For a nation known for its flightless birds, Kiwis make great travellers.

Last year New Zealanders took three million trips over seas. While the number fluctuates, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) estimates around one million New Zealanders live abroad. That's the entirety of central and south Auckland or just over a fifth of the population, flown the nest.

However, not every trip goes smoothly.

Fortunately there are 60 consular postings in 53 countries available to help New Zealanders in difficulty abroad. Last year these consulates and embassies have been on hand to provide everything from replacement passports to adoption papers.


Last year consulates were able to assist 591 New Zealanders who had lost passports or wallets abroad, 269 medical emergencies and certified one wedding.

Although a spokesperson for MFAT said that witnessing weddings is "less glamorous than it sounds", involving certifying documents and tracking down registered witnesses.
However, it's a regular duty with between 1 and 4 vows confirmed by consular staff every year.

The embassy kept busiest by New Zealanders abroad is London, which spent 963 hours on consular services last year. This was followed by Washington DC at 925 hours and Guangzhou China with 908 hours.

One of the most common requests for embassies and New Zealand high commission outposts is to replace lost passports and travel documents. There were a whopping 591 cases of lost passports last year and we can reveal that the USA is the favourite destination for forgetful New Zealanders. 117 items of property were lost there last year.

As for the countries where the most Kiwis fell victim to crime, surprisingly it was the popular Mediterranean holiday spots of Italy, Greece and Spain from which consulates received the most cases. These countries had 43, 33 and 11 cases respectively.

The USA accounted for 21 cases of New Zealanders falling foul of criminal activities and needing help as one of the most popular overseas destinations.

The consular staff and embassies have a range of duties and services for New Zealanders abroad such as helping them contact family in emergencies or replace damaged or lost travel documents, however they will not pay any travel expenses that befall unlucky travellers.

Surprisingly New Caledonia was the place from which the consular services received the most cases concerning medical emergencies. The 28 cases saw the number of medical cases where consular assistance was needed increase by 29 per cent on last year.

Unless there is some reciprocal arrangement with a country's health service, New Zealanders who do not have insurance will have to pay their own medical expenses abroad.


"If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel," says MFAT.