Australia’s closest neighbour, New Zealand, is one of the most popular worldwide destinations among expats. And for the first time in 25 years, there are more Aussies making the move to New Zealand than there are Kiwis landing on Australian soil. New Zealand prides itself on its progressive attitude to embracing immigrants, making it an increasingly appealing and cosmopolitan country to live in.

With a cheaper cost of living, affordable housing, accessible immigration procedures and good job prospects, New Zealand is a (relatively) stress-free option for Australians looking to live and work abroad. A shared language and culture make it easy to feel right at home. You get all the benefits of a change in scenery and that famous laid-back lifestyle, without the upheaval of having to adjust to a dramatically different way of life.

Life in New Zealand is all about the great outdoors. Renowned for its spectacular landscapes and lack of pollution, New Zealand also boasts a cooler climate than Australia. This makes for lush green scenery and pleasant temperatures for exploring it in. Whether you love rugged mountains or paradise sands, it couldn’t be easier to get into nature. Think ‘Lord of the Rings’ if you want an idea of the wild natural scenery you’re in for! The wealth of outdoor activities – from sailing to climbing – are ideal for families who want to raise their children in the clean fresh air. In fact, they’re pretty fun for the adults too…

New Zealand is made up of two separate islands. But how to decide between North Island and South Island? North Island is more populated, with bigger cities and potentially better employment opportunities. The climate is warmer and sunnier, and it’s a great place to learn more about Maori culture. South Island, on the other hand, is cooler, wetter and quieter. Importantly though, this is where you will find the most jaw-dropping of New Zealand’s scenery and nature – and the tourist industry is thriving thanks to it.

How to get a working visa in New Zealand

Australian citizens do not need to apply for a visa to live and work in New Zealand. The same applies to those who have the right of permanent residence in Australia. What could be simpler?

If you are living in Australia on a visa, then you will probably need to apply for a New Zealand working visa before you start employment. The first thing to check is whether your job offer is on the Essential Skills in Demand list. Current occupations on the list include forest scientists, construction project managers and veterinarians. If your job is on the list, you can apply for an Essential Skills work visa. Your employer will then be exempt from the usual working visa requirements that demand they must have unsuccessfully tried to hire a New Zealand citizen before hiring you. You will be granted your visa for a temporary period, which varies according to your job offer.

If you need a work visa for New Zealand, you may also be able to apply for a Skilled Migrant visa. This will allow you to live, study and work indefinitely in New Zealand. You will need to score at least 160 on the points-based system, which assesses applicants on factors such as their age and experience, qualifications, language skills and character. You will need a job offer in place.

Young people aged 18-30 who want to work in New Zealand may be able to apply for a working holiday visa. Again, Australian citizens and permanent residents do not need to apply. A New Zealand working holiday visa allows visitors from certain approved countries to travel and work for up to 12 months. Work should be your secondary intention and you will need to show that you either have a return ticket home or the money to pay for one.

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Best cities in New Zealand to find a job

New Zealand has a buoyant employment market with a great range of opportunities. The most thriving national industries are based around tourism, renewable energy, IT and exporting popular local products, such as wool and wine.


North Island’s largest city, Auckland, probably has the best prospects for finding jobs in New Zealand. The “City of Sails” has a cosmopolitan vibe, with life centring around the city’s glamorous harbour areas.

As the economic centre of New Zealand, the business and financial sectors are booming in Auckland. Many international finance companies have a base here to take advantage of the Asia-Pacific market. Skills in construction, technology and IT are highly valued, especially in the fields of software and development. Auckland is also renowned as a fantastic place for entrepreneurs with a great business infrastructure and stable economy.

For all its status as an economic powerhouse, Auckland has the serious appeal of being within easy reach of the remote rainforest-covered mountains of the Waitakere Ranges and the island’s pristine west coast. Hello wild windswept beaches and amazing surf.


New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington is the country’s cultural hub. A thriving arts scene awaits, with galleries, museums and events at every turn. Add in an attractive waterfront location, the hiking and biking trails of Makara Peak and the watersports on offer along this beautiful coastline and you’ve got one of the best city lifestyles in the world.

Wellington is the base for New Zealand’s government operations, so you’ll find good employment opportunities for civil servants. Scientific research, health and IT are also areas with great job prospects. As you’d expect in such a cultural city, workers from the creative and digital industries are also in high demand.


If the dramatic scenery and sparse population of South Island appeal, head to the historic city of Christchurch for the best selection of job opportunities. Construction work is in demand, as the city continues to rebuild and grow following the devastating earthquakes of 2011. Tourism is also booming on South Island, especially in the backpacking and adventure sports areas, so you’ll find plenty of jobs in hospitality and travel guiding all year round.

Work/life balance

New Zealand is Australia’s laid-back cousin. The relaxed pace of life here extends into the world of work, with great flexible working and childcare policies in many workplaces. Part-time working is common with parents with young children.

In 2016, New Zealand topped the global work-life balance rankings in the InterNations survey of expat life, reporting the most satisfied workers and an average working week of 42.2 hours. High confidence in job security, as well as excellent leisure opportunities, are also thought to contribute to New Zealand’s happy employees.

All full-time employees in New Zealand who have held their position for a year are entitled to four week’s annual leave, as well as sick leave, bereavement leave and parental leave. In addition, workers get up to 11 paid public holidays per year. That adds up to plenty of free time for exploring your new Kiwi home!