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Tipping in Australia and New Zealand

Should You Tip? How Much Should You Tip?


Diners at Southbank.
Lonely Planet/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Tipping is still quite a contentious issue in Australia and New Zealand.

Locals, particularly those away from urban areas, say: Don't.

Should you?

No hard and fast rule

The problem is there's no hard and fast rule to go by. Generally Australians and New Zealanders say tipping (see discussion) is not only unnecessary but also a practice to be abhorred since, or so the argument goes, Australian workers in the tourism and other service industries already get paid sufficiently.

In fact, as a practice, tipping is relatively new and has been brought Down Under by those coming from "tipping" societies, particularly Americans.

So should you tip?

I'm going out on a limb here and say Yes. But not always, and not even most of the time.

If you're in a popular tourist destination area, I'd say you'd be expected to tip waiters in relatively upmarket restaurants, taxi drivers, hotel workers who carry your luggage to your room or otherwise provide room service.

This would apply, for instance, in city areas in Sydney or Melbourne and visitor-oriented districts such as The Rocks and Darling Harbour in Sydney and Southbank and Docklands in Melbourne.

The dilemma is in trying to find out where, and when, you should not tip.

If you make a mistake, you can always err in favor of whoever serves you by leaving a small gratuity.

How much to tip

Taxis: A maximum of 10 per cent of the fare should be all right. In fact, if you get change from the money you hand to the driver for your fare, the small change in coins is quite often sufficient. Outside of major metropolitan and tourist areas, a tip may not be required, but a small gratuity is always welcome.

Restaurant waiters: Depending on the area and type of restaurant, again a tip of no more than 10 per cent should suffice if you're pleased with the service. Also note if your restaurant bill includes a service charge, which works as a tip for those who serve you, in which case you don't have to leave an extra tip. (But you can if you want to.)

Hotel room service: For those who bring your baggage to your room, one to two dollars per piece of luggage should suffice. For those bringing in room service orders of food or drink, a small gratuity of two to five dollars, but no more than 10 per cent of the bill, should be all right.

For hairdressers, masseurs and masseuses, gym trainers and other personal service providers, tipping really depends on how much the service is worth to you above the normal charge. It would be good if you could get an inkling beforehand of what other people tip.

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