The Ultimate Guide to Moving to New Zealand
More and more foreigners are choosing to emmigrate to New Zealand, with Britons coming right at the top of the list. Thousands are deciding to call it their home every year, and it is easy to see why. Located east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand offers a unique island setting that combines quality of life and new opportunity, against the backdrop of some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet.
Compared to the heavy austerity measures imposed by most European countries, New Zealand enjoys relatively low unemployment, favourable tax rates and a low cost of living. Add to these a solid infrastructure, high-quality education, low crime rates and a favourable climate, it makes a compelling option for Britons looking to make a new life abroad.
Moving to New Zealand
Choosing somewhere to live
In an ideal world none of us would relocate without visiting the country we intend to move to beforehand.
It is important to get a feel for its climate, its culture and its customs to be sure that it really offers all that we are looking for. Like any country, New Zealand varies enormously between mountain and beach, from rural areas to urban centres and from city to city. Decide what features are most important to you, research the areas that best tick the boxes and try to visit them all before you make your decision about exactly where to relocate.
If you are relocating for work, a visit beforehand may not be possible. In this case, simply try to find out as much as you can before you go. With so much information available on the Internet, it is easy to find the answers to just about every question imaginable. It is even possible to arrange viewings or rent a property online before you leave the UK.
Moving your possessions
Whether you are buying or renting, no home-from-home in New Zealand will be complete without your possessions. Britannia Movers International specialises in helping families and individuals to move their belongings quickly and safely from Great Britain, to destinations all over New Zealand. We offer decades of experience in relocation services, combined with local knowledge to tailor the move to your individual requirements.
Belongings can be sent either by air or by sea, depending on how urgently they are needed on arrival. Container shipments usually take between nine and 14 weeks door to door, however if you need your possessions more quickly it is possible to have some or all of them flown over.
Depending on how much stuff you need shipping, we can either allocate you your own container, or add your belongings to a shared container. Either way, you can rest assured that your shipment will be cost effective, expertly handled and in perfect condition when it reaches you in New Zealand.
Shipments of household goods and personal effects are allowed duty-free entry into New Zealand provided they have been owned and used for at least 12 months prior to importation. You will be required to provide an inventory and import documentation, which Britannia will help you to complete. You must also hold a valid passport and visa to enter the country. Once your consignment arrives in New Zealand it normally takes between five and 14 days for customs clearance and delivery.
Prohibitions and restrictions
In general it is in your interest not to import the following items:
Firearms and ammunition
Inflammable goods and substances
Plants and plant material
Foodstuffs, perishables or otherwise
Narcotics and dangerous goods
Alcohol and tobacco
Packing and delivery
Our trained removers can pack and wrap all your items to ensure that they are transported safely. If you choose a full door-to-door shipping service to New Zealand, Britannia will deliver your belongings all the way to your new home.
You should allow two to three months if you are sending your consignment via container shipment, and significantly less for anything you send by air.
Moving abroad involves saying goodbye to some of the important people in your life, but that doesn’t have to include your family pet(s). Britannia can assist with the transport of domestic animals from the UK to New Zealand, working with a specialised shipper who will help you to coordinate the paperwork and necessary veterinary procedures.
Importation of motor vehicles to New Zealand is subject to compliance, (duty and tax may also apply). Do your homework before you decide to import your car or motor vehicle, as it may be more cost effective to buy locally.
When relocating, you will almost certainly need to transfer money from the UK to New Zealand or make international payments before your arrival. Britannia can recommend reputable foreign currency exchange services to help protect you from exchange rate fluctuations, and save you time and money on international payments.
Travelling to New Zealand from the UK
Travelling to New Zealand from the UK takes around 24 hours in the air. Add this to check in and customs, plus one or more stopovers, whichever route you choose you’re in for a long journey. Thankfully, with the prospect of starting a new life in the land of your dreams, there will be plenty to keep you occupied on the way. There are several routes you can take to New Zealand from the UK, the most popular travelling via Hong Kong or the Middle East. Some people believe that if you fly the “wrong way round”, to the west via Los Angeles for instance, you will suffer less from jet lag. While there may be some truth in this, this can be offset by the fact that you still need to pass through full customs, even if you will not be leaving the airport.
All visitors travelling to New Zealand regardless of their visa type must be in possession of a current passport with more than three months’ validity after their proposed exit date.
Before you commit to your move to New Zealand, make sure you research thoroughly into the likelihood of being offered residency. Residency is usually granted on the basis of a points system, and there are a number of different routes that can be followed depending on your professional or practical qualifications, experience, personal circumstances and funds.
If you have close family members already living in New Zealand this may qualify you automatically for residency through sponsorship, while individuals with funds or a sound business idea may qualify under the Investment or Entrepreneur Visa categories. If you are intending to work in New Zealand there are several visa options available.
Skilled migrant visa
If you have higher education qualifications and some relevant work experience under your belt, you may qualify for residency in New Zealand under the Skilled Migrant Category. This is worked out on a points system, requiring a minimum of 100 and extending up to a possible maximum of 140. The higher your points tally, the higher your chances of success, but even with the 100-point minimum there is every possibility of selection, although it may take a little longer for your application to be considered.
Work to Residence Visa
If you do not have enough points to qualify under the Skilled Migrant Category there are still other ways of achieving the right to live and work in New Zealand. Various Work Visas and Work Permits are available to individuals who can secure an offer of employment before they relocate or who wish to travel to New Zealand to find work. Of these, the most desirable is the Work to Residence Visa, which is automatically approved for conversion to residence at the end of two years’ employment in New Zealand.
There are 450 New Zealand employers who are accredited to offer jobs with Talent Visas to overseas individuals, who can demonstrate exceptional talent in their field, in particular the arts, culture or sports.
Silver Fern Job Search Visas are issued to up to 300 young people per year and are valid for nine months, with a two-year extension pathway to residence via the Skilled Migrant Category.
New Zealand’s Long Term Skill Shortage List features many roles in engineering, medicine, IT and communications and is an excellent option for individuals with skills, qualifications and experience in these sought-after fields.
Essential Skills List
If you are looking for work in New Zealand and do not fall into either of the categories above, there are further options available. If you secure a valid job offer in one of the fields listed on New Zealand’s Essential Skills List, you will qualify for a visa for up to three years. Unlike the Long Term Skill Shortage programme this does not automatically qualify you for conversion to residency. However, if you hold onto your job for a year or more, it will provide you with enhanced points which will increase your chances of success if you then choose to apply for residence under the skilled migrant category. Generally a maximum of three years is granted on a standard Essential Skills work visa, though further permits may be granted if you are still in employment.
Living in New Zealand
New Zealand’s economy has ridden the recent financial crisis with few ill effects and is in good shape compared to most European countries. Skilled workers in the agriculture, construction, education, engineering and finance sectors are in great demand. Salaries are also quite high and, with a top tax rate of 33% and a rate of just 17.5% for the average earner. Most people in New Zealand find their pay packets stretch further than in the UK.
The following table shows typical salaries across a range of industry sectors as at August 2013.
Mining, Resources & Energy
Consulting & Strategy
Information & Communication Technology
Banking & Financial Services
Marketing & Communications
Human Resources & Recruitment
Government & Defence
Real Estate & Property
Healthcare & Medical
Insurance & Superannuation
Science & Technology
Education & Training
Design & Architecture
Advertising, Arts & Media
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics
Farming, Animals & Conservation
Community Services & Development
Trades & Services
Sport & Recreation
Retail & Consumer Products
Hospitality & Tourism
Administration & Office Support
Call Centre & Customer Service
Finding a job in New Zealand
There are several ways to find a job in New Zealand, from the traditional method of making direct approaches to employers you would like to work for to using recruitment agencies and job boards to search for opportunities that match your skills and experience. The Internet is an excellent source of information with sites such as TradeMe, WorkHere, Seek and New Kiwis currently offering many opportunities. Careers New Zealand is a useful Government website dedicated to helping job hunters.
The local currency is the New Zealand dollar. It is usually written as “$”, “$NZ” or “NZD”. Exchange rates fluctuate but as a general rule of thumb there are roughly two New Zealand Dollars to the pound.
Cost of everyday items
Prices vary depending on where you shop, but the following examples should help you budget.
2.00 per kg
3.50 per kg
1.65 per litre
2.50 per 500 grams
14.00 per kg
15.00 per kg
2.00-3.00 per loaf
20 – 100
50 – 100
40 – 100
50+ (up to $250 for major brands)
10 – 45
Local bus fares
Postage (local letter)
Eating and drinking out
Eating and drinking out will cost around NZ$20-30 per head, with cheaper options at casual cafes and much more expensive options at gourmet eateries. Tips are voluntary and are usually only left in recognition of excellent service, although some restaurants now add a standard 12% to the bill. Where this is has been done it should be clearly marked.
Transport in New Zealand is relatively cheap, especially by bus. Air travel is more expensive as there is little competition – but with so much breathtaking scenery to enjoy, what’s the point in rushing?
Property rental prices vary widely depending on location, style and size. The National median rental in May 2013 was $NZ357 per week for a three-bedroom home, with prices in the most desirable areas of central Auckland and Wellington closer to $NZ5600.
One of the most compelling reasons for UK residents choosing New Zealand for their relocation is the fact that it is predominantly an English-speaking country, though Maori is also an official language and is spoken by almost 5% of the population.
The New Zealand education system has an excellent reputation worldwide. The country has benefitted from a state school system for more than 100 years, complemented by a range of private schools, which are usually established along religious or cultural lines. In 2009 the OECD ranked New Zealand 7th best at science and reading in the world and 13th in maths, placing it a highly respectable 8th overall.
Most children begin school at age five and move to secondary school at age 12 or 13. Education is compulsory until age 16, with many continuing to age 19 and through further education at one of the eight government-funded universities or 20 polytechnics, or Institutes of Technology. Qualifications gained in New Zealand are recognised as equal to the best in the world.
New Zealand National Holidays
There are 10 national public holidays per year in New Zealand. The following dates are designated public holidays for 2014:
- New Year’s Day – Wednesday 1 January
- Day After New Year’s Day – Thursday 2 January
- Waitangi Day – Thursday 6 February
- Good Friday – Friday 18 April
- Easter Monday – Monday 21 April
- ANZAC Day – Friday 25 April
- Queen’s Birthday – Monday 2 June
- Labour Day – Monday 27 October
- Christmas Day – Thursday 25 December
- Boxing Day – Friday 26 December
In addition each province in the country celebrates its Anniversary Day once per year. These fall on the following dates in 2014:
- Auckland – Monday 27 January
- Taranaki – Monday 10 March
- Hawkes’ Bay – Friday 24 October
- Wellington – Monday 20 January
- Marlborough – Monday 3 November
- Nelson – Monday 3 February
- Canterbury – Friday 14 November
- Canterbury (South) – Monday 22 September
- Westland – Monday 1 December
- Otago – Monday 24 March
- Southland – Tuesday 22 April
- Chatham Islands – Monday 1 December
Auckland is the largest and most populous urban area in New Zealand, with a population of around 1.5 million. Situated on the North Island, Auckland is flanked by the Pacific to one side and mountain ranges to the other and is characterised by its lagoons, rivers, open spaces and attractive skyline. It is frequently listed as one of the top 10 cities in the world both for its unmatched location and its quality of life. Auckland is New Zealand’s most multi-cultural city and offers plenty of leisure and cultural activities, good employment opportunities, a mild climate and excellent education facilities.
Wellington is New Zealand’s third-largest city, its second-most populous and its administrative capital. Situated right at the southern tip of the North Island, Wellington is characterised by the breathtaking waterfront at its heart and the lush, rolling green hills that flank its business and residential districts.
Wellington is home to many of New Zealand’s cultural highlights, with music, theatre, dance and fine-art events packing its calendar 365 days a year. And with rugged mountain trails, beach adventures and bush walks right on the doorstep, Wellington residents are well placed to enjoy the best of urban living and country life.
Christchurch is the largest city on South Island and the third-most populous in New Zealand. Its position on the island’s east coast has led it to play an important historical role in Antarctic exploration, with both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton using its port of Lyttleton as the departure point for their expeditions.
Christchurch was rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes between 2010 and 2012, causing widespread damage and a number of fatalities. A $NZ2 billion regeneration programme is now underway to restore the city to its former glory – or rather to transform it into New Zealand’s official ‘garden city’, with huge areas of parkland and a new, low-rise city centre.
New Zealand Climate
Northern New Zealand enjoys a subtropical climate while the climate in the south is largely temperate. Inland alpine areas on South Island can be as cold as -10C in winter, however with much of the population living in coastal areas, the majority enjoys mild temperatures, moderate rainfall and plenty of sun.
The temperatures below are the mean daily maximum and minimum per season, with rainfall indicated as average rainfall days per season.
Sep, Oct, Nov
Dec, Jan, Feb
Mar, Apr, May
Jun, Jul, Aug
Where New Zealanders go on Holiday
New Zealand may be the island of dreams, but like the rest of us many New Zealanders still dream of packing their bags, getting away from it all and enjoying a holiday somewhere entirely different. So just where is it that they head to?
Beach destinations in New Zealand
New Zealand’s elongated island landmass is surrounded by stunning coastline, making it home to arguably some of the most attractive beaches in the world.
Onetangi Bay, Waiheke Island – a wide stretch of wild, golden sand with sweeping views out to sea and across to Great Barrier Island, Little Barrier and Karikari Peninsula – home to a series of white-sand beaches lapped by cobalt waters and blessed with New Zealand’s most favourable subtropical climate.
Hot Water Beach – low tide is the time to visit, for a cash-free natural spa experience with a difference. Dig a shallow hollow for yourself an hour or two before low tide and wallow in the natural hot waters that seep their way up through the sand.
Ocean Beach, Mount Maunganui – the place to see and be seen. This surfer’s paradise is where it’s at if you’re desperate to show off that beach body.
Kaiteriteri Beach – for something a little more laid back. If it’s a relaxed holiday atmosphere you’re after and you don’t mind sharing it with the crowds, Kaiteriteri never fails to deliver.
Abel Tasman National Park – for the wild at heart. Rocky headlands, lush greenery and golden sands are accessible only via the turquoise waters that surround the area. The ultimate in peace and tranquillity.
Nature and adventure destinations in New Zealand
For nature and adventure enthusiasts, New Zealand really does have it all. Whether you prefer your adventures on land, in the water or somewhere in between, you will be spoilt for choice with the range of activities that New Zealand has to offer.
In the water
The unique marine reserve of Poor Knights is New Zealand’s prime scuba diving spot, home to a variety of species that are found nowhere else in the country’s extensive waters.
On the water
Watersports enthusiasts will enjoy kayaking in the wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park, with no-one but the seals and dolphins for company. Or you can try your hand at trout fishing in Lake Taupo and the many other rivers in the region which are packed with outsized prize catches. For the ultimate water-based adventure, forget whitewater rafting – blackwater rafting is the thing, in the Waitomo Glowworm caves.
On dry land
Away from the coastal areas, New Zealand’s alpine summits provide the venue for some of its most exciting land-based adventures.
Walk the glaciers, climb the peaks and ski the snow-blanketed slopes. And if hills aren’t your thing, head to Fiordland, home to some of the best walks in the world.
Popular holiday destinations outside New Zealand
Thanks to its relative proximity to Australia, New Zealand makes the perfect jumping-off point from which to explore its larger neighbour, with many kiwis heading to the Gold Coast and other resort destinations each year. Other popular holiday destinations outside New Zealand include the pacific islands of Bora Bora and Fiji, with its exotic spa hotels, and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, with its excellent flight links.
New Zealand Culture
Food in New Zealand was traditionally influenced by the British and Maori cultures, with many influences now in evidence from all over the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly fish and seafood feature strongly, while lamb, pork, chicken and beef are also very common. Dairy farming is big business in New Zealand and as a result the nation consumes a relatively large amount of milk, cheese and butter. Thanks to its diverse climatic conditions, New Zealand produces a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and is also home to the distinctive Manuka honey, which is unique to its shores. Traditional Maori dishes feature sweet potato, fish, seafood, corn, watercress and other indigenous ingredients in abundance.
The main meal is eaten in the evening, and barbecues are common during the summer season. Eating out offers plenty of choice, especially in the main urban centres of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Many expats are delighted to find that fish and chips is almost as common in New Zealand as it is back here in Britain.
One of the benefits of moving to New Zealand is that you can carry on watching many of the English-language programmes you left behind. Many well-known American and British shows are broadcast alongside local programming of a good standard. Digital technology means there is now a wide range to choose from to suit a variety of tastes.
Maori culture, British traditions and a wide range of worldwide cultural influences meet in New Zealand to create a dynamic, diverse and distinctive arts scene. Whether you are into performing arts, literature, photography, film, museums or galleries, there is plenty to interest even the most fervent arts buff. Both Wellington and Auckland are brimming with exciting events, while rural New Zealand has played host to some of the most exotic photography and film projects in recent history.
More New Zealand…
Dutch sailor Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642. He left following a fatal attack on his crew by Maoris, it was 1769 before the land received its next visitor – Englishman Captain James Cook.
New Zealand was once governed as part of New South Wales. It is now an independent country and part of the Commonwealth under Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented in New Zealand by the Governor General.
New Zealand was the first country to have women simultaneously occupying its top three positions of power.
New Zealand’s Maori name is Aotearoa, meaning “the land of the long white cloud”.
New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is the southernmost capital city in the world.
New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sunrise, with Gisborne the first major city to do so.
Auckland has the largest number of boats per capita than any other city in the world.
New Zealand has more golf courses per capita than any other country in the world.
The famous Ninety-Mile Beach is only 55 miles long.
New Zealand is home to the world’s only flightless parrot, the Kakapo. The only alpine parrot in the world, the Kea, is also found here.
A kiwi is not a fruit, it is a flightless bird that is native to the country. It is also a slang term for a New Zealander. The fruit is known as a kiwifruit or a Chinese gooseberry.
The keep-fit craze of jogging was invented by a New Zealander, Arthur Lydiard.
- The Allies’ most-decorated servicewoman in World War Two was New Zealander Nancy Wake. She was also the most wanted person by the Gestapo, who codenamed her “The White Mouse”.