New Zealand is a land of scenic diversity and contrasts, ranging from beaches and thermal sites to snowfields and alpine wonderlands. The country plays host to its fair share of busy cities, but is moderated by remote country townships and rugged, uninhabited bush. Most websites that rank countries based on quality of life will rank New Zealand in the Top 10.
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New Zealand has an estimated population of 4.7 million, with the North Islanders making up roughly 3.7 million of the population and the South Island being home to the remaining 1 million.
The main centres of population are New Zealand’s six major cities:
(Source: Statistics New Zealand, website www.stats.govt.nz)
New Zealand is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,600 km (995 miles) east of Australia. It is comprised of two main islands (the North and South Islands) and a number of smaller islands, with a total land area of 268,021 sq km. Our geography includes a range of spectacular landscapes including the mountain range of the Southern Alps. The fiords, rainforests, glaciers and lakes and the coastal plains of Canterbury add to the variety of the South Island scenery. The North Island is home to a volcanic region rich with geothermal activity and is home to the capital city of Wellington and the countries largest city, Auckland, in the far north.
New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer months are December through to February, while the colder months are from June through to August. Winters tend to be relatively short in New Zealand, with signs of Spring showing well before the winter is officially over. The South Island, being geographically closer to the South Pole, is generally colder than the North Island. This is partly reflected in the population figures for each island, although the South Island is also considerably more rife with uninhabited mountainous ranges and forest.
Temp Jan ºC
Temp July ºC
(Source: Statistics New Zealand, website www.stats.govt.nz)
Life and Leisure
Getting away from the crowds is never a problem in New Zealand. Even those living in the major centres are often within less than a twenty minute drive to open and unspoiled countryside. As a result many New Zealanders enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits with most weekends and holidays spent in the outdoors. Due to the lay of the land, most New Zealanders are never far from a beach or a bush-walk. The country is also home to many fine wineries, which can be found in both the central North Island and the South Island. Immigrating to New Zealand from a country that doesn’t have the lush landscapes or natural beauty that New Zealand is known for is often a big determining factor in many migrant’s decisions to make the move.
New Zealand operates a decimal currency system with 100 cents to the NZ Dollar.
Coins: $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c
Notes: $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand including American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and Visa.
There are a variety of commercial banking facilities throughout New Zealand. Banks are normally open from 9.00 am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. ATM’s are widely used throughout New Zealand and operate 24 hours. Opening a bank account is easy however you will need to visit the Bank branch in person. Generally most Banks will require the following information:
- A permanent postal address, such as a residential address
- Two forms of identification such as a passport or drivers license
- If opening a cheque account a deposit may be required
- Your IRD number
Income Tax and Annual leave
Salary and Wages earners pay a mandatory amount of tax on the earnings. This tax figure is automatically deducted from an employee’s pay as they receive it (this is called PAYE or ‘Pay as you earn’). In order to work in New Zealand, all employees must have an IRD tax number that can be obtained from the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) – this allows for the calculation and automatic deduction of tax from an employee’s pay packet.
Annual leave is typically 4 weeks with 11 statutory holidays per year.
- Income (annual)
- $0 – $14000
- $14001 – $48,000
- $48,001 – $70,000
- Over $70,000
- Tax Rate
- Effective Tax Rate
- 10.5% – 15.5%
- 15.5% – 20%
- 20% – 33%
Tax is only paid for the bracket which it corresponds to. For example, if you earn $60,000 annually, you’ll pay 10.5% on $14,000 of it, 17.5% on $34,000 of it, and then 30% on the last $12,000 of it. This is important as it will bring your ‘effective’ tax rate (see above) below the flat tax rate for your earning threshold – meaning you won’t pay as much tax as you might expect.
All persons working in New Zealand can also request a personal tax summary at the end of each financial year (31st March) in which IRD will assess whether an employee has been overcharged or undercharged in tax for the year. This is an optional assessment but will often result in a small annual tax refund to the employee.
Goods and Services Tax
This is a consumer tax on the purchase or sale of goods and services supplied within New Zealand. The current GST rate is 15%. Almost all goods and services are purchased at a GST inclusive price, meaning that purchases you make will already be adjusted for GST.
New Zealand has an excellent range of transportation including domestic air, train, buses, taxis (including Uber) and rental cars.
All drivers must have a New Zealand driver’s license. If you have an international driving license or permit you CAN drive in New Zealand, however you will need to apply for a New Zealand drivers license within 12 months of arrival.
The medical services in New Zealand are provide quality service but due to the increasing population of the country, public hospitals do have a tendency to become overloaded at times. This means that waiting lists are commonplace and can sometimes be long. Generally non-residents of New Zealand are not eligible for free public healthcare and thus will be billed for health services.
Rental homes vary in price and quality, therefore meaning it is advisable that you visit a property personally before signing a Tenancy Agreement (also known as a lease). In New Zealand’s major cities (most notably the North Island cities of Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington), house prices are known be expensive compared to smaller towns or South Island cities. For this reason, many home buyers choose to purchase land or homes in regions surrounding the main cities – this way they pay less, are located in a less busy area but can still easily commute to the city for work.
If buying a home it is advisable that you take time to look around and become familiar with the market. Prices for homes in New Zealand vary considerably and depend greatly on location.