Crime in New Zealand: Is There Anything to Worry About?

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Let's be honest. You're more likely to get hurt while participating in an extreme sport than by a criminal down here.


A man walks past Queens Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand Photo © iStock/chameleonseye

New Zealand's rates of violence are very low compared to elsewhere in the world. However, it's always a good idea to go in the know.

While Auckland on the North Island carries the most crime, it's still far more infrequent than other major cities worldwide.

Car crime

The biggest crime you could encounter is theft or pickpocketing in the cities. But, the number one theft-related crime is theft from cars.

Queenstown has seen higher rates of this type of offense. Thieves go after goods in regular vehicles and camper vans. Never assume your vehicle will be safe once you've ventured beyond the urban centers. It's a good idea to hide all valuable items or backpacks in your car where they can't be seen.

This is especially imporant for those of you in camper vans that don't have curtains, and are setting off on a full day hike or multi-day tramp. Hide your bags under a blanket (don't make it obvious), and park your car in the parking lot alongside other vehicles, not somewhere far up the road in isolation.

Thieves unfortunately target trail heads and overnight parking areas, in addition to tourist-heavy spots, like Rotorua and the Coromandel Peninsula.

Booze and crime

Boozing is big all throughout the major cities in New Zealand, and contributes to some violent crime.

A few years back, police statistics showed you had twice the chance of getting violently assaulted in Queenstown compared to other spots on either island.

Wellington also has some alcohol-related shenanigans and violence, which is part of the reason drinking in public places is now banned there.

In Auckland, travelers and residents warn to stay away from certain areas at night, like the section by the Sky Tower and Britomart and K Road, and to avoid going down alleyways.

Others say teenagers can get particularly rowdy and fights are common. Avoid any teens in a group wearing the same color, as they may be part of a gang looking for trouble.

Don't be caught waiting around late at night for public transport in Auckland, plan your trip home in advance.

Overall, you'll want to stay away from the bar strips late at night. Even if you want to party, it may be in your best interest to call it an early night and bring a bottle of wine back to your hotel if you want to avoid seeing – or falling victim to – booze-fueled rage.

Safe solo travel for women

It goes without saying that New Zealanders are some of the most friendly people you'll meet. So, when it comes to women traveling solo, there's really not much for you to worry about.

If you're not ready to bunk beside a male, most hostels offer female only dorm rooms – be sure to inquire if it interests you.

That being said, always abide by your moral compass, and if a red-hot deal on a vehicle-share road-trip with your new male friend from the hostel sounds too good to be true, it probably is...

When you're going into the wilderness for a multi-day hike alone, tell someone where you're going, how long you'll be gone, and when you're back so that they know your plans. It's always best to go with a buddy, but sometimes, going solo is the only choice you've got.

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