New Zealand Living Guide: Quick tips on how to move, survive and thrive

As many of you may know, I have been flitting back and forth between Australia and New Zealand for some time now. My love for NZ was sparked by my first trip there, an impromptu holiday booked with a work friend through Contiki. We came over in January of 2016 for two weeks of adventure in both the North and South Islands. It was a fast paced holiday full of fun and many, many cocktails. I then returned to NZ twice again for short working holidays, and then spent nearly the whole of 2018 working and living in the beautiful South Island. So in missing the NZ mountains, I’ve decided that I’ll do a little tips and tricks list for any Aussies flirting with the idea of heading across the ditch.


Seasonal work is common in the South island as Winter sees many businesses close and tourism slow to a crawl. Tourism in the North is more consistent, but Summer still reigns as the most popular season for travellers. Seek is a great place to look (and apply) for jobs online, much like here in Australia. Make sure you write in your cover letter how soon you can get over/when you are planning to arrive, and that you are keen for a Skype interview to make life easier.


Your biggest challenge here is likely to be accommodation. In a time where Airbnb has taken off, many homes stand vacant as holiday homes, and this leaves many arriving residents at a loss. Organising stable accommodation before arriving in a town is very important, and if your employer provides accommodation this is a huge bonus. Remember, you can always move into staff accommodation and then keep looking for something else if you are keen to have a home with a greater separation from work. Do your research about how much it costs to rent a room or a house in the areas you are looking at. Also remember that if you are living in a rural town, the cost of living (rent/petrol/groceries) will be higher. Having a savings safety net is always helpful just in case it takes you a little while to get on your feet. It is not uncommon for companies to pay fortnightly, so consider the fact that you need to stay afloat before that initial pay hits your bank account.


Opening a bank account is another thing to tick off of the to-do list. You can do much of the paperwork online with ANZ, BNZ or Kiwibank prior to your arrival, and make an appointment to confirm your identity at a branch once you arrive in the country. They will need a proof of address for where you will be residing in New Zealand, so if you can get a document from your employer or a rental agreement that will be ideal. Otherwise there are a few other options that the bank can advise you on to get everything up and running. If you are wanting to send money back to your overseas bank account then I advise that you look into the kind of fees each bank will charge, and go with the cheapest one. From my experience ANZ have the most competitive fees here- and the staff are super helpful!


Vodafone and Spark are the main providers here. From my experience, Vodafone has the most extensive coverage, but Spark often has better deals price-wise. Consider whether you’ll be living remotely and check coverage online before you make a choice!

Joining a new community

Wherever you’ll be moving, there will be a community base there, and dependent on whether it is a big or a small town, people are likely to have their own way of doing things. Small towns are renowned for being a bit gossipy and close-knit, so making a good impression is always a good idea. I don’t mean you have to bake a bunch of cupcakes for your neighbours, but not being a drunken mess, vomiting on peoples lawns is sure to help!


Getting to and fro in NZ isn’t as hard as one may think. The Intercity buses run between most major and minor towns, and are incredibly affordable considering the distances they travel across. You can pop your luggage on the bus too (it’s included in the ticket price) which is a bonus. If you are going to live and work in a small town, you may not need to purchase a car (I didn’t bother with it and, the few friends that had cars were happy to drive the group out for any trips). Buying a car is not much of a hassle though if that’s what you choose to do. There are plenty for sale as backpackers tend to buy and sell cars all the time. You can usually transfer ownership online and find cheap insurance online too which makes things pretty easy peasy. A thing to consider is if you buy a diesel you will need to pay a Road User Charge (RUC’s) for each kilometer you drive, and keep that up to date to avoid a big fine. Warranty of Fitness (WoF) checks are also essential either yearly or every 6 months depending on the age of your car. This requires you to take your car in for a service and check-over to ensure that it is still road worthy. With how challenging and mountainous the roads are in NZ, it’s important to know that the cars on them are safe and you are buying something that can protect you in the event of an accident.

Taking the plunge

The beauty of being an Aussie heading over to NZ is that we have full working rights- that means no visa hassle and no time limit on how long you can spend in the country. Before I made the choice to move I was applying for a few jobs both in NZ and in Perth, and when I got a response from a business in NZ, it was easy enough to arrange a phone call and Skype interview and get the contract paperwork sent over before I booked my flight. This allowed me to feel pretty safe in my decision to move over there again, and each time I’ve worked in NZ this is the way I went about it. I am sure that if you went over and started job searching there that would work out too, but I was pretty poor when I made each of those moves so having everything confirmed was important to me (work with what you’ve got!).

Moving to NZ each time was amazing, and going the most recent time was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was an incredible year of growth and I made so many new friends, and even picked myself up a fantastic partner who is now back in Australia with me. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and I honestly believe that travel is never a waste of time!

Go for it!