HOW TO TIP IN NEW ZEALAND
In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from the wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. Tipping in New Zealand can be confusing for tourists because unlike the US where tips are expected everywhere, tipping here is entirely voluntary so do not feel obligated to leave a gratuity.
The questions `when?` and `how much?` that surround tipping can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use the New Zealand dollar NZ$?
The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar $, $NZ, $NZD and sometimes referred to as the kiwi or buck. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your US dollars for New Zealand dollars upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however, in New Zealand, you will find it useful to always keep a little cash on hand. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Tipping is not a common practice in New Zealand, it is not expected, but more of a bonus for the workers for providing exceptional service.
There are a 15% Goods and Service Tax (GST) that is applied to everything in New Zealand. Goods and services include the GST and you should not be charged extra at checkout, for international travelers there is a tax refund available for items purchased over a certain amount, upon departure, you will fill out the necessary paperwork and be refunded the 15% if applicable.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
Workers are paid a reasonable wage and do not work only for tips, so you should not feel obliged to leave a tip, however, if you feel the service provided was exceptional, a 10 - 15% gratuity would be the general rule if you wish to leave something for the wait staff. If you have any spare change and see a tip jar you can leave the money in the jar for the staff.Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?
It is not common to tip at hotels so there is no need to tip your bellman, porter or concierge. Again if they provide outstanding service and you wish to leave them something, then NZ$1 - 2 a bag for the bellman or porter and NZ$1 - 5 for maid service is a nice gesture.Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?
A common practice is to leave the change with the driver, tipping taxi drivers again is not common but rounding up your fare to the next $ or two, keep in mind some drivers may refuse the extra money altogether.Tour Guides: Is a tip required?
Tour guides commonly receive a tip as they are generally aimed at tourists, a tip is not required but you can feel free to leave a tip of NZ$5 or 5% whichever is higher.Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?
Other Services: If you received excellent service while visiting a spa you can tip 5 - 10%. It is not a necessity but will show your appreciation for good service provided. If your tip is rejected do not be upset, many New Zealanders are not comfortable with the practice of tipping.Final Thoughts:
Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is also true for hotel staff, however if you should encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.
When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.