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Visitor Information
 
 
Contents
Airlines
Banking/Currency
Climate
Custom/Duty
Departure Tax
Driving Tips
Embassies
Electrical Voltage
Emergency Services
Visa Requirements
Quarantine/Bio Security
Food
Goods and Service Tax (GST)
Health
Medical Services
Language
Stay Safe
Politics
Religion
Respect
Shopping
Telephones/Internet
Time Zone
Tipping
Transport
Water Supply
 
 

Nestled deep in the South Pacific, New Zealand offers the visitor a sparkling, clean and safe environment. It is a small country - the same size as Japan or Great Britain - but with a small population of only 4.2 million, it offers more space per capita than most other holiday destinations in the world.

New Zealand is a land where nature is at its most spectacular. In the south, soaring, majestic peaks and fathomless fiords while in the north there are thermal regions where the mud boils and the fractured earth sends jets of steam and water metres into the air. From hills cloaked in multi-toned layer of native bush to beaches stroked by the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a country where enjoying the outdoors has become a way of life. World class wines increase that enjoyment from local vineyards which are the first in the world to see the sun each day. It is a land of awesome beauty - a land of contrasts. Come and enjoy it with us.

New Zealand is approx 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) in length and consists of two major islands - North and South (fairly original and no hard names to remember). The North Island is 115,000 sq kilometers (44,000 sq miles) and the South island is 151,000 sq kilometers (58,300 sq miles). There is another bit at the bottom called Stewart Island which is 1700 sq kilometers (656 sq miles). The total coastline is 15,134 kilometers if you have desires to 'circumnavigate'.

New Zealand is situated 10,400 km (6,464 miles) south-west of North America, 1,700km (1,056 miles) south of Fiji, and 2,250km (1,400 miles) east of Australia. If you still can't find us, track down the 180 degree Longitude where it intersects the 40 degree south Latitude and we are there just a few millimetres to the left!

A Geographic coordinate: 41 00 S, 174 00 E .. if you want to have a precise dot somewhere in NZ amongst the sheep.

New Zealand has a population of approximately 4,182,000 million including 320,000 Maori. Both Maori and European (Pakeha) are a united population (mostly) sharing the same legal and citizenship rights. The ethnic mix is about: New Zealand European 74.5%, Maori 9.7%, other European 4.6%, Pacific Islander 3.8%, Asian and others 7.4%

We have about 3.4 million radios, 1.7 million television sets, 1.9 million telephones, 92,200 km of roads, 44 airports with paved runways, and we got our Independence on 26 September 1907 (from the UK)!

More things you may or may not want to know:

Airlines:
New Zealand is served by Air New Zealand, Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Korean Airlines, Thai International, Air Pacific, Polynesian, Japan Airlines, Cathy Pacific and some others. These airlines have co-share flights with most of the international airlines.

New Zealand has an extensive domestic airline network that services 23 destinations within New Zealand.

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Banking/Currency:
Decimal currency - New Zealand Dollar (NZD/NZ$). Coins are 10c (Copper), 20c and 50c (silver), NZ$1 and NZ$2 (Gold). Notes are available in NZ$5, NZ$10, NZ$20, NZ$50 and NZ$100.

NZ Dollar is a floating currency and will vary daily against the major currencies like - A$, C$, US$, GBP, Euro, etc.

To check the current value of your currency against the NZD/NZ$.

New Zealand has an advance, electronic based banking system.  Banks are open 9:00am until 4:30pm Monday through Friday. Banks do not operate Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays. Major Credit/Debit Cards (American Express, Diners Club, Visa, Mastercard, JCB) are accepted throughout New Zealand. 

All Banks provide currency exchange facilities and in addition there are various Currency Exchange outlets operating (government regulated as to their operation) through out the country where you can change currency at the same international rate.

All Banks offer a wide range of telephone and Internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.

New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town, even those without a bank. Most shops have EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards transactions, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with EFTPOS, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around NZ$10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash.

New Zealand is introducing multiple currency EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals especially in the major tourist centres in New Zealand. This means you can select the currency you want to make your transaction in and the conversion from NZ$ to your currency automatically.  Multiple currency EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals will be phased in through out New Zealand over the next 2-3 years.

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Climate:
New Zealand's climate is an oceanic, temperate one with no close land mass to modify it. Situated in the westerly wind belt with alternating patterns moving steadily eastwards, the weather follows a relatively steady 6 to 10 day cycle but with many contrasts throughout the country.

We enjoy long sun hours and the seasons are reverse to those of the northern hemisphere - warm October through April, cooler May through September.

Temperatures throughout New Zealand vary due to the diverse nature of the country, but average North Island Summer temperatures range between 16°C - 26°C and in winter 7°C - 18°C. South island Summer temperatures range between 12°C - 25°C and in winter 3°C - 12°C.

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Customs/Duty Free:
200 Cigarettes, 1125 ml bottle of spirits plus 6 bottles of wine are permitted. There is no need to carry this stuff onboard the aircraft as Inbound Duty Free shops are available on your arrival at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports with some of the lowest Duty Free prices for booze and cigarettes anywhere in the world.

Do not be tempted to try bringing any Drugs (non-medicinal) into New Zealand. There are strict Drug and Trafficking laws in New Zealand with major emphasis on boarder control including drug dogs operating at all International airports. Our Customs people are generally pretty cool - but this changes rather dramatically if you have dope stashed in your baggage! And you don't need drugs here to have a good time.

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Departure Tax:
NZ$25.00 (Depending on airport) is payable (cash or credit/debit card) by all international passengers upon departure - except same day international transit passengers (coming from country-1 and departing to country-3) and children under the age of 11.

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Driving:
New Zealand because of its size, is an easy country to travel around by car. A few hours drive will take you city to city on either island and there are many small towns and points of scenic or historic interest in between.

There is no national network of multi lane freeways, so travel is on standard 2 lane road network except in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, where there is multi lane highway system located in their region's.

Traffic conditions with the exception of the high density population areas around Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin, is generally light.

We drive on the LEFT side of the road (the correct way to drive). ie: keep the white line on the right hand side of the car at all times).

Speed limit on the open main roads is 100kph, 70kph on secondary roads and in urban areas is 30-50kph. Road speed is rigidly enforced by New Zealand Police road policing service.

Drink/Driving is not permitted and the penalties are tough so don't do it.

When driving in New Zealand, allow approximately 5 hours a day of driving. This allows you to have driving breaks on the way and plenty of time for sightseeing.

For further information on travel distances and driving in New Zealand.

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Embassies:
Almost all major countries are represented in New Zealand.

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Electrical Voltage:
The electrical zap through the country is 220-240 volts, 50 hertz and a 3-pin plug (Australia Type 1). Most hotels and motels have 110-volt AC sockets (20 watts) for electric razors only - there is not enough woomph in them to drive anything else such as hair dryers etc. Best to borrow a local hair dryer before the big party. If you're interested, we produce about 36 billion kWh of electricity each year - mostly from Hydro Dams (water power!). If you're not interested then just remember the light & plug switches work the correct way here: Up=Off and Down=On.

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Emergency Services:
Extensive emergency services are in operation throughout New Zealand. The emergency service telephone number is 111 (Police, Medical/Ambulance, Fire) and can be dialled free of charge from ANY telephone (including pay, card and cell phones).

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Visa Entry Requirements:
All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders and current permanent residents of Australia may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions including on employment. British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor's Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries can be granted a visa-free visitor's entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries on Immigration New Zealand web site.

All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.

Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality, will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check Immigration New Zealand web site for details.

You must also have an onward or return ticket to a country that you have permission to enter, and sufficient funds to support your stay (NZD2,000 per month per person). Visa requirements vary so please check with your travel agent.

Check the NZ Immigration website for the current list of countries: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/visit/.  Visa's are NOT issued on arrival!

To work in New Zealand you need to be a citizen or current permanent resident of either New Zealand or Australian, or else have a work permit or appropriate visa. If you are intending to work in New Zealand you should obtain a work permit along with any tourist visas you might apply for. 
Check Immigration New Zealand website for details.

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Quarantine/Bio Security:
As an island nation, New Zealand has very strict bio security laws. The economy is based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases and pests.

At ports of international entry, both the Agriculture and Customs Services may inspect passenger baggage and confiscate and fine for any prohibited items. There are air-side amnesty bins available to cater for accidental importation. Items that must be declared include: any kind of food; any plant material; any animals, animal material or biological specimens; dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, and used camping gear and anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. If declared, the owners of dirty items are often required to clean them thoroughly, if not declared fines are often applied. Expect random inspections by sniffer-dogs - you may need to have your luggage inspected if you have had food in it recently that the dogs can smell. If in doubt, ask a Bio Security or Customs Officer.

Commercially-packaged or processed food is usually allowed through by the Agricultural services, but you can still be fined if you do not declare them. If you are unsure it is best to declare any questionable items to a Bio Security or Customs officer who will be able to tell you if it needs to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Some items may be allowable such as wooden souvenirs but be taken for sterilization or fumigation before being released to you. You may be charged a fee for this.

On the spot fines of $200 are issued for not declaring controlled items. The law provides for deliberate breaches to receive a fine of up to NZ$100,000 or a prison term of up to five years. Either declare items as required or dump them in the amnesty bins before you reach customs. If you have difficulty with the arrival card, most airline staff are able to assist you, there are also officials at the major airports air-side who can assist.

In addition, importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and results in arrest. If found guilty, you would be subject to a range of penalties from; hefty fines for minor offences to lengthy imprisonment for larger offences, after which you would be deported and prohibited from re-entering.

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Food:
New Zealand is a major producer of pasture-fed lamb (little sheep), venison and beef. Our seas yield a variety of fish, rock lobsters (crayfish), oysters and scallops. Fruit and vegetables are locally grown, fresh and tasty. Heaps of restaurants (both fully licensed and BYO) in the cities and towns, with quite a few out in the county as well, offer a wide range of local and international cuisine. Prices obviously vary but if you have $NZ20-30 you can get a good two course meal and for an extra $NZ12 get sloshed on a reasonable bottle of wine. For $60 you can have a really really good feed.

If you are on the cheap, many fast food outlets abound throughout New Zealand from the local corner 'Take Aways' (burgers, fish, chips, oriental etc) to the big names like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, KFC etc (yep, there is no escaping - and we also make Coke and Pepsi).

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Goods and Service Tax (GST):
To help the government make money, a 15% Goods and Service Tax (GST) is payable on everything you buy. Generally this is included in the advertised price but if it starts to make things look too expensive, there will be a note on the price tag, brochure or menu that states GST is additional. On all receipts issued, the GST content must be shown as a separate item (ie Condoms $12, GST $1.80, Total $13.80 - or the words GST Content $1.80).

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Health:
New Zealand is free of health hazards - biological and animal (no snakes, wild bears, lions or tigers except in the Zoo's). Nothing dangerous will leap out at you in the middle of the night, except if a tiger escapes from the zoo or your partner gets aroused. No vaccination certificates are required.

The most dangerous things we have are goats (they tend to "bunt" a lot), some Pitt Bull Terriers (don't open the gate),

New Zealand has a very high level of ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer, around 40% more intense than you will find in the Mediterranean during the summer. Sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended, especially if you are of European descent.

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Medical Services:
New Zealand provides a high standard of medical treatment and care, both public and private facilities. Please note that medical services are not free to visitors (Except of Australia or British citizens) or non-residents - except as a result of an accident (and you don't want to go around having those all the time). It is strongly recommended that you carry adequate medical insurance.

Visiting the doctor will cost about NZ$70 and may vary between practices and localities. The New Zealand public hospital system is free of charge to Australian, British and New Zealand citizens but will charge other nationals for treatment received. An exception to this is in the case of any accident when the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) will pick up the tab. Travel insurance is highly recommended.

New Zealand has high and equitable standards of professional health care comparable with Sweden or Australia.

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Language:
English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. English is universal, and is written with Commonwealth (British) spelling.

New Zealand English is one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms to justify the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary.

Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that Americans may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom refers to a room containing a bath while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom or washroom are known as a toilet. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media are unusually tolerant of swear words when used in context.

The New Zealand accent is somewhat nasalised with flattened vowel sounds and vowel shifting. New Zealanders consider their accent to be markedly different from the Australian one and are often mildly offended when mistaken for or confused with Australians. New Zealand terminology and slang are also different from Australian usage. Americans find New Zealand accents easy to understand, so do Australians and British. Some European dialects find it slightly harder and Asians may find it rather hard to understand; New Zealanders are quite happy however to repeat what they just said if necessary.

Offensive language in a public place is not too smart and you could end up staying with the local police. The police dress in blue and wear blue/white chequered caps - most generally looking quite cool.

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Stay Safe:
While difficult to make international comparisons, the level of crime in New Zealand is similar to many other western countries. Dishonesty offences, such as theft, are by far the most frequent type of crime. Travellers should take simple, sensible precautions such as putting valuables away out of sight or in a secure place and locking doors of vehicles, even in remote locations, as much of this crime is opportunistic in nature.

Violent crime in public places is generally associated with alcohol or illicit drug consumption. Rowdy bars or drunken crowds in city centres, or groups of youths in the suburbs, are best avoided, especially late at night and in the early morning. New Zealanders can be somewhat lacking in a sense of humour when their country or their sporting teams are mocked by loud or drinking tourists.

There are occasional disturbing high profile media reports of tourists being targeted in random violent robberies and/or sexual crimes. These crimes tend to happen in more isolated places, where the chances of the offender being observed by other people are low. The chance of falling victim to such misfortune is still low.

Law enforcement is by New Zealand Police - the national police force. Police officers are generally polite and helpful and are unarmed but are trained to handle firearms.  Police officers carry only batons and offender control pepper spray. Tasers are currently being introduced in Wellington and Auckland. However, first response patrols will generally have recourse to firearms locked in their vehicle and will used if a situation requires such weapons, such as an armed offender.

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Politics:
Yes we have one of those. The Government of New Zealand is a party approach to politics (in more ways than one) with an independent judiciary. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy, the Head of State - Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II - is represented within the country by a resident Governor General. Most of us ignore the whole thing and just get on with living.

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Religion:
Christian - predominantly Church of England and Roman Catholic. Almost every other religion is also represented. If you don't have a religion that is not a problem either.

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Respect:
Maori cultural experiences are popular tourist attractions enjoyed by many, but as with any two cultures encountering one another, there is room for misunderstanding. Some tourists have found themselves more confronted than they expected by ceremonial challenges and welcomes. These are serious occasions, and chatter and laughing during rituals is not recommended. People have been attacked by their entertainers to date for appearing to not treat it with the highest sacredness. You'd best have jokes and laughs later. There will be plenty of time to relax later when the hangi is lifted.

Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders are generally on good terms, but from time to time there have been frayed relationships between the two. Enter discussion about this with politeness and caution, or, of course, not at all.

Remember also, that New Zealand is still a very young nation by many standards and its identity is still being formulated. Commenting that New Zealand is subservient to the United Kingdom is sometimes admired and other times despised, and although New Zealand coinage is adorned with British royal figures New Zealand is an independent member of the Commonwealth and saying that New Zealand is almost identical can be offensive to some.

While Australia and New Zealand have close foreign policy ties, considerable inter-immigration, and cultures that overlap, saying New Zealanders are basically Australians will not gain you any New Zealander or Aussie friends. Although Australians and New Zealanders may seem the same to you they do not consider themselves the same. It is pretty much the same relationship as with Canadians and people from the United States or Irish and British. Some Australians may joke about New Zealand being another state of Australia, but that does not make it one. In many ways Australia and New Zealand have a similar outlook towards the other, with the same cliched jokes being made.

Despite the jokes about New Zealand, many Australians have a genuine affection for the New Zealanders. This can be traced back to ANZAC, Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, participation in two world wars, particularly the Gallipoli campaign, Korea, Viet Nam, the Malaya Crisis, Timor, Solomon Islands, etc.

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Shopping:
Shops are mostly open 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday. Also in most areas 9am to 4pm Saturdays and 10am-4pm Sundays. Late night shopping in the main centres is Friday until 9pm. In some areas, particularly in the suburbs, late night shopping is on Thursdays until 9pm. Shopping hours are now quite flexible and some shops remain open longer - particularly in the tourist areas (we need your money). It is also expected that you pay for items you want, we are not a free country!

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Telephones and Internet:
New Zealand is isolated geographically so we have a heavy requirement for telecommunications to connect us to the world via satellite, fibre optic, digital and analog circuits. All the modern stuff is here and well used.

There are about 4000 payphones in NZ which can be easily identified by their yellow and blue colours. All of them accept major credit cards and a variety of phone cards available from retailers. You may have to look harder for a payphone that accepts coins.

New Zealand uses the British Telecom BT600 phone plug (if that information helps!).

If you have a world traveling capable bat-phone (Mobile phone) it should work here OK, as long as it is GSM (2G & 3G) digital. Mobile phones are also available for hire by rental car/campervan operators or you can purchase prepaid GSM Sim cards that can operate of one of  three major mobile carriers in New Zealand - Vodafone, Telecom, and 2degrees.

A prepaid Sim card connection pack from Telecom or Vodafone costs around NZ$30.00 and a prepaid Sim cards from 2degrees costs NZ$2.00. Telecom has broader coverage even in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone and 2degrees but both operators are upgrading their networks to full 3G networks.

Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call *555 only to report Non-emergency Traffic Safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police.

Telecom and Vodafone offer nationwide 3G data network for your laptop as long as you have a 3G USB stick.

Some hotels offer plug-in-the-wall sockets for laptop connection so you can hook into your email and pick up messages from friends and lovers.

Very few cafes, motels, etc include free Wi-Fi, although it may be available for a charge. Internet access is available in cyber cafes and there are generally many of these in major cities.

Be warned that some cyber cafes may not be maintained properly, but there are places around that maintain a high level of security when it comes to their systems. If you have your own laptop, many cyber cafes allow wired & wireless access. It is slowly becoming more common to allow tourists to use their own laptops to access the Internet. It's not recommended to travel between cyber cafes without using a trusted & reliable AntiVirus application. Firewall software is not needed as cyber cafes should have their own firewall in-place.

Many public libraries have public Internet access. There may be a charge although that is changing. The Auckland City Public Library allows for two 15minute sessions a day at no charge. Hourly rates for are usually in the range of $4 to $8, with cheaper rates of around $2 to $4 at cyber cafes within the main city centres. Some providers, such as the Christchurch City Library network offer free access to some sites, usually ones of interest such as Google, BBC and CNN and those in the .nz top level domain.

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Time Zone:
New Zealand is almost right on the International date line and is 12 hours ahead of GMT Mid-MAR through Early-OCT, and 13 hours ahead of GMT Early-OCTOBER through Mid-MARCH (NZ Daylight Saving Time).

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Tipping:
Persons employed in New Zealand do not depend upon tips or gratuities for their income, and tips are not expected for normal service. However, when you get good restaurant service or if the waiter is real spunky - give them a tip. It is accepted and will make you feel good!

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Transport:
A comprehensive network of scheduled coach and bus, ferry and air transportation services operates throughout New Zealand. 

Rental cars, campervans, motorhome hire and taxi services are readily available.

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Water Supply:
New Zealand cities and towns have excellent public water supplies. In all cases, tap water is fresh and is safe to drink - unless you are allergic to fresh water without whiskey in it. Ice Cubes in drinks are SAFE to chew on or let melt. In most country places there are usually 'filters' over the water inlet pipes to prevent dead possums (fury things similar to cats - but with sharper claws & teeth) getting into the water supply - so the water is kewl.

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