A Guide for Expats Moving to New Zealand

A Guide for Expats Moving to New Zealand

Many expats moving to New Zealand will find the transition to be pretty easy. Before any of the planning process can begin, you must apply for a New Zealand working holiday visa. Whether you explore New Zealand immediately or choosing to work first and play later, you’ll want a job. There are plenty of working holiday visa jobs in New Zealand to choose from, and I don’t think people should fret. There are plenty of opportunities that suit each personality, skill set and need; the world is your oyster.

New Zealand has certainly gained popularity among travelers of all ages in recent years. It’s serene atmosphere and majestic landscape make this destination a top choice for adventure seekers. Once you’ve started applying for working holiday visa jobs you will learn there are a few steps to the entire process. To ensure transparency, I’ve created this guide for expats moving to New Zealand.

guide for expats moving to new zealand www.willfulandwildhearted.com

Please pin me to share this information for others!


1. Open a bank account

In order to apply for your tax Inland Revenue Department number, you’ll need to set up an account. The IRD is essential and you’ll want to get the wheels turning as soon as possible. In my short time here, I’ve noticed that Kiwis are never really in a rush; everything moves a bit slower. I’m not complaining!

There are a several banks to choose from:

I personally chose ANZ due to the excellent interest rates offered through a savings account. Go into a bank of your choice in the morning and schedule an appointment to open an account. It will most likely not be that same day, which is why this needs to be taken care in a reasonable amount of time. You’ll need to bring your passport, proof of address and an undisclosed amount of money to put in the bank. Since James and I didn’t have a bill with our names on it yet, we weren’t able to open an account easily. For some reason, the banks in New Zealand will easier accept a hostel as a proof of address rather than an actual townhouse, which is where we live. You tell me which has a higher chance of money laundering.

Guide for Expats Moving to New Zealand

Anyway, James’ father lives here, but banks with an ANZ competitor. For this reason, ANZ wasn’t willing to accept his father’s mail as proof of address, either. Eventually, we had to go into the bank on a Saturday morning with James’ father so he could provide his passport. In the end, it seemed to be a totally pointless ordeal, as they didn’t once speak to his father. The moral of the story is you’ll have an easier time opening a bank account if you’re initially staying in a hostel, not a home. Bizarre, I know.

Anyway, once you open your bank you’ll need to make an initial deposit as well as withdraw cash to ensure the account is working. Tell the bank you need proof of validity for your IRD application. Get a signed copy of the statement from your bank teller as it will come in handy in the future.


2. Apply for your IRD number

The IRD number is extremely important as it is what you’ll need to have in order for an employer to deposit money into your account. There are four steps to this IRD application process:

  1. Deposit and withdraw money (mentioned above)
  2. Complete the IRD application form
  3. Make copies of the following documents:
    • Passport information page
    • Proof of current address (bank statement) or past address (valid driver’s license)
    • Proof of your current New Zealand working holiday visa
    • Proof that your bank account meets standards (the paper that you had signed after opening your bank account.)
  4. Send your signed application form and the documents mentioned above to the following address:

Inland Revenue
PO Box 39050
Wellington Mail Centre 5045
New Zealand


3. Get a phone plan

You’re obviously going to want to have your potential employers have a number to call. However, New Zealand isn’t known for having great WiFi, so you’ll want to pick a quality service provider. There are a few different types, but I suggest using Vodafone or Spark.

I personally went for Spark, as it offers an excellent shared package. Although my package is a bit more than Vodafone’s, it includes a two bonus GB of data each month, free Spotify premium and a variety of perks to choose from. While the money may hold back other travelers from purchasing a similar phone plan, we felt as though it was an excellent deal. Bring your own unlocked phone. 

Guide for Expats Moving to New Zealand

Once you’ve gotten these key factors squared away, you can begin your hunt for working holiday visa jobs in New Zealand! Did you find this guide for expats moving to New Zealand helpful? Let me know in the comments below!



  1. August 3, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    Great guide for someone moving to New Zealand. How’s the housing situation there? Is it expensive? We’re moving to London in a couple of weeks and that’s what we’re mostly concerned about, the housing. :p

  2. August 3, 2016 / 10:33 pm

    Great tips! I’m from Australia and am moving to Canada so I need one of these for Canada!!!! So helpful to have it all laid out for people planning a move 🙂

  3. August 4, 2016 / 12:30 am

    Very helpful guide for expats here. I always like to read helpful guides when moving abroad as there is just too much to remember. NZ is very similar to Oz though which makes it easy. I may end up there one day.

  4. August 4, 2016 / 2:34 am

    Such useful tips for people moving to New Zealand. I wish I had a resource like this when I made my first move to work in a different country.

  5. August 4, 2016 / 6:08 am

    At one point in my life i was seriously considering moving to New Zealand, but unfortunately getting visa and all bureaucracy was just too overwhelming not to mention it would cost me about 7000 usd just for papers.

    • August 4, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      Oh, strange! I’m sorry that happened. It’s free for Americans to arrive on a working holiday visa so the process was really easy for me. It took me about 30 minutes to apply!

  6. August 4, 2016 / 10:45 am

    I do not plan on moving to NZ but I think this definitely a helpful posts for those who like to do that. Though, I would love to visit 🙂

  7. August 4, 2016 / 11:20 am

    Great advice!
    When I’ve moved overseas I’ve often found there isn’t a lot of information around so this is so useful.
    (On a similar note I’m in the process of relocating to Seoul now for a year to teach so I’ve also just discovered your posts on Korea. Really helpful – thanks! )

    • August 7, 2016 / 10:04 pm

      Sure thing! If you ever have any questions, let me know!! I’m more than willing to help you.

  8. August 4, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    I’ve never considered living abroad, but I guess it really can be simplified to taking a few key steps and then finding a job. It almost makes me want to think about it a bit more…

    • August 7, 2016 / 10:03 pm

      I suggest it! It’s a little bit of effort but it’s worth it in the end in my opinion!

  9. August 4, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    Very useful guide. Moving abroad and setting up a new life overseas can be one of the scariest things someone ever does, so I’m sure your guide will help a lot for people considering New Zealand

  10. August 4, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    I wish someone had made one of these for when I moved to London years ago. There’s so much to learn and do when you first arrive!

  11. August 4, 2016 / 6:02 pm

    Important stuff especially getting that phone plan. I cannot survive without a phone/net connection for a day, let alone if I move to another country. I would probably buy it off the airport.

    • August 7, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks! I just brought my unlocked iPhone with me and put in a SIM card. It works out great!

  12. August 4, 2016 / 11:57 pm

    This is so handy for anyone moving to NZ! I am a constant expat – having lived in the USA, Brazil, Canada and now moving to Germany. These are all things that are super important (necessary!) but can be so time consuming to research and stuff around with. Great tips 🙂

  13. August 5, 2016 / 12:01 am

    Lol I’m moving to Thailand soon and a lot of this is still relevant! Better get my ass in gear!

  14. August 5, 2016 / 7:38 am

    Useful guide for moving to New Zealand. Lived there for 12 years, seriouslu missing it now since I’ve been in the Philippines for the last 7 years and haven’t been back since 😢

    • August 7, 2016 / 10:01 pm

      Wow, the Philippines! I am hoping to explore the islands within the next year or so. Thanks for reading – I’m sure you miss it but there are many who’d love to switch places with you I’m sure!

  15. August 6, 2016 / 4:56 am

    These are such helpful tips! I was seriously considering doing a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand last year after I graduated, but now I’m not sure if I’d rather teach English somewhere instead. We’ll see what I do after my Europe trip! 😀

    • August 7, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      I taught in South Korea for 2.5 years before moving here. If you ever have any questions feel free to ask!

  16. August 6, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    Awesome, helpful tips for people considering life abroad! I love NZ and would love to visit someday! Great advice!

    • August 7, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      I hope you can visit sometime! Thanks so much – I hope others find it helpful, too!

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