New Zealand

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Living in New Zealand

Have you always dreamed of packing your bags and going to New Zealand? Beautiful natural scenery and welcoming locals make moving to join the “Kiwis” an attractive prospect for many expats. This guide gives New Zealand newbies everything they need to know about public transportation, healthcare, and education.
Evidence of New Zealand's Maori heritage is prevalent throughout the country.

At a Glance:

  • As public transportation only exists in major cities, the most common way of getting around is by car.
  • Finding accommodation as an expat can be a big challenge. Fortunately, there’s something for every level of budget and comfort, and sharing a flat with a local can easily get you in contact with the culture.
  • The healthcare system in New Zealand is subsidized by the government; expats whose work permit is valid for two years are eligible for publicly funded healthcare.
  • After eight years of primary education and three years of secondary schooling, students receive a NCEA Level 1 certificate which they can use to get a job or to go to a university.


The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which translates to “the land of the long white cloud”.  The dream of living in New Zealand has drawn people from all over the world towards its shores for centuries Auckland and Wellington now rank among the top twenty of the world’s most livable cities.

As well as attracting expats, many Kiwis are now moving back from abroad to start or expand their family in their home country. They value the way of life, and consider it an ideal place to raise their children. A high standard of living, economic freedom, and education make New Zealand an attractive destination.

The country is known for its wide open spaces with stunning landscapes. Even in the bigger cities, you won’t be too far from New Zealand’s iconic scenery. The population’s love and respect for their environment and the surrounding South Pacific Ocean are important aspects of their culture.

The New Zealand Way of Getting Around

As some places are quite remote, having a car is recommended for expatriates. Importing your own car is possible, though costly and time-consuming. Your best option is buying a car locally, or making use of the numerous renting and leasing opportunities.

Expats who are used to stressful traffic jams are in for a pleasant change. Congestion  is rare and generally limited to the biggest cities during rush hours.

If you are considering settling in New Zealand’s rural areas, roads are usually very scenic, although they can be slightly bumpy. Most highways in New Zealand consist of a single lane for each direction.The distances you need to cover when driving in New Zealand can be deceiving. Your trip from one city to another may end up taking longer than expected due to weather conditions or narrow roads. Our Driving in New Zealand guide can help you prepare for these unexpected setbacks.

From A to Z with Public Transportation

As expats living in New Zealand will soon discover, public transportation is available in the larger cities but many people prefer getting around by car. Due to the small population, public transportation is rather limited, usually consisting of bus services between the main cities.

Only Auckland and Wellington have suburban rail systems, making  it a bit easier to get around without a car. Getting around by bicycle is also a relatively popular means of transportation, and often used in the bigger cities.

Frequent Flights or a Scenic Train Journey?

There are frequent flights connecting the different parts of the country, and travelling by plane to other domestic destinations is a common part of life. Apart from flying, traveling within the country is mostly done by bus.

There are some train connections, however these picturesque routes are intended for visitors wanting to see the country’s natural highlights, rather than a regular means of transportation for residents. Between the two major islands, there are regular ferry connections that transport both passengers and cars.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Serhat Ahmed

"With all of the information that InterNations provided on Wellington, it made my move from Turkey easier than I could have imagined."

Melanie Rasbery

"Since I knew about the active expat network in New Zealand, InterNations made moving to Wellington more exciting than it had seemed before."

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