Let's go to New Zealand

What do I think about New Zealand?

I believe that it is very pure country, full of beautiful nature, wonderful food and very clean way of living and The Lord of the Ring 😊.

Sean Astin, in Ian Brodie’s ‘The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook’, said: “'I recalled sitting in Queenstown against the mountain range aptly titled the Remarkables and feeling I was actually living the books. It was like Tolkien had walked across New Zealand.”

New Zealand

New Zealand may not lure as many Irish as its Aussie neighbour, but its more temperate climate, lush green scenery and lower cost of living make it an attractive option for young people and families who are looking to find a new home down under, especially for workers in construction trades.

The New Zealand economy took a tumble around the same time as the recession hit Ireland in 2008, but it didn’t fall as far and recovered much more quickly. The unemployment rate was just 4.4 per cent in May 2018, the lowest since the last quarter of 2008.

Ireland is one of the countries targeted by the New Zealand government to fill acute skills shortages, which have emerged in industries ranging from construction to hospitality, healthcare and information technology in recent years.

Although the number of Irish people moving there has been declining since it peaked in 2013, when more than 5,000 Irish got visas to work there, it remains a popular destination, with more than 3,300 Irish granted work visas in 2017. Still need convincing? All three major cities get more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year (compared with 1,600 in Ireland’s sunny southeast). There are many sandy beaches with top surf spots, ski resorts in the mountains, and beautiful lakes, rivers and fjords to explore. But no matter how attractive the change of scenery or the promise of a suitable job in New Zealand may be, it is important to do thorough research in advance of such a big move, whether you are travelling alone or with a family.

This guide gives an overview of the main points to consider, with links to official government websites and other useful online resources where you can go for more detailed information.

New Zealand

Want to know all the coolest facts about New Zealand? Well you’ve come to the right place.

Read on for all the information you could ever want about this awesome country.

You’ll be so clued up you’ll be just like a ‘Kiwi’, a nickname given to New Zealanders.

As it’s really remote, New Zealand has some really cool and unusual wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Read on for some amazing nature info. Unbelievably nearly all the land mammals are birds and most of them can’t fly anymore. This is a frightening fact! In the last 1,000 years, half of all animals on the islands are now extinct. But there’s more…other animals are also in danger of becoming extinct as forests are cut down and swamps are drained. There are fewer than 75,000 kiwi birds remaining in the wild.

How to migrate to New Zealand ?

Visa guide: Introduction to the most popular visa types for Irish workers, from the working holiday visa to options for longer stay, including employer and state sponsorship, permanent residency and citizenship.

Finding a place to live: Overview of the property market, short-term accommodation options, average cost of renting and buying a home in each of the main cities, and how to find cheap furniture.New Zealand Immigration & Citizenship

  • Which city? The most popular locations for Irish people, and what they offer in terms of jobs and lifestyle
  • Finding a job: Introduction to the current economic climate in New Zealand, examining the jobs market, what skills/occupations are currently in demand and where, and advice on how to jobsearch
  • Health: Who is entitled to public healthcare, what costs are involved, and health insurance options
  • Education: How the education system is run, third-level options and fees
  • Culture and lifestyle: Multicultural, awash with restaurants, plenty of sport and big events - and that’s just Auckland
  • Finance: How much money you should bring to get set up, how the cost of living compares to Ireland, and an introduction to the tax system
  • Directory: Contact details for Irish organisations, sports and culture clubs, online social networks and other useful support groups
  • (Note: the information in this guide, which is intended as an overview, was correct at date of publication. Visa regulations change on a regular basis, so candidates should check the New Zealand Department of Immigration website for the most up-to-date information).

Applying for visas or citizenship in New Zealand

Irish citizens who intend to work, study or set up a business in New Zealand need to have the right visa to suit their circumstances.

The New Zealand Department of Immigration website has a VisaOptions tool to help applicants find the right visa for them.

The majority of workers move to New Zealand through the Work to Residence or Skilled Migrant programmes. The list below summarises the most common visa types for Irish workers.

Costs: Application costs range from NZ$208 (€120) for a working holiday visa to NZ$3,615 (€2,093) for a skilled migrant resident visa. Visas for entrepreneurs, investors or retirees can cost up to NZ$4,745 for Investor type 2. See immigration.govt.nz for the full list.

Migration agents can assist with the application process for an additional fee, but are not essential. Do make sure they are registered with the New Zealand government. You don’t need a visa to work in New Zealand if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

New Zealand

Temporary visas

Working holiday visa: Allows people aged 18-30 to work and travel for up to 12 months. You cannot bring children with you on this visa. You must have a return ticket or sufficient funds to buy one when entering the country, and a minimum of NZ$4,200 in your bank account.

Essential Skills category: For workers with a job offer with the training or experience needed by an employer who has proven they can’t find a similarly qualified candidate in New Zealand to fill the position. The visa will be issued for a one, three or five years. Since August 2017, the Essential Skills visa is offered on a skill-band basis. There are three skill-bands: low, mid, and high, and they are based on pay-rate and the perceived skill level of the occupation. If your skill band is lower-skilled, you cannot support visas for your family unless they already had a visa before August 2017, or you previously studied in New Zealand and subsequently held a post-study work visa.

Silver Fern category: A nine-month visa (which can be extended to two years) for highly skilled 20- to 35-year-olds searching for employment in New Zealand. It is limited to 300 places per year. Applications open each November for the following year.

Permanent visas

There are two routes to permanent residency in New Zealand: Work to Residence visas and Skilled Migrant visas.

Work to Residence

  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Category: If your skills are on the long-term shortage list, this visa allows you to work for 30 months in the country. After two years you can apply for permanent residency. To qualify, you must be under 55 years of age, be healthy, of good character, have an offer of employment, be qualified through training or experience for the job, and have full or provisional registration if your occupation requires it in New Zealand.
  • Talent (Accredited Employers) Work Category: For workers whose occupation is not on the skills shortage list but who have a job offer from a New Zealand employer accredited to recruit staff from overseas. After two years you can apply for permanent residency. Applicants must be 55 or under.
  • Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) Work Category: For people with recognised talents and abilities in the arts, culture or sports fields. You must have the support of “a New Zealand organisation of national repute in your field of talent” and a sponsor.
  • Entrepreneur Work Visa Category: For people who want to establish a business in New Zealand as a step to gaining residence. To apply you’ll need at least NZ$100,000 to invest, as well as a detailed business plan.

Skilled Migrant

This skilled migrant visa offers permanent residency to workers whose skills are in demand (on any of the shortage lists) but don’t have a job offer before arrival. You must be under 55, healthy, of good character and speak English. You must submit an expression of interest, and if you claim enough points for age, experience, employability and qualifications, you will be invited to apply. Some workers will be given a job search visa which can be used for up to nine months while looking for skilled employment.

For all other visa types, see immigration.govt.nz.the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list


If you have permanent residence and are considered “of good character” with no convictions or fines, you are entitled to apply for citizenship in New Zealand. This will give you the right to vote, live in New Zealand indefinitely, travel on a New Zealand passport, and stand for parliament. See www.dia.govt.nz.

Finding a place to live in New Zealand

The most popular areas for new Irish arrivals in New Zealand are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, followed by Queenstown and Dunedin.

Accommodation to rent or buy costs roughly double in cities compared to rural areas. Auckland is the largest and most expensive city, with prices soaring for properties close to the sea or in sought-after grammar school zones (see schoolzones.co.nz).

New Zealand experienced a housing boom between 2002 and 2007, with prices rising between 10 and 15 per cent per year. This was followed by a fall in 2008 to 2010, but the market has been recovering since 2011, with values rising 7.6 per cent in the 12 months to April 2018. There is strong demand for housing in New Zealand, and an ongoing housing crisis in Auckland, resulting in steep prices.

Statistics from QV (qv.co.nz) show that the average house value in New Zealand in April 2018 was NZ$678,856 (€394,571) nationally. Auckland city homes were among the most expensive at almost twice the national average, at NZ$1,232,850 (€716,629), but in smaller cities such as Dunedin, house values were much lower at about NZ$404,539 (€235,134).

home in New Zealand

Renting a home

Buying a home can be a worthwhile investment for those who get permanent residency and intend to stay there long term, but the majority of Irish people arrive on a one- or two-year work visa, and rent a home.

Periodic tenancies are common, where no fixed period is specified on the lease. New arrivals uncertain about where they want to live should look out for this type of rental, which will allow you to try out a property or area without making a long-term commitment.

Tenants need to give the landlord three weeks’ notice before vacating a property, which means short-term lets are technically possible on a periodic lease.

Market rent is described (in the Residential Tenancies Act) as what a willing landlord might reasonably expect to receive, and a willing tenant might reasonably expect to pay for the tenancy, in comparison with rent levels for similar properties in similar areas.

QZ has a section on market rent on its website, which compares rent charged for properties of a certain type and size in a given location. The median rent nationally is NZ$280 (€ 162) per week for a one-bedroom flat, and NZ$550 (€ 319) per week for a four-bedroom house, though these values can almost double in popular areas in Auckland.

Tenants are legally required to pay between two and four week’s rent as a bond, which is deposited by the landlord with the Ministry of Housing. Landlords usually request two weeks’ rent in advance in addition to the bond, and if you have found your home through an estate agent, they will charge a fee equivalent to another week’s rent.

The costs add up. A flat to rent for NZ$250 (€145) per week could cost you NZ$1,750 (€1,017) upfront, and that’s before you consider buying furniture, appliances and other household items. The majority of rental properties are leased unfurnished, but will have a cooker, fridge, carpets and curtains or blinds.

It is possible to rent furniture to fill a modest home for about NZ$200 (€116) per week if you don’t intend to stay long in a property, and second-hand furniture can be found on websites such as trademe.co.nz.

Council rates are paid by the homeowner or landlord. Rates vary depending on the particular council and the location of the property, but usually amount to about 0.5 per cent of the property value annually. Water and refuse collection are not covered by council rates, and are paid for by the tenant.

Housing is in shortest supply in Christchurch, where major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 damaged about 10,000 homes. After years of skyrocketing prices, property costs finally started to level off in 2017. Higher interest rates and restrictions to offshore buying are predicted to further stem the demand for buying property in 2018.

ContractAccom.co.nz organises full- or half-board accommodation for contract workers in Christchurch.

Buying a home

Maureen Crowley, a real estate agent and secretary of the Christchurch Irish Society, says the most important thing to investigate if you are considering investing in a property in Christchurch is whether you can get insurance before you buy - some companies insist homeowners have an existing policy with them before offering a new policy on another house.

It is also advisable to get an independent valuation and building inspection of any property you are looking to purchase.

Houses more than 30 years old are not usually insulated, unless upgraded under the government scheme, and almost all housing lacks central heating, which means it can get very cold in the winter months, especially on the South Island.

For about NZ$5 (€2.90), QV will be able to tell you the price fetched for other properties in the neighbourhood, and how much a property sold for previously.

Every property has a Land Information Memorandum (LIM), available from the local council for a small fee, which contains information about the property’s zoning, boundaries and building consents.

Homes tend to typically be in an inner-city apartment block, or a fully detached, individually built suburban or rural house. Rows of terraced or semi-detached houses are uncommon. Most houses are wooden with iron roofs.

Tags: immigration New Zealand skills worker