So you’re thinking about packing up and moving to the land of hobbits and kiwis? Honestly, you’ve made a great decision.
New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country with a truly unique culture. Not to mention, there’s plenty of opportunities for education and new careers.
But let’s state the obvious:
Moving to a new country is never easy.
There’s a lot of things you need to take care of if you’re thinking about moving to New Zealand. Where are you going to live? How will you find work? What about your money situation?
But don’t worry. Becoming a kiwi is easier than you think.
“Kiwi” is what New Zealanders call themselves by the way.
Moving to New Zealand is easier than you might think. There are a few things you need to know and take care of. But as long as you make all the necessary preparations, you won’t have too much trouble.
Reasons To Live In New Zealand
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider moving to New Zealand if you’re still trying to make up your mind. It’s a truly unique, beautiful country with tons of opportunities for you and your family.
Here are a few things you should know about:
There’s a very good reason why Peter Jackson chose New Zealand to film the Lord of the Rings movies.
Put simply, this country is drop dead gorgeous.
You’ll find everything here:
There are beautiful beaches, lush green hills, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and so much more.
On top of all this, the weather is amazing most of the time. Much of the country is defined by moderate temperatures and lots of sunshine.
If you’ve spent most of your life in the city, then New Zealand will be a breath of fresh air. It’s the perfect place to move if you want to surround yourself with beautiful natural surroundings.
This is another reason why any outdoors person should consider moving to New Zealand. Outdoor activities are super popular here. Kiwis love to go cycling, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
Are you a thrill seeker?
Then you’re in luck.
Bungy jumping was actually invented in New Zealand, and it’s still home to some of the most insane jumps in the world. There’s also skydiving, freefalling, and ziplining.
All of these are awesome ways to get in touch with New Zealand’s amazing scenery. If you’re tired of being cooped up indoors all the time, then this is a good reason to experience New Zealand.
Now let’s talk about something a little more practical. The global recession wasn’t felt as strongly in New Zealand as most developed nations.
In fact, it’s economy has actually grown in the last several years.
That means there are tons of job opportunities to find a job in New Zealand.
Christchurch, in particular, has plenty of openings due to their rebuilding project. And there’s almost always a shortage of skilled workers.
Thinking about going to school in New Zealand? Then you’re good to go.
New Zealand has eight state-funded universities, all of which are internationally recognized. Also, the tuition is some of the lowest in the world.
Of course, one of the main challenges of moving to a new country is almost always learning a new language.
But here, that won’t even be an issue:
English is the main language spoken throughout the country.
It’s most similar to the English spoken in Australia or Britain. And while it does have a few of its own quirks, you’ll never have any trouble communicating.
This short, fun video can show you some of the necessary slang you need to know.
The Maori language is also an official language in New Zealand. But don’t worry. Realistically, it’s not used in most situations. It’s a fun language to learn, but you certainly don't have to.
How To Move To New Zealand
If you’re intimidated by the thought of moving to a new country, don’t be. Moving to New Zealand is actually as easy as it gets.
Permanent Residents have many of the same rights as full citizens, including healthcare and the right to vote.
There are still a few things you need to take care of before you pack your bags.
There are a variety of different living conditions to choose from when you’re moving to New Zealand.
Do you want to live in a big city? Would you rather live out in the country? Do you prefer warm or cold climates?
No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it here.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the climate can vary wildly depending on what part of the country you move to. The northern part of the country can get very warm while the south is much colder.
Most homes in New Zealand don’t have central heating. On the contrary, most rooms will be individually heated. This is definitely something you want to keep in mind if you don’t like the cold.
If you have children, you’ll also want to see if you’re moving to an enrolment zone.
These exist to prevent overcrowding in schools. If you move to an enrolment zone, they’ll automatically be guaranteed a place in the school.
You can still apply if you don’t, but you won’t have that same guarantee.
Auckland is perhaps the most popular spot for new residents to move to. It’s the biggest city in New Zealand, and it’s often ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
There are plenty of attractions and job opportunities, but the traffic and housing prices can be a bit of a turn-off.
Christchurch is another very popular destination. It’s the biggest city on the South Island, and it has tons of opportunities for careers and education.
It’s also within easy driving distance of some very beautiful beaches. But once again, the housing prices can be a bit insane.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, and it’s a bit smaller than what you’d expect from a capital city.
But don’t let that fool you:
Wellington is still a very cool place to live. It has excellent beaches and gorgeous, rolling hills that can provide some spectacular views. It’s also home to New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa.
These are all great cities, but they’re also a bit expensive.
If you want something a bit cheaper, check out Rotorua. Along with cheaper living conditions, it also has great weather and lots of opportunities.
Furthermore, it’s relatively close to many of the bigger cities in New Zealand.
Finally, we have to mention Napier. It’s a tourist’s paradise, which means plenty of jobs. The cost of living is also significantly lower than most of the other cities on this list.
And of course, it’s wine country. If you love wine, then you can’t go wrong here.
Buying a home is a relatively simple process when you’re moving to New Zealand. In fact, it can take only three to four weeks to complete a purchase.
A good place to start looking for your new home is TradeMe or Realestate.co.nz. Once you find something you like, a real estate agent will help you through the rest of the process.
It’s also a good idea to have a lawyer or a conveyancer if you need independent advice.
You’re free to barter over price when purchasing a home. However, make sure you consider rates when you’re deciding your budget. Rates are taxes that are charged by local councils.
If you need help paying for a home, mortgages are available at all major banks.
Just remember you won’t have any credit history as a new resident. Therefore, you better bring some evidence from your home country.
Banks have a limit for how much they can lend you for a home.
These are called loan-to-value ratio requirements. Make sure you keep this in mind before you start borrowing.
Finally, you’ll want to buy some insurance. Most homes in New Zealand are sum insured. This means you’ll have to calculate how much it would cost if your home had to be completely rebuilt.
Renting is always an option if you don’t feel ready to buy a home yet. Renting a place in New Zealand is very similar to renting in the United States.
You can find a place to rent using the previously mentioned resources. Most tenancy agreements are short to mid-term.
Odds are, you’ll have to pay rent in advance and a bond when you first rent a property.
This could add up to six weeks’ rent, so prepare for that.
The landlord handles the insurance and taxes.
Flatting, or sharing a home is also a very popular practice in New Zealand. This can be a cool way to keep costs down and make new friends, so make sure you consider this option.
Are you a skilled professional?
Then you won’t have any trouble finding a new job in New Zealand.
This country has a shortage of skilled workers, and they’re always happy to welcome new professionals. There’s a good chance your dream job is waiting for you.
But first, you’re going to have to take care of that Visa situation.
Luckily, this isn’t nearly as tedious as it sounds. You can apply for any Visa online at this link. The whole process is pretty simple, and it won’t cost a whole lot of money.
Now let’s look at your options:
The first is a Temporary Visa. These allow you to work in New Zealand for a brief period of time. This obviously isn’t your end goal, but it can help you get started while you’re settling down.
There’s a wide range of Temporary Visas available depending on your profession.
One in particular that you might be interested in is the Working Holiday Visa. These allow people between the ages of 18 and 30 to work in New Zealand for up to a year.
There are also Resident Visas that allow you to work in New Zealand for as long as you like.
The Residence from Work Visa, in particular, is a very easy, simple way to transition from a temporary visa. You can apply for this once you’ve been on the Work to Residence Visa for two years.
You might also be interested in the Skilled Migrant Category. This one uses a point system based on a variety of factors such as age and work experience. You can check and see if you qualify right here.
Unfortunately, most Resident Visas require you to be under 55. Please keep this in mind before you apply.
You won’t have any trouble getting around New Zealand. The roads are good and traffic is relatively light.
Just be aware that you’ll be driving on the left side of the road.
This can be a bit confusing at first if you’ve never done it before.
Buying or renting a car is pretty easy. More than likely, you’ll want to rent at first. Virtually every airport will have rentals available on their website. You can also check out some comparisons right here.
When you’re ready to buy, you can do so in all the usual ways. You can find cars in magazines or websites, or you can go shopping at a second-hand dealer.
But before you buy:
Make sure the Warrant of Fitness, or WoF, is less than a month old. Also, make sure the car is registered with the New Zealand Transportation Agency, or NZTA.
Once you buy, you’ll have to register the car in your name. Insurance is recommended, but it’s not required.
When it comes to public transportation, buses are the most popular option. If you’re interested in traveling by bus, look up InterCity.
Looking for a cheap, fast way to travel between the major cities? Domestic flights are the answer. Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the main airlines you should know about.
The first thing you need to know about spending money in New Zealand is they love cards.
75% of all purchases in the country are done with debit or credit cards.
In fact, almost 75 percent of all purchases in the country are done with debit or credit cards. Visa, Mastercard, and AmEx are accepted virtually everywhere.
It’s still a good idea to have some cash on you at all times.
Luckily, that won’t be a problem. ATMs are all over the place in New Zealand. If you need some cash, there’s a good chance you’ll find one nearby.
Incidentally, ATMs are also the best place to exchange your currency when you first enter the country. The exchange rates at airports are pretty ridiculous, so look for an ATM instead.
New Zealand also has a highly sophisticated banking system. Most of the major banks are owned by Australia. Once you get an account, you likely won’t get charged for using their ATMs.
One more thing:
As long as you still have a bank account at home, you need to let them know before you charge any money in New Zealand.
Otherwise, your bank might flag your transactions as suspicious, meaning you won’t be able to access your money. This could cause more than a few problems.
Things To Do In New Zealand
You’ll find you have plenty of things to do once you get settled in New Zealand.
With all the adventures awaiting you, you’re never going to get bored in this beautiful country.
Odds are, part of the reason why you’re moving to New Zealand is that you’re a Lord of the Rings fan.
It’s common knowledge that the LOTR and Hobbit movies were filmed here, and they truly made use of the country’s natural beauty.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to check out some of the most popular filming locations while you’re there.
One of the best ways to get in touch with your inner hobbit is to visit the village of Hobbiton in Matamata.
This guided tour consists of all of the 44 hobbit holes that were used in the movies. Once you’ve finished exploring the village, you can grab a drink and a bite to eat at the Green Dragon Inn.
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are another must-see attraction. Along with being a key part of recording the audio for the movies, these caves are really spectacular in their own right.
You can take a boat ride under thousands of glowworms, and the Maori myths surrounding it are fascinating as well.
You can also go on a helicopter tour with Bill Reid, the man who helped scout many of the filming locations for the movies.
On this tour, you can get a bird’s eye view of Mt. Olympus and Mt. Owen. Both of these mountains were key locations for important scenes in the movies.
These are just a few of the Middle Earth tours available in New Zealand. Make sure to check out the full list to see if something catches your eye.
This is guaranteed to be unlike any hike you’ve ever been on before. New Zealand is home to numerous volcanoes, some of which are still active. Go hiking on a volcano. Seriously.
Believe it or not, you can actually see them up close if you’re brave enough.
On the White Island Tour, you can go on a five to six-hour tour of Whakaari/White Island. This is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world.
Don’t worry, no mountain climbing experience is necessary.
After getting up close with the volcano’s inner crater, you’ll get to go for a quick swim, go dolphin watching, and even have a quick lunch.
You can also go hiking on Mt. Tarawera in Rotorua. This volcano is responsible for the world’s youngest geothermal valley and is held in high respect by the Maori people.
There are numerous ways to experience this volcano. There’s everything from a simple hike to helicopter rides, and even rafting.
But that's not all:
There’s also Rangitoto Island. It’s New Zealand’s youngest volcano and one of Auckland’s proudest attractions.
Along with seeing the volcano, you also get an excellent panoramic view of the city.
When visiting these attractions, make sure you bring plenty of water and wear enclosed shoes with good grip.
And of course, always keep a close eye on your kids.
So, it's not really that extreme, but imagine telling people you hike volcanoes. Yeah.
Maori culture is a really fascinating part of New Zealand culture in general, and it’s one of the best parts of moving to New Zealand. Check out the Maori culture!
It’s so ingrained in the country’s society that you’ll experience it one way or another once you’re living there.
Still, there are a few things you can do to really immerse yourself in this amazing culture.
One of the best ways to get in touch with Maori culture is to take part in a powhiri.
This is a Maori welcoming ceremony that consists of a series of beautiful Maori traditions. These are available in several places in New Zealand, including Christchurch, Rotorua, and Hawke’s Bay.
Seeing a kapa haka is another excellent way to experience Maori culture.
These are performing arts which include amazing singing and dancing. Excellent weapon demonstrations are also included. They often perform these during special events.
Last but not least:
You have to check out some Maori art.
They have a very rich tradition of carving and weaving, and it’s definitely something you have to see for yourself.
There are tons of places where you can see Maori art for yourself, but the best is the Institute of Maori art in Te Puia.
If you’ve spent most of your life in the city, then you’re really in for a treat.
You may not know it, but New Zealand is actually one of the best places in the world for stargazing.
There are places where the country has almost no light pollution, which gives you an incredibly clear view of the stars at night.
Furthermore, New Zealand’s South Island is home to the largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the world.
One of the best spots to go stargazing is at Big Sky Stargazing at the foot of Mt. Cook. This location is far away from city lights and is part of the International Dark Sky Reserve.
You should also check out Skyline Stargazing.
Located on the mountains above Queenstown, this is another great spot to see the stars, planets, and even our own Milky Way.
What Are the Challenges of Moving to New Zealand?
As you can tell, moving to New Zealand will be pretty easy, and there’s plenty of reasons to live there. But we’re not going to pretend everything’s all sunshine and rainbows.
Before you commit to living in New Zealand, there are a few things you should know.
You know you're thinking it...
Considering its close proximity to Australia, you might be concerned about New Zealand having some particularly dangerous animals.
But don’t be scared!
Most of the animals living in New Zealand are perfectly harmless and friendly.
However, there are a few other challenges that are specific to this little island country.
Although we’ve already talked about how great New Zealand’s weather is, it can occasionally turn bad. It’s pretty normal for the country to see stormy weather systems a few times a year.
Always make sure you pay attention to local weather forecasts if things look bad.
You might expect New Zealand to be in the path of some major tropical cyclones. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
So while the weather does turn nasty occasionally, you at least don’t have worry about major hurricanes.
New Zealand is also subject to a few other natural disasters.
As mentioned before, the country has a few active volcanoes. Fortunately, these are monitored by GeoNet.
It's also subject to earthquakes on occasion. In 2011, Christchurch was hit by a major earthquake that measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
That being said, most earthquakes in New Zealand aren’t nearly that powerful.
This is one of the main things you have to watch out for when you’re moving to New Zealand.
This country has significantly less air pollution than most parts of the world.
As a result, the UV rays are especially strong. And since New Zealand receives over 2,000 hours of sunlight a year, you’ll have to protect yourself if you don’t want to get burnt.
Luckily, a little common sense will go a long way.
Always wear plenty of sunscreen and make sure you dress appropriately. Wearing a hat in the middle of the day is always a good idea.
New Zealand is very, very serious about their biosecurity, and for good reason.
It might seem like a bit of a hassle, but they’re only trying to prevent dangerous pests and diseases from entering their country.
Because of this, it’s super important that you either declare or dispose of any potential risk items when you’re at the airport.
These include food, plants, animal products, water, and other such items. Sometimes security dogs sniff bags, and they can hit you with a $400 fine if you fail to declare something. Ouch.
But don’t worry too much:
If you’re not sure if something is a risk item, you can always ask an officer. They’ll be happy to help you out.
If you’re still not sure how it works, this cartoon dog can explain it to you.
The three major mobile carriers in New Zealand are Spark, Vodafone, and 2Degrees.
Unfortunately, this country has a reputation for being a little behind the times when it comes to cell phones.
You’ll often hear providers say something along the lines of, “Covers 90 percent of places where kiwis work and play.”
You’ll have coverage in all the major towns and cities, but you’re out of luck if you venture into the country. New Zealand has huge patches of mountainous regions where coverage is non-existent.
Since outdoor activities are so popular in New Zealand, you’ll have to remember that you can’t rely on your phone in these places.
If you plan to visit a place where no one actually lives, you probably won’t be covered.
Getting Ready For Your New Life In New Zealand
Now you know everything you need to do to become a kiwi. As we’ve said before, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.
All that’s left now is to implement what you’ve learned.
The best thing to do is to tackle things one at a time. If you need to, write down all the things you think you need to do and cross them off the list as you do them.
And of course, enjoy the process of moving to New Zealand.
You’re about to embark on an adventure that you’ll never forget, and you couldn’t have picked a better country.
New Zealand is a wonderful place full great people an amazing experiences. So have fun, and good luck finding your new home.