing rules can be penalised with an infringement notice of up to NZ$500 or for serious offences up to NZ$250,000 with loss of vessels and vehicles. 

The onus is on individuals to stay within the legal requirements. Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse.  Numerous smaller offences, or one big offence, can lead to an immigration visa or permit being revoked. 

For further information you can contact 0800 4RULES (0800 478537). 

Bush walking or tramping [2]

New Zealand is famous for its beautiful outdoor environment, and bush walking and tramping are enjoyable ways of experiencing it.  Visit your local Department of Conservation (DoC) office for information about local walks and tramps or go to: and click on ‘explore’.  The Department of Conservation is responsible for maintaining and protecting parks and reserves. 

New Zealand weather can change very quickly, especially in mountainous areas.  It is important to be prepared for all types of weather, no matter what the weather is like when you leave.  Warm, waterproof clothing is essential. You’ll need to be prepared for emergencies as well as weather changes (e.g. a first aid kit).  You can hear a weather report on the hour on most radio stations or phone 0900 999 (then your phone area code) for weather updates.  

Protection from the sun [3]

As you will learn, New Zealand is a great country to experience the outdoors, but it’s important to protect yourself against the harmful effects of the sun.  As a country in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand is exposed to the sun’s harmful Ultra Violet (UV) radiation. We have less pollution to block out UV radiation than many other countries. In addition the ozone layer is decreasing. 

The UV radiation is responsible for burning and damaging your skin. UV radiation does not provide heat, so you can burn when you feel cool (on a cloudy day, for example). This means you can also burn in winter when skiing because the higher you go, the less atmosphere there is to filter UV radiation. The whiteness of the snow also increases the risk of burning. 

Avoiding sunburn and tanning can help prevent melanomas and other skin cancers. To avoid sunburn, it is important to:

  • Wear a hat and clothing that covers your skin
  • Apply sunscreen (SPF 30+)
  • Wearing wrap around sunglasses will help protect your eyes.

It is important to note that:

  • No sunscreen will completely shield you from the effects of UV radiation. You can still burn, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Use additional forms of sun protection like: avoiding the sun between the hottest times -11 am to 4 pm – in summer, wearing a hat and clothing, wearing sunglasses and stay in the shade if you can.
  • Using an SPF30+ (sun protection factor of 30) sunscreen rather than SPF15 halves your risk of sunburn for the same length of time in the sun. SPF30+ (or any sunscreen) should not be used to increase the amount of time you spend in the sun.
  • Whatever the SPF, apply adequate amounts fifteen minutes before going outside and re-apply regularly, especially if you are swimming or sweating a lot. 


Visit your local i-SITE Visitor Centre for information about museums, art galleries, libraries, cinemas and zoos in your area. These official Visitor Information Centres are located in most towns and cites inNew Zealand and have good local knowledge including local events, tourist information and holiday accommodation.  Look in your local telephone book under: i-SITE Visitor Information for the phone number, or go to: for contact details. 

[1] Information under this title has been sourced from:

[3] Information under this title has been sourced from: