Best Ways to Take Money to New Zealand in 2023
New Zealand is well known for stunning scenery, world class outdoor activities, and a fun cultural scene. Whether you’re heading there for a short visit, a working holiday, or a permanent relocation, you’re in for a great experience.
No matter how long you plan to be in New Zealand, you’ll need money in New Zealand dollars to get by while you’re there. This guide walks through 4 of the most popular ways to take money from Canada to New Zealand, including their benefits and drawbacks, to help you pick the right one for you
Best ways to take money to New Zealand
The best way to take money to New Zealand will depend on your specific needs and personal preferences. To help you decide which option or options will work for you, this guide walks through the pros and cons of the following choices:
Prepaid travel cards to use in New Zealand
Ideal for: smart ways to hold, send, spend and receive New Zealand dollars alongside Canadian dollars and a selection of other currencies
Prepaid travel cards are usually linked to a multi-currency account you can manage from your phone or laptop, which lets you hold and exchange a selection of currencies. You’ll be able to spend in NZD as well as other supported currencies conveniently with your card - and, depending on the card you pick, you may also get extras like local bank details to get paid in NZD, and convenient, low cost ways to make payments to New Zealand and beyond.
If you’re planning a short trip to New Zealand you can add money to your prepaid travel card account in CAD and then convert to NZD for spending and withdrawals while you’re there. This means you can easily lock in the exchange rate and set your travel budget, and use your card with no extra charges during your visit to New Zealand. For a longer stay or working holiday, you may also want to use your account to get paid in NZD by others, and to send money home to Canada or to other supported countries. Because travel cards like this are flexible and often have no ongoing charges you can also use them for other trips in future, too.
Wise - our pick for prepaid travel card for New Zealand
|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
❌ It can take up to 14 days for your physical card to arrive by mail
❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limited to 2 per month, to the value of 350 CAD. Fees of 1.75% + 1.5 CAD after that
❌ 10 CAD fee to receive payments to Wise in CAD, via SWIFT
Pros and cons of taking money to New Zealand with a prepaid travel card
Convert your CAD balance to NZD and spend with no extra fee - or leave your money in CAD and just let the card convert for you when you pay
Not connected to your normal bank account which is good for security
Cards are available with no minimum balance or ongoing fees to pay
Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
Transaction fees are likely to apply, although these can vary a lot between cards
Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
Some cards won’t support NZD for holding and exchange, and may charge a fee if you spend in an unsupported currency
Travel debit cards to use in New Zealand
Ideal for: secure spending overseas with a card that is not linked to your main CAD account
While travel debit cards often come with a linked multi-currency account you can use to hold a foreign currency balance, NZD isn’t always supported. However, getting a travel debit card for a trip to New Zealand can still have a couple of key benefits.
Firstly, it’ll let you save for your trip in an account that’s separate to your normal CAD bank account. Holding your travel money separate to your main balance can make it easier to budget once you’re away - and should make sure you don’t accidentally run up a higher bill than you’d expected.
Secondly, using a separate card and account when you travel can add an extra layer of security. As your travel debit card is not linked to your primary CAD account, if your travel card was stolen or lost, you can cancel it without needing to replace your normal CAD bank card.
Finally, there are no restrictive eligibility requirements with travel debit cards, and no credit check to complete. Many cards have no annual fee to pay - although bear in mind that you may pay a foreign transaction fee when you’re spending and making withdrawals in New Zealand.
We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - the Canada Post Cash Passport - next. You can also learn more about the best travel debit cards in Canada here.
Canada Post Cash Passport - our pick for travel debit card for New Zealand
With this card:
Get your card conveniently online or in a Canada Post location
Load any of up to 7 major foreign currencies, NZD is not supported for holding a balance
No fee to spend a currency you hold in your account
Lock in exchange rates in advance of travel
Free secondary card in case your first is lost or stolen
|Canada Post Cash Passport card pros||Canada Post Cash Passport card cons|
✅Hold 7 major currencies in your account
✅No extra fee to spend a currency you hold
✅Issued on the Mastercard network for global acceptance
✅Contactless payments or Chip and PIN options
✅24/7 global assistance if you lose your card
❌15 CAD fee to get your first card
❌3.25% fee if you spend in New Zealand dollars
❌Top up and cash out fees may also apply
Pros and cons of taking money to New Zealand with a travel debit card
Save and budget for your trip in an account that’s separate to your main bank account
Good for extra security and peace of mind when you spend overseas
Some cards can be picked up instantly in person with no need to wait for delivery
Cards from specialist services are often linked to multi-currency accounts you can use on future trips too
NZD may not be supported for holding a balance, which means you may pay fees when you spend in New Zealand
You may pay a fee when converting from one currency to another, which can be rolled up in the exchange rate you get
Some cards have card order or closure costs associated
Taking cash in New Zealand
Ideal for: small purchases, tipping, and as a back up plan in case you can’t use your card
As in many places globally, cash use is declining in New Zealand. Major hotels, stores and restaurants are likely to accept - or even prefer - a card payment as long as your card is on a globally accepted network like Visa or Mastercard. However, for tipping and smaller purchases at markets and independent retailers it’s still a good idea to have some New Zealand dollars in cash with you.
You can buy NZD in cash before you leave home, for home delivery or collection, from a service like Canada Post. Or you’ll be able to take cash in CAD with you to exchange on arrival. However, rather than needing to get everything organised in advance - and to avoid wasting time while you’re in New Zealand, you might find it easier to just make ATM withdrawals once you’re there. If you use a prepaid travel card from a provider like Wise you might also find you get some fee free withdrawals and a great exchange rate.
Do I need cash in New Zealand?
It’s generally a good idea to have some cash with you, even though card payments are often accepted. It’s a handy back up plan and you may find some smaller stores prefer cash, too.
The easiest option is usually to get your travel cash as and when you need it by making ATM withdrawals on arrival. Choose a prepaid card or travel debit card and you may also find you benefit from low or no fees and a strong exchange rate.
How to buy New Zealand dollars on arrival in New Zealand?
You’ll be able to take Canadian dollars in cash with you on your trip to exchange locally to New Zealand dollars. However, bear in mind that the exchange services offered in airports and hotels can have high overall costs and pretty poor exchange rates - heading to the city centre will usually mean getting a better exchange rate.
How to buy New Zealand dollars in Canada?
You can buy New Zealand dollars in cash in Canada before you travel if you want to make sure you have some in your pocket when you arrive. Canada Post has partnered with CIBC to offer foreign cash for collection or home delivery, or there are individual currency exchange stores in all major urban centres. Fees and exchange rate markups may apply.
Best place to get NZD in Canada
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 - remember to look at both any upfront cost and the exchange rate being offered, as there’s often an extra charge tucked away in the rate a provider uses for retail customers.
Pros and cons of taking cash to Canada
Cash is handy for low value purchases and tipping, and if you’re at a market or small independent store
Carrying some cash at all times is a good back up in case your card can’t be used
Make ATM withdrawals when you need to and you won’t have to carry large amounts of cash at any one time
Carrying a lot of cash isn't particularly safe
You’ll usually waste time during your break if you’re having to compare costs to get a good deal
Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Travel credit cards to use in New Zealand
Ideal for: secure and easy ways to spend in NZD which may also unlock extra travel benefits and rewards
Travel credit cards work in a similar way to any other credit card, but come with features aimed at frequent travellers like low or no foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurance or extra rewards when you spend overseas. Whether or not a travel credit card is right for you will depend on how you like to manage your money overall.
You may have to pay an annual fee to get a card, so you’ll want to weigh up the benefits against the potential costs of your preferred travel credit card. However, having a travel credit card can be handy as a payment guarantee when hiring a car or checking into a hotel, and will let you spread out the costs of your trip if you don’t mind paying interest.
Learn about our top pick - the HSBC World Elite Mastercard - next.
HSBC World Elite Mastercard - our pick for travel credit card
With this card:
Spend internationally with no foreign transaction fee
Variable interest rate based on purchase type and personal circumstances
Add extra cardholders to your account for free
Lots of extras and travel benefits offered
24/7 support of you’re a victim of theft or fraud
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard pros||HSBC World Elite Mastercard cons|
✅ No foreign transaction fee
✅ Up to 4 supplementary users on each account with no extra annual charge
✅ 24 hour worldwide assistance to get cash to you if your card is stolen
✅ Some complimentary insurance offered
✅ Options to earn rewards, including enhanced benefits for travel spending
❌ Interest and penalty fees may apply depending on how you use your card
❌ Annual fee of 149 CAD
❌ ATM withdrawals come with fees and a higher rate of interest compared to purchases
Pros and cons of travel credit cards to New Zealand
Get travel rewards, discounts and perks when you spend overseas
You can spread the costs of your trip out over a few months
Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
Use as a payment guarantee in hotels and when renting a car
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 Canada to New Zealand
If you’re going from Canada to New Zealand as a tourist, you’ll not usually need a visa for short visits of up to 90 days. However, you’ll still need to apply in advance for an electronic travel authority known as a NZeTA. For this you’ll have to show you have tickets to leave New Zealand after your trip, and enough money to pay for things while you’re there. Finally, your passport must be valid for 3 months after the point you enter New Zealand or you may be refused entry.
Check the Canadian government’s travel advisory page to learn more and to get detailed information for your specific destination.
Does New Zealand accept Canadian dollars?
No. You won’t be able to spend CAD anywhere in New Zealand. If you’re carrying Canadian dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for New Zealand dollars when you arrive.
Best currency to take to New Zealand
You’ll only be able to spend in New Zealand dollars in New Zealand. While you can carry cash in CAD and convert it on arrival, or get some cash in NZD before you leave, for many travellers using a specialised travel card for cash withdrawals as and when you need them is the easiest solution.
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
Use the handy Exiap guides to learn more about currency exchange, travel cards, and more
How much money do I need per day in New Zealand?
New Zealand is a dream trip for many people - and while it’s not the cheapest place to go travelling, it does have plenty of different options for accommodation and activities to suit a range of budgets. You’ll need to do some research but with a little planning you’ll be able to pick an itinerary that suits you.
In New Zealand on average you’ll find a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back in the region of 100 CAD, but bear in mind that around popular tourist destinations you may pay more. A domestic beer is about 8 dollars, and you can pick up a cheap meal for around 20 CAD.
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 plan your budget. Get more detailed cost information by country and city, from Numbeo.com.
How much does it cost to fly from Canada to New Zealand?
At the time of writing (November 2023), the cheapest flights from Canada to New Zealand start from around 1,100 CAD per person return. These cheaper options are likely to include one or more stops and layovers which increase journey time. Direct flights are available but come with a higher price tag - at the time of research, you’ll pay at least 1,500 CAD for a direct flight.
You’ll need New Zealand dollars to pay for things during your trip. Having several different ways to pay is usually a good bet, just in case one option isn’t accepted by a merchant or hotel.
A good solution for many people could be to get a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a Canada Post Cash Passport - and to carry that as well as your regular debit or credit card as a back up. You can then use your travel card to make ATM withdrawals on arrival to get New Zealand dollars in cash. Plus if you pick the Wise card you can hold a balance in NZD so you can lock in your exchange rate and set your budget in advance.
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?
While you can switch Canadian dollars for NZD before you travel, it’s actually very easy to just make a cash withdrawal at an ATM on arrival in New Zealand. This can also be cheap, and may get you a better exchange rate compared to exchanging in advance, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise.
Can I withdraw New Zealand dollars from a local ATM?
You can’t withdraw New Zealand dollars at a normal ATM in Canada. However, you can get a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in New Zealand, which will often mean you pay less compared to using your bank card.
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?
Cash is accepted widely in New Zealand, although you can often make card payments too if you’d prefer to do that. In general, making sure you always have some cash in New Zealand dollars, and a travel card for spending or getting cash from an ATM, is a good choice so you have a back up plan if you ever need it.