Safety Guide for Expats in Auckland
Auckland is a very safe city – the crime rate is low and gun ownership in New Zealand is close to non-existent. There are very few reports of murders, rapes or assaults, and there is no particular danger to women. However, things do happen on occasion. There is a gang culture, although it is predominately limited to areas in South Auckland that are not popular with immigrants. Still, it never hurts to exercise a bit of caution – walk with a friend late at night, avoid dark alleys, and so on, as you would do in any large city.
Burglaries and car thefts are more common than assault-type crimes. Many homes, especially those in upscale neighbourhoods, are alarmed and/or gated. It’s advisable to lock your house and car and to park in visible, well-lighted areas.
New Zealand on the whole does not have any particularly dangerous animals, and there are no land snakes here at all. There are, however, three spiders that are best avoided, although not deadly. The Whitetail spider, an Australian immigrant, can cause problems but only if you are allergic to their bite; these spiders are generally found in the home and are quite distinctively shaped. The Redback is another spider that has travelled over from Australia. The Redback causes a very painful bite and is something that should be checked out at the hospital if the pain does not subside after a short while. Redbacks are generally found in garden mulch. The Katipo is a New Zealand native that is related to the Redback. Both the Redback and Katipo are related to the Black Widow.
Other wildlife in New Zealand that can cause initial consternation is the very large, but completely harmless Weta and Bush Cockroaches. Both of these will be found more in the outer areas of the city where you are closer to the bush. Weta can look extremely scary but will not hurt you, some people even keep them as pets.
Sandflies are the bane of holidaymakers, BBQ attendees and beachgoers. These nasty little flies bite around the ankles and are most active at sunset during the summer months. They don’t just live in sandy areas, they are everywhere people are. Their bites are incredibly itchy and if you tend to react to bites then you can be left with some nasty looking welts. The best advice is to avoid being bitten by these critters by stocking up on Off! which is a NZ brand insect repellent. If you do get bitten, don’t scratch as this will make it much worse, use ice packs, cold water and anti-itch cream.
Sharks are in the water off of Auckland, they can bite, but attacks are very rare and generally provoked.