How to move to New Zealand

Move to New Zealand in three easy steps with this blog post by Jade Jackson who moved there in 2009.

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If you’re Australian and one of the thousands considering a move to New Zealand. Here’s a quick three step guide that will see you living the kiwi dream in no time.

Step One
Book a one-way flight to New Zealand.
To search and compare dozens of airlines across multiple sites for the best price, search below:

Step Two
Catch your flight and tick on the immigration form you are moving permanently to New Zealand.

Step Three
Congratulations you now live in New Zealand.

Yes it really is that easy.
Read on to learn how to set up your new life as a New Zealander.

As an Australian who was too old for anymore working holiday visas, I moved to Wellington, ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ (according to Lonely Planet) in 2009 after tiring of the lack of wage growth and rising cost of living in Sydney.

Admittedly I had a 10 day holiday in Christchurch and Wellington a few months prior to moving, where I sorted out my ‘official’ stuff like bank account and license but you can easily do that on arrival.

The first thing you’ll need to be a local New Zealander is a mobile number. I recommend purchasing a pre-paid SIM card with 2Degrees as their plans include calls and text messages to Australia. However there is also Spark, Boost and Vodafone. Head to any Dairy (convenience store) The Warehouse or each mobile network has stores in major shopping centres.

Once you have a local phone number, take your Australian passport and an address (any local address will do) to the Automobile Association (A.A) to get a local drivers license. The NZST also issue licenses.

If you already hold an Australian license (and have held it for more than two years) you can directly convert this into a New Zealand Driver’s License. If you don’t have a car license, you can easily sit the learner license test which is like in Australia, a knowledge test.

They issue a paper license on the spot which is acceptable as your second form of local I.D until you get your card license in the mail.

Once you have a local phone number, a local address, a driver’s license, along with your Australian passport and Australian tax file number, you can then open up a bank account.

I joined ASB as they have a no-fee account (+$5 if you want a visa debit card) They’re owned by Commonwealth Bank in Australia. You can join online but you need some of the information above acquired locally in New Zealand, so if you are yet to arrive, you can easily open an account on arrival. There’s also Kiwibank (affiliated with the post office) and the usual Australian banks like ANZ, and Westpac.

Maori, Wellington, Paua, New Zealand, move to New Zealand, image by Jade Jackson
Move to New Zealand to experience the Maori Culture like the Hakka and a hangi in Wellington, New Zealand.

Once you have a bank account, ask for a bank statement with your address on it, which they then stamp. This along with your driver’s license becomes official verification of your address and you’ll need it to apply for an IRD number.

Once you have a local phone number, a local address (verified by the bank), a bank account and a local NZ driver’s license (along with your Australian Passport) you can apply for an IRD number (basically a New Zealand tax file number) from the Inland Revenue Department or IRD. You can also apply online. Once you have your IRD number, provide it to your bank who will then update your details so you pay the local tax rate and not a higher foreigner tax rate.

With a local phone number, a New Zealand driver’s license, a bank account and a tax file number you have everything you need to be employed locally and start your new life in New Zealand.

New Zealand sheep, New Zealand farm, New Zealand greenery, move to New Zealand, forgotten world highway, image by Jade Jackson
Fields of grass in New Zealand. Image by Jade Jackson.

If you stick it out for six years you can apply for citizenship and get a New Zealand Passport, though the benefits of this are not much more than what your Australian passport already offers except it does allow you the right to wear an All-Black’s jersey I’m told.

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Living in New Zealand offers an easier lifestyle. Commute times are shorter, nature is closer, you’re never more than an hour from the coast no matter where you live, but there’s no IKEA and flights out are more expensive than Australia to places like Asia and Europe, so sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. But with the rich elite buying up swathes of land as their ‘safety net’ there’s a reason why moving to New Zealand is also a euphemism for a better life abroad. 

Getaway to NZ
New Zealand Coast, beaches in New Zealand, move to New Zealand, image by Jade Jackson
Cape Palliser Coastline, close to Wellington, near where Filmmaker and Explorer, James Cameron bought swathes of land. Image by Jade Jackson.

Useful Websites:

    Easily compare and book multiple airlines, across dozens of online travel agencies to find the best deal for you from any departure city, including multi-trip itineraries.
    Your one-stop shop for housing, jobs, furniture, vehicles and pretty much anything at all, plus a cool place to work with a slide!
    New Zealand Immigration to check the latest information and for visa information for non-Australians
    New Zealand tourism website for information about different regions, sights, maps, videos, weather (mostly cold) and everything else you need to be inspired to move to New Zealand.
    Cheap flights to New Zealand with New Zealand hospitality.
Move to New Zealand, remote roads, forgotten world highway, North Island New Zealand, immigrate to New Zealand, image by Jade Jackson
New Zealand is full of remote roads to explore like the Forgotten World Highway in the North Island of New Zealand. Image by Jade jackson.

Need more inspiration? Check out my blog posts and podcast episodes on New Zealand featuring Cape Palliser, The Forgotten World Highway and Travelosophy #3 featuring a poem about Christchurch.

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Thanks for reading!
Happy travels
Jade Jackson – Listen to my podcast Jade Talks Travel
Travel Writer | Podcaster | Photographer

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