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feb 23 2011

Heading to New Zealand? What you should know

Christchurch earthquake (Courtesy Bernzfotos/Flickr)

If you're gearing up for a trip to New Zealand, reports about a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the country's second largest city of Christchurch on Tuesday may have you concerned about whether now is the best time to go.

Here are some facts to consider:

Indeed, a state of national emergency has been declared in Christchurch and some 75 people are considered dead, according to news reports. However, the state of emergency does not have any direct impact on other areas of New Zealand, according to Tourism New Zealand.

Considerable damage has been reported in Christchurch's central business district and in Lyttelton, a town just outside of Christchurch, according to the country's ministry of civil defense and emergency management.

Not surprisingly, given the amount of destruction, Tourism New Zealand has advised against any non-essential travel to Christchurch over the next week, and has said that travelers with a trip planned to Christchurch in the coming days should check with their airline company and/or travel provider.

As for the remainder of the country, all New Zealand airports, including Christchurch, are open and operating, and Tourism New Zealand stressed that the rest of the country is up and running. The organization did advise travelers to check with their airline regarding possible delays.

Additionally, travelers with upcoming trips might have some protection if they purchased travel insurance.

"In many of our programs if a travel delay exceeds 50% of the scheduled trip, it may allow policy holders to recover lost non-refundable and pre-paid trip expenses. Customers may also qualify for trip cancellation/interruption benefits if their travel supplier experienced a complete cessation of services for 24 or more consecutive hours due to a natural disaster, or their destination is uninhabitable because of a natural disaster," advised Daniel Durazo of Access America.

He added that customers should call their travel insurance providers before canceling their trip to New Zealand to review their coverage.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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