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Where to change currency ???

Mumbai (Bombay...
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583 posts
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Where to change currency ???

My wife and myself will be spending a few days in Auckland for the first time. We will be carrying US Dollars.

Could someone please let us know the best place to change our US$ into NZ$. I am guessing our hotel, Heritage would be a rip off. So would the airport, I guess. Are there currency changers like in Thailand, Singapore, etc. ???

Many thanks for any help/advice offered.

Carlos de Souza,

Bombay, India.

christchurch
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139 posts
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11. Re: Where to change currency ???

Having travelled in India and Thailand I sympathise with your guess that the Auckland Heritage and Auckland airport would "rip off" your US Dollars. You and your wife will be pleased to find that New Zealand is the last place for "ripping off" tourists unlike Asian countries, and your guess is unfounded.

Kiwis are not the servile type, tipping is not expected, hence changing currency to tip the taxi driver as you arrive at the hotel is not necessary, so is currency to tip the bell boy who carries your bag into the room (if there is one as most Kiwis will pull their own bags into their room), there is no need to tip at restaurants or bars.

Travellers normally use credit or ATM or Debit cards. A credit card is almost mandatory if you want to hire a car. The Heritage (as most hotel) would accept credit cards, most guests of this international hotel would in fact pay by credit card.

Most hotels do very little currency exchange, they do this mainly as a service to their guests. They need to charge an overhead to cover currency fluctuation, they need to cover the bother and risk associated with storing and then carrying the foreign currency to exchange it into local currency, someone has to pay the exchange commission at banks and it is unlikely the small "rip off" charged at the hotel covers these hassle, not forgetting the staff time to help the guests. Minimum wage is NZ$12 per hour here and not per day as in Asian countries.

New Zealand currency exchange is as pointed out are done by Main Banks. Their rates are exactly as in their main city Branches and other banks. There are no small currency exchange cubicles similar to Indian, Malaysian, Thai and Burmese found there. Haggling and currency black market is not (yet) prevalent in New Zealand.

New Zealand is almost a cash-less country, you will find there is very little need to carry cash if you stay in places like the Heritage, I am sure you and your wife will enjoy New Zealand, if you do get "ripped off" you can always post it on this or the other travel forums such as www.virtualtourist.com to warn fellow travellers.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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583 posts
29 reviews
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12. Re: Where to change currency ???

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the elaborate explanation ;-)

By "rip-off" I meant, we would have to pay a lot more than at official money changers or city banks. I did not mean someone would actually cheat us ;-)

We are going to carry cash, as stated. Also, as we were kindly informed, the bank rate at the airport is almost the same as in the city. We will therefore change some amount at the airport. Because, even if the Kiwis don't expect it, we do believe in tipping, if a job is done well ;-)

In Hong Kong, btw, 1 US$ at the airport fetched only 7.10 HK$, whereas in the city at the money changers we got as much as 7.70 HK$

This was about 1.5 years back.

Thanks for your advice, Joe,

Warm regards,

Carlos de Souza,

Bombay, India.

christchurch
Level Contributor
139 posts
13 reviews
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13. Re: Where to change currency ???

Two points are raised in your reply: Hongkong and New Zealand are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of money exchange; there is a huge currency exchange industry based on little cubicles "changing money" in Hongkong. You see large posters showing very favourable exchange rates at these holes in the walls, when you are attracted by these rates and change your cash you will be slapped with unannounced "commission and service charges" which brings the rates back to final unfavourable terms. There are no hidden charges in New Zealand banks, BNZ at the airport will give you exactly the same rate as their city branches.

The other issue is tipping - in Hongkong you have palms held out at every opportunity - from airport porters as you land, taxi drivers who expect to be paid for every bag they load for you in addition to the tip, tour guide and the driver, concierge who expects a tip for even hailing a taxi, bell boy who carries your bags into the rooms and hangs around until you dismiss him with a tip, room service, eating places, lavatory attendants, beggars at tourist sights, the list goes on. They can be very aggressive, waiters will count the tip in front of you and they have been known to fling the tip on the ground if they feel it is not enough or to stand in front of you with the hand extended showing the tip for all to see and to loudly announce "mmmmkow!!!" so that everyone hears it - it means not enough if you do not know Cantonese. This culture is regretfully slowly creeping into Auckland which has a large Hongkong population, your intention of tipping in New Zealand will only encourage the expectation of being paid to serve a person well. With or without tipping in New Zealand you will find that service is done in the same manner. There has been a lot expressed about tipping in this forum, I tip if tipping is the culture but will not tip to make it the culture.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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14. Re: Where to change currency ???

Hi Joe,

We were in Hong Kong for 8 full days and NEVER ONCE did we encounter anyone angling for a tip or even expecting one. This was our experience, yours may be different.

When we changed money at "the hole in the wall" currency changers in Hong Kong there was absolutely no add on to the rate quoted. The task was performed efficiently and honestly. We were impressed.

We are visiting New Zealand for the first time and with a completely open mind. The New Zealanders we have met thus far(outside NZ) have been extremely warm and friendly.

Finally, Joe, many thanks once again for your replies.

All the very best,

Carlos.