If you’re thinking of crossing the Tasman Sea and starting a new life in New Zealand then the visa situation for Australians really couldn’t be much easier. The Kiwis have very kindly removed all barriers to their Aussie brothers and sisters who would like to come over. There’s no huge list of different visa types necessary here; you only need to know about one.

New Zealand Resident Visa

Citizens and permanent residents of Australia are free to live, work and study to their heart’s content in New Zealand, no strings attached. You don’t need to line up a job or complete any horribly long forms before you arrive; just bring yourself. Of all the different global moves, Australia to New Zealand is probably one of the most stress-free transitions. With a Resident Visa you are welcomed into New Zealand as one of their own, free to use the public healthcare and education systems that make New Zealand such an enviable place to live.


Most visas come with expiry dates, but not this one! With a single stamp of your passport you are granted permission to live in New Zealand indefinitely. Then again, considering all those green, rolling hills and charming accents, why would you even want to leave? The one thing that does expire. however, are your ‘travel conditions’, i.e. your freedom to travel in and out of New Zealand with the Resident Visa. If you leave the country at any point after the first two years of residency (even just for a holiday) then your visa lapses and you’ll struggle to get back in. During your first two years they are a lot kinder, though, allowing you to drift in and out of New Zealand as much as you like.

But wait, don’t do too much drifting. If you stick around in the first two years then it will help you get your hands on a New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa. Sounds a bit more powerful, right? This is confusing because the Resident Visa is already permanent, but the Permanent Resident Visa allows you to travel in and out of New Zealand without any danger of it lapsing. The principal requirements are that you must have held a Resident Visa for at least two years and spent a minimum of 184 days during each of the last two years in New Zealand. If you can meet these requirements and cough up NZD$190 (about AUD$170) then the Permanent Resident Visa is yours.


In order to come from Australia and get New Zealand residency so easily you need to hold either a) Australian citizenship or b) a valid Australian Permanent Resident visa. After that, the most important thing is the question of your ‘good character’. If you have a totally clean criminal record then worry not, but if it’s not so clean then you should think about these technicalities. You will not be allowed residency if your record contains either:

  • Conviction of any crime in the past decade plus a prison sentence of more than one year
  • Any prison sentence exceeding five years

Any driving-related charges, such as dangerous or drunk driving, can also vastly reduce the likelihood of receiving a residency visa once you arrive.

Processing time

Almost all the bad things relating to visas aren’t relevant here. Applying for a visa and then waiting anxiously for months is a procedure many people around the world have to go through, but the typical headaches of visa application are nowhere to be found amongst Aussies heading to New Zealand. They’re happy, headache-free and probably quite excited. You don’t need to do any work in order to apply for the Resident Visa; it’s granted once you touch down in New Zealand, and it just means a little bit of waiting at the airport.  


If you didn’t think this could get any better, think again. The visa is free! The fee on the New Zealand Immigration website is precisely NZD$0, which translates into about AUD$0. Just think: all the marvellous sights of New Zealand, from Mount Cook to Milford Sound, are practically sitting in your lap, free of charge.

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After progressing from the Resident Visa to the Permanent Resident Visa there’s one final upgrade you can get, should you be so inclined: citizenship! Many people would question the point of Australians acquiring New Zealand citizenship when residency already gives them almost all of the same privileges. For example, after holding permanent residency for 12 months you are even able to vote, just the same as any bona fide New Zealand citizen. Nevertheless, citizenship completely solidifies your relationship with a country and, let’s face it, it sounds pretty cool. There are two main paths to citizenship: either by grant or by descent.

Citizenship by grant

This is the most common route taken by Australian migrants in New Zealand. If you’ve gone through residency in the country without any major hiccups then you should find applying for citizenship a fairly smooth process. Fortunately, Aussies are allowed to hold dual citizenship, so there’s no need to sever your ties with the beloved land of Oz.


First and foremost, you need to have lived in New Zealand for at least five years before you can make your application. But wait, it isn’t that simple. Within those five years, you must have spent a minimum of 240 days per year in New Zealand, as well as an overall total of at least 1,350 days. Alongside this, you need to show that you intend to stay in the country once you’ve been granted citizenship. New Zealand don’t want to waste such an honour on someone who’s about to perform a vanishing act. The other key requirement is a decent level of English language proficiency, which you’ll probably bring with you from Australia anyway. Any criminal offences (including traffic offences) would count as a ‘major hiccup’, and they can slow down or even ruin your application entirely depending on the state of your criminal record. Assuming you’re squeaky clean, you’ll be a real kiwi in no time.

Processing time

In truth, it’s not no time. More like 4 months, once your application is received.


It costs for an adult to apply, while children pay .

Citizenship by descent

If there’s a bit of Kiwi blood in you then you can get New Zealand citizenship with a lot less time and effort.  


This stuff is pretty much out of your control. As long as you were born overseas (ie. not in New Zealand) and at least one of your parents is a citizen of New Zealand then you can claim your New Zealand citizenship. It’s a queue-jump ticket on a major scale. After living in New Zealand for five years you can apply to convert your citizenship from ‘by descent’ to ‘by grant’, which then allows you to pass on your New Zealand citizenship to your children.

Processing time

Applications are processed within 30 days. If all goes well, they’ll send you one of those beautiful, black New Zealand passports (the one covered in silver leaves).  


The price is