New Zealand has become such an important part of my life. Having lived here twice now with frequent visits in between, I’m always interested in hearing other people’s perspectives on my adoptive country. Danny Newman of What’s Danny Doing is sharing a traveller’s guide to living in New Zealand with us today. Whether you’re thinking about visiting or living in New Zealand, there’s good information here to consider.
New Zealand is my favourite country in the entire world. A place of untenable beauty, this relatively small stretch of land presents unrivalled opportunities to every visitor that sets foot upon it. I’ve been lucky enough to live and travel there for about a year and a half in total, spread over two separate trips. And in that time I’ve got to know it fairly well.
I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone spends time there. Go, explore, settle down, and fall in love with a country that’s as wondrous as it is welcoming. Aotearoa, as it’s known in Maori, is on the other side of the world for most of us. But go just once, and it will be forever close to your heart.
Are you thinking about moving to, or travelling around, New Zealand, and want some insight into what to expect?
Then check out the following guide to life in this incredible country.
Best Parts of Living in New Zealand
‘Ease’ is the first word that comes to mind when I think about life in New Zealand.
Life is just easy there. Everything about it is relaxed, stress-free, safe, and straight-forward!
That’s especially true for travellers. After all, it’s a well-travelled place. That means a) it’s easy to get around (more on that later), b) there’s masses of traveller accommodation, c) there’s huge amounts to see and do, and d) tonnes of readily available, awesome info on the best things to do there.
All in all, spending time in New Zealand is a breeze.
The Friendly Locals
Kiwi hospitality is infamous.
I literally know travellers who have knocked on a random person’s door and been invited in for a meal and night’s accommodation! Kiwis are a matter-of-fact, get-on-with-the-job, do-it-with-a-smile sort of people. And they’re lovely for it.
They’ll point you in the right direction, offer you a ride, host you for the night, cook you a meal, and go above and beyond to help you out of any sticky situation.
To go to New Zealand is to feel truly welcome. It quickly becomes a home away from home.
The Natural Beauty
It’s hard to overstate the beauty of this country.
Around every corner, upon either of Aotearoa’s islands, a new, stunning piece of scenery meets the eye.
On any one day you’ll encounter volcanic geysers, glorious stretches of golden sands, mile upon mile of endless coastline, snowy mountain peaks, glistening glaciers, dense forests and endless expanses of open land. Lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls litter the landscapes around you.
If you like nature, then this is the place for you.
The Outdoor Opportunities
All that nature inevitably keeps outdoorsy sorts happy.
Climbing, hiking, skiing (and snowboarding), canyoning, fishing, paragliding, flying, hunting…it’s all on offer in the great outdoors of NZ.
I’ll mention the hiking in greater detail. There are hikes literally everywhere. From short walks to multi-day great walks, to length-of-the-country walks. Hikers have a field day!
New Zealand is as well-developed as it is well-travelled.
That means the infrastructure is in place to ensure you’re well looked after. Expect all the creature comforts of a modern first-world country. Quality roads, hospitals, public services and so on are all available. It’s one of the main advantages of travelling here.
All of this adds to the sense of ease I mentioned earlier.
How to Get Around
Get a Car or Van
It’s easy to get from one place to another in New Zealand.
Indeed, more often than not it’s just one road that connects you to your destination! The driving there is a joy as well. If you’re in town for a while, then I’d fully recommend buying a car or van. Not only is this by far the easiest method of transport, it’s also downright fun.
For every dull highway there are a dozen incredible roads that take you through some of the finest scenery in the country.
NZ is also an incredible place for living the van life! Buying a campervan means you can spend the night (for free!) in some of the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine. Sound good? Check out this list of RV gifts for van equipment that’d help out on the road!
Use the Buses
Don’t worry if your own vehicle isn’t an option.
The Intercity bus connects you to all of the main destinations in the country.
Likewise, a popular option among travellers is to use a tour bus company. The Kiwi Experience and Stray Bus are the two largest companies there.
Both will cost you, but the hop-on-hop-off system means you can use your ticket around a certain route of the country for as long as you’re there. Get off in a town, stay for as long as you want, then book the next bus out of there.
Finally, consider hitch-hiking.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but hitching is honestly an incredibly efficient way of moving through New Zealand. Masses of people do it. Go anywhere see all sorts of people, with a backpack on their back, waiting at the side of the road, with thumbs turned skyward.
That kiwi hospitality comes in handy: you never wait long and meet some lovely people in the process. Hitch hiking is obviously the cheapest form of transport too!
Safety in New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the safest countries around.
It’s small, it’s an island (or two islands, to be specific), it’s far away from almost every other country, and it only has around 4 million people living there.
You have to be very unlucky to come across any trouble.
Now, the recent shootings in Christchurch go against everything I just said (I was actually in NZ when it happened). However, the biggest reaction amongst locals was that of shock: people just didn’t expect it to happen here.
Why? Because it’s such a safe place to be.
Arguably the biggest danger in NZ is the roads. Road accidents are common every year. And, unfortunately, it’s often the tourists that cause the problem- being unused to driving on the left hand side. Take care though, stick to the speed limits, and you should be fine.
Cost of Living in New Zealand
Perhaps the biggest down side to New Zealand is the cost of living.
It’s simply an expensive country to spend time in!
From petrol, to food, transport and accommodation, prices are higher than you might want to pay. Likewise, salaries are relatively low too. It’s a double-whammy: you get paid less than other places (like Australia), but the prices are the same, or even higher.
Having said that, the good news is that the minimum wage is set to rise to NZD $18 per hour soon.
Equally, you can easily do things cheaply here too. For example, you can hitch your way from A to B without spending a penny, find work for accommodation opportunities at every turn, and hike for free in some of the world’s most stunning locations.
Finding Housing and Work
Housing can be another somewhat problematic part of life in New Zealand.
In simple terms, there isn’t enough of it!
Now, that’s generally okay for travellers. Hostels, Airbnbs and guest houses are ubiquitous. Even so, in peak months (from around December through March, and into April) be sure to book ahead to secure a bed.
Long-termers need to work a bit harder though. Expect to spend a bit of time searching for the right place to rent. Indeed, there’s often lots of competition for good-quality, affordable accommodation in popular areas, such as Wanaka and Queenstown on South Island.
In contrast, work is relatively easy to come by. In my experience, most travellers find a job without too much trouble. It may be menial work, but there are jobs around throughout the year! Fruit picking, farm-work, roles in hospitality, hostel-work, retail, and so on, are all common roles that need filling.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: A Traveller’s Guide to Living in New Zealand.
In my humble opinion, this awe-inspiring country on the other side of the world should be on everyone’s bucket list.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this country. With natural beauty in bucket-loads, lovely locals to share it all with, and opportunities for new experience at every turn, you’ll quickly become enamoured with Aotearoa.
Author: Danny Newman
Bio: Danny Newman is currently writing and travelling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing.