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!

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.

How Difficult was it really to get a long term visa granted for New Zealand?

If you haven’t already checked out my article about what type of visa to get for NZ, then we suggest you do! Check it out here!

Getting a long term visa for New Zealand can at first appear to be a daunting process and you may think it is easier to just find a migration agent/company who will do it for you. However tempting as it is do consider that they will charge you for this service and as the visa it self is costly it may not turn out to be as cost effect and trust us it really isn’t that stressful!

Get Organised

The key for a smooth sailing in the visa department is by getting organised, create a file or a online folder (Dropbox or Google Docs) and start collecting all that relevant paper work that is needed. Whether it’s bank statements, proof of relationship to your sponsored kiwi, copies of your passport, your medical history keep it all together ready to send off to the immigration department.

Don’t get freaked out by the amount of forms you have to fill out! The NZ migration department is actually one of the best immigration websites out there. It’s extremely user friendly has some great tips and advice and even handy check list forms to make sure you fill out all the information correctly and are not missing anything.

Speak the truth

Be honest and keep communication open with your migration specialist. (As soon as you submit your application of express of interest you get assigned one). Communicate with them if you are worried something in your past may affect your visa getting granted often if you contact them the visa department will answer your questions and more often than not you realise it really wasn’t something to get worried over! At one point I forgot to attach evidence about our other joint bank account and I simply rang them up told them I forgot to add it in the file they were totally cool with it and I got some more time to add it to the application!

Make sure you allow time for any silly little errors like that, I just suggest applying for your visa 3 months before you leave, no need to worry that you need flights booked to get a visa, if you find that great flight deal for say 6 months from now get it and worry about your visa after!

I would love to hear about how easy your process was and about any little hiccups that happened to you and how you over came them! Feel free to leave your story/comments below!

Visa Options

What, Where, Why and When:

When going to New Zealand, or indeed anywhere overseas, out of everything that needs to be done, visas are top of the list and can shape your entire experience here forth.

Whether travelling, emigrating, or somewhere in between, visas are integral to your whole trip, and it pays to get this sorted as a matter of priority. It also pays to do your research and know exactly what sort of trip you’re looking for and which visa suits.

I’ve explored the ins and outs of them all! And while I have a pretty clear cut route as to how I can eventually achieve citizenship in this fantastic country, it’s been interesting to explore the options available to me.

At this stage you might even be unsure about your long-term intentions, so here’s some useful information on each visa that might just help you decide.

Visiting New Zealand: Tourist and Working Holiday:

Visitor Visa

If you’d like to explore this beautiful country and have no interest in grafting while you do so, then you can enter NZ without a visa, simply by completing an arrival card at the airport. This will allow you to stay for 3 months (or 6 months if from the UK) in any 12 month period.

If you wish to stay for longer than these specified, then you will need a basic Visitor Visa which is very straightforward to get. This enables you to stay for a maximum of 9 months, in an 18 month period, and only requires that you have a return flight or sufficient funds to pay for one.

While you are not permitted to work on this visa, that doesn’t mean you can’t look into this option while holidaying, and talk to potential employers. If you do decide to follow this course of action then you can go on to apply for a working visa.

Working Visas

There’s an expanse of job opportunities for those wanting to live and work in New Zealand – allowing you to continue building your career, or just earn money, while experiencing what NZ has to offer. Though all working visas are temporary, there is often the option to lead onto residency.

Temporary Working Holiday Visa

A Working Holiday Visa is designed for young people (aged 18-30, or 18-35 in select countries) who want to travel and work in New Zealand for a set period of time. This is usually 12 months, or 23 if you’re from the UK, and is a popular choice for many people who want to fund their travels as they go.

To qualify for this visa you must have a return ticket, or sufficient funds for one, and your main priority should be to holiday rather than work.

Essential Skills Work Visa

For those who are more concerned with building a career in New Zealand then the Essential Skills Work Visa can set you up with the right job before you even get out there.

If this is what you have in mind then a good place to start is finding out which the skills and qualifications are in demand, using resources such as The Essential Skills in Demand List.

Depending on the market, if your skills match this list then you can look at applying for the Essential Skills Work Visa, which means a position can be secured for you. Whilst this doesn’t lead directly on to residency, it can help you qualify for a residence visa through the Skilled Migrant Category.

Studying in New Zealand

For those planning to study in NZ for up to 3 months then you will only need a Visitor Visa; and if longer then a Student Visa is necessary. To qualify for this you must:

  • Have an approved offer of place from an educational institution
  • A written guarantee that accommodation is available to you
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover living costs while studying
  • A return flight or sufficient funds to buy one

If you’re studying in the country for an excess of 6 months then you may need to supply medical records and police checks.

Post-Study Work Visa

Following successful studies in NZ, many people will want to use their qualification to get a job working directly in that field. Depending on your expertise, you may be entitled to working in NZ for 2 years, which could even lead to permanent residency.

If you do decide that you’d like to stay on then you can apply for a Post-Study Work Visa, which has 2 steps:

If you have a relevant job offer from an employee then you can go straight to a Post-Study Work Visa (employer assisted) which allows you to stay in NZ, and gain experience in a specific field of work for a further 2 years.

If you don’t have a job lined up then you can opt for a Post-Study Work Visa (open) that gives you up to 12 months to find a job related to your studies. While looking, you can get any job to support you.

How to get a Resident Visa

Whether you’ve come here on a work or study visa, naturally many people fall in love with the place (like myself!) and will wish to take steps towards gaining residency.

If, after working in the country, you find yourself wanting to gain residency in New Zealand then here are the ‘ins’ to doing so:

Work to Residence: Long Term Skill Shortage

If you have a long-term job that fits the Long Term Skill Shortage List and your qualifications and experience are sufficient, then you can apply for a Work to Residence Visa. As an investment for the country, you will need to meet a number of age, health and character requirements.

Work to Residence: Accredited Employer

If you find yourself in a long-term job that doesn’t necessarily fit the Skill Shortage List, then you can potentially apply for a Work to Residence Visa through a full-time job offer from an Immigration New Zealand accredited employer. Again, you’ll need to meet those personal requirements, and the job offer will also need to fit certain specifications.

If, after a post-study work visa, or another type of work visa, you may find that you have enough ‘points’ to apply for a New Zealand Resident Visa under the Skilled Migrant Category. The points system relies on factors such as age, work experience and an offer of skilled employment. To gain a better understanding of what may be required, have a look here.

Partnership Visas

Working aside, you can also be sponsored by a family member to go to NZ, enabling you to become a temporary resident. This individual must be a NZ citizen or resident and can sponsor you if you’re a partner, dependent child or parent to them. Depending on the nature of your stay, you will need to specify whether you need a work, study or holiday visa under this umbrella.


Get that NZ Passport!
Get that NZ Passport!

How to get Permanent Residency and/or Citizenship

If your routes to gaining a Work to Residence Visa are successful then you are well on the road to becoming a permanent resident – meaning you can stay in NZ indefinitely with access to most publicly funded services.

To be eligible you will need to have:

  • Been in NZ on a Work to Residence visa for at least 2 years
  • Meet certain health and character requirements
    Provide evidence that you have an English-speaking background, or possess an IELTS certificate (level 5)

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re enjoying life in NZ, then chances are you will also be interested in becoming a Citizen.

The beauty of this, as well as becoming a committed member of the country, includes the right to travel overseas and return on a New Zealand passport, as well as full access to educational scholarships and economic rights that are reserved for New Zealanders.

There are 2 main routes to gaining Citizenship:

Citizenship by Decent – if you were born overseas but one of your parents was a New Zealand citizen.

Citizen by Grant – the more common of the two, can be achieved by having lived in New Zealand with residence status for 5 years before application, with the intention to remain there upon receiving citizenship.

Again you’ll need to have a good character, speak good English, and understand the responsibilities and privileges associated with New Zealand citizenship. There are also various fees applicable throughout this process.

All said and done, you will be required to attend a citizenship ceremony. And, no doubt, by that stage you’ll be holding a big celebration of your own.

It’s important to remember that whichever visa you are looking to get, the application although it may seem confusing at first is actually very straightforward and can be completed by yourself without difficulty.

To find out more information and to check which visa is more suitable for your self check out the official New Zealand Immigration website below: