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:

map-of-new-zealand
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 (sjs.co.nz) for jobs specifically for students and entry-level staff. If you are not a student or recent graduate, there is Seek (seek.co.nz) 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!

Breaking out of societies version of travel – Vagabonding through life.

From a very young age, we have all been formatted to think that travel can only be consumed a few weeks a year. All throughout our school years from the moment, we start to the moment we finish university or college we got half terms breaks, term holidays, summer holidays, Christmas holidays etc. So naturally, we utilize them as much as possible to go on holiday or take a break from our 9-5 / normal life. The same applies once we go into the working world, in the UK we get 4 weeks a year to take a break from your work and go on holiday.

Four weeks a year. Until you retire. That’s over 920 days for the rest of your life – this is something that doesn’t resonate well with me!

WHO is to say this has to be the case? WHO exactly? Your boss? Your principal? Your teacher? Your parents? No, only you can tell yourself what to do – it is your life not theirs after all!

This is not something I have always felt but recently I have been pondering over how we are all programmed to live this way and it has started to bother me! It certainly wasn’t something I thought about when I was younger.

I haven’t always wanted to travel.

That maybe a strange statement coming from a person who loves to now travel and is always planning her next trip. As child I was quite content, I was happy, I came from a small town (well, people would describe it as small, I still consider it to be quite large!) a beautiful town – There was a point in my teenage years that I thought I would live there forever, why would I want to leave? We have the best beaches in the world!

hometown goingnz
My Hometown

Then came the internet, I would ‘Ask Jeeves’ everything!  (remember that!) Photos of these stunning worlds appear as if it was another world but it wasn’t, it was our world. And seeing these photos of people living there ‘normal’ made me want to experience their normal! I wanted to see it I needed to get out of my bubble and see it!

Skip to 18 years of age and – I choose to study tourism at university. It felt like a natural subject to study since my home town’s whole infrastructure was tourism based. Plus the naivety and the childish side of my youth led me to think if I got a degree in tourism I could travel and see new places! Let’s just call that 18-year-old logic – right?!

You don’t need a qualification to travel you just need to have an open mind and willingness to break out of your normal.

I spent my younger years spending all the money I had going on holiday to new places seeing new cultures and in-between all this going back to university attending a few classes a week or work as it later became. After my short adventures away, I was back to sitting at a computer googling the next new adventure.

Then one day I thought why does it have to be this way? Why do I have to work for a few months and save up for the next trip that lasts less than 5 – 14 days? Because it is the society’s norm? Because that is all the time off university or work you can take? I am not a robot to society, I don’t have a switch in the back of my head – I can do as I please!

So with my boyfriend, we made the leap – we were off to travel. My boyfriend’s family was from New Zealand so we thought we would travel through South East Asia into NZ, we traveled on the move for six months. I was the best six months of my life.

Us on our first adventure in Asia in 2009
Us on our first adventure in Asia in 2009

It was at that point that I felt like I didn’t need to follow the path of society when it comes to travel.

Since then we have traveled to over 24 countries together and never let work, an employer or money get in the way of us traveling. I certainly have learned more traveling than the 16 years I spent studying and I also know we are very fortunate to be able to continue to travel like we do.

There is a slight stigma when you tell people you are a traveler. They question why you don’t have a normal job, a house, a routine all I can think is that they haven’t experienced this way of life yet – it just like anything though you could tell someone over and over again that it is incredible to jump out of a plane, however until they have experienced it for themselves they just don’t understand what it feels like.

Vagabonding is the answer.

I recently came across a book called Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, I had heard the term vagabonding before but not really put much thought into what it means but as I was reading the book I felt this overwhelming sense it was describing the life that my and Isaac have and are creating for ourselves.

Vagabonding is all about taking time out of your normal life to travel on a long-term basis. The travel doesn’t have to be long, 4 weeks, 6 weeks to 4 months would suffice. The traveler doesn’t even need to live like a nomad, they can have a home that they use as their base when they are not traveling – sounds slightly normal doesn’t it?!

Rolf’s book is all about preaching a different mindset, a mindset that has all been installed in us from the moment we were born without even realizing it and when you realize there are ways around this you do start to think differently.

Vagabonding isn’t a means of living like a nomad permanently it is working towards a goal of being able to go away to travel as and when you feel like it.

So, our goal in life is still to have the house, the job, the norm but to actually create our own freedoms, so we are not refrained to just 4 weeks a year to travel – after all, I simply ask you, isn’t life way too short for that?!

Get out of the way excuses, I have a world to explore!

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.

auckland-vs-wellington

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!