Adaptor / converter plug US to NZ
April 14, 2013 5:39 PM   Subscribe

In a few days, I leave on a trip to New Zealand. New Zealand, apparently not being the most popular destination from SF or the US, in my online and storeside research, I have received no less than 6, often contradictory, combinations of answers to exactly what peripherals I need to have in order to charge my phone [though that most often will be trickle charging off of the laptop], run my laptop, and use my hair styling instruments [should I deem to do so.] I do not need to use them all simultaneously, but two at a time would be ideal, if not requisite at times. Can anyone explain to me exactly items I need to purchase and what that setup should look like in order to avoid frying my electronics? Thanks! FG
posted by Frisbee Girl to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (14 answers total)
Laptop, phone, and camera battery chargers generally regulate their own voltage and just need a plug adaptor so the prongs fit in the socket. This should run just a couple of bucks--you can get a set for the entire world at Radio Shack or best buy for less than 20.

The hair stuff needs a real power converter. Those are more expensive. Really most hotels will have a blow dryer, but not curlers or straighteners, of course.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:45 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, Admiral! I don't use hair dryers, only hair irons and we're staying at a bach [beach house] popular with locals [well, Kiwis, at least], so I'm not looking forward to much in the way of international amenities.
posted by Frisbee Girl at 6:00 PM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: For your electronics, look at the label on the power adapter. Verify that it will accept "240V" and "50Hz". If so, you can use that with an appropriate AC outlet adapter. typical power adapter label—50Hz is between 47Hz and 63Hz, and it's good up to 240V, so this power adapter would be appropriate for use in NZ. The outlets look like the ones pictured here and are different than mainland Europe or England, so don't bother bringing an outlet adapter you might have from an earlier trip to one of these locales.

this item looks like an appropriate adapter from a device with a north american 2- or 3-prong plug to an Australia/New Zealand 3-prog wall outlet.

Oh and remember to turn on the switch at the outlet or you'll come back to a laptop/phone/whatever that hasn't charged all day/all night. oops!

As pointed out already, you can't use 110/120V hair dryers and other simple heat-producing items on 240V. The reason for this is that they will produce 4x as much heat as they do in the US, which will cause internal protection fuses to blow or cause worse damage to the device or its user.
posted by jepler at 6:09 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Superb response, jepler, as well as providing me with photos of what I'll be dealing with as well as what I should be purchasing. I had, unfortunately, having received so much contradictory info, that I stopped short of googling an image of a Kiwi outlet and instead was waiting on a personal image from my landing party, but this is absolutely perfect! Also, thanks for the explanation regarding hair products; not only does it make perfect sense, but it arms me with the 'why' behind the directive. Again, so very much appreciated!
posted by Frisbee Girl at 6:23 PM on April 14, 2013

could also just buy what you need in-country
(hair appliance wise)
posted by edgeways at 6:25 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: edgeways, I was *just* thinking the same thing! I suspect a cheap hair iron that I really won't use much of will run about the same price as the converters I've been researching and be three less things to drag out at security. Even at home, I barely use the things, and the added bonus would be saving the replacements of my US set should something go awry on the Island.
posted by Frisbee Girl at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2013

Go to the Warehouse when you arrive. There's one in every town that is bigger than about 10,000 people. You can get a cheap hair straightener or curler for about $25.

(Another Kiwi confirming that the advice given by others above is correct).
posted by lollusc at 7:11 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: lollusc, I just found them and Briscoes, googling hair styling equipment! I have another quick question. Here in SF, we sell this stuff at drugstores / pharmacies / chemists [pick your poison], but in PDX, there's a store called Fred Meyer, where you can get everything from sushi to car parts to bags of concrete that is stacked against the wall of a full garden nursery. It was great and you're seriously hard pressed to go anywhere else because it's so easy and the quality quite high. Is either of these places like that? I ask because I land on Sunday and we're going to be at a bach in Whangpoua. Ideally, I'd like to get at least a few days of food and supplies before heading out of town. I don't much like eating out to begin with and we, um, probably won't be exiting the bach much at all in those first few days, so I'd like to be prepared at the get go. Any suggestions would be entirely welcome!
posted by Frisbee Girl at 7:27 PM on April 14, 2013

Briscoes sells mainly homeware, The Warehouse sells more of everything from garden supplies to electronics - they sell some food, but if you're looking to stock up on a few days food, go to a supermarket.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:35 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Good to know, HiroProtagonist; thanks!
posted by Frisbee Girl at 9:14 PM on April 14, 2013

Briscoes is also always more expensive than anywhere else, whereas the Warehouse is as cheap as it gets (with quality to match). There are K-Marts in some places, which is similar to the Fred Meyer you're describing, and Farmers is a decent department store for slightly nicer stuff without the Briscoes price tag. But for a short trip just look for the big red shed and you'll be good. There'll be one in Thames along with supermarkets etc.
posted by shelleycat at 12:51 AM on April 15, 2013

Australia/NZ adapters linked above will do well for you. There are definitely travel hairdriers you can buy that have 120V/240V switches, but I don't know about other hair accessories.

If you have a GSM phone and want to use it in New Zealand, please be aware that the cheap provider (telecom nz, I think?) requires, I believe, a penta band phone. Vodaphone NZ works with tri-band phones, but will cost more.

As a general guideline also, be prepared to pay for internet at your lodging in NZ. Or use your time as a chance to unplug and enjoy New Zealand's amazingness.
posted by Phredward at 6:40 AM on April 15, 2013

Not an answer to the question but a caution: in NZ the power switches go down to turn on and up to turn off.

If your phone uses USB to charge, just get a cheap USB wall-socket outlet - about $20.
posted by arzakh at 7:28 AM on April 15, 2013

just got back from NZ, i'll confirm the note about the Warehouse. Furthermore, if you favorite hair tool doesn't support 240V, the converter you'll need will cost >$100 and be the size/weight of a couple of bricks. The wife bought a hair tool from the warehouse and was quite happy.
posted by maulik at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2013

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