My first family vacation is coming up and we’ll be in New Zealand for three weeks. I’ll be away from my food, guns, ammunition, and assorted survival stash. Add to that that I can’t take more than $10,000 in cash out of the country and can’t take any weapons with me. So, what do you take with you on such a trip? Gold is too heavy. Any ideas on what to bring that won’t weigh me down. Thanks, – S.
JWR Replies: Assuming that your main purposes in carrying cash and/or specie would be 1.) to secure passage back to the U.S. in the event of an international crisis, or 2.) to provide for sustenance in NZ while you wait for a crisis in the U.S. to normalize, then depending on your circumstances I’d recommend that you and your wife each carry a money belt containing (up to but not to exceed): Five circulated gold British Sovereigns (or, if you can’t find Sovereigns, then get 1 ounce gold Australian Kookaburras) 3000 Euros in cash, $2,000 NZD (cash and/or traveller’s checks), and $1,000 USD cash. That would keep the USD value for each of your belts under the $10,000 USD. If you are concerned about customs or immigration officials considering this a “constructive” (additive) violation, then you might carry 1/2 of the amounts mentioned–making the total your whole family will carry under $10,000. (But it is still wise to carry it divided in two separate money belts.) BTW, Euros have been minted in denominations as large as E500, making them quite convenient to carry in a money belt. (But these E500 notes are hard to find. You might have to contact several currency dealers.) Also BTW, Canadian dollars have also been minted in C$500 notes. Those haven’t been printed in decades, and you’ll have to pay a premium for them.
Once you arrive in New Zealand, leave your money belts in your hotel’s vault, or if they refuse to take responsibility for them, then with a local bank in a deposit box. (Regardless, do so with a signed and countersigned inventory. Carry a separate photocopy of that inventory with you.)
Street crime is not a major issue in New Zealand, aside for a few neighborhoods in Auckland. But if you have concerns, for self protection while there I’d recommend that you immediately buy a couple of stout Maori tokotoko walking sticks. These are quite nicely carved and will make great keepsakes. (See the previous SurvivalBlog posts on walking sticks for self defense.) OBTW, if you pass though Dunedin (on the Otago Peninsula) and you have a big budget then you might consider investing in a custom damascus Bowie knife made by Richard van Dijk. He does fine work, and his knives are sure to appreciate in value. Have a safe trip!