A Guide to Emigrating to New Zealand

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by Sarah Marten

If you are considering working in New Zealand or have been offered a post there, this article will help you with many of the things you need to consider to help the move go smoothly.  This article is aimed at those who are currently UK residents.

Settling In

The organisation Settlement Support New Zealand provides help to people new to New Zealand in various cities and towns.

www.immigration.govt.nz – provides list of contacts for settlement support around the country.


The following organisations can also provide help with visas for working in New Zealand:



More detailed information is available in the further jobs.ac.uk articles on working in New Zealand.

Schools and Childcare


Provides information about:

  • New Zealand education system and schools including term dates
  • Information on state and private schools and enrolment details
  • Early childhood education (including playcentres and daycare)
  • Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds (20 hours)
  • Childcare subsidies
  • Enrolment zones
  • School directory

You have the right to enrol your children at the state school which is nearest to your home. Some schools have a “home-zone”, similar to a catchment area in the UK.

Schooling is compulsory for children from their sixth birthday until they are 16. However, most children start school soon after they are five.

The four-term New Zealand school year begins in late January after a six-week school holiday and ends in December.

The New Zealand government meets the cost of state schooling, but parents are expected to contribute towards text books and materials. Schools follow the New Zealand curriculum and the study of the Maori language may be included.

Further information on the New Zealand education system is available at:


New Zealand Students

New Zealand students have a wider socioeconomic background than UK students.

University places are not related to school performance in the same way as the UK, although there are stringent entry requirements for courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science.

Universities in New Zealand also have many international students, who come from Europe, USA, Asia, the UK, South America, India, Australia and the Pacific.



This site will tell you all you need to know about bringing your pet into New Zealand.

Dogs and cats from the UK/Ireland will not require quarantine but will need pre-import tests/treatments and will be inspected for ticks on arrival.



The Ministry of Health website will tell you all you need to know about health services in New Zealand.

New Zealand has Reciprocal Health Agreements with Australia and the UK, which means that UK citizens working temporarily in New Zealand can receive the same publicly-funded services as a citizen of the country if the services are covered by the agreement.

You have to pay for routine visits to GPs and dentists although children under six can visit their doctor for free.

GPs set their own charges and these can vary from between $10.50 and $65.00. Those under 18 and over 45 receive a government subsidy for GP visits.

Maternity care is free, and basic dental care is free for children still at school.

If your GP refers you to the hospital or for emergency treatment this is free.

About 30% of New Zealanders opt for private medical insurance.


The universities often provide temporary accommodation for new staff.

Home ownership is popular in New Zealand, and as a result there are fewer properties available to rent.

The average price of a house in New Zealand is currently $350,000. Prices are highest in cities such as Auckland.

There is a wide choice of property to buy, including city-centre apartments, modern houses with large gardens (known as “sections”), restored older villas and custom-built homes with several acres of farmland. Urban properties are often constructed in wood, and may have an open fire or wood burner.

Most rental properties are unfurnished, and you may also need to provide heaters as central heating is uncommon. Landlords usually ask for up to four weeks’ rent in advance as a bond (similar to a deposit in the UK).

www.realestate.co.nz - for information on properties to rent or buy throughout New Zealand.

www.emigratenz.org – find out about:

  • Costs of renting and buying in different parts of New Zealand.
  • The cost of living using a handy calculator

www.yellow.co.nz – gives a full list of rental agencies and allows you to search for accommodation in your area.

www.qv.co.nz/onlinereports/propertyvaluemap.html - provides information on New Zealand property prices.

Government assistance for families


Financial assistance is provided for families via In Work Tax Credits.

The maximum salary threshold for families with four children is $125,000

Other support is also detailed on this site and can also be found at: www.newzealand.govt.nz

Driving and Motorcycling/Cycling

You will need a valid driving licence in order to drive in New Zealand.

Once you have been there for more than a year, you will need to apply for a New Zealand licence. For those with a UK licence, this means taking a theory test.

Because of jetlag, the New Zealand government advise that you do not drive during your first week in New Zealand.


The NZ Transport Agency has excellent information for drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists, including:

  • “What’s different about driving in New Zealand”
  • “Road Safety for your Children”
  • Road Code
  • Driving penalties and offences


New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and therefore the seasons are reversed with summer from December to February, and winter from June to August. Temperatures decrease as you go south.

New Zealand enjoys mild temperatures with lots of sunshine. Rainfall varies between 640 mm and 1500 mm throughout the year (much higher on the west coast of the South Island). January and February are the warmest months and July is the coldest. Northland is semi-tropical, whereas temperatures can plunge to below -10 degrees C in the South Island alpine region.

There can be sudden changes in weather and waterproof and warm clothing is advisable for anyone planning to move to New Zealand. In the summer months the sun is very strong and care must be taken to avoid sunburn.



The main thing you need to know something about, and be sensitive towards, is the Treaty of Waitangi. This was an agreement in 1840 between the British Crown and Maori chiefs which regulated British sovereignty over New Zealand whilst granting certain rights to Maori.


Other useful websites





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