Everything You Need to Know About Emigrating to New Zealand

Tips on how to move to New Zealand

New Zealand is often regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with stunning vistas, clear skies, and plenty of chance for adventure. And due to plenty of shared heritage and customs with the UK, it’s a popular choice for British expats. But what do you need in order to emigrate to New Zealand? Here’s our guide on how to make the move, including what you’ll need, how much it costs, and a guide to some of the best cities in New Zealand for UK expats.

In this article:

Why do people emigrate to New Zealand?

New Zealand has a lot in common with the UK – a shared language being one of the biggest draws. There are similar values and customs in both countries, and a big bonus is the friendly community you’ll find when moving to New Zealand – Kiwis are known for being relaxed, welcoming, and easy to get along with. New Zealand also boasts a great work/life balance, which is one of the most popular reasons that people emigrate to New Zealand – and in fact, New Zealand was ranked one of the very best countries in the world for work/life balance by HSBC’s Expat Explorer guide.

What do you need to emigrate to New Zealand?

New Zealand’s neighbour of Australia is known for being very strict for emigration, but the New Zealand emigration requirements are a little easier. The New Zealand Immigration website is a really helpful resource for anyone looking to move to New Zealand. As with any country, you’ll need a visa in place if you’re emigrating to New Zealand.

If you have a job offer in place in a field of work that New Zealand is looking for, you’ll have a higher chance of being successful. If you’re offered a job that’s on the official list of Skill Shortages, getting a work or residence visa for New Zealand can be easier. The careers that are in demand in New Zealand are very varied, and include not only professional and managerial careers, but also future growth areas like information communications and biotechnology, and jobs on the ‘immediate skills shortage list’ which include manual labourers like scaffolders, accountants and bakers.

It’s also worth noting that as part of the New Zealand emigration requirements, there are some things that can cause a visa application to be declined, including criminal convictions and previous deportations. New Zealand Immigration also has an ‘Acceptable standard of health’, which lists conditions that could impose significant costs on the New Zealand health service, including some kinds of cancer, neurological disorders, cardiac diseases and more. If you have one of these conditions it doesn’t necessarily mean that your application will be denied – there are workarounds, and an assessor will look at your condition in more detail.

How to apply for a visa to emigrate to New Zealand

When you’re ready to think about moving to New Zealand, you’ll need to make what’s called an Expression of Interest. This looks at your skills, experience and qualifications, and give you a point tally. New Zealand Immigration then look at your Expression of Interest and, if you have enough points, you’ll be invited to apply for residence. You then have 4 months to make your full application.

If you’re a young person moving to New Zealand to work, one of the best routes to take is the Working Holiday Visa, for people aged between 18 and 30. To be eligible for this visa, you need to have at least New Zealand$350 a month to live on, and be a UK citizen.

How long does it take to emigrate to New Zealand?

If you apply for a visa, you’ll be informed within 3 weeks whether your application was successful, and you’ve been invited to apply for residence. You’ll need to apply within 4 months. Processing the application can take significantly longer depending on what kind of visa you’re requesting – a Skilled Migrant visa can take anywhere from 10 to 22 months.

Is there an age limit to emigrate to New Zealand?

There isn’t an age limit on visitor visas, student visas, or partnership-based work and residence visas. But if you’re planning on emigrating to New Zealand using a Skilled Migrant visa – which is one of the most typical visas people from the UK opt for – there is an age limit to emigrate to New Zealand, which is 55 years. If you’re over 55, there are other options, and if you’re looking to retire New Zealand actually offers two visa programs made specifically for retirees.

How much does it cost to emigrate to New Zealand?

Moving to New Zealand can be expensive, especially if you’re emigrating to New Zealand from the UK – after all, New Zealand is more than 11,400 miles away! There’s no hard and fast rule on how much it will cost to emigrate to New Zealand, but here are some of the things you’ll need to factor in:

Expression of Interest

An Expression of Interest form doesn’t require any evidence and takes a few hours to fill out – but you’ll need to pay, around £275 for an online application or £355 for a hard copy.

Getting a visa

You’ll need to pay a visa fee when you submit your application to emigrate to New Zealand. How much you’ll pay depends on the kind of visa you’re applying for – you can find a full guide at Immigration New Zealand’s website. As a guide, a Skilled Migrant visa will cost around £1,500.

Additional visa costs

You may have to pay additional costs relating to your application. This could include getting a copy of your medical reports, which can cost up to around £300, and a police certificate which is around £50.

Moving your possessions

Sirelo estimate that moving the contents for a 2 bedroom house from London to Wellington via sea could cost anywhere between £3,900 – £5,300 and could take anywhere from 6-9 weeks. If you need your possessions faster than that, you can opt for shipping by airfreight – but you’ll pay a premium, with a one-bedroom apartment costing more than £7,500.

Best cities in New Zealand for expats


The Mercer ‘Quality of Living’ Survey ranks Auckland as the 3rd most liveable city in the world, so it’s hardly a surprise that Auckland is one of the most popular areas for people moving to New Zealand. It’s not the capital, but it is the largest city in New Zealand. Located on the North Island, Auckland lies across two harbours, and boasts both stunning scenery and all of the bustling metropolitan draws of big city life. It’s a diverse and rich city, as the hub of New Zealand’s commercial activity, so a great place to look for a job.


Surprisingly green and open for a city, Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It has a cool, casual and cosmopolitan feel, with tons of cafes, restaurants and bars – in fact, there are more cafes per capita than New York City. Wellington’s climate is a little more wet and windy than other cities in New Zealand, but it more than makes up for it with a thriving nightlife, great culinary options and a lively art and theatre scene.


The beautiful city of Queenstown is set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, with an impressive backdrop of mountains – and this city is as dynamic as it looks, as the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world. Queenstown boasts a lively tourist industry and plenty of thrill-seeking activities to enjoy, from skiing and hiking to white water rafting and paragliding. An energetic location, it’s hardly a surprise that Queenstown is home to plenty of young expats looking to enjoy their New Zealand adventure.

If you’re ready to move to a place that’s full of adventure, stunning scenery, friendly people and a great quality of life, New Zealand could be the place for you. The process of getting there might take a while, but this country of mountains, oceans and incredible vistas is well worth the wait. Follow our guide on how to emigrate to New Zealand (or discover how to move to Canada!), and hopefully the process will be smooth and easy. If you’re looking to move, and need to sell your house quickly to avoid getting caught in a long chain, we can help. And for more helpful financial advice and tips, check out more posts on our blog.

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