So you want to work in New Zealand? Find out what we think is important to consider (and do).I’d like to work in New Zealand. Where should I begin?

Offering a blend of professional opportunities and an enviable lifestyle, Candidates who are based outside New Zealand are constantly approaching us for work opportunities. It is easy to be excited about the prospect of living here, New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture and unique working environment. New Zealand has world-class qualities as a place to live and work in. Some of these include:

  • a strong reputation for being a stable and well-governed country.

  • IT industry (and many others) holds work-life balance as a core value.

  • a reputation for being ‘clean and green’. The huge range of Instagram opportunities is particularly special (not to mention, usually very close by)!

Preparing to work here involves understanding the job market, complying with legal requirements, and adapting to a new cultural setting.

So, what steps should I take in considering a move to New Zealand?

  1. Understanding New Zealand’s Job Market

    New Zealand’s job market is characterised by its diversity and variation. Key sectors include agriculture, with dairy and meat exports being significant contributors to the economy. The technology sector continues to grow, particularly in cities like Auckland and Christchurch, offering opportunities in software development, IT consultancy, and more. Tourism thrives in regions like Queenstown and Rotorua, providing roles in hospitality, event management, and travel services.

    Each region in New Zealand has its own employment landscape. Auckland, the largest city, is the commercial heart of the country, with busy finance, tech, and trade sectors. Wellington, as the capital, is the hub for government roles and has a growing tech scene. Christchurch, once known for its British heritage, is pivotal in the South Island’s economy, with opportunities in construction, healthcare, and education. This city has a completely different look post-2011 (earthquakes) and the cultural environment has grown and modernised with the new construction.

    Understanding these regional specialisations is important. You should align your skills and experience with the industries thriving in a particular area. Researching local job markets, current trends, and future projections can significantly improve your chances of finding suitable employment.

  2. Work out what is important in your work and the way you like to live.

    The last thing we want is to see you moving to a city or taking a new job only to find in 6 months that it’s “not really you”. You need to know what matters to you and figure out whether New Zealand could match those priorities before you make any life-changing decisions.  Think about what kind of lifestyle you’ll want to have, how you’d like to spend your time, where you’d like to be located and, of course, how you’d like your career to progress. Bear in mind that there’s no perfect job or living situation, but there is often ‘better’ jobs and living situations.

  3. Visa and Legal Requirements

    Securing the right visa is a fundamental step in the process of working in New Zealand. The Skilled Migrant Category Visa caters to individuals who possess skills in demand, offering a pathway to permanent residency. The Working Holiday Visa, popular among young adults, allows individuals from certain countries to work and travel for up to 12 months. Other visa options include the Essential Skills Work Visa and the Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa, each designed for specific employment situations.

    Compliance with New Zealand’s legal requirements is also essential. This includes understanding the rights and obligations as an employee under the Employment Relations Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act. Familiarity with the country’s tax system and obtaining an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number is crucial for legal employment.

    You should also be aware of the qualifications and certifications required in your area of expertise. Certain professions might need cross-crediting of a Degree or other international qualifications.

    The best and first step in this process is to consult a certified Immigration Advisor. They can give you all your options in an easy-to-digest discussion and will often do all the paperwork for you. Please note that only a certified Immigration Advisor can offer advice on your immigration requirements; we note that you can visit the Immigration New Zealand website, figure out your options through the information provided online and apply yourself.

  4. Research your costs.

    This is vital in this time of high inflation and a persistent rise in food costs. You’ll need to do homework on the living costs of the area you’d like to live in, the cost of transport you’d use once here and the cost of housing. You’d also be wise to look into the average price of food bills for a family of your size, schooling, and medical costs. For goods and services, browse the internet or online stores for price lists and compare generally. Expenses may not be as much of an issue for some people, but we still recommend getting a feel for living costs so there are no surprises.

  5. Job Search Strategies

    Moving through New Zealand’s job market requires a strategic approach. Online job portals such as Seek and Trade Me Jobs offer an easy snapshot of available opportunities. These platforms allow for filtering job searches based on location, industry, and job type, providing a tailored job-hunting experience.

    Beyond basic platforms, networking is an invaluable tool and a key way of getting ahead of your peers. Many positions in New Zealand are filled through personal connections and referrals.

    Engaging with professional groups, attending industry events, and connecting with others on platforms like LinkedIn can open doors to opportunities that are not advertised publicly. Be aware that randomly firing connection requests to people you have no connection to is generally frowned upon or ignored. You need to do this deliberately, even simply referencing a communication with a 3rd connection is better than just asking a stranger to connect.

    Customising your CV and cover letter to New Zealand standards is also crucial. Emphasising relevant experience, skills, and adaptability to the New Zealand work environment will make a job-seeker stand out. Seeking advice from local career advisors or recruitment agencies can provide insights into the specifics of the New Zealand job market. You can read all of our opinions and observations in our bi-annual Tech Shapers reports, and Quarterly Market Updates.

  6. Cultural Adaptation and Networking

    Understanding and adapting to the work culture in New Zealand is key to professional success. The work environment is generally collaborative, with an emphasis on balance between professional responsibilities and personal life. New Zealanders value straightforward communication and a can-do attitude.

    Building a professional network is important to assist with cultural adaptation. This can be achieved by joining local clubs, volunteering, or participating in community events. These activities not only grow professional relationships but also help in understanding the local work ethos and social customs.

    Networking can also provide insights into the informal job market, as many roles in New Zealand are filled through recommendations. Engaging with colleagues and industry professionals can offer guidance and support in looking through the job market and understanding workplace expectations.

    There’s really nothing that beats hearing what living in a certain country is like than talking to people who live there. Opinions will vary. A good idea might be to find out what it was like for someone who’s already relocated to New Zealand from the same country or region as yourself. There are plenty of Facebook pages and websites dedicated to helping people understand this from their own countrymen’s perspective. This should highlight any potential issues or confirm your thoughts about moving here.

  7. Accommodation and Living Arrangements

    Often left to the last minute or not understood well, is the importance of securing suitable accommodation before you leave. Housing pressure is one of the largest subjects in this country’s social discussion. There is a range of options, from urban apartments in cities like Auckland and Wellington to more spacious dwellings in suburban and rural areas. The choice of accommodation should consider proximity to work, public transport, and lifestyle preferences. The lack of rental properties and an expensive entry threshold for first-home buyers makes this a tricky thing to tackle.

    The cost of living varies across different regions. Auckland and Wellington tend to have higher living costs compared to other areas. Budgeting for expenses such as rent, utilities, transportation, and groceries is essential. Exploring different neighbourhoods and seeking local advice can help in finding a living arrangement that balances cost, convenience, and quality of life.

After these points, you should be able to answer the question “Do we want to move to New Zealand?” and “Can we move to New Zealand?”. If the answers to these two questions are “yes” then you’ll want to start taking steps to make this happen. In terms of finding work, contact the recruitment specialists in your field of work who are working in the region you’d like to be based in. They’ll be able to tell you more about where your skill set fits into the market and should be able to advise you on the best opportunities for you within the market.

Helpful Resources


  1. What are the main industries in New Zealand?
    • Key industries include agriculture, tourism, and technology.
  2. What types of work visas are available in New Zealand?
    • Common types include the Skilled Migrant Category Visa and Working Holiday Visa.
  3. How do I find a job in New Zealand?
    • Use online job portals and engage in networking.
  4. What is the cost of living like in New Zealand?
    • It varies by city, with Auckland generally being the most expensive.
  5. What is the work culture like in New Zealand?
    • It balances hard work with a strong emphasis on life balance.
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