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New Zealand Place in the pacific

New Zealand lies in the Southern Pacific Ocean, 1,600 kilometres east of Australia. It is made of the North and South Islands and a number of smaller Islands are separated by Cook-Strait.

New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere’s – January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest. Average temperatures range from 8 C in July to 17 C in January. However, summer temperatures reach the low 30s in many places. There is a lot of difference in climate between regions east and west of the mountains. The average annual rainfall varies from 300millimetres in Central Otago to about 13,000 millimetres in the Southern Alps.

Driving in New Zealand

New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road.

If you have a driver’s license in your home country and also have an international driving permit, you can drive in New Zealand for maximum of one year.

After one year, you will need to apply for a New Zealand driver’s license and pass a theory test and a practical test. However, if you come from Australia, Canada, Norway, countries in the European Union, South Africa, Switzerland, or the United States, you can apply for an exemption from sitting the practical part of the license test as long as you meet certain criteria.You will need to get specific licenses if you ride a motorcycle or drive a heavy transport(HT) vehicle.

Road conditions in New Zealand are generally good. The maximum speed limit ranges from 50 kilometers per hour to 100 kilometers per hour, depending on where you are driving.  


Buying and renting a home

New Zealand’s housing lifestyles are many and varied. In urban areas, you will find homes ranging form old Villas (many dating from the early 1900’s) to new suburban homes and inner city apartments.

Most urban homes are stand-alone and built of wood. Although they are usually insulated, most do not have central heating or double- glazed windows. Instead, they use open fires, wood burners, or gas or electrical heating.

Many New Zealanders choose to own a home, although they often begin by renting.

Prices for homes in New Zealand vary considerably, whether you are renting or buying. A lot depends on where in the country they are – homes in Auckland, for example, are generally more expensive than homes in Wellington. Prices in smaller cities and towns may be even less. Cost as vary within a area.

Average House Sale Prices in New Zealand (for the quarter ending December 1998)  

Area  Price  
Auckland – North Shore


Auckland – Waitakere  $210,000  
Auckland City  $338,000  
Auckland – Manukau  $223,000  
Auckland – Papakura $220,000  
Hamilton   $188,500  
Tauranga  $212,500  
Rotorua $142,000  
Napier   $157,000  
New Plymouth 


Palmerston North $139,000  
Wellington – Porirua $166,500  
Wellington – Upper Hutt $145,500  
Wellington – Lower Hutt  $165,500  
Wellington City $244,500  
Nelson $167,000  
Christchurch $177,000  
Dunedin $116,000  
Invercargill $77,500  
Auckland area average $283,000  
Wellington area average $195,500  
New Zealand average  $191,500  

Note: The above prices include chattels, such as curtains, carpets, oven and light fittings. House prices in these areas may vary from those stated above.

Source: Quotable Value New Zealand


Median* Weekly Rental Prices in New Zealand (for the three months to December 1998)  

Area  2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms  
Northern Auckland $220    $270  
Western Auckland  $200  $250  
Central Auckland  $230  $300  
Southern Auckland  $210 $260  
Hamilton $150 $210  
Tauranga $170 $200  
Rotorua $142  $180  
Napier $150 $195
New Plymouth $120 $170
Palmerston North $140 $185  
Wellington – Porirua $170 $200
Wellington – Upper Hutt $140 $220  
Wellington – Lower Hutt $180 $227  
Wellington City $240 $285  
Nelson $155 $200
Christchurch $160 $200  
Dunedin $130 $160  
Invercargill $90 $120  

When a bond is received in the Bond Centre, the weekly rental information is recorded and collated with address, dwelling type and number of bedrooms. The median is derived using only the bonds with complete information on record. The median price is the middle price of the range in each area.


Source: Bond Centre, Ministry of Housing

Rates of pay

The following table provides information on average earnings in major New Zealand sectors. It should only be used as a guide, as the amount of pay usually depends on employment contract, your experience and qualifications and your employer’s employment policies.

Average Hourly Earnings by Industry for those Earning Income from Wage/Salary Jobs (as at June 1998)  

Occupation  NZ$ before tax  
Legislators, administrators & managers 20.22  
Professionals 20.11  
Technicians & associate professionals  17.35  
Clerks        13.80  
Service & sales workers 10.93  
Agriculture & fisheries workers    11.61  
Trades workers       14.97  
Plant & machine operators & assemblers 13.73  
Elementary occupations 1         0.66  
Industry Group  
Agriculture, hunting, forestry & fishing 12.16  
Mining & quarrying    16.60  
Manufacturing  15.61  
Electricity, gas & water 19.35  
Building & construction 14.38  
Wholesale & retail trade 12.20
Transport, storage & communication 16.59  
Business & financial services 17.32
Community, social & personal services  16.11  

Average Weekly Earnings (as at mid-February 1998)  

Males 706.20
Females 548.42  
Employed labour force 633.57  


Source: Statistics New Zealand 

Buying a home

Compared with many other countries, buying a home in New Zealand can be a very quick process and can be completed within three or four weeks. Most houses are sold through real estate agents.

Renting a home

You may like to rent while you decide where you want to live. You need to be prepared to spend some time looking, as prices and quality vary. Most rental properties are unfurnished, apart from an oven, a laundry facility and things like curtains and carpet. You will need to sign a tenancy agreement with your landlord, which sets out what you each agree to do.

Further information sources:

http://www.realenz.co.nz (The Real Estate Institute lists properties for sale)

http://www.minhousing.govt.nz (The ministry of housing provides policy advice to government)

http://www.hcnz.co.nz (The housing Corporation of New Zealand assit the government to meet its housing policy)


You do not need to be a resident of New Zealand to open a bank account. It is an easy process – most banks will open an account for you within seven to ten days. However,if you earn any income you will need an IRD (tax) number to give to the bank.You will also need to give the bank your permanent address details.

New Zealand has a wide variety of banks and banking services. Most operate utomatic teller machines (ATMs), and some offer telephone banking, which means you can access your accounts 24 hours a day by telephone. Some banks also offer their services through the Internet.

Many banks offer special services for new migrants and have staff who can help you with information, advice and useful introductions.


A wide range of insurance companies operate throughout New Zealand, offering a variety of insurance policies. Most companies offer a variety of policies such as motor vehicle insurance, house insurance and contents insurance.

If you need financial help

You are expected to be able to look after yourself and your family for at least your first two years in New Zealand (unless you come from Australia, the United Kingdom, Jersey or Guernsey, in which case it is one year). If you are sponsored, your sponsor is responsible for providing information and advice about settling in New Zealand and making sure financial support and accommodation are available to you for at least your first 24 months as a resident in New Zealand.

Further information sources:

http://www.winz.govt.nz (Work and Income New Zealand is the government agency dealing with welfare)

http://www.icnz.org.nz (The Insurance Council of New Zealand is the national body representing general companies)


Everyday living in New Zealand

All the following figures are provided as a general guide, but are very approximate and may change. You should bear in mind your own circumstances and location when looking at these figures.  

Typical Grocery Prices in New Zealand  

1 cappuccino $3  
Bread (loaf) $2.30  
1 dozen eggs    $2.70  
1kg cheese $8.20  
I kg rice (uncooked) $1.40  
1 can of Coca Cola $1  
1 McDonald’s Big Mac $3.40  
500 grams of butter $1.95  
1 litre of milk $1.40  
Tampax (box of 32)  

Household Furniture and Appliances  

Washing machine $850 – $1,250  
Clothes dryer $400 – $650  
Fridge/freezer  $800 – $4,000  
Dishwasher $1,000 – $1,600  
Oven (free-standing) $800 – $2,500  
Microwave oven $200 – $1,400  

(34 cm screen)         $300

(118 cm screen) $4,500  

Video $300 – $1,000  
Lawnmower $300 – $1,000  
Vacuum cleaner $170 – $900  

(Single) $500 – $2,000

(Double, queen or king) $600 – $3,200  

Lounge suite (3-seater and 2-seater) – fabric-covered $1,700 – $3,500  
Dining suite (wooden table and 6 chairs)   $800 – $2,500

Source: Various retail outlets

General weekly living costs per household*

(as at 31 March 1998)

While weekly living costs in New Zealand vary considerably between households, this table to the right gives an indication of household spending costs.

Above: Enjoying the wines and the shopping of the Hawkes Bay district.  

Food (groceries, takeaways) $114  
Housing (rent, mortgage, rates) $128  
Household operations (power, appliances, furniture) $95  
Apparel (clothing and footwear) $27
Transport (public transport and road vehicles) $123  
Other goods (personal goods, newspapers, alcohol) $81  
Other services (health, savings and leisure services) $117  
Total $685

A “household” is defined as an average group of people (statistically this is 2.7). Source: Statistics New Zealand  



The power system in New Zealand is 240 volts, 50 cycles. Electrical equipment from a 110-volt system needs transformers.


New Zealand has many competing providers of telecommunications services – the most well known are Telecom New Zealand and Clear Communications. You will also find public telephone boxes throughout. New Zealand.You should leave behind any telephones, fax machines or other telecommunications equipment you already have in your home country. If you bring it to New Zealand, it may not work with the local network, or it may not be able to be repaired here.

Television and radio

New Zealand has four national free to air television channels. There are also regional television stations and some other private, specialist channels. You have to pay to get Sky Television, which has channels showing movies, sports, documentaries, news, magazine programmes and teenage drama programmes. Currently a number of local cable television companies offer many other channels,some in different languages. You also have to pay for these.

There are two main State-owned radio stations and about 120 privately owned radio stations including ones that provide programmes in different languages.


Smoking is banned in New Zealand on most public transport (including airlines) and in public places such as meeting rooms and shopping malls. Workplaces must have smoke free areas and restaurants often have smoking and non-smoking sections.


New Zealand has a wide variety of religions. Anyone can attend any place of worship they choose. The largest religion is Christianity (including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches). Many ethnic groups also have their own places of worship.

Shopping & food Shops

Shops in New Zealand open most days of the year. Most shops open at 9am and close at 5.30pm from Monday to Friday (although supermarkets usually open earlier and close later). Some shops have a late night during the week. Most open at least on

Saturday during the weekend. Some shops (such as some takeaway food outlets and petrol stations) stay open 24 hours a day.

You can buy almost every type of food in New Zealand – from specialty stores such as butchers and delicatessens to large supermarkets. New Zealand has most international fast food chain outlets.

You will find restaurants, cafés and bars throughout New Zealand, of all nationalities. Some are licensed, which means they can sell you alcohol, and some are BYO (or Bring Your Own), which means you can take your own alcohol with you.  


Recreation & lifestyle

Wherever you go in New Zealand, one thing is guaranteed – variety. Whether in landscape, cultures or adventure, you’ll find experiences and opportunities. Information from travel agents and guide books on New Zealand will highlight places and activities of interest.

New Zealand is a great country for sports and leisure – its countryside offers limitless possibilities, and New Zealanders enjoy playing sport.You can explore the outdoors with tramping, skiing and cycling, or take up team sports such as rugby,basketball and netball (tennis is the most popular sport in New Zealand). Gymnasiums operate throughout the country if you want to start a personal fitness programme. If you enjoy fishing, swimming or golf, you’ll find plenty of opportunities. And for the adventurous, there’s always bungy jumping, white-water rafting and skydiving.


If you are looking for a taste of the arts, New Zealand has plenty to offer, such as orchestras, ballet, International Arts festivals and regular visits from overseas artists.

Further information sources:

http://www.nztb.co.nz (The New Zealand Tourism Board provides information on tourism opportunities)  
(Lonely Planet travel and tourist information)

Protecting your rights

New Zealand has laws to protect the rights of consumers and to protect people against unfair discrimination. Our Human Rights Act 1993 says people have the right not to be treated less favorably than others because of sex, marital status, age, religious belief, ethical belief (meaning lack of a religious belief), disability, political opinion, employment status (meaning being unemployed or on a social welfare benefit), family status, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, and sexual orientation. Sexual and racial harassment are also prohibited. New Zealand has a reputation for generally being a safe society. However, it’s important to use your common sense. For example, when out at night, the Police suggest that you walk with a friend and avoid unlit areas you’re not familiar with.In New Zealand you are breaking the law if you hit, punch, kick or in any way assault another person, or have sexual contact without the other person’s consent. This includes violence within the family, such as abusing elderly relatives, partners, girlfriends or boyfriends, children or adopted family members. Teachers are also not allowed to hit children, even if the children’s parents say they can. The Police in New Zealand take family violence very seriously and can arrest people who have been violent.

Further information sources:

http://www.hrc.co.nz (Provides information on human rights)


New Zealand’s two official languages are English and Maori. English is the language that is most commonly spoken. Te Reo Maori (Maori language) is not spoken as much as English, but many New Zealanders are learning the language and using it in their daily lives. About 50,000 Maori New Zealanders speak Maori as their first language.

To get the most out of your new life in New Zealand, you need to be able to speak and understand English.  


A good level of English means you can:

Have a conversation in English  
Read and complete a job application or write your curriculum vitae (CV or resume) in English.

Learning to speak English will help you to:

Find work – most New Zealand employers expect their staff to have a good level of English. The more highly skilled your job is, the better your English will need to be.

Meet new people – it will be hard to make new friends if you cannot speak to them.

Join clubs, community and religious groups.

Learn about where you are living. You may need to catch a bus, train or ferry – if you can speak and read English you will be able to ask for help and directions, and read signs.

Buy a house or find somewhere to rent.

Go shopping, buy food and clothes.

You may have some difficulty with the New Zealand accent, so you will need to give yourself some time to listen and get used to it. If you want to improve your English before you move to New Zealand, many countries offer language courses – ask for more information at an education centre.If you need help with speaking English after you arrive in New Zealand, you can attend classes at polytechnics, universities or community education centres. You can also learn at home with home tutor schemes. You will usually have to pay for these courses.

Further Information sources

(The Ministry of Education provides information on education policy)

(Provides information on learning English in New Zealand)    


Rates of pay  

The following table provides information on average earnings in major New Zealand sectors. It should only be used as a guide, as the amount of pay usually depends on employment contract, your experience and qualifications and your employer’s employment policies.

Average Hourly Earnings by Industry for those Earning Income from Wage/Salary Jobs (as at June 1998)  

Occupation   NZ$ before tax  
Legislators, administrators & managers    20.22  
Professionals 20.11  
Technicians & associate professionals  17.35  
Clerks 13.80  
Service & sales workers  10.93  
Agriculture & fisheries workers 11.61  
Trades workers  14.97  
Plant & machine operators & assemblers  13.73  
 Elementary occupations 10.66  
Industry Group  
Agriculture, hunting, forestry & fishing 12.16  
Mining & quarrying 16.60  
 Manufacturing 15.61  
Electricity, gas & water 19.35  
Building & construction 14.38  
Wholesale & retail trade 12.20  
Transport, storage & communication  16.59  
Business & financial services 17.32  
Community, social & personal services  16.11  

Average Weekly Earnings (as at mid-February 1998)



Females 548.42  
Employed labour force 633.57  

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Health care

New Zealand’s health and disability system is mainly funded by the government. People who migrate to New Zealand as new residents can receive the same publicly funded services as New Zealand citizens who have lived here all their lives.  


Publicly funded services include free care and treatment in public hospitals and highly subsidized treatment in the public or private health sectors for accident victims. They also include some subsidies on family doctor visits and prescriptions, particularly for young children, people who need frequent health care and people on low incomes.

Health care during pregnancy and childbirth is free, unless you choose private sector services.Pre-school, primary and intermediate school children have free basic dental care.
Visits to family doctors for children aged six years and under are free.

Health Costs    
General practitioner visits    
Adults    $30-$40
6-17 years olds   $ 20
Chidren under 6 Free
Weekend and evening appointments may cost   $ 5 to $10 extra   
Subsidised prescriptions    


$ 15 maximum


$ 10 maximum
Health Insurance    

This depends on what type of health insurance you choose from basic doctor only fees to comprehensive health care    

$ 350-& 3,800 per year
Dentist      $ 50 check up

The cost of visiting a family doctor called a general practitioner, or GP) (can vary in different parts of New Zealand, and even in different cities. It is usually between about $30 and $40 for an adult. Visits to a GP in the weekend or at night usually cost $5 to $10 extra on top of the visit costs. Government subsidies on GP visits for children aged 6 to 17 years mean the cost is usually about $20 per visit.

Prescriptions are subsidised by the government, but a part-charge often applies up to a maximum of $15 per item for adults and $10 for children. There is no government subsidy on medicines that can be bought over-the-counter without a prescription.

Health insurance

Many New Zealanders now have health insurance, which provides faster access to non-urgent and other health services which, in some cases, the public system may not provide. If you have private health insurance you are still entitled to receive public health services for no additional charge.These are examples of health insurance premiums for a typical young family of two adults aged 30, and two children, all in good health. However, prices vary between companies.    


Hospital-only and other non-comprehensive policies

$450 – $1,360 a year  

   Comprehensive policies  

$350 – $3,800  

Accident insurance

Everyone in New Zealand – whether a citizen, resident or temporary visitor – is normally covered by the government-run Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance scheme. It is commonly known as ACC, and provides 24-hour, no-fault cover to people who suffer accidental injuries.

This means ACC will usually pay a large portion of your medical bills if you suffer a personal injury in New Zealand which is caused in the main by an accident (including sports injuries), medical mistake, or criminal action.

If you are working and paying tax in New Zealand, you will be covered for injury in the workplace by your employer’s workplace injury insurance policy. This includes paying you compensation for loss of earnings if you need to take extended time off work.

Further information sources:


(Provides information on the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance scheme)    


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