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Living in New Zealand

Useful websites for finding out about living in New Zealand


Newcomers Network:

Get Ready For New Zealand:

Community Groups Nationwide:  

Resources To Help You Settle In New Zealand:

Settling In NZ:     

Settling In Family Services: 

Cost Of Living Comparison Calculator: 


New Zealand comprises three main islands: the North Island (commonly known as Te-Ika-a-Maui in Māori), the South Island (Te Waiponamu) and Stewart Island (Rakiura) below the South Island. The country has a highly varied geography and climate. It ranges from sub-tropical in the upper North Island, through temperate zones in middle New Zealand (including New Zealand’s celebrated wine-growing region, Marlborough), to alpine environments in the lower South Island. Climate and location can therefore be an important factor in choosing where to live. 

New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city is Auckland, with over 1.6 million people and large numbers of immigrants from the Pacific, Asia and Europe. The city is situated between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours, and is known for its warm temperatures, proximity to the sea and vibrant cultural and social life. Auckland frequently rates in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world. 


The Capital is Wellington and is New Zealand’s second largest city. It is a compact, highly urban city with steep hills and unpredictable weather. As well as the political capital, Wellington is arguably considered to be New Zealand’s cultural capital, with a thriving arts scene and the home of New Zealand’s film and digital industries.


The South Islands largest city is Christchurch. It is close to some of New Zealand’s best outdoor attraction. Christchurch is a city currently going through significant change as it goes about rebuilding and forging a new city after the destruction caused by the recent earthquakes. 


Other large cities in New Zealand include Tauranga, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill. 

Relevant Websites

New Zealand geography: 

NZ Geographic: 





Bay of Plenty/Tauranga:




New Zealand depends significantly on international trade. Key markets include China, Australia, the European Union, the United States, South Korea and Japan.


The economy is strongly focused on tourism and primary industries predominately agriculture, viticulture and aquaculture, with a strong emphasis on meat and dairy.


New Zealand exports account for around 33% of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which makes it vulnerable to international market and currency fluctuations. New Zealand has large manufacturing and service sectors and growing high-tech capabilities, including a prominent film and digital industry.


 The unemployment rate in New Zealand is currently 3.9% which means there is significant demand for skills in the New Zealand Job market.

Relevant Websites


The New Zealand housing market includes properties for purchase and rental, including apartments, flats, townhouses, suburban homes, lifestyle blocks and rural living. 


The housing market has gone through significant growth over the past five years. As is the case in most countries the larger cities experienced this growth first and more recently this growth has extended out across most regions in New Zealand. Auckland house prices are considered to be very expensive however have plateaued through 2017 and in some areas have declined slightly over 2018. This slowing of the market is expected to spread across the country in 2019 as the impacts of further legislation around banking loan levels, tax opportunities for investors and the potential introduction of a capital gains tax take hold. Interest rates are expected to remain steady, however.



Rental properties are available on both short-term and long-term fixed bases. 


Availability  of rentals has over recent years been impacted by the property investment market. Low interest rates and tax opportunities for investors has seen strong demand by New Zealand’s to invest in property for rental, however more recent limits placed on banks around loan to value ratios and upcoming tax changes impacting investors will see a potential reduction in the rental housing available.


Demand for rental housing remains strong, In August 2018, TradeMeProperty reported that the national median weekly rent for a small house  (1-2 bedrooms) was NZ$390 a week, and NZ$525 for 2-4 bedrooms. However, there are wide variations. Auckland’s median for 3-4 bedrooms was NZ$600, and up to NZ$850 for larger or more desirable homes. Excluding Auckland, the national median for 3-4 bedrooms was NZ$460. 




Homeownership in New Zealand is about 66 per cent. This has decreased for a high of 73.8 in 1991 and is predicted to reduce towards 62% by 2025.


There is significant information online about buying in New Zealand. For example ASB Bank have developed a useful guide

Relevant Websites


Primary/Secondary Schooling

New Zealand has a highly ranked education system, with respected public and private schooling options available.

Children attend school from five years of age. Public schools are free to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents from a person's 5th birthday to their 19th birthday. There school years go from Year 1 to Year 13.

Secondary education in most New Zealand schools is based on the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) curriculum. This is a national wide set of assessment standards which promote ongoing assessment throughout the year. This ensures that all students receive a sound education in the core subjects while also providing students with flexibility in their final years of schooling to choose the focus of their studies.

Pre-school/ Childcare

In New Zealand a range of Early Childhood Education (ECE) options exists for pre-school children. The first twenty hours per week of ECE are government funded and largely free for all children from age 3 until they start school.

Public and Private Schools

There are 2 types of schools in New Zealand, public schools (funded by the Government) and private schools. The public schools do not charge fees, although there is usually an optional donation towards school costs to be requested from parents each year.

Public schools will often have a geographic zone and children living in the zone are expected to attend the school. Therefore, it is important when moving into a house to know which “school zone” your child will fall into. Many public schools restrict their school roll to children from in the zone. You can apply for your child to go to a school outside a zone, but this will depend on limited places available.

While most children in New Zealand go to public schools, there is also a variety of private schools which you may pay for your child to attend. Private school costs can vary considerably.

The National Education Review Office (ERO) publishes reports on each school which you can read online.

The New Zealand curriculum for the first 8 years of school is based on National Standards. The New Zealand Curriculum has 8 learning areas: Mathematics and Statistics, English, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, Learning Languages, Science, Social Sciences and Technology. At secondary school, children complete the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This assessment is generally required for admission to further education in New Zealand and is made up of 3 certificates at Levels 1, 2 and 3, designed to be undertaken in Years 11 through to 13 respectively.

Tertiary Education

The New Zealand tertiary sector covers private training establishments, institutes of technology and polytechnics, Private Training Establishments, universities and workplace training.

Degrees are mainly offered at universities, where programmes are research-led and generally academically focused. Some degrees are also offered through Institutes of Technology. Vocational degree-level education is offered at Institutes of Technology and some Private Training Establishments. Private Training Establishments programmes are mostly in specific vocational niches at certificate and diploma level.

Relevant Websites


Getting Paid

Wages and salaries are usually paid directly into a bank account by direct deposit. Using internet banking or smartphone banking, you can easily track your payments, transfer funds between accounts, and pay bills and other people using online payments.


Cards are the most common way to pay for items in New Zealand. Cash is used significantly less in New Zealand compared to overseas. Most shops     and outlets provide for payment by EFTPOS, and most permit payment by credit card. ATMs are in numerous locations in most cities to access  cash.

Income Tax

Taxation in New Zealand is collected at a national level by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) on behalf of the Government of New Zealand. The personal tax years run from 1st of April to 31st of March.

When you begin earning income you will need to apply for a IRD number. Without one you will by default be taxed at the highest possible level.

The highest personal tax rate is 33% for income over $70k while at the bottom the tax rate is 10.5% on income up to $14k. The maximum company tax rate is 28%. Tax on income for employees is generally collected under the Pay As Your Earn (PAYE) scheme, meaning tax is deducted before the employee receives the salary or wage in the hand. Self-employed workers, however, will need to make their own arrangements for payment of income taxes.

Goods and Service Tax

Most products or services sold in New Zealand incur GST at a rate of 15 per cent. You do not pay GST on residential rents and financial services.

All businesses are required to register for GST once their turnover exceeds $60k annually. Once registered, businesses charge GST on all goods and services they supply and can reclaim any GST they have been charged on goods and services they have purchased.

Other Taxes

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme covers accidents and injuries in New Zealand. The ACC scheme ensures that if you are injured or suffer an accident you will automatically receive the medical and financial assistance you need, including medical and treatment costs, weekly compensation if you are unable to work, and support to return to work or independence as quickly as possible.


KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings scheme set up by the Government to encourage New Zealand earners to save for their retirement.

If you're employed, you can “opt in” and choose to pay 3, 4 or 8 per cent of your gross (before-tax) wage or salary to your KiwiSaver account. As with the PAYE scheme, any Kiwisaver contribution will be taken out of your salary or wages automatically before you receive it. Once you’ve joined you can also make lump-sum contributions to your account if you wish. Several banks and other financial institutions provide Kiwisaver schemes as a vehicle through which your savings may be invested, and typically a range of investment portfolios with varying risk profiles is provided.

Your employer also has to contribute an amount equivalent to at least 3% of your gross salary/wages to your Kiwisaver fund (this cannot be taken by the employer out of your salary or wages). The government pays into your KiwiSaver account with an annual “member tax credit” of up to $521.

To be eligible for Kiwisaver you must be a New Zealand citizen, or entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely. You can choose to join KiwiSaver at any time. After 12 months in KiwiSaver you also become eligible to take a limited break from saving (a “contributions holiday”) if you wish.

If you are automatically enrolled when you begin employment, you can “opt out” of KiwiSaver if you wish, but only in the narrow window between 2 and 8 weeks of starting your job.

Relevant Websites

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