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Thinking of emigrating to New Zealand (Advice and Tips)

Here are a few tips.

Living Here This Wiki is always being updated as I get the time. Do we regret coming to NZ? Not in the least, never considered returning after 7 years here. The best way to make friends is to join clubs, organizations etc.

What is a Kiwi The original New Zealander immigrant seems to mainly be of Celtic stock (i.e. red hair and freckles) these people are not designed for the strong sun here. Other original groups are English, Chinease and German. I am excluding the Maori here as they were already in New Zealand.

Making Friends

This is not rocket science, just join clubs, hobby groups etc and be positive, no one enjoys being in the company of a winger especially one finding fault with everything, you will be made welcome. Do not wait for invitations that may or may not come. We joined the Howick little theatre, Botany Bottom Scratchers, BMW motorcycles and the MG owners club. Terri and a group of “girls” formed the Buckland Beach Book Club.

Be positive, no one enjoys being in the company of a winger, especially one finding fault with everything

Sunlight and UV

Firstly the sun is stronger here, we are 36 degrees south compared with London being 52 north, also the UV levels in Aus. and NZ are 50% stronger than comparable latitudes in Europe because of low air pollution, ozone hole and the earth's wobble. This means sun burn has to be taken seriously. From early spring to autumn sun block after a morning shower / wash, especially children, sun hats and glasses are also a good idea. I might point out we do get a lot more sun than London!
In the UK I rarely wore a hat, and still did not for a while here. Now I always wear one, usually a large peaked baseball cap (like “white-van man”) with a pair of wrap around sun glasses, (little wire framed ones are no good here) the glasses need to be able to cling on and safely hold on to the cap when not protecting your eyes.

Cost of living

For exchange rates, house prices and interest rates see Money and Banks and House Prices and Mortgages and Rents, the default is UK pounds but all other currencies are catered for. GST (the VAT equivalent) is at 15%, and is added to everything including food.

Some examples compared to the UK using the exchange rate.

  • Houses in Auckland are on average $540,000, see Where to Live (Auckland). Many expats we know from the UK are buying houses nearer the $1,000,000 price range, as this compares to the cost of the average house in the UK (well, the South of England (they were when the exchange rate was 2.9), anyway). Houses are generally larger with small gardens (see What no central heating & NZ Housing (What to look out for)) and are built mainly of wood.
  • Mortgages are see:Money and Banks and House Prices and Mortgages and Rents. There is no stamp duty. Solicitors fees around $1500, estate agents fees for selling 4% and upwards!!!
  • A Japanese car is around 25% less than the UK equivalent, but European ones are expensive, the same goes for motorbikes. Servicing is much cheaper here and we can recommend a couple of good mobile units, although we get our Jazz serviced by Honda for the warranty.
  • For current fuel prices see Driving in NZ (Including Fuel prices)
  • Food is the same price as the UK , with less choice on convenience foods. So if you're having a party be prepared to get the cook book out.
  • Clothing is comparable to the UK in price and quality.
  • Books are expensive, so buying on Amazon UK and paying the shipping often works out cheaper, or ship to a relative in the UK and get them to post on.
  • Generally DIY is cheap, but paint is expensive.
  • Electrical goods are slightly cheaper with a lot of competition, so do a deal, rarely pay the asking price.

Death and Taxes

The unavoidable facts of life. The average age for kicking the bucket in NZ is 78.32 years (male: 75.34 years, female: 80.44 years), but for people of European descent it is greater. The average is brought down by the South Sea Island population, who are not generally slim! They therefore tend to suffer with weight-related health problems such as diabetes etc.

But there's no inheritance tax, so your kids get it all! Therefore go skiing (spending the kids inheritance).


There is no tax-free personal allowance in NZ. Once in a job, tax is deducted from the first dollar. In addition, an ACC levy (a compulsory accident insurance) is taken.

As from October 2010, tax bands are as follows:

  • 0 - 14,000 10.5%
  • 14,001 - 48,000 17.5%
  • 48,001 - 70,000 30%
  • 70,001 upwards 33%

No national insurance

There is no capital gains tax on property or shares, no inheritance tax.

See the IRD website for up to date details.


Electricity is 25 cents per unit on average (2012 after discounts and levies), gas is not installed in a lot of houses. LPG and wood burning stoves are common, again see What no central heating. Our energy bill for 2/3 people is between $100 per month in summer to $220 in July. This amount is what we pay, the bill is made up of several components, with about 12.5% discount for prompt payment etc, we also got a $320 rebate because the supply company is owned by the users. The bill includes the heating of the spa pool and a computer on 24/7, plus cooking by electric most days. Our total electricity (total energy) bill for 20011 was about $1500 after discounts and the rebate. There are now Government grants for insulation, heat pumps and solar water heating, so do take advantage of them, we will.

Currently New Zealand generates about 10% of its electricity geothermally from volcanic heat. Another 55% of the country's electricity is generated from water flowing through hydroelectic dams. Wind-power accounts for less than 5% of electricity needs, although this is planned to increase significantly in the years ahead. By 2025, the plan is that 90% of New Zealand's electricity will come from renewable sources.

Telephone charges

Are comparable with the UK, local calls are free i.e. all Auckland. Broadband can cost up to $60 per month for 120 Gigs. with Telecom, but cheaper packages are available down to $10 per month for more limited bandwidth. We are a long way from Europe, so sometimes it feels if connections are coming by sea.


Public Transport in Auckland

There are buses to most destinations, with trains serving more central areas, though not Bucklands Beach. The ferry service is the best form of transport from our house to the Central Business District (CBD), they also operate from Waiheke, Devonport and Beachlands.


Some of the following has been notably corrupted by the UK and US printing money, so the exchange rate has moved dramatically

You will get a much larger house for your money here, probably with a spa pool and a fantastic view; no where is far from the sea in Auckland. I have already covered costs above. Some other points are, once you sign your offer with the estate agent and the vendor agrees, it is a contract (there are exception clauses built in for surveys etc) and you must complete. A house can be bought and occupied in 3 weeks as we can testify (just bought a second one for Tom), our own house took 4 weeks, but we took our time. (Again see What no central heating & NZ Housing (What to look out for)). One important point, your house can be owned by your Trust, this means is you are ever sued, your house is safe. It is worth taking advice on this point before buying, else you will incur extra costs if you wish to transfer your house to a trust later. Remember north facing for the sun, east and west are the same. Being near the sea it can, and in winter often is windy. Garages are often built in under the house with automatic doors. the floors should be sealed so there is no dust. One very important point, do not buy a house with a single garage or you will have difficulty selling it, Kiwi's insist upon large garages.

Note It is very common here to buy a plot of land then have your house built to your style, houses here are not usually built to just a few designs as on a UK housing estate. All the houses near us are different!

NZ Government house build calculator (not including land) See:Buying land (section) and planning a house also Living off Grid


Kiwi's have a partial NHS, hospital treatment is free, but a visit to the doctor costs $60 initially reducing to about $38 when you are registered. The advantage of this, is that you have much more control over appointment times etc. As with all professions in NZ, everyone uses first names, both for the doctor and patient. Prescriptions are much cheaper than the UK at $5 / item / 3months, but a repeat prescription form will cost $20. The ambulance service is run by St Johns and a charge is made for using them, although you can become a member and insure against the charge.

See Also: Health Service in New Zealand


One fact about New Zealand that is a relief to all Kiwis is that New Zealand's sheep are free of scrapie. Scrapie is a brain disease similar to BSE that is present in sheep in many other countries. It's thought BSE was caused by scrapie jumping the “species barrier” from sheep to cows. Cattle in NZ are free of BSE.

As a precaution against the spread of vCJD (Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) people from the UK are not permitted to donate blood in New Zealand.


Yes there is crime here, and as usual is reported over and over again in the media. Our local free paper gives weekly burglary stats for the local areas and Bucklands Beach is quite peaceful especially further down the peninsula were there is only one Road in and out. Murders seem to be family or drink related and the police get a suspect very quickly in the vast majority of cases (we assume the right one), so there are very few unsolved murders. Gang crime concentrates in the poorer districts in South Auckland, they basically feed of their own. Drugs are mainly meta-amphetamines, there seems to be little heroin or coke.


Winter is like a UK spring without the fear of frosts. We have just come back from the garden centre, strange they are selling lettuces and vegetables for planting, we have bought UK type spring flowers and a camellia that with flower through out the winter. Citrus trees are ripening now for picking in July and August. Exotic plants only grown indoors in the UK can be left outdoors, but during the summer regular watering is required. This year we have grown chillies and peppers, with autumn coming up its time to plant marigolds.

Television and Radio

Radio in Auckland is great, loads of stations with different content, plenty of choice. TV is OK, but as we watched little in the UK, we watch even less now. We can receive about 7 stations, but there is not much on them, lot of UK content though, but past its sell by date. Sky has a large proportion of the sport, but we will not give money to Murdoch. TV news is good and recognizes that there is an outside world, so top stories from around the globe are covered, especially the UK. UK top sport is also covered, particularly football. Sport always makes up 25% of the news with fairly catholic coverage, such as netball, motocross, triathlons etc. as well as rugby and cricket. Kiwis do enjoy there sport.

Commentators and Disc Jockeys are allowed much greater freedom to put across their own views or even tell dodgy jokes. This is generally refreshing after the UK, but only if you agree with prejudice being voiced. We have to bear a TV presenter called Paul Henry, who is a Short Arse with a huge chip on his shoulder. Update, he has been sacked.

UK Televisions will not work on conventional TV in NZ, but buying a freeview box will give you HD by connecting into the HDMI port or phono connections, therefore if you have a modern set bring it over.

Radio Hauraki

New Zealand had its own pirate station in the Sixties called Radio Hauraki, this station survived against all odds and was eventually made legal in 1970. It now broadcasts on FM 99 Mhz. The Hauraki crew are mainly responsible for the alternative names given to our sporting teams, such as “The Black Cocks” for the national badminton team.


Kiwi's are not too PC and this is reflected in some of their adverts, such as daytime radio commercials for sex shops, another features a woman bragging about her car, house and lifestyle by working as a hostess at an exclusive club, must be a good salary, or is it the perks? Then there is “buggeroff” insect killer., Miss Muffin's revenge and Hitman weedkiller. Currently vibrators are half price in one shop. Have a look at this advert, it was shown early in the evening

Kiwi customs

Children walking home from school will often take their shoes off and walk home bare footed, I have seen adults with no shoes round the DIY stores (this has nothing to do with the cost of shoes, its a Kiwi thing)

Barbecues are king, any excuse

Fishing and boating are expected but golf is the biggest participant sport

Kiwis often use contractors to cut the lawn and tidy the garden, they prefer enjoying themselves, although ex Brits. carry on gardening.


From the early 1980s, when NZ was home to over 70 million sheep, the population has declined to around 39 million in 2008. This means the oft-quoted statistic, that NZ has 20 sheep for each human, is wrong! Nowadays it's only about 9 to 1. This decline hasn't stopped NZ from cornering 50% of all international trade in sheepmeat.

Unlike the human population, the majority of New Zealand's sheep are based on the South Island, where there are more than 20 sheep for every human!


Compared with some other countries, New Zealanders are not heavy drinkers. The average New Zealander drinks:

5% less alcohol than the average Australian.
12% less alcohol than the average Briton.
30% less alcohol than the average German.
40% less alcohol than the average Irish.


Children in New Zealand's secondary schools spend more time than the OECD average learning mathematics, science, technology and physical education. They spend less time learning foreign languages, arts and religion than children in other countries.

Things not mentioned in the immigration books


Don't worry, this is not Aus. nothing will kill you, we do have a small spider that gives a nasty nip, but nothing worse.

A real problem here are pantry moths or the Indian Meal Moth which can be found in any type of food as well as materials around the home such as wool and cotton. Pantry moths usually infest dry foods such as rice, cereal, flour, biscuits, and spices. Other sources of infestation include flower arrangements with plant bearing seeds, pet food storage areas and in other food storage areas. Early detection is vital in controlling infestations.

Evidence of stored product pests includes small holes in un-opened packaging, webbing, dust accumulation and holes in the food. Complete control is difficult since new food is regularly brought into your home therefore constant inspection of potential breeding sites is essential in preventing outbreaks from becoming huge infestations.

No matter how clean your home is kept, you may still bring infested foodstuffs into your home!

Baking goods such as flour and spices can be baked or food can be put into the freezer in order to kill the insect if you prefer not to dispose of the food.

To avoid further infestations of stored product pests, ensure that dried food is placed in air tight glass containers. Where possible, keep stored food in the fridge to prevent further reproduction.

Kiwis use automatic insect sprays, we have a real problem at the moment and I am trying “Raid Automatic” out (Feb 1 2010). Will post the results.

Update Pantry moths seem to be an Auckland and north problem, Hamilton is free of them so is our new home in Miranda.


In winter you will get mold forming on windows, ceilings etc and if not careful some clothes in the wardrobes. Keeping the house warm and ventilated will stop the ceiling and clothes problems, but not the windows, so each spring its remove the gunk time from the frames and glass. See drying clothes.


Most kiwis do not treat their decks with oil or anything, so the wood becomes a light grey and boring. But! nearly all decks are hard wood and so the oils and stains do not penetrate the wood, therefore you end up with a coating, which of course wears off over a year. My deck is nice brown colour, but is now an annual chore.

Spa Polls and Barbecues

Yes in the UK people use spa pools at the gym, but they are rare in domestic premises. Well here they are quite common, with several outlets around our area dedicated to just pools. We use ours from October to late April, the hardy types use them all year. It costs about $6 a week to heat. I know that barbecues are common in the UK, but not the size they sell here. All are gas powered, and must be large enough to cater for parties of 20 plus. If you have $2000 then you can get a stainless outdoor kitchen with barbecue, hot rings and sink. A typical cost is $250 to $900. We often cook our evening meal on the barby, more so than using the kitchen especially in summer.

When you buy a gas container here they are empty, take it to the local garage for a fill. You will pay for the gas required, so do not wait until you run out.

Drying Clothes

In the UK, tumbler dryers are the norm, and of course can be used and bought in NZ but, drying clothes on a line is practical here even in winter, but leaving clothes too long in the sun (in summer) can bleach them (hang them up inside out). Another way of drying clothes is to use a laundry de-humidifier, most kiwi houses will have a laundry, so the clothes are hung here and the de-hum. is used to dry the air and the clothes. A good de-humidifier will cost the same to buy as a tumbler dryer but much less to run. Have a look at the Mitsubishi range.

Note, if you have a heat pump, this will reduce moisture content plus heat and cool rooms, but does not really dry clothes mitsubishi

Removing Shoes

It is now taken for granted that you remove your shoes before entering some ones house or even a show home. This is not a kiwi thing but inherited from the Chinese immigrants. No we do not bother with this ritual.

School boys wear shorts

Yes your teenage boys will wear shorts to school through out most of the year, now that's different from the UK.


Whilst the rules for drugs and alcohol are similar to the UK, one significant difference is that it is legal to own and operate a still!

Rubbish at the Roadside

Once a year all residents are allowed to dump all their non organic rubbish outside their houses for collection by the council

Bring over a multiplug

A few multiplugs from your country of origin can be used to power your computer and home entertainment, with just one NZ plug change per multiplug.

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