Moving to New Zealand

A guide to living and working in New Zealand, and advice on getting a visa

Living in New Zealand


The capital city is Wellington which is in North Island.


The population is 4.4 million (with approx. 3 million on North Island and 1 million on South Island) (Feb 2012). The population is roughly the same as the Republic of Ireland.


The official languages are English and Maori.


The currency is New Zealand dollars (NZ$), and 1 Euro is approximately 1.58 NZ$ (Feb 2012).


New Zealand is located in the South Pacific Ocean 1600km south-east of Australia. It is made up of the North and South Islands and several smaller islands.


New Zealand has a very mild, maritime climate, which is often wet, overcast and unpredictable, but never extreme in lowland areas. In the alpine regions, temperature variations and weather changes are more dramatic.

Further information

New Zealand's official website
Immigration New Zealand
A guide to emigrating to New Zealand.

Working in New Zealand


Working conditions in New Zealand are generally good. The adult minimum wage is NZ$17.70 (April 2019) an hour, with many salaries around the NZ$49,000 and above mark. Salaries may seem a bit lower than in Ireland but the cost of living is generally cheaper. You can compare costs and find out about average salaries on the Immigration New Zealand website.


Employees are entitled to four weeks' holiday a year.

Dress code

Dress standards in New Zealand offices tend to be less corporate than in Ireland, but you should attend interviews in reasonably formal business attire.


If you hold an Irish passport you don't need a visa to enter New Zealand for up to three months, because of a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand. However, you must provide:

  • travel tickets or evidence of onward travel arrangements.
  • evidence that you can support yourself while in New Zealand (approximately NZ$1,000 per month, per person).

Visitors to New Zealand who wish to work temporarily, permanently or who wish to study, must first obtain a visa.

Temporary working visa

The Working Holiday Visa allows Irish citizens to work and travel around New Zealand for up to a year. There is a limit of 2000 New Zealand visas available to Irish citizens, and you must be in Ireland at the time of application. The scheme runs from 1 July each year. To be eligible you must:

  • have a passport from the Republic of Ireland that is valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand
  • be at least 18 and not more than 30 years old
  • not bring children with you
  • hold a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a ticket
  • have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds
  • meet certain health and character requirements
  • not have been approved a visa permit under a Working Holiday Scheme before.

Applications for this visa can be made online on the Immigration New Zealand website, or on the New Zealand Visa Bureau website.

There are also a variety of organisations which can help you get a working holiday visa, such as BUNAC and USIT.

Study visa

If you are going to New Zealand to study for a course lasting longer than three months you will need to apply for a student visa. A student visa entitles you to be in the country for as long as your course lasts, and usually allows some time for travelling around. If your course is longer than a year, you will also be eligible to apply to work part-time, up to 20 hours a week. In order to apply for a student visa, you will need an offer of study from your chosen institution.

Skilled migrant visa

New Zealand is looking for people with the skills, qualifications and experience to help the country grow and innovate. If you are suitably qualified and experienced, this option allows you the opportunity to move to New Zealand to work and live permanently. It is advisable to check the New Zealand Immigration website for the latest information on skill shortages.

Work to residence visa

If you work in a highly specialised or ‘in demand’ field, or have an exceptional talent in sport, culture or the arts, this entry option could be for you. It can be used as a step towards gaining a permanent visa.