Should You Tip in New Zealand?
Oh, tipping: the biggest culture divide in the world. Maybe that is an overstatement but where some countries require you to tip everyone and everything, others simply don’t expect tips at all. For New Zealand, paying someone a little extra for their service is not customary but it is at the customer’s discretion. In this quick guide, here’s everything you need to know about tipping in New Zealand.
For more information about paying for things in New Zealand, check out our complete guide to The Best Way to Pay in New Zealand.
The First Rule of Tipping in New Zealand
Tipping is not customary. You get a taxi into town, finish a meal at a restaurant, or get a haircut: you do not have to give a tip. The lady, gentleman or whoever provided the service is not expecting it from you.
A Note for Working Holidaymakers
People in New Zealand on a working holiday visa who find themselves in hospitality or service industry jobs should not rely on tipping to add to their wages. The minimum wage is high to start with, so you won’t need tips to live.
If you thrive off tips, then you are more likely to get them from tourists who don’t know the custom in New Zealand. So head for super touristy destinations and work as some sort of tour guide if tips are what you live for.
True Merit Tipping in New Zealand
Although it is not customary to tip in New Zealand, workers in New Zealand will certainly appreciate a tip to reward exceptional service. Tipping in New Zealand is more often found in cafes, restaurants and large hotels.
Is it Rude to Tip in New Zealand?
It is certainly not seen as “rude” to tip in New Zealand. In fact, anyone who receives a tip is likely to highly appreciate it. What’s more, New Zealand hasn’t been living in a cave for the last century, they know and understand what tipping is.
If someone refuses your tip (it might be for personal beliefs or feeling embarrassed), which might happen with older people, it’s best to not insist.
How Much Do You Tip in New Zealand?
If you choose to give a tip in New Zealand, how much money is given is up to you, but it is usually around 10% of the meal or service’s value.
We’ll get onto some tipping examples in the next section.
Do New Zealanders Tip?
New Zealanders in their own country very rarely tip, as they are aware that wages are fair and it’s not considered part of the custom. If you’re a worker in New Zealand, you’re more likely to receive tips from international visitors.
Who Can You Give a Tip to in New Zealand?
Whether you’re feeling generous and/or giving tips is part of your psyche or you are working in one of the following fields, these are some services or instances that sometimes receive tips.
Cafes, Restaurants and Bars
Tipping in a cafe usually means just leaving some spare change, typically in a tip jar left on the counter that the staff will share between themselves at the end of the day/week. If you choose to leave some coins in the tip jar, do this discreetly; not pretentiously.
For restaurants, there may be a tip jar at the counter (as most restaurants in New Zealand require you to pay at the counter). If you’re paying with a card, there will likely be an option on the electronic point-of-sale machine to “add tip”. There’s no need to feel awkward if you don’t choose to “add tip” with the wait staff standing right in front of you; a tip is not expected (but who is going to turn down free money?)
In New Zealand, it is unusual to just tip just the bartender, as the whole staff of a bar or restaurant is seen as a team and will share tips between them. If you want to leave a tip for the bartender, just give 10% of the bill or put some change in the tip jar.
How Much to Tip at a Restaurant in New Zealand
If you thought that your restaurant service was exceptional and you choose to give a tip, how much tip should you give at a restaurant in New Zealand? 10% of the bill is a very good tip for restaurant service in New Zealand. For example, if your dinner was NZ$100, a suggested tip would be NZ$10. If you paid NZ$10 for a drink, a tip of NZ$1-$2 is fine.
Unlike many countries in the world, it is not customary to tip hotel porters or concierges in New Zealand. It is certainly not expected to tip a concierge if they just gave you information or directions.
How Much to Tip Hotel Staff in New Zealand
You can tip your concierge around NZ$10-$20 if they carried out an amazing service but it is not expected. If you want to leave a tip for hotel cleaning staff in New Zealand, NZ$3-$5 per night is fine. A standard tip for a hotel porter is NZ$1-$2 per bag.
The profession that tends to receive the most tips in New Zealand is tour guiding. This is not because it is expected, as tour guides in New Zealand are paid a fair wage, but because they receive clients from all over the world with various tipping customs.
How Much to Tip Tour Guides in New Zealand
If you believe your tour guide in New Zealand gave you exceptional service, whether it’s a tour for one day or 20 days, a 10% tip is a good rule of thumb. For a multi-day tour, for instance, if you’re taking a tour bus around New Zealand for two weeks, an average tip is around NZ$100-$200 per person in your group.
Taxi and Uber Drivers
Tipping a taxi or Uber driver is certainly not expected in New Zealand. In fact, it’s one of the last places people tip in New Zealand – usually because taxi fares are pretty high.
How Much to Tip a Taxi Driver in New Zealand
The only way taxi drivers are usually tipped is when a customer paying with cash rounds up the cost to the nearest dollar, NZ$5, NZ$10 or basically whatever number makes the paying process easier. You can pay by card in many taxis in New Zealand, which often don’t give you the option to leave a tip and it is not expected.
How Much to Tip an Uber Driver in New Zealand
For Uber drivers, again, tipping is not expected in New Zealand but the Uber app allows you to add a gratuity through the app. If you choose to do this, you can round up your fare to the nearest dollar or leave 1-5% of the fare.
Hairdressers and Barbers
The prices of haircuts, again, are quite high in New Zealand so there’s no need or expectation to leave a tip. Only if they give you the haircut of a lifetime, again, a tip would be taken positively.
How Much to Tip a Hairdresser or Barber in New Zealand
If you choose to leave a tip to a hairdresser or barber in New Zealand, usually rounding up the bill to the nearest dollar or leaving change is fine.
The Maori Custom of Koha
In the Maori tradition, a “koha” is the act of giving a gift to show respect. If you go to a Maori cultural event and they ask for a koha or put, for example, a woven basket in front of performers who are doing a cultural show, then this is for the audience to donate a gift, which, nowadays is money. The amount of money isn’t necessarily important; it’s more the act that is appreciated. The money gathered by a koha for events is usually used toward the costs of running the event.
For commercial cultural shows – the Maori shows that are the most experienced by tourists in New Zealand – a koha is not requested, as tourists have usually paid a fair price for attending the show in the first place.
New Zealand Public Holiday Fees
It’s worth noting that on public holidays in New Zealand some cafes and restaurants have an additional 10-15% fee added to the menu prices.
This fee is to cover the higher wages that the employer must pay their staff on a public holiday by New Zealand law.
Learn more about public holidays with our complete guide to Public Holidays in New Zealand.
Getting Paid for Working in New Zealand
If you are in New Zealand on a work visa or working holiday visa and are in employment, your wages do not rely on tips in New Zealand. The minimum wage in New Zealand is quite high in comparison to other countries, so even on a minimum hourly wage, you should be making enough money to get by and not rely on tips.
Take a look at this guide to New Zealand Working Holiday Employment Rights so you understand what you are legally supposed to be paid for.
Can You Accept Tips in New Zealand?
Yes, you can certainly accept tips in New Zealand if they are given to you.
A Tip About Tips
If you do want to get a little extra money through tipping, then we suggest you get a job in areas of New Zealand that receive a high volume of international tourists, such as Queenstown and Auckland.
More About Money and Tipping in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide to tipping in New Zealand. For more money and tipping advice, take a look at the following guides:
- NZ Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost?
- Tax System in New Zealand: What is GST?
- 15 Ways to Save Money in New Zealand
Finally, for a complete guide to exploring New Zealand on the cheap, check out The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget.