Your guide to expat life in New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand

New Zealand is a remote island country, so you may feel isolated or homesick initially. But Kiwis are well-travelled and known for their friendliness, which should help you settle in.

New arrivals are able to integrate with ease. If you relocate with your family, your children will also receive a warm welcome. Kiwis spend a lot of time outdoors, and expats moving there will revel in the plentiful opportunities for exploring that this country’s dramatic landscapes and diverse topography present. This can be an invigorating change, especially if you're used to an indoor or sedentary lifestyle back home.

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Basic info

  • Population: Over 4.9 million
  • Capital city: Wellington
  • Largest city: Auckland
  • Main language: English
  • Main religions: Christianity. Other religions include Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.
  • Political system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Time: GMT+12 (GMT+13 from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April)
  • Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz. Plugs with three flat blades are used.
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
  • International dialling code: +64
  • Internet domain: .nz
  • Emergency numbers: Dial 111 for police, fire and ambulance services.
  • Road traffic: Drives on the left

Next holiday



Labour Day

When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it moves to the first available weekday.

Public Holidays

1 January New Year's Day
2 January Day after New Year's Day
6 February Waitangi Day
10 April Good Friday
13 April Easter Monday
25 April ANZAC Day
1 June Queen's Birthday
26 October Labour Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day
1 January New Year's Day
2 January Day after New Year's Day
8 February Waitangi Day
2 April Good Friday
5 April Easter Monday
26 April ANZAC Day
7 June Queen's Birthday
25 October Labour Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about New Zealand:

“The first few years are hard in terms of making meaningful relationships and getting a network sorted - Kiwis are friendly but self contained so it takes a while to get to know them. Once you do though you are sorted - NZ is a small country and having a good network really helps with career, social life and housing etc.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“The scenery in the South Island is lovely. I would recommend doing a campervan or camping trip or just driving around and staying in motels in the South Island. The best places to see are Hamner Springs hot pools, (it's like an Alpine village an hour and half's drive from Christchurch), Lake Brumner on the West Coast, the glaciers on the West Coast, Queenstown and Milford Sound.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Even the largest companies in New Zealand are smaller than you would expect. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes a bad thing, but it does meant that work/life balance is better.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Make sure you get a good quality, well insulated, warm house (double glazing and central heating preferably). Great views are easy to come by, but there is a lot of poor quality housing.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“The country is less controlled, there are more opportunities to be creative in business, and it's less bound by social niceties, friendlier, with more supportive communities.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for New Zealand

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Do not bring anything other than clothing and family heirlooms- by the time it gets here you will have bought most of it again.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for New Zealand


To avoid a complex shipping process, find a company that has offices in both your home country and New Zealand. This may also be the cheapest option. Air freight is the quickest way to get your belongings to New Zealand, but it can be prohibitively expensive.

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Banned items

New Zealand has very tight border controls to protect its natural environment. Banned items include certain types of food and natural products such as wood, as well as weapons and tobacco.


Taking pets to New Zealand can be complicated. They have to be microchipped, vaccinated and quarantined for 10 days before they enter the country (pets coming from Australia are exempt from quarantine). Some animals aren't allowed into the country. These include American pit-bull terriers, guinea pigs, snakes, birds and rats.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

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