What travel REALLY taught me & why it took us almost five years too move to New Zealand.

It’s crazy when you actually stop to think about how much time has been wasted on you ponding what could or might have been. For us that time tallied up to almost five years. From the moment we returned to England in April 2010 we had this longing desire to move back to NZ and really try and give living in New Zealand a chance.

This article is the second part of a two-part series, so if you haven’t already check out our other article here.

Why did it take us so long? I realise it now but essentially it came down to two fundamental things that we all suffer from; excuses and fear.

Excuses & Fear:

We spent a lot of those years finding excuses not to take the scary leap of moving to another country. The excuses, (although not the exact words that came out of our mouths) sounded a little something like this; do they sound familiar to you?!

Money ‘We need to save more first’

Job ‘I want to advance my career’

Age “We’re getting older we need to get a mortgage and think about our future’

Family ‘Leaving them and missing them will just be too hard’

Guilt ‘If we move away then it’s a very selfish act to leave our friends and family’

And so these excuses turned into modes on a washing machine, each one coming around in cycles, every couple of months. It was a cycle that we felt like would never end. Our excuses were fueling our fear…

“Excuses are just obstructions that you have to overcome.”


It wasn’t an overnight thing, in fact, it took years but I soon come to realise that our excuses were down to fear of the unknown, but then I had started worrying about the what ifs.

What if … we couldn’t find jobs;

What if … we don’t like it;

What if…  we lose touch with our friends:

What if… we never make any friends;

What if… we can’t afford to support ourselves;

Can you see the pattern here? The ‘What if’s’ were becoming another set of excuses all fueled by fear, this damn washing machine cycle was never ending!

“Fear is nothing more than a state of mind”


The pattern for us had to stop. The mindset had changed, it had been almost 4 years of this cycle and we were sick of it. And if we are truly honest with our selves that is why it took us almost 5 years to pluck up the courage and move to New Zealand. It wasn’t an easy decision but we had decided we couldn’t live with our regrets of ‘What Ifs’ – that would have had a more negative impact on our lives. A chance we were willing not to take!

fear goingnz
This is the day we had just packed up our house and was leaving England, can you see the fear in my smile?

What travel REALLY taught me:

Yes, I could be all cliche here and say travelling really taught me new languages, new cultures, about history but if I was being 100% honest with myself it taught me not to be fearful of the unknown.

You see it was around the same time of the ‘What If’ cycle coming to an end that I had realised the travelling experience I had all those years ago had taught me a lot about taking chances. Life is too bloody short after all!

“Living with What If’s, fears and excuses just is not sustainable, and certainly not healthy for your mental state”

We go on about how life is too short to worry about these things and very few people actually do anything to stop the What Ifs, the fear, and the excuses.  Humans unbeknown to them get stuck in a pattern of suppressing their dreams and desires and letting their fears and excuses win. Travel taught me that I was not going to let this happen to me.

I realised that the ‘small-town bubble’ I was living before and after my travels fueled my excuses and fears. And on that day in April 2014, 4 years after returning home from our first trip abroad I hit the submit button and booked those flights to NZ for the second time. This mindset of not letting excuses and fear win changed our lives, we now live in New Zealand and call this beautiful little country home!

Not everyone has an opportunity to travel, we are the fortunate ones and I try and remember that every time I scan the internet to book my next holiday!

Excuses and fear should never be a reason for not doing anything you want to do in life. Or at the very least folks please please please don’t be like us and let those excuses last for five years!

Moving to New Zealand? 6 Things you MUST research before you arrive.

New Zealand has always been one of the most popular destinations to travel and to settle, especially for Europeans. With a massive 3.2 million people arriving into the country in 2016 alone! A figure that is up by 10.4% from the previous year and only set to grow for this coming season.

With New Zealand’s agreeable climate, spectacular green and diverse landscapes, a strong economy and long consistent summers, it is not hard to understand why! Disclaimer: We are a little bias, as we live in New Zealand!

The decision to move here, however, isn’t always easy! Research takes time, it took us 5 years to finally make the move. A lot of that time was spent pondering over the decision and doing research on what life might be like in New Zealand. You can find out more about how we ended up in New Zealand here.

Now we are in our third year in NZ and we haven’t looked back and we can’t express enough that research is key to not having any nasty surprises when you get here. The more you research the more comfortable you will be in your new surroundings. This is exactly why we created this blog to ease your research process, as we sure did find the research process a struggle!

Top Tip: If this process has taught us anything over the years it is that we have learned not to compare everything to our old lives in England. A small example is that we spent the first year and a half on our currency apps comparing the exchange rate and the cost of things here to the point it got us quite down and it wasn’t a healthy habit!


Here are our top 6 things we suggest you research before moving to New Zealand:

1) Visas – Can you stay?

The legality of moving to New Zealand should be high on the list of your priorities. If you are under 30 you can come on a Working Holiday Visa if you have a job to come out to you are golden and if you have a partner who is a Kiwi you will be sorted.

My first port of call at the time was ringing the Immigration Department and telling them my life story (the poor woman on the phone!) a lot of people visit the website and get confused about what visa they are eligible for – do yourself a favour and save yourself some time and pick up the phone!

money NZ

2) Compare your financial position before moving to New Zealand.

I know we just mentioned comparing the cost of things in your home country shouldn’t be done, but it is important to advise to compare your financial position once you are here. This is the one thing you should compare! The cost of living in NZ has been documented to be significantly higher, however it is swings and round about situation.

Visit Seek (a great job seeking website) to gauge what your income will be in the industry you work in, explore TradeMe (like Ebay but with houses) to find out the cost of houses and rental prices in the town you want to live in and check out Glimp to find out the cost of power, broadband and compare it to your current costs. Once you are fully informed you can decide on whether this move is right for you.


3) Where to live?

This one might be a no-brainer if you have family in NZ, it really helps to have that support network when you first move here. Your decision may be based on your job or your financial situation. Auckland can be expensive to buy and rent and Wellington is more affordable check out Trade me for rental or purchasing costs in the region you are thinking, just know what you can afford be prepared to compromise and you should be sweet.

4) Healthcare – Are you covered?

The short answer is yes. Travel Insurance would be advised initially and after this NZ really does have a good free health care system. NZ healthcare does treat everybody who has an injury as a result of “accident” (Not just car accidents), even if you are a tourist visiting for a day! This is subsided by the Accident Compensation Corporation, (ACC) you will find that if you work a small amount of your wages are taken out to cover this system. Other treatments would be free however NZ does seem to have a bad reputation with waiting times so must people take out private health insurance for this reason.

5) What shall I do with all my belonging?

You may just be bringing a suitcase and that is fine! But if you have a whole house filled with household items your best bet is to ship them over here. You will be surprised how much house hold appliances and furniture cost here. Moving Pros are a great contact to compare the cost of international removal company’s, our experience was a positive one but there are a lot of suppliers out there that seem to just get this wrong so it does pay to spend a bit of time doing your research on this one!

nz expats share their stories

6) Be Real : Is the grass always greener?

Sometimes a dream or an idea of the perfect life over here can capture you so much you forget about reality. The reality of still having to work, paying for unexpected things upon arrival, the struggle to find a place to live whilst missing your family and friends.

We suggest speaking to other people who have made the move to see what their coping mechanisms are. We are a big fan of the Brits of New Zealand Facebook page, a friendly bunch of people that keep it real. We recently launched a successful interview series where we interviewed 15 expats who have been in NZ on a long-term basis. Their coping mechanisms and views on how their lives have changed was really inspirational and we learnt a lot from them!

If this article has really helped you and you are serious in your venture our Moving to New Zealand Checklist can be downloaded for free we guarantee this will be really helpful to you!

Travel Insurance for New Zealand – For Visitors

With a vast range of travel insurance options available for your trip to New Zealand from numerous companies, it can be difficult to decide what you need and where best to get it from.

Before jumping into what seems like a good deal, take the time to think about what protection you will require for your trip – considering the type of visa you have chosen and the type of activities you’re likely to pursue. If you plan on staying in NZ long term we suggest you check out our other article about travel insurance for expats moving to NZ on more permanent basis.

Research the right provider for you:

Because of the research that needs to go into choosing your travel insurance, this should be high on the list of priorities, as leaving it until the last minute can mean you overlook something important that can be detrimental to any potential claims. You should also bear in mind that something could happen before your trip that would change your plans entirely, in which case cancellation cover is an important feature.

For example: If you broke a bone in your body whilst rescuing the cat up the tree and you can’t fly then you may need to alter your travel plans or worst case scenario have to cancel completely. Most flight providers do not offer refunds therefore if you claim off your travel insurance in this instance you will not find yourself out of pocket!

That is just one example of what needs to be covered when choosing a suitable provider. It’s also vitally important to be clued up on the fine print and clauses in place, as well as the actual travel package.

The important questions to ask yourself and your provider should be:

  1. Will my insurance cover all adventure activities?
  2. What if I want to extend my stay?
  3. Will it cover any money that’s lost or stolen?
  4. What is the health care coverage options available to me?
  5. What about pre-existing conditions? Am I covered?
  6. Does my insurance cover my luggage?
doctors going nz
Nobody wants to see the inside of this building whilst on holiday.

For a traveler often our personal belongings can be our major concern:

NZ is no South East Asia! If you take sensible precautions you really will be fine! But you really should ensure your travel insurance should cover you for the theft, damage, and loss of your luggage and personal items when you are here. But remember they’ll normally only pay out if you can prove you were acting responsibly with your items close by or secured away.

Essentially you are covered for the following circumstances:

  • Pick pocketing
  • Secured belongings stolen (e.g. from a hotel safe)
  • Water damage
  • Bag theft
  • Car crime (if belongings were locked away and out of plain sight)
  • Luggage delay

When you’re not covered if:

  • Luggage left with the hotel concierge
  • Items left behind or forgotten
  • Luggage left on conveyor belts
  • Items left out of your sight
  • Belongings lost from the hold (typically the transport carrier’s responsibility)
  • Bags left with a stranger
  • Items lost or stolen when you were intoxicated

However, remember it does pay to read the fine print on any policies and mention any special items you have, you can get extra cover for that extra expensive camera you are carrying around with you!

Making a Claim – The Process:

Claiming for insurance is straightforward thanks to the internet and instant online forms you can submit! But it does require a bit of effort. You’ve got to contact your insurer as soon as something goes wrong. Luckily, most insurers have 24-hour help lines so you can reach them at any time from anywhere in the world.

But you will need evidence of your claim. Whether that’s medical reports, a crime reference number, or a form confirming lost luggage from the airport, it’s important you can back up your claim. As soon as you know you’ll need to make a claim, record all the details of the event.

*Note* Whilst you can get a fantastic range of cover from your insurance, you should also read in detail what is required from you in the event of a claim. For example, many insurance companies do not cover for any incidents that involve alcohol or drugs, so do get your story straight before claiming!

*Double Note* These pointers are just what we have learned from our time traveling the globe, they are no means legally correct but simply a statement of what elements of travel insurance we believe to be the most important. Do contact the provider you choose for further clarification as each provider does have different terms and conditions. 


Travel Apps for New Zealand

With the popularity of people traveling with just their trusted Iphone, Ipad or let’s not forget the less restrictive Android devices travel apps have become increasingly popular.

Travelers can now download many travel apps to help them whilst they are on the road. 🙂

Who is with me on these pet peeves?

Have you ever read an article on a bloggers website and then lost it days later?

Did you wish you could save that article somewhere useful to use as a guide when you are in that destination?

Have you ever read about an awesome place to stay, place to eat but then forgot to save it?

Have you ever had trouble finding an affordable place to stay whilst on vacation?

Do you have trouble keeping in contact with family and friends whilst on the road?

If you are nodding strongly then we suggest you get some of these apps in your life.

These are our top 5 tried and tested favorite apps you can use to ease your stay in NZ:

  • CamperMate was of the first apps we discovered during our road trip back in 2009, it was extremely user-friendly and full of crowd sourced, free information. It details locations of public toilets, rubbish bins, campsites, free wifi, dump stations, supermarkets and much more all over New Zealand. Pretty much anything you would need to make your road trip around NZ a breeze, especially if you are freedom camping.


  • TripAdvisor, who doesn’t know of Trip Advisor?! I never really thought about using their app until last year on our road trip around the South Island. We were able to download offline ahead of time the places we were visiting so we could easily decide where to stay, where to eat and what activities are in the area. You just can’t go wrong with trusting Trip Advisor!


  • GPSmyCity have created a great travel article app to do just that. GPSmyCity coordinates and embeds the information from that article into their app and creates a great nifty map that you can use when you are in that destination. The app is free to download and you don’t even need the internet once you have the app! So you can read your latest download’s on the plane, on the beach, in bed, basically wherever and whenever!

Going NZ GPSmyicty

  • Airbnb is our go too app for accommodation when we are preplanning a quick getaway. We much prefer this value added option and even hosted our house for a while when we lived in Auckland. If you want to meet the locals there is even a option for you to rent out a spare room in people’s homes a sure fire way to make some friends for life, learn about the lifestyle and the culture – you will be a kiwi before you know it! If you are not a member you can sign up via our link here, this will give you 30 GBP off your first experience with Air BnB – winning!


  • Viber is a paid calling account, we top up by around a dollar every month and that is all we need to make our phone calls back to the UK. This is especially great for those family members who don’t have the internet. This is loads cheaper than Skype and we have actually registered our telephone number with Viber, this means that when I make a paid call to the UK it comes up as my UK telephone number. People tend not to want to answer withheld or international numbers, you never know who it might be or what it’ll cost. This way, they know it is you and because the call originates from within the UK it doesn’t cost them. Great for calling the bank!

If you have any awesome apps that you use whilst traveling around NZ, we would love to hear from you so do drop us a message on the comments below! 

Working in New Zealand: Tax Basics Explained

So, you are on your way to NZ, you’ve got your work visa all sorted but it’s just hit you: what about the tax when you work here?! Thankfully, New Zealand has one of the simplest and easiest to navigate tax systems in the world. Having said that, there are still quite a few issues for working holiday and recent immigrants to get their heads around such as getting sorted with an IRD number, income tax rates, ACC, KiwiSaver as well as they different types of employment and the tax implications of each of those.

This article discusses the following components of tax in New Zealand:

  1. Effective tax rates – the amount of tax you’ll pay on your earnings.
  2. Registering with the Inland Revenue Department –
  3. Goods & Service Tax (GST) – the equivelent of VAT in the UK.
  4. ACC Levies – deductions for personal accident insurance.
  5. KiwiSaver – a pensions scheme, much like Auto Enrolment in the UK.
  6. Employment types – from self-employment to your usual fixed employment.
  7. Tax implications – common scenarios and tax implication examples.

Income Tax in New Zealand

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is responsible for collecting taxes in New Zealand. Income Tax is calculated at different rates ranging from 10.5% to 33% for individuals, depending on how much you earn.

What are the tax rates in New Zealand?

Income Tax rate Effective tax rate
$0 – $14,000  10.5% 10.5%
$14,001 – $48,000  17.5% 10.5 – 15.5%
$48,001 – $70,000  30% 15.5 – 20.0%
Over $70,000  33% 20.0 – 33.0%
No-notification rate  48% 45%

The average New Zealander pays tax at an effective rate of about 20%, as they pay some at 10.5%, some at 17.5% and some at 33%.

For most workers, this tax is deducted at source by your employer and paid directly to the IRD by them. The deductions are based on the tax code that you declare to your employer when you originally start your employment agreement with them. More details on what code to select can be found on the back of the IR330 Tax Code Declaration Form. For your main source of income, with no New Zealand Student Loan, your tax code will likely be ‘M’.

The IRD’s website has a number of easy to use tools to allow you to calculate what your total tax payable is on an expected level of income. If, at the end of the tax year, you think your employer has deducted more tax than necessary, you can request a Personal Tax Summary (PTS) from the IRD. This document summarises your total income as declared to the IRD as well as all of the taxes and other deductions taken from it. If an over deduction has been made, the IRD PTS will show that you have a tax credit due to you. You can request the IRD to deposit this tax credit direct into your New Zealand bank account. In some circumstances, you may have extra tax to pay if your employer has not correctly, made deduction’s or if your income has changed throughout the year.

In order to have taxes deducted and accounted for correctly, you not only need the correct tax code, you also need an IRD Number.

Getting Sorted with an IRD Number

An IRD Number is a necessary thing for everyone who works, owns property or otherwise generates a living in New Zealand. It is an eight to nine-digit code that will universally identify you and your tax deductions to the IRD across your daily employment, bank savings accounts and will aid with links through to other services like ACC and KiwiSaver. If taxes are deducted at source by your employer, as is usually the case (more on this later), then the taxes are deducted and income declared to the IRD against your IRD Number, allowing you and the government to easily keep track of how much you have earned and how much tax you have paid on that income.

As with all bureaucratic processes, this can often take some time to get sorted so getting on to it as soon as possible is your best option if you plan to start working soon after touching down in New Zealand.

To get an IRD number if you have a valid work visa requires a few things:
• Your passport details,
• Your most recent overseas tax number (if you have one),
• Your Immigration New Zealand Application number (this will be on your visa letter they send you), and
• Proof of a fully functioning New Zealand Bank Account or completed customer due diligence if you don’t have a bank account yet.

The last point above is the most important as it meets your obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act to prove that you are a legitimate person with a verified identity. It is a quick and easy process to open a bank account once you are in the country. Any of the major banks should be able to open it for you on the spot provided you have everything that they need to be satisfied in verifying your identity. Most banks do not allow to you finalise the account opening process without being in branch to be verified by a bank employee.

If you are going to be working soon after arriving, open a bank account as soon as you can and then send off your IRD Number application straight after that.

Goods & Services Tax (GST)

GST is the New Zealand equivalent of a Value-Added Tax (VAT). It is a universal consumption tax of 15%, charged on most products and services nationwide.

If you are running a business or are self-employed in New Zealand, then you may need to register with the IRD for GST. If your annual income is, or is expected to be, over $60,000 then you need to register for GST. You then charge GST on all of your sales and claim the GST back on all of your business related purchases, the net difference in GST collected and claimed back is what you pay to the IRD on a two-monthly or six-monthly cycle.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) & ACC Levies

The ACC administers New Zealand’s no fault accidental injury insurance scheme for all work and non-work related injuries. If you are a resident, citizen or just a visitor, ACC provides you with the financial compensation and support you need to recover after you suffer a personal injury.

ACC is primarily funded through levies. These levies are collected from the wages of salaried workers, the declared taxable income of companies and self-employed people, vehicle levies (such as those included in fuel taxes and car registration fees), and a government contribution to cover the contribution of those that do not pay-in directly (children, the retired, unemployed and visitors).

If you are working in a salaried position, a portion of your income will be deducted as a part of your PAYE taxes and paid to the IRD by your employer. The IRD then passes these collected levies on to ACC.


KiwiSaver is a voluntary (opt-out) long-term savings scheme for New Zealanders. It was introduced as a catalyst to improve New Zealand’s poor rates of personal saving and boost the resources available to savers when they retire. Contributors can also pull out funds for the purchase of their first home if they meet certain circumstances.

Any person who is under the age of retirement (65) and entitled to live in New Zealand permanently is eligible to join a KiwiSaver scheme. The saver can then choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of their pay and have these deductions taken from their pay along with the regular PAYE deductions for income tax and ACC. Your employer pays the deduction direct to the IRD who in turn passes it on to the approved fund you have registered with.

Although the system is voluntary, eligible persons are automatically enrolled and can choose to opt out after the first two weeks of work in the scheme. Approximately two-thirds of the eligible population are enrolled in a KiwiSaver scheme and so if you are looking to settle in New Zealand long-term and have the ability to settle here indefinitely, it will be worthwhile discussing your options with an approved KiwiSaver provider and your employer. If you are not entitled to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, make sure your employer knows this and does not automatically enrol you. Getting back deductions that have been taken in error can be a time-consuming process as KiwiSaver deductions were only designed to flow one-way until you are 65 years old.

kiwisaver GoingNZ

Types of Employment and the Different Tax Implications

Permanent Employment

Permanency of employment is determined by the hours you work as well as the regularity and continuity of that work. This category is further split into part-time and full-time. Part-time employees work hours each week that range from just a few up to 30, while full-time employees generally work 30 to 40 hours per week. Whether part-time or full-time, if you are working on an ongoing basis for a set number of hours each week for the foreseeable future, it is likely you are a permanent employee.

As a permanent employee, your boss will take care of pretty much everything once you have signed up and processed all of the paperwork. They will deduct Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) taxes from each pay run and pay these direct to the IRD. These deductions are based on the tax code that you declare when you sign up to be their employee. Every employer should give you an IR330 to fill out. This form has a handy flow chart on it to help you easily select the correct code. A portion of your PAYE is also to cover your ACC levies. Additional deductions will be made if you are eligible for and have signed up to KiwiSaver.

Fixed-term Employment

If your work is not ongoing but is for a specific period, like over Christmas in a retail store or on a farm or orchard during harvest season, then you will not be a permanent employee and instead will be classified as a fixed-term employee. The tax implications of this type of work are very similar to permanent employment and your employer will take care of all of your tax deductions.

Casual Employment

Casual employees are a popular choice for a number of businesses in NZ, particularly in the service and hospitality industries. This type of employee has no fixed schedule and generally only work at short notice to cover busy periods or absences of permanent staff. Casual employees have the luxury of not having to accept every offer of a shift from their employer and as such many employers, especially bars and restaurants, tend to have several casual employees on a list that they can call up as and when required. Taxes are deducted as PAYE but you are not entitled to sick leave or holidays and so an extra 8% is added to each pay to pay-out your holiday entitlement as you earn it.

Contract Work and Self-Employment

With this type of employment, the responsibility for incomes taxes, ACC levy payments and KiwiSaver contributions lays solely with you as the worker, not with your employer. New Zealand operates a voluntary disclosure tax system which means that the IRD relies on people to disclose the income that they earn to them correctly. Many self-employed people engage the services of an accountant to ensure that they declare the correct level of income and claim all of their available deductions. Income taxes will be due in lump sums, one to four times a year depending on how much you have to pay. For this reason, it is important to save for your taxes from the moment you start working. Use the tax calculators on the IRD’s website to estimate your taxes due and the corresponding effective tax rate. Make sure at least this rate of savings is put aside so that you do not fall short and incur late payment penalties and interest on the sums.

There are quite a few things to get your head around with tax in New Zealand but once you have got past the first few hurdles of obtaining an IRD number and bank account, it is all pretty simple and user-friendly.

We were looking to write an article on this subject ourselves and came to the conclusion that it is a confusing subject which comes better from a registered professional. Chris Mercer from Mercer Business Partners very kindly offered his time up and put this awesome article together for newbies looking to work in New Zealand. If you have any taxing questions, we’d strongly recommend speaking with professional like Chris. Understanding the New Zealand tax system and what is expected will help you avoid any potential and expensive issues!

Travel Insurance for an Expat moving to New Zealand

So, you are emigrating to New Zealand, and you suddenly remembered about travel insurance! I can place one bet that your thoughts will be: Can I get cover? Even though I am not planning on returning to my home country?

The short answer is yes!

Options for those on a resident or work visa:

For those on a Resident or Work visa, it can be difficult to decide if you should get insurance in your home country before going to NZ, or to go with an NZ insurer to make any future dealings more convenient. However, it is best to have a combination of both which means you’re covered for every step of the process.

For example, you can get travel insurance from your home country and then pre-set up health insurance with an NZ company, and then once you are more settled get separate home and contents insurance for your belongings once you have a home.

Southern Cross Health Insurance Are extremely popular in NZ and offer a range of travel and health insurances to visitors to New Zealand on working or temporary resident visas. This is the option we went for as for a 12-month policy it was actually £100 cheaper than your average insurance provider that is based in the UK! For more information click here!

When looking into each policy, don’t forget to think about your needs in relation to your home country. For example, those on a working visa can use the Southern Cross travel insurance to cover drastic situations such as needing to be flown back to your home country for treatment; parents can be flown to a bedside in the event of tragedy (*touches wood*), and your body can be flown back home so family can have a funeral. Though a morbid topic and one I know we all would rather not think about, to put it bluntly, it is extremely important to consider this as it can cost over £10,000 to get remains back to the UK! Do note though that these benefits are tailored to the travel insurance and do not apply to the health insurance.

Bye Bye England

Permanently Emigrating? Certain you are not returning home?

For people migrating you can also get short-term cover, known as ‘Migration Insurance’, that will cover you for a couple of days while traveling to your destination, for both your belongings and your health – learn more about this specialist cover here.

As you can evidently see, there are many important factors that need to be considered in choosing your insurance policy and a suitable provider. The best advice we can give you is to make sure you know what your circumstances are and exactly what events and situations you could possibly need insurance to cover you for. Also, know what is expected from you to ensure your policy is valid in the event of a claim. AKA: Read the small print!

It may seem a bit mundane but get this sorted and you can start planning all the fun activities, in the safe knowledge that you’ll be protected.

Get the most out of New Zealand’s Working Holiday Visa

The Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is one of the main reasons that my wife and I decided to move to New Zealand. We’ve both always loved traveling and experiencing new countries, but we often found ourselves wishing we could stay longer in NZ when it came time to leave. If we were going to drop everything and truly experience a new country, we figured that now is the perfect time. We don’t have kids, and we don’t have any large responsibilities (like a house), so why not travel to the other side of the world?

photos-of-new-zealand (4)

One of the main difficulties in traveling for a longer period of time is, obviously, the money. It’s tough for those of us without trust funds to afford a yearlong vacation. But, if we could work occasionally to supplement our savings, a yearlong hiatus would be much more feasible. Enter the Working Holiday Visa.

Kiwis (because they’re the best) created the Working Holiday Visa for travelers just like us. They want people to be able to travel and experience their beautiful country. Essentially, you just have to be young (18-30 in most cases), have enough saved up for a return ticket, and have the primary intention of traveling. If you meet these criteria, then you are most likely eligible. However, I’d recommend checking out the New Zealand Immigration site for all the details.


Once we had made the decision to move to New Zealand, the process was fairly simple. It only took us about 30 minutes to fill out the online visa application. Basically, the NZ government wants to know if you’re young, healthy, and have a small amount of money saved up to cover your basic expenses.  We were emailed our visas 3 days later. As Kiwis would say “Easy As.”

It’s important to note that ours was a best-case scenario. We have friends that had slightly more involved applications due to health concerns, etc. However, all things considered, New Zealand’s Working Holiday Visa may be the easiest and most straightforward visa application out there.

Here are a few tips to save yourself a bit of a headache when you’re filling out your visa application:

  • Be Honest – It’s way better to be upfront about any possible issues with your application than to get caught lying and be in a lot more trouble later.
  • Apply Early – Supposedly there are a fixed number of visas available for citizens of each country, so apply with plenty of time before your actual trip.
  • Try Multiple Browsers – The NZ Immigration website is very helpful and informative, but we had some issues where links didn’t work properly depending on the Internet browser.


One of the best parts about the Working Holiday Visa is that it allows you to work to supplement your savings. However, it can be quite scary not knowing what the job market is like in a different country. In our experience, the job market in New Zealand is fairly good. They’re certainly not throwing jobs out all over the place, but there are plenty of jobs to be had if you really want one. One of the best online resources for finding traveler friendly jobs is Backpacker Board.

photos-of-new-zealand (9)
Another way that we’ve had success finding jobs in New Zealand is through temp agencies. Temp agencies typically have lots of openings in blue-collar work, so if you don’t mind manual labor this could be a great option. Over the holidays, I worked with an air-conditioning company manufacturing and installing ducting in various homes and businesses. Not only did I learn a lot, but I also got great hours!

While our overall working experience has been positive, we faced one fairly frustrating issue when we first arrived in New Zealand. If you don’t have a permanent address in New Zealand, getting an IRD number (your tax number) can be quite tricky. Here is a basic rundown of our dilemma (hopefully you can follow).

  1. In order to be taxed appropriately (aka not 47% like I was taxed initially), you need an IRD number. This part makes complete sense and seems straightforward.
  2. In order to get an IRD number, among other things, you need a New Zealand bank account. Again, this seems pretty straightforward.
  3. In order to get a New Zealand bank account you need proof of address. This is usually a power bill or some official document showing your name attached to an address.
  4. If you’re on a working holiday visa, you may not have a permanent address because your primary reason for coming to the country is to travel.

There are a few ways to solve this issue:

  1. You could pay for a permanent address. Places like Backpacker Board offer services that allow you to pay for a permanent address.
  2. You could work with the bank to find an alternative proof of address.

We chose option number two. Because we are house sitting all over New Zealand, we don’t really have an official proof of address. However, after talking with ANZ (a New Zealand bank) we learned that we could simply have the homeowner sign a letter stating that we are looking after her home while she is away on holiday. Thus, after a bit of legwork, we were able to get our IRD numbers and now are taxed at a much more reasonable rate (closer to 20%).


There are lots of ways to work and travel around this beautiful country. We have friends who arrived, applied for jobs, and then settled down wherever they got a job. They simply wanted to relax and experience Kiwi life for a year. We have other friends who are living the vanlife for the year. Getting a campervan is a great and affordable way to see as much of New Zealand as possible. We also know people who are working on farms in exchange for food and accommodation. This is a great way to have zero expenses and be able to experience the classic Kiwi farm life.

We decided to do a hybrid of all of these methods of travel. We are house sitting all over New Zealand, but we also built a self-contained campervan that allows us to freedom camp in between house sits. House sitting allows us to settle down in an area for a few weeks before moving on and experiencing another part of New Zealand. Because we’ve lived for short periods in so many different areas, we’ve been able to not only live rent-free, but also see as much as possible of New Zealand’s beautiful countryside.

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New Zealand is a beautiful country full of laid-back and friendly people. It’s a land of tall mountains, stunning beaches, crazy geothermal activity, and beautiful forests. Plus, it’s the only place in the world where you can enjoy all three kinds of kiwis (the people, the fruit, and the bird). The Working Holiday Visa is an amazing opportunity to explore this country and give this place the time it deserves. If you’re like us, the year will fly by and you may find yourself hesitant to leave.

If you’ve got any hot tips for getting the most out of a working holiday in New Zealand or have any questions please leave a comment below.

TheJoshAndMelissa-YonderstrokeAbout Josh and Melissa

Josh and Melissa are a couple of goofy Californians who love to travel and experience new things. Josh is a blogger/weekend warrior/quirky nerd with a large head. Whether it’s rock-hopping up a creek or hanging his toes from the end of his longboard, if he’s exploring outside with friends then he’s happy. Melissa is the funny one. She loves kittens and strawberries with a passion and is happiest when she’s documenting life with her camera.

A BIG thanks to Josh and Melissa for this fantastic article on getting the most out of New Zealand’s Working Holiday Visa.  Don’t forget to  connect with Josh and Melissa on their blog, Instagram or YouTube!

Disclaimer: Neither Josh and Melissa nor the authors at GoingNZ are immigration consultants, we’re people just like you? We suggest you discuss your migration and visa options with a qualified migration specialist and source info from such boring professionals websites and Government websites.

Moving to New Zealand Checklist

As our moving date came closer, the sleepless nights became more frequent and all we could think about is what needs to be done and when. Whilst I am good at prioritising, I do tend to be quite forgetful and even the most practical of things can be overlooked – hence the need for the moving to New Zealand checklist!

By using a checklist you will instantly feel a greater sense of organisation and direction. You can plan your time effectively, and get a better night’s sleep because of it! The check list we’ve created was perfect for us and will provide useful when planning your migration to New Zealand.

At the beginning of our journey our checklist was all about the big things, such as getting the visa granted and collecting the correct documentation, but we were also constantly being reminded of all the little things that must also be done before we jumped on the plane and flew to New Zealand. It’s important to take the time to consider everything, right down to selling a car or cancelling a gym membership and subsequently structure your remaining time to be as productive as possible and to ensure stress levels are kept to a minimum.

[sociallocker id=”1514″]Thank you! Click here to download the moving to New Zealand Checklist[/sociallocker]

Without further fuss, here is your moving to NZ checklist:

3- 6 Months – Commit!

The Biggest Commitment:  

  • Put your house on the market! This may have to be done sooner than the 6 month mark.

The Essentials:

  • Start your visa application process – completing any medicals and applying for any police checks can take 1-2 months alone.
  • Insure your passports and driver’s licenses are valid.
  • Make a folder of all your important documents, make copies and keep them safe.

The fun part:

  • Book your flights to New Zealand!

Research, Research, Research!

  • Read up on job hunting, schools in New Zealand, cost of living, taxes, healthcare, travel and pet relocation.

Get Quotes:

  • Spend this period getting quotes from freight companies, migration insurance, health insurance, pet relocation companies. Decide on which companies to go with and get them booked in!

2 Months to go – Things are getting real!

Give Notice:

  • Inform the schools that your children attend that you will be moving.
  • Cancel accounts for TV, internet, phone and insurance etc.
  • Give notice to your landlord if required.
  • Give formal notice to your current employer (It is not as scary as it seems!)


  • Open a New Zealand bank account.
  • Request credit references from your bank.

Sell, Sell, Sell:

  • Sell any unwanted furniture or belongings – this is a good opportunity to have a serious declutter!
  • Sell your car – alternatively your mover could either store or ship this for you.
  • Think about electrical appliances – will you be able to use these? If not don’t take them and sell them.

4 Weeks to go – The countdown begins!


  • Book temporary accommodation in New Zealand if required.
  • Book your pet’s kennel accommodation in New Zealand.
  • Book a hire a car for your first weeks in New Zealand.


  • Register your children at their new schools in New Zealand.
  • Start packing any non-essential items – collect boxes!
  • Give a forwarding address to all your contacts, including your bank, passport office, DVLA and accountants.
  • Pay off any outstanding debts.

2- 3 Weeks left – Time to start the serious packing!


  • Transfer your funds with a foreign exchange specialist.
  • Confirm bookings with international removals or freight companies.
  • Ask for a copy of your no claims bonus form from your insurance company.
  • Have you got Travel, Medical & Transit Insurance? – Ensure you are fully covered prior to departure.

1 Week remaining – Keep Calm and Carry on!

Finish packing!

  • Disinfect and wash all outdoor items thoroughly e.g. lawn mowers, garden tools, kids bikes, tents, wellies etc. Virkon S can be purchased from Amazon quite cheaply.

Get Organised:

  • Arrange for your post to be redirected via the post office.
  • Cancel direct debits coming from your account.
  • Organise transport to the airport.
  • Cancel your car insurance and newspaper delivery.
  • Change your cash into New Zealand Dollars.
  • Double check your hand luggage has everything you need, including your travel documents.

This checklist was created in 2015 when we moved from the UK to NZ. You may find that you have extra items in your todo list or not everything is relevant. Please let us know if you think there is anything we can add to our list!

Moving to New Zealand with your pets – what you need to know

New Zealand is an amazing country, with astounding natural wonders, cosmopolitan cities, and an incredibly comfortable quality of life — it’s easy to see why anyone would be tempted to move there. According to Statistics New Zealand, every month between 5,000–6,000 migrants make the country their new home, and many of these people bring their pets with them too.

Pets play a huge part in their owner’s lives, and moving to a new country often means that they will make the trip too. If you are thinking of moving to New Zealand and you want to take your pet with you, there are a few things that you will need to know. We’ve decided to help you out by giving you the essential information that you need to know before boarding the plane. Read on to find out more.

Which animals can you bring into the country?

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets, and they are also the most commonly imported into New Zealand. If you are bringing your cat or dog from Australia, you will only need a post-arrival inspection, but for all other countries there are more specific requirements that need to be met. Apart from cats and dogs, the only other common household pets that can be imported are rabbits and guinea pigs from Australia and chinchillas from the UK. There are different criteria for aquatic animals and horses, as set out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Note: there are several breeds of dog that are banned from import — the American pit bull terrier, Brazilian fila, dogo Argentino, Japanese tosa, and Perro de Presa Canario.

Know the health requirements

Most countries around the world have specific health requirements that must be met before you can bring your pet into the country, and New Zealand is no different. You will need to pay at least one visit to the vets before you leave, and you include these pet visits in your moving budget.

Both cats and dogs must be microchipped and fully vaccinated for rabies before you bring them to New Zealand; a rabies titre test is required for pets from most countries, including the UK. All dogs also require a heartworm and babesia gibsoni test, and all dogs apart from those from Australia need a leptospirosis and brucella canis test too. Both cats and dogs need to have internal and external parasite treatments, with cats also requiring a second internal and external parasite treatment. You can find information about all of the tests and treatments that cats and dogs must undergo in the Important Health Standards (IHS) for cats and dogs document issued by the MPI.

If your cat or dog has any medication that you will need to bring with them, you have to declare them beforehand via a declaration of medicines form and a copy of a vet’s prescription. Usually the MPI will ratify up to a 3-month supply of medication.

Other animals permitted for entry into New Zealand have their own health standards that must be met before importing can take place. You can view these in the MPI’s individual guidance documents for rabbits from Australia, guinea pigs from Australia and chinchillas from the UK.

Get a veterinary certificate

To keep track of and certify your pet’s travel into New Zealand, there are several pieces of paperwork that need to be filed before they can enter the country. The first of these is a veterinary certificate for your pet (model certificates can be found in the HIS document mentioned previously). These certificates outline the treatment your pet needs, and by signing them, your vet is declaring that they have all been completed.

Book an MPI-approved quarantine facility and apply for your import permit

Unfortunately, all dogs and cats, apart from those coming from Australia, have to undergo a quarantine period at an MPI-approved facility. You can find a list of these for dogs and cats here. Other permitted pets do not usually require a quarantine period. You may feel worried about leaving your pet after all of the upheaval of moving to New Zealand, but just remember that this is for their own good and once it is over you will have completed the import process.

Once you’ve booked a quarantine period, you can apply for an import permit. This should be done at least 6 weeks before departure — there are two import forms for cats and dogs: one for rabies free countries (category 2) and one for countries where rabies is absent or well-controlled (category 3). Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas also have their own application form.

Notify the MPI before arrival

You will need to inform the MPI of your pet’s impending arrival at least 72 hours ahead of their arrival. The MPI’s import guidance page for cats and dogs lists exactly what information the MPI need to receive as well as the email addresses and phone numbers you can use to contact them.

Consider using a professional pet mover

The New Zealand MPI strongly recommend that you use a professional pet mover to make the experience of changing countries less stressful for both you and your pet. These companies will take care of all of the paperwork and will be happy to walk you through all of the steps required to get your pet into New Zealand. If you are moving from the UK, there are companies like Pickfords who offer this service, and have specially trained staff who are experts in the field.

Once you have completed all of the above steps, you can look forward to an exciting new life together with your pet in New Zealand.

Migration Expos in the UK

Whether you’re simply thinking about making the move to NZ or in the stages of planning it, attending migration expos in the UK is a great way to learn more about life out there, and help you make those all-important decisions!

We went to the London one in 2014 and I don’t regret the effort – one year in and I am on the path to living our dreams in NZ! At the time I had a number of questions swimming around my mine:

Is New Zealand the right place for me? How can I make the move? How can I get a job?

If you find your self asking yourself any of these questions as well, then there are experienced people who can help you decide what’s right for you at one of these events.

Expos are brimming with UK and NZ based companies that can help with the big move, as well as recruiters hunting for skilled people for jobs. You’ll also meet lots of other people who are in the same boat, which is a great opportunity to get networking!

Expos happen across the globe, but in the UK there are two main events for those looking to go to NZ:

Firstly, there’s the The Working International Expo in London.

This happens three times a yea – unfortunately, they have been and gone for 2017! Look out for more updates soon for 2018 events. Tickets are usually around £18.00

Providing information on Australia, Canada and New Zealand, this event is described as your ‘one-stop moving shop’ as it really does help you plan the whole process, from visa assistance to setting up afresh following the move.

‘Working In’ hosts the event and is recognised as one of the world’s leading organisers of international job and migration. The experts present at the event are plentiful and can help you with every detail, including:

  • Finding a home in NZ
  • Transferring a pension
  • Exchange rates
  • Setting up bank accounts
  • Transferring your belongings; as well as yourself!

This video shows some happy campers at the expo, explaining how the event has been of great benefit:

Secondly, there’s the Down Under Live Expo.

This happens three times a year across the UK. Again these events were just in February of 2017, but keep checking back with us for updates on the dates for the 2018 events.

This event is unique in that it offers a seminar programme (see their Facebook page for details and updates) with experienced speakers presenting in a friendly environment, along with question and answer sessions so you can discuss any concerns.

The show is backed by the top magazine for life downunder, “Australia & New Zealand Magazine”, meaning you can be confident that you’ll receive impartial and practical advice.

Again, there are experts providing a wealth of information on the immigration process, including property agents and recruiters.

That said, it’s worth going to one of these expos with questions and ideas already in your mind. What property size might you need? What industry would you like to work in? Which aspects of the move do you need advice in – will you need to transfer a pension?

Also, remember these events offer an opportunity to make an impression. Seeing as recruiters are there and looking for their next great asset, it’s important you have an up-to-date CV to provide them, along with an enthusiastic attitude!

If you make the most of what’s on offer at an expo then you can come away having considered and started planning all the aspects involved in moving to NZ. Trust me it is a worthwhile day, or two, out!