A question that many visitors to New Zealand ask is: Is prostitution legal in New Zealand?
The answer is "Yes" and in fact, New Zealand now has some of the most liberal prostitution and sex laws of any country in the world. Unlike what many people feared, these relaxed attitudes have not led to any more significant problems than elsewhere and sex workers are given good protection by the police. Sex slavery and underage prostitution are not legal in New Zealand.
In 2003, laws were passed in New Zealand making prostitution legal. Prior to that date prostitution was widespread but hidden under the front of massage parlors. The change in the law was welcomed by many as it gave sex workers recognition and rights and access to police protection if necessary.
Now there are brothels and sex services available throughout New Zealand, although generally more evident in the larger towns and cities. With a third of New Zealand's population, Auckland has by far the largest range of services. In smaller centers, services may be available through escorts and private workers. Details can generally be found in the local newspapers or online (other forms of advertising are not permitted).
This is confined to certain areas in the major cities. The main spots where street prostitutes gather are:
- Auckland: Karangahape Road (central city) and Hunters Corner (Papatoetoe, South Auckland)
- Wellington: Cuba and Marion Streets (central city)
- Christchurch: Ferry Road and Manchester Streets
Street prostitutes usually operate in the evenings and at night so if you are walking around these areas during the day you are unlikely to encounter any.
Escort Agencies and Brothels
There are brothels and escort agencies in all of the main centers. There are no 'red light' areas as such in New Zealand, although there are places where strip clubs and brothels tend to be concentrated. In Auckland, they are in Karangahape Road and Fort Street, both in the central city.
Sex and Swingers Clubs
Although not strictly speaking 'pay for sex' operations, there are some clubs in New Zealand that permit sexual activity to take place and which charge an entrance fee. Generally, only couples or single females are admitted. The swinger scene is very small in New Zealand but swinger clubs do exist.
Finding Sexual Services
The advertising for brothels and escorts is discrete but nevertheless relatively easy to find. The main places where you will find sexual services advertised are:
- The Internet
- Classified ads in national and local newspapers
- Display advertising in some magazines and newspapers (in particular the tabloid The New Zealand Truth)
- Late night television (especially on smaller channels)
It goes without saying that if you engage in any sexual activity you should practice safe sex (use condoms). All reputable sex workers in New Zealand will require this as it is, in fact, a legal requirement. It is also obviously for your own protection; New Zealand has fairly high levels of sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex and Crime
Although prostitution is legal in New Zealand, there are elements of the industry which do get caught up in crime and illegal drugs. If you are offered drugs, ensure you know which ones are illegal as the penalties for use can be severe. However, there is little evidence of much other crime amongst prostitutes. Even with a street worker, you are unlikely to get robbed or hurt. Brothels are even safer and rely on being reputable.
If you are the victim of any crime, report it to the police at once (the emergency number is 111).
New Zealand is a liberal society and prostitution is tolerated to a degree seen in not many other countries in the world.