New Zealand | Frequently Asked Questions

We wanted to create a great FAQ section on our blog covering all the Frequently Asked Questions you may be asking yourself for your move or visit to New Zealand. It covers all your New Zealand questions from the tiny things to the big things!

We plan on adding to this every couple of months with a hope it will be a resource you –  our readers will be able to keep rethings!ferring back to every step of your expat move or whilst you are travelling to NZ. It certainly will answer a lot of your questions about New Zealand and will also cover some interesting facts about New Zealand that are great conversation starters when you are here!

This FAQ section includes:

New Zealand Trivia & Facts;

The Nitty Gritty Details;

Everything to do with money;

Tips before you go;

Travel advise in New Zealand;



New Zealand Trivia & Facts:

Wellington Beehive

What is the capital of New Zealand?

Wellington! The city of Wellington is physically in the middle of the country, which makes it easier for everyone to travel to. Our parliament building is called The Beehive, (apparently it looks like one but I can’t see it!) you should definitely visit it!

How long does it take to get to NZ?

If you’re coming to New Zealand, you’re definitely in for an adventure! In the future, when you’re friends are trying to impress each other by comparing travel times, you can beat them all by telling them your trip to New Zealand took a whole day! Sometimes it can take more than 24 hours though, depending on how much layover time you want.

Why are New Zealanders are called Kiwi’s?

Kiwis are our national bird! Also, our flag is very similar to Australia’s, so during the second world war, our soldiers included the Kiwi bird as part of their uniform to help distinguish them from the Aussies. The name stuck!

Who is NZ prime minister?

After a recent 2017 election, it is now Jacinda Ardern of the Labour party.

How did NZ get its name?

New Zealand actually has two names – New Zealand and Aotearoa. ‘New Zealand’ comes from a Dutch Navigator called Abel Tasman, who discovered New Zealand in 1642, but unfortunately never actually set foot here. If you’re wondering where Old Zealand is, there isn’t one – Abel Tasman named dubbed our islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

As for Aotearoa, it is a Māori word and is generally interpreted as ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. The word can be broken up as: ao = cloud, dawn, daytime or world, tea = white, clear or bright and roa = long. In Māori legends, this long white cloud is what Māori explorers first saw of New Zealand, so they used Aotearoa to refer to it. Another possible reason for the name Aotearoa is because Aotea was the name of one of the Māori migration waka (canoes), so they named the land Aotea (Cloud), but when they discovered that New Zealand was much larger, instead of Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea).

When was NZ discovered?

If you are thinking in terms of European explorers, Abel Tasman discovered NZ on December 13 1642, although he didn’t make it to the land – which is why English Navigator James Cook, who only came to New Zealand in 1769, is often cited as the ‘discoverer’ or New Zealand.

What is NZ famous for?

For quite a few things that you might not realised! For instance, there are quite a few actors in Hollywood that are Kiwis, like Karl Urban of Star Trek fame, Russell Crowe and Cliff Curtis. We also gave the world Lorde and Flight Of The Conchords – you’re welcome. There’s the Lord Of The Rings and its director Peter Jackson also, not to mention The Hobbit films too.

As for New Zealand itself, well, we’re generally known for having too many sheep (which is accurate, apparently there’s about seven sheep for every one person in New Zealand, but we don’t ride them to work or anything), being good at rugby and our amazing scenery –  seriously, you’ll have to see it to believe it!

Where’s NZ located in the world?

New Zealand is one of the most southern countries in the world (we even have flights to Antarctica). We’re about a 3-hour flight South from Australia – but we’re definitely not part of Australia.

What is the population of NZ?

New Zealand is one of the smallest first world countries, with a population of just 4 million. To put that into perspective, Sydney a city in Australia has a population of 4 million and NZ is certainly bigger than Sydney!

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The Nitty Gritty:

What plug adaptor do you use for NZ?

New Zealand and Australia both use the same plug/socket type, type I. Type I plugs and sockets are characterised by their 3 prongs, 2 slanted and one straight at the bottom. If you buy something in New Zealand that has a power cable, you will not need your adapter to use it, it will already be type I.

What is New Zealand’s voltage?

The standard New Zealand electricity voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

What is the international dialing code for NZ?

+64, then the area code. Like usual, drop the first digit when calling to NZ from overseas. For example, an International caller might dial an Auckland landline as +64 9 1234567, because the area code for Auckland is 09. Calling mobiles is similar, for example, +64 21 1234567, because mobile phone numbers in New Zealand often start with (021) or (027).

What is the exchange rate in NZ?

As exchange rates do, this often changes. At the time of writing this, 1 New Zealand Dollar equals 0.69 US Dollars, but it may change by the time you’re reading this. Make sure to check yourself for more accurate information.

What is the time difference & what time zone is NZ in?

Here’s the thing – and this will blow your mind – New Zealand is so tiny, it doesn’t actually have different time zones, it just has one: NZST (New Zealand Standard Time). NZST is GMT+13 in Summer, starting in September (Daylight Savings time) and GMT+12 in Winter, starting in April.

New Zealand tends to be around 18 hours ahead of the USA (though this depends on what part of the USA you are in) and 12-13 hours ahead of the UK, depending on whether its Daylight Savings time or not.

What are the NZ interest rates?

For banking and saving rates check out this article on our website for more information.

Can I bring my medication into NZ?

If you have prescription medicine and you declare it, you will most likely be able to bring it into the country. Even if your medicine is not prescription, still declare it – otherwise you could be fined. Please note that if your medicine is plant-based or has organic matter, it may not be allowed into the country due to biosecurity restrictions.

Are vaccinations required to visit NZ?

No, they are not required. It is always recommended to get routine vaccinations from your doctor before travelling, but no vaccines are required before visiting New Zealand.

What is the emergency services number for NZ?

If you need emergency services like fire stations, ambulances or police, please dial 111. Please refrain from dialing 111 if you’re not in an emergency, so our emergency services staff can focus on people who need help.

What is the diver’s emergency service number?

0800 4 DES 111. Please go to the New Zealand Underwater Association for more diving emergency help.

How much is fuel in NZ?

The price of fuel changes quite a lot here, most recently it has been $1.92/litre of petrol and $1.22/litre of diesel. Check out our money saving tips on fuel prices on our blog post by clicking around about…here!

What is the driving speed in NZ?

On most suburban roads, it’s 50km/h (which is about 30mph), on rural roads it tends to be around 80km/h (around 50mph) and on open roads and motorways, the speed limit is 100km/h (around 60mph). 100km/h is the highest speed limit in New Zealand.

What is the New Zealand weather and climate like?

Honestly, it depends on what city you’re in. All the major cities have nicknames or phrases related to the weather, for instance, it’s common for people in Auckland to talk about “four seasons in one day” and for people to talk about “Windy Wellington”, whereas Christchurch is known as the “Garden City”. However, compared to other places around the world, the climate is pretty mild. It doesn’t snow in New Zealand except on the mountain tops (great for skiing) and since we are so far South, the summer is quite pleasant instead of too hot.

Can you tip for service in NZ?

You can, but it’s uncommon. It’s not expected of you, but sometimes it’s nice to leave a waiter that you really like a tip for some extra petrol money. It’s considered a nice gesture, but New Zealand minimum wage is a living wage, so it’s not required or culturally frowned upon if you don’t tip – most people don’t.

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Everything Money:

money NZ

How much does it cost to go to NZ?

That depends on where you’re coming from, but you should put aside $3,000 NZD for flights.

How much money do I need to go to NZ?

It’s recommended to have around $150 NZD put aside for each day you’re there, so no matter how long your trip is, you will have enough money to travel (not including any domestic flights you want to take, those will be more expensive) and do all the activities you planned for – and some that you didn’t – while you’re here.

Is NZ expensive?

That really depends on what you define as ‘expensive’, but generally, because we have to get a lot of things imported, the cost of living in New Zealand is slightly more expensive, yes. For a more accurate answer on this matter do check out our highly popular article here on the Cost of Living in New Zealand.

What is GST?

GST is the Goods and services tax (GST) is a 15% tax added to the price of most goods and services in New Zealand. In America, this is generally the difference between the price on the label and the price you actually pay when you get up to the counter. That cost is included in the label price, so you know what you have to pay from the start. In England, we call GST, VAT – same thing!

What are New Zealand working tax rates?

This depends on how much you earn. Please consult the Inland Revenue Department’s (IRD) Income Tax chart for specific information. The IRD is a part of the New Zealand government and functions much the same as the IRS in the United States.

What is the KiwiSaver Scheme?

The KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings initiative in New Zealand that helps residents to set up nicely for retirement. There are lots of different schemes you can join and it’s a hassle-free solution to encourage long-term saving. Basically, your employer puts aside 3% of your wages into your KiwiSaver and you do too. To find out about how all this works, check out our article here!

What does NZ money look like?

Crisp, shiny and colourful, as New Zealand’s money was recently redesigned! We have a mixture of notes and coins – the notes are easy to tell apart because of the different colours: five dollar notes are orange, ten dollars notes are blue, twenty dollars is green, fifty dollars is purple and one hundred dollars is pink. You may find the coins a little harder to tell apart because they are all so light, but you’ll get used to it.

What is NZ minimum wage?

As of April 2017, the minimum wage for a working adult is $15.75 NZD.

Can I bring cash into NZ?

Yes. There’s no restriction on how much foreign currency you can bring into New Zealand. However, if you arrive at an airport carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash you’ll need to complete a Border Cash Report.

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Before you Go:

Bye Bye England

Do I legally need travel insurance for NZ?

While travel insurance is not legally required, it is highly recommended as the cost of not having travel insurance when coming to New Zealand could be much higher than just getting it in the first place. Read our travel insurance tips for expats here and here for visitors!

Do I need a visa for New Zealand? Will also link to an article

If you are a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you do not need a New Zealand visa to visit New Zealand. If you are not one of these, you will need a visa. Visitor visas are generally issued upon arrival, working visas need to be applied for before you arrive. Click here for a rundown of all the visas.

Is NZ a visa-free country?

Yes, although this only applies to citizens of certain countries. Read the full list of New Zealand’s visa waiver countries.

What is a Working Holiday Visa?

Working Vias allows citizens of certain countries to travel to New Zealand for around a year. We have a lot of different working visas, so it’s best to do your homework and find the one that’s right for you.

Is it easy to work and travel in NZ?

Yes! We have many different work and travel options here, so no matter what your budget, you can get to where you want to go.

How do I bring all my belongings to NZ?

There are many international moving firms you can use to bring your items over to NZ. It pays to do your homework before you arrive. Check out our guide on removal firms for more information and detailed information on what to bring and what not to bring.

Do I need health insurance in NZ?

Like travel insurance, health insurance is not a requirement in New Zealand, however, it is highly recommended. If you decide against getting health insurance and you get injured or need medical attention, treatment could cost you much more than the insurance you forewent.

What is the ACC?

The ACC is New Zealand’s national Accident Compensation Corporation, a part of our government that is responsible for administering universal accidental or injury care. If you get injured while you are in New Zealand and need to go to the Doctor or Hospital, the ACC will be in touch. This is explained further in our article – here!

Is it safe to drive in New Zealand?

It is safe to drive in New Zealand, however, we do drive on the left side of the road, so if you’re not comfortable driving like that, there are alternatives. We have public transport like trains, planes, and buses, or you could take a taxi or Uber – whatever you prefer.

Can I legally drive in New Zealand?

If you have a valid driver’s license in English, or an additional accurate English translation, you are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand. However, this is only valid for twelve months and there are other conditions, so it’s best that you refer to the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) for more information. A guide to who can drive in New Zealand can be found on this link

Will my mobile phone work in New Zealand?

Yes. You will need to visit a New Zealand phone carrier like Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees or Skinny Mobile to be able to connect to New Zealand phone networks, but it will work once you have done so.

Can I find the same foods at home in NZ?

New Zealand generally has Western dishes, as well as our own signature dishes. We also have a very multi-cultural society, so you will find dishes from all over the world here too. Don’t be afraid to try new foods here, you may be surprised at how good they are!

What foods can’t I bring into NZ?

As our nation is made up of islands, we rely very heavily on our environment to live and therefore we have tough biosecurity laws to protect our environment. Don’t be surprised if New Zealand Immigration confiscates anything that is not processed, as it may be a risk. Any food is considered a ‘risk good’ by New Zealand immigration – so if you have any of the following foods, including food for cooking, you will need to declare it when you enter New Zealand, or you could face a fine:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Dried mushrooms and fungi
  • Honey and honey products
  • Seeds for human consumption and for processing into food
  • Nuts, spices, herbs, and un-popped popcorn
  • Sried, cooked, or preserved fruit and vegetables

Does New Zealand have a tourist tax?

No, although at the beginning of 2016 a border clearance levy of $16 NZD for arriving passengers and $6 NZD for departing passengers was introduced, which applies to both international and domestic travellers going overseas. A tourist tax is currently under consideration by the New Zealand government, but nothing has been decided yet.

How do I find a job in NZ?

There are a few ways to find a job in New Zealand, mostly using online tools. If you’re a student or have graduated in the last year, there is 6Student Job Search ( for jobs specifically for students and entry-level staff. If you are not a student or recent graduate, there is Seek ( or Trade Me Jobs. Those are only a few popular ones, we also have put together a handy resource!

When are the New Zealand school holidays?

The exact dates change every year, but you will notice that our holidays/vacations are very different to those in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in terms of timing. We have our biggest holidays at the end of the year, some organisations ending in December or even November, then starting again in January, or sometimes even February or March depending on whether you are studying or not. The New Zealand government has an official list of all 2018 New Zealand public holidays on their website.

What documents do I need to bring with me to NZ?

Please bring with you a valid passport or travel document and your visa papers. If you are moving to New Zealand permanently, you will need the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Your academic qualifications
  • References from previous employers
  • Your CV (Curriculum Vitae/Resume)
  • Credit references
  • An international driver’s license or permit

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Travel in New Zealand:

But first…a few epic photos for a bit of inspiration!

What are the most popular destinations and attractions in NZ?

The most popular attractions are tied – it’s a toss-up between our stunning scenery and anything to do with the Lord Of The Rings filming. Queenstown is quite popular due to its range of activities (sight-seeing, jet boating, bungy jumping, white water rafting and sky diving, you name it they have it!).

When is New Zealand ski season?

Mid-June to Mid-October, in the middle of Winter.

What is the New Zealand Great Walks?

There are a lot of fantastic walking tracks here in New Zealand. The Great Walks are 10 walking tracks that New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) have selected as New Zealand’s best walks. If you’re wanting to hike while you’re in New Zealand, the Great Walks are the best place to start.

When is the best time to go hiking in NZ?

Summer can get pretty hot in New Zealand, especially around hiking spots and it can get boggy in Winter – so the best times to go on a hiking trip would be either in Autumn (March-April-May) or Spring (September-October-November). However, if you’re going on an extended trip or going up a particularly high or difficult mountain, please pay attention to all safety precautions asked of you before you begin your hike. The last thing you want to be when you’re exploring New Zealand terrain is under-prepared. If you’re not sure what precautions you should take, please ask a guide before you set off.

Do I need to pre-book accommodation?

Yes, you will need to pre-book accommodation, particularly in more popular spots around holiday seasons. New Zealand is a very popular vacation spot and you may find yourself sleeping under the stars if you don’t prebook your accommodation.

What is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to go to New Zealand in our opinion is in the warmer months. Anywhere from December to March would be ideal as most activities here involve being outdoors and those months have the best weather. We also think this is the best season to visit New Zealand – who doesn’t love the sunshine?!

Does each town have tourist information centres?

Yes, each major town will have it’s own Information Centre. If you can’t find it, don’t be scared to ask a local. We’ll help you out!

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Got a question? Or have we missed anything? Comment below!

Banking & Savings Rates in New Zealand

“There is no such thing as free banking in New Zealand”

This is slowly (and thankfully) becoming a more of a myth each day in New Zealand as the population grows banks are competing for your business. Personally for us coming from the UK we are very much used to being paid and incentivised to put our money with certain banks. Halifax in the UK for example actually pays you to bank with them, they offer £5 a month and a welcoming £100, reward banking has become the norm in the UK. Here this is not the case and it does take some getting used to, however there are some exceptions.

Bank at the Post Office with Kiwi Bank
Bank at the Post Office with Kiwi Bank

Kiwi Bank – The Free Up Account:

A fee free account! We opened this account after we arrived into NZ as it was a little tricky to do online before we arrived (Check out my bank account blog post for more info on how to do this before you arrive in NZ) into the country. The account has no monthly charges and gives you a free Ethpos card . You do have to pay $10 if you want to upgrade your card to visa debit card (basically allows you to buy things online, the Ethpos only allows you to buy things in shops). Electronic transfer’s are also free as are direct debits and ATM withdrawals (from a Kiwi Bank ATM machine). We have found it is the best account around and plus the bank is owned by the same crowd as the post office (basically owned by the government) so you can pretty much do your banking in most’s towns across NZ whilst be assured your money is in a safe and stable bank.

Savings Accounts:

To keep up to date with all the latest and best savings account in NZ we highly recommend visiting and then revisiting There charts will help you to keep up to date with the best offers available. Saving interest rates have in the last few months seen a state of recline, since June 2015 I have had a email by my preferred savings account (Kiwi Bank) three times informing me that my interest on savings are being reduced. That being said the rates are far better than the rate you can get with a current ISA in the UK (1.30% with a ISA if your lucky!) so you will be getting more interest on your money even though NZ doesn’t offer tax free savings.

The “Notice Savers” are by far the most beneficial accounts in NZ at the moment. These are either accounts that are 32 days notice or 90 days notice (meaning you cannot obtain your money straight away you need to give notice). Kiwi Bank again offer great rates on these accounts – a whooping 3% currently which trumps the UK’s measly 1.30% – Click on the link below for more info!

Another option you may want to consider if you are trying to get the best return on your money is peer to peer investment. In New Zealand there are a handful of companies in this area like Squirrel Money – their P2P offering is 8.06% – 8.85% when you commit to a 2 – 5 year term. The nice thing about peer to peer in my opinion is that you are borrowing from people and not banks.

Either way, as you will now be aware your move to NZ will become a strain on your wallet so we cannot stress enough how important it is to keep a eye on the latest information available to you when it comes to banking in New Zealand.

piggyBank NZ


Exchanging Money

Whether you’re going to New Zealand for a holiday, to work or even emigrate, you’ll need to exchange or move your money abroad with you.

Through the help of Currency Exchange companies, you can find the best deals and rates to suit your trip and the amount of money that you need to exchange. These factors will determine which company will benefit you the most.

Tourist Visa

Many who are just visiting NZ short term, will look to exchanging money using cash, a prepaid cash card, credit card, or have a bank account which offers good international fees.

If you’re looking for a good exchange rate you’ll notice that every company has ‘the best deal’, and in an abundance of options many go for someone familiar such as the post office. However they don’t offer the best deals by a long shot! So it’s important to stay clued up on current rates so you can make a more informed decision about the deals out there.

We used the Exchange Rates site to track the exchange rate, you can receive weekly updates and monitor the exchange rates in light of the economic situation. For example, when Scotland said no to independence recently, this was a prime opportunity to take advantage of good exchange rates! We sure did!

If you’re visiting long enough for cash to be unrealistic you can opt for prepaid cards, such as the Travelex Cash Passport, which allows you to preload a card without any links to your bank accounts. While this offers a greater level of control and security, you should be aware of the small print and how much money you will be charged through commission. Check out this review we found via Which, regarding the above, food for thought!

It’s important to consider the length of time you’ll be visiting and the circumstances of your stay. While cash may be perfectly viable if you have a safe environment to store it, if you’re backpacking then a prepaid card or credit card from your bank would provide much more security.

Keep an eye on the exchange rate.
Keep an eye on the exchange rate.

Working Visa

Someone on a working visa would likely be interested in many of the options mentioned before on a tourist visa; however, because you’ll be working in this instance you will need a NZ bank account for your wages to be paid into.

Setting up an account ahead of going to NZ will enable you to notify your future employer of your details, so everything’s in place before you start your job, and also gives you the advantage of favourable exchange rates and competitive interest rates.

There are many different banks in NZ offering bank accounts to new comers to read more check out our bank account blog here!

Resident Visa

For those emigrating or thinking more long-term, your priority will be to find a good currency exchange company that offers a good rate for exchanging large sums of money, as it’s likely you’ll be taking every penny to your name with you!

Whilst you could open a bank account in NZ and then transfer money from your UK account, this method will not give you the best deal as international transfers usually incur a large fee, as well as the hidden cost in the exchange rate.

Therefore it’s best to research and compare what companies can offer you:, this where our friend The Money Saving Expert comes in handy!

You can use this site to specify the amount of money you are looking to transfer and go on to find the best deals available to you. The larger the sum you are looking to move, the better the deal is likely to be. (Therefore it’s worth taking all of your money with you, rather than potentially leaving savings in UK accounts.)

For example, by reading the Money Saving Expert site we discovered that the Halifax Clarity Card has good rates when using abroad and that Currencies Direct offer a good exchange rate, (and at the time a bonus incentive of £75 Amazon voucher – those little extra freebies can certainly clinch the deal!)

Credit Cards are our friends!
Credit Cards are our friends!

As you can see, it’s important to look into exchanging your money with the circumstances of your trip and the amount of money you’re dealing with firmly in your mind. By keeping a watchful eye on the exchange rates and the offers available to you, you will be able to find the best company to suit your needs!

Bank Accounts

Before you arrive into NZ we suggest you open a bank account. All the banks in New Zealand can be accessed online so you can get to see all the features and costs of different bank accounts online before you arrive in the country.

The basic requirement to open Bank Accounts in New Zealand doesn’t require you to be a resident of New Zealand or to produce any references. All you need is a proof of ID which can be your passport and your permanent address. Even your work address in New Zealand or a Post office box number is acceptable.

The ATMs of most of the banks have Cirrus option as well which allows you to use your current debit/credit card to withdraw money or to access your card.

Banking Style in New Zealand:

New Zealand differs from UK in terms of the format of the bank account number. It is important to note this down as this has already confused us on a few occasions! The format of the bank account number in New Zealand is like this:


The bank account number breakup is given as:

RR – Determines Bank.

RRRR – Determines branch.

RRRRRRR – Determines the Account number.

RR – Determines the Account sub number.

Each bank also assigns a unique 6 digit number to every customer.


Majority of the customers in New Zealand use their EFTPOS card (known simply as a debit card over in the UK) to do most of their shopping. You can put as little as $1 on your card if needs be! Before you decide on which bank to trust your money with do check that the debit card that you get can accept online payments or international payments.

Credit Cards:

Credit cards providers are same in New Zealand as rest of the world like Visa card, American Express, Master card etc.

Online Banking:

Online banking is very easy to use and transparent in New Zealand. People find online banking very easy to pay their utility bills or to do other online shopping.

Banks in New Zealand:

Do try and open your New Zealand bank account before you leave your home country to be able to access your funds as soon as you arrive in the country. Once it has been opened (most banks let you do this online and via email, the only bank we had trouble doing this with was the Kiwi Bank) you can transfer your money over to your NZ bank with a recommended Currency Exchange company, for more information about this check out our post here! That way the funds are ready and waiting for you when you arrive.

The upside to this (other than it being waiting for you) is that you gain interest on the money whilst it waits for you, the downside is that you can’t put it in say a high interest saver of your choice you are at the mercy of there holding account interest rates.

Once you arrive all you have to do is make a appointment with your banking advisor visit them in store to collect your cards, set up your telephone and online banking. Be warned though this took us one and half hours with BNZ, we were ready for a nap after that! They will then discuss with you your different savings options so you can then take advantage of there interest rates or if you don’t like what they offer take your business to another bank!

Below are the banks that operate all across New Zealand.

It is also worth noting there pretty much no such thing as free banking in New Zealand, however we have found a account that doesn’t charge a monthly fee! For more information on this and the best savings options available to you check out our post here!

Borrowing Money in New Zealand:

The mortgage market is very good in New Zealand and it is worth spending your time to get the best quote for the mortgage. If you are looking for large loans, then you have to give the surety to the bank that you are intending to stay in New Zealand for more than 2 years. For more information on getting a mortgage in New Zealand read our article by by clicking here!