What to know before your move from Canada to New Zealand

7 Things to know and do before moving from Canada to New Zealand

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New Zealand is known for its great climate, scenic beauty and high quality of life. Not to mention the famous work-life balance, making it very attractive for Canadians who are looking to immigrate there. If you’re thinking of moving to New Zealand, you’re in the right place! 

This article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to New Zealand!

Moving from Canada to New Zealand: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move from Canada to New Zealand

1. First steps before moving to New Zealand

Visa Requirements

New Zealand is quite stringent on the number of immigrants it allows in the country each year. In most cases, immigration to New Zealand even requires being under the age of 55 and being a skilled worker. There are various visas allowing you to immigrate to New Zealand, the following are some of the most popular one’s. For more information on all the visas permitting immigration to New Zealand and to start your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section.

New Zealand Work Visa

In most cases, to work in New Zealand, you will need to have secured a job offer prior to your arrival. The country is currently prioritizing skilled workers, so check out the Work in NZ section to find out if your profession is in demand. 

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa for Youth

The Working Holiday Visa is part of the Canada-New Zealand Youth Mobility Agreement. This agreement between Canada and New Zealand allows youth between the ages of 18 and 35 to work in New Zealand for up to 23 months. This initiative is a great way to spend time traveling in your youth, while also making money. For more information on the Working Holiday Visa and to begin your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section

New Zealand Student Visa

To get a New Zealand Student Visa, you must receive a letter of acceptance before your application. If you are under 18 years old (yes it is possible to get a student visa under 18) you will need a written letter from the person or institution that will be accommodating you. You will also have to give proof of sufficient funds, and you may have to undergo some health tests. For more information on the Student Visa and to begin your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section

New Zealand Family Visa (Visa for Partners and Children)

If you have a partner you want to join in New Zealand, you will need to follow requirements like having a stable and real relationship, living with them, being in good health and having financial support from them. You can bring your children to New Zealand only if they are considered dependent. For more information on the Visa for Partners and Children, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section.

Finding a job

As of June 2023, New Zealand’s unemployment rate was at 3.6%. During the same time, the amount of people working reached 72.4% which is the highest rate ever recorded by the Household Labour Force Survey.

New Zealand has a high demand in many sectors including registered nurses, general practitioners, teachers, IT professionals, electricians and plumbers, surveyors, civil engineers, to name a few. 

When finding a job in New Zealand, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like SEEK and Indeed

Stas New Zealand – Government NZ (Aug 2023) & Working in New Zealand (April 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to New Zealand from Canada by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to New Zealand. You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, Auckland International Airport. Be sure to arrive in New Zealand two or three days before your move in date so you have time to take care of last-minute tasks. 

International Moving Company

You can easily move your things from Canada to New Zealand by plane or boat, but make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

Must dos before your arrival 

As of June 2023, New Zealand’s unemployment rate was at 3.6%. During the same time, the amount of people working reached 72.4% which is the highest rate ever recorded by the Household Labour Force Survey.

New Zealand has a high demand in many sectors including registered nurses, general practitioners, teachers, IT professionals, electricians and plumbers, surveyors, civil engineers, to name a few. 

When finding a job in New Zealand, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like SEEK and Indeed

Stas New Zealand – Government NZ (Aug 2023) & Working in New Zealand (April 2023)

  • Find an international moving company. You can find a number of international moving companies that can move your belongings from Canada to New Zealand. 
  • If you have a car you would like to bring to New Zealand, make sure to do what is necessary for car shipping as well as auto insurance. It might be best to sell your Canadian car and purchase a new one in New Zealand as it is best to travel light! 
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.
  • Make sure to have withdrawn New Zealand currency which is known as the New Zealand dollar (NZD). The NZD is also known as Kiwi! 

Car Shipping to New Zealand 

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Canadians choose to leave their cars behind when moving to New Zealand due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to New Zealand, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

2. Upon your arrival in New Zealand

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • It is important to apply for your Kiwi Access Card at your local Post Shop. 
  • Be sure to apply for an IRD Number. This number is the New Zealand equivalent to a Social Insurance Number in Canada. This number is important to apply for as it allows you to work and open a bank account. Begin your IRD application here.

Apply for a Kiwi Access Card 

Application for a Kiwi Access Card is a must if you are moving to New Zealand as an adult. This card is evidence that you are 18 or older and can be used as a form of ID, which is useful when purchasing alcohol. To begin your application, download the Kiwi Access Card application form.

Healthcare

While healthcare is free in New Zealand, it is a hybrid system meaning that it is a mix between public and private. Only 20% of people use the private system and this is mainly for non-emergency procedures. 

You can access the free healthcare system in New Zealand only after you have become a Permanent Resident. If you are moving to New Zealand for work, you will most likely be eligible for free healthcare. If you are not eligible for free healthcare, see the section below on private health insurance.

Private health insurance in New Zealand

You may not have access to New Zealand’s free health system as soon as you arrive which is why you should consider getting private health insurance beforehand. Even if you do have access to the public system, it is a good idea to get private health insurance to speed up wait times for non-emergency procedures. Some of the recommended private health insurers are Kiwicover, AA Insurance and Pacific Prime.

Setting up your cell phone

If you have an unlocked cell phone, it will be easy to simply insert a SIM card upon your arrival. If your phone is not unlocked, you may have to purchase a new phone on a contract. For around $60 CAD per month you can get 5 GB of data, unlimited calling & texting and unlimited data at slow speeds after you have used up the 5 GB. 

The internet in New Zealand is widely accessible and prices are similar to Canada. The internet in New Zealand is not known for the fastest speeds, but you can still rely on it. Some of the main cell phone and internet providers include Spark, 2Degrees and Vodafone. 

Getting a driver’s license

Within 12 months of your arrival in New Zealand, you will need to apply for a new driver’s license as your Canadian one won’t be valid anymore. If your Canadian one is in French, it must be officially translated to English. 

If you have a Canadian driver’s license, you won’t have to do a theory or practical driving test. Simply fill the overseas driver licence form and send it to the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. More information on converting your driver’s license can be found on the NZ Transport Agency’s website.

Car insurance in New Zealand

Unlike many countries, it is not mandatory to purchase car insurance in New Zealand. However, it is recommended to get the minimum which is third party liability insurance. Some of the recommended car insurers in New Zealand are AMI, State and Cove Insurance. 

Setting up a bank account 

Opening a bank account in New Zealand is essential as it will allow you to get paid and keep your money in a safer place. With some banks like Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), you can even open a bank account before you arrive. Some of the main banks in New Zealand include ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank and Kiwibank. 

While the required documentation depends heavily on each bank, you generally need two things: An I.D. number, and proof of your identity and address—a government-issued photo ID will suffice. 

3. Best places to live in New Zealand

Best places to live in New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand means deciding where you want to live and considering your priorities. We’ve listed the best places to live in New Zealand!

Neighborhood

Characteristics 

Wellington

Capital of New Zealand

Christchurch 

Blend of city and urban lifestyle

Hamilton

Best for career growth and work opportunities 

New Plymouth

Best for a nature lovers 

Setting up home services 

Electricity in New Zealand is mainly derived from renewable energy sources like hydro, geothermal and wind. You can find your local electricity provider through the Power Compare website.

Water in New Zealand has strict safety standards and can be safely drunk from the tap. One of the main providers is Citycare Water which carries water to over 25% of New Zealand. 

Gas is a lot less common in New Zealand as the country strives on renewable energy sources. In case you’re still interested in gas; the best rated natural gas suppliers in New Zealand are Genesis, Mercury, Contact, Nova Energy and Frank Energy. 

Should you rent or buy?

As of May 2023, the median cost of buying a property in New Zealand is 780,000$NZ; as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is 1,855.42$NZ.

Trusted websites such as OneRoof  and Realestate.co.nz are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Home insurance in New Zealand – Beware of Earthquakes

New Zealand has thousands of earthquakes every year. To prevent spending large amounts of money on accidental damages from earthquakes, consider getting home insurance. AMI, Tower and AA Insurance are all reliable choices for home insurance in New Zealand. 

4. Cost of living in New Zealand

Category

Monthly cost 

1 bed apt rent inside city center

$1,855.41

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list

$509.28

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$225.18

Internet with 60 Mbps

$86.42

Transit pass

$176.01

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$135.00

Gym membership 

$64.48

Total

$3,051.78

*prices in NZ 

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in New Zealand

The weather in New Zealand averages annual temperatures of 10°C in the south and 16°C in the north. The coldest month is July whereas the warmest month is January or February. 

If you are moving to New Zealand, it is important to remember that the seasons are not the same as in Canada. From the months of December to February it is summer, March to May it is fall, June to August it is winter and during the months of September to November it is spring. 

6. What to do as a local in New Zealand

First thing on your list to become a local in New Zealand is to eat the local food! New Zealand makes traditional dishes like the pavlova dish, local brewed beer, Maori dish and trying many of the local fruits.

It is known that New Zealanders love to be outdoors, so be sure to go for a hike in Auckland. Do not be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture and talk to locals! 

If you truly would like to become a local, be sure to get involved in some sort of sport. New Zealand is a huge fan of rugby and cricket! If you are not the athletic type then be sure to catch a game at Mt Smart Stadium or Eden Park in Auckland. 

7. Fun facts about New Zealand

  • Fun Fact #1: New Zealand is home to Maori culture, which plays a huge role in the country’s identity. 
  • Fun Fact #2: New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world with no snakes!
  • Fun Fact #3: New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes especially featured in films like “Lord of the Rings”.

Conclusion

In New Zealand you will see picturesque sceneries and you’ll hear a lot about rugby. Expect to eat a lot of seafood and watch out for the earthquakes and volcanoes! 

Are you more interested in moving to New Zealand’s neighboring country; Australia? Check out the 11 things you need to know before moving from Canada to Australia.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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