Work in New Zealand: A Guide to Help You Relocate

new zealand mountains

To most of us New Zealand is synonymous with hobbits and elves, and although this country may be an idyllic location for fantasy films, there’s a lot more to it. With a diverse cultural background, temperate climate and a booming economy, New Zealand is an ideal destination for anyone who’s interested in working abroad.

General Info

Located in the Southern hemisphere close to Australia and Antarctica the country is made up of two main landmasses, the North Island and the South Island,  and around 600 other smaller islands. Despite being one of the most remote countries in the world, New Zealand has managed to develop one of the highest-income economies in the world, ranking ninth in the Human Development Index and third on the Index of Economic Freedom. As such, it’s a great destination for anyone who’s interested in immigrating outside Europe.

Biggest Sectors

New Zealand has one of the most globalised economies in the world. It relies heavily on the trade of agricultural products with countries such as Australia, the EU, United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Canada. It’s worth mentioning that because the country relies so much on its international relations, it’s also quite vulnerable to global economic changes and slowdowns, so if you do move abroad expect that financial shocks from around the world will continue to affect you.

Apart from the primary sector which is quite important (products from this sector are largely exported), the services sector is also large as it accounts for sixty-three per cent of all GDP activity, and the mining and manufacturing sector are also booming.

Some of the biggest industries are:

Salary Information

Salaries vary depending on the region of the country you work in, as well as your level of expertise and sector.

The hourly minimum wage is $15.75 (£8.94)  or $630 (£357) for a forty-hour workweek. The public sector is generally the best paid, with median hourly wages being almost $39 (£22) - the private sector median wage is $27.82 (£15.80).

Of course, there are also many high paying jobs in the country. In fact, judges, managing directors and some professionals in the medical sector can make anything between $300,000 and $1million (£171,000 – £568,000).

Relocating to this country, therefore, means that there’s potential to earn a lot, especially if you are in a profession that’s included in the long-term skills shortage list.

Cost of Living

Becoming a Kiwi means that you get to enjoy a relatively cheap cost of living. Anything that matters, including housing and transportation is much cheaper than in some of the other major countries in the world including the UK. For example, a large flat in central London would set you back approximately £2,286 a month, while a flat of the same size in an expensive area of Auckland would only cost £1,686. Shopping and commuting is also much cheaper.


Work Visa

To relocate and work in New Zealand you’ll need a visa. But, to get a visa, you often need to have a job offer. This is not always a prerequisite as there are many types of visas you can apply for without a job offer, but having someone in the country willing to employ you will certainly help speed things up.

The most popular type of work visas that will allow you to immigrate and work in New Zealand are:

Long-Term Skills Shortage List Work Visa

It is available to people whose professions are included in the long-term skills shortage list (PDF). This list includes many professions in the construction and health sectors, as well as trades such as electricians.

To be eligible for this visa you will also need to have a job offer, proven work experience, qualifications and if needed, an occupational registration. You will also need to work for 30 months before you are granted permanent residence.

Essential Skills Work Visa

This visa is available for professionals whose skillset is included in the immediate skill shortage list (PDF). The list includes specialised professions in the agricultural and forestry sector such as poultry farmers and winemakers, some professions in the construction and engineering sectors including surveyors and engineers, and people in the hospitality and tourism sector.

To be eligible for this type of visa you will need to have a job offer, but for that job offer to be valid the employer will need to have made sure that no New Zealanders are available to do the work before they hire you.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

This is available to professionals who have been unable to get a job offer. To be eligible your profession will need to be included in the list of skilled occupations to ensure that your experience and qualifications can contribute to the country’s economy.

To apply for this visa you will first need to submit your Expression of Interest through New Zealand’s immigration website and you must then wait to be invited before you apply for permanent residence.

Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa

Only available to highly skilled young people aged between 20 and 35. To be eligible for this visa you’ll need to have qualifications or work experience, and you will need to be able to prove that you’re genuinely interested in contributing to the country’s economy. There are only 300 such visas available every year, the process usually opens in November of each year and closes as soon as all 300 places have been filled. To ensure success make sure that you meet the criteria early on.

There are also other types of visa available if you want to work in New Zealand for a specific event (e.g. If you are an actor who needs to be in the country while filming a movie), or temporarily (e.g. During your gap year).

Find a Job

As getting a job can play a major role in getting a visa, you should start looking into your employment prospects early on. One thing to note is that skills are paramount for Kiwi employers and as such you need to tailor your CV and application around what you can do. Focus on keeping your CV short, but make sure you list all of your skills and that you explain how and when you gained them.

It’s also important to show eagerness as enthusiasm is a crucial aspect of getting a job in New Zealand. Make sure that you also try to build a friendly relationship with various recruiters and hiring managers as this can be a vital component of your job hunting success.

Where to Find Work

Some of the job boards that can aid your job finding include:

  • Work Here: Workhere is one of the most popular job boards for people who are looking to relocate to New Zealand. Employers who post here have already gone through the process of looking for locals and are ready to offer the job to either Kiwis living abroad or immigrants.
  • Working in New Zealand: This website has been specialising in helping people find jobs in the country for over a decade, and it’s extremely popular amongst British people.
  • New Kiwis: New Kiwis is an immigration service that has been built to help professionals find work. Apart from vacancies, you’ll also find lots of tips and advice on what you need to include in your application and how to win over hiring managers.
  • Seek: Seek is one of the country’s biggest career websites, and it’s similar to Monster and Indeed. Jobs can be found using various filters and you can even create a profile and submit your CV to get found by recruiters.
  • Trademe: Trademe is a massive website for people looking to buy or sell services. Jobs here can be filtered by annual salary and many other factors.

Would you consider relocating to New Zealand and neighbouring Australia? Or would a country like Canada be a better option for you? Let me know in the comment section below.