You’ll enjoy a full range of well-developed public services, in some respects world-leading.
Our education system is world ranked, as are our health and welfare systems (see the separate sections).
Our postal service is world class, our international airline Air New Zealand was voted 2012 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World (and won Best Premium Economy Class Seat at Skytrax 2013) and 88% of us use the Internet, more than in the UK, Germany or USA.
Getting round New Zealand is easy. For holidays, most people drive. A network of roads covers the whole country, although you may find the roads smaller and more winding than you’re used to. The North and South Islands are linked by the Interislander and Bluebridge ferries, a 2½ hour ferry trip taking in the picturesque Marlborough sounds.
New Zealanders also frequently travel using domestic air transport. Airports make every part of the country accessible, from Kaitaia Airport in the far north to Ryan’s Creek Aerodrome on Stewart Island. One way tickets between the main centres can cost as little as NZ$59.
Public bus services connect most cities and towns and there are some rail services between main centres, which generally provide a great way to see some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery.
Day to day commuting is often by car. However increasingly, people cycle or jog to work (many employers offer showers). There are good bus networks in cities and towns, and Auckland and Wellington also have commuter rail. Taxis are available everywhere and in some places so are ferries, for example from Auckland City to Devonport or Waiheke Island.
The banking system in New Zealand is highly computerised and advanced – in fact, one major bank reported in 2013 that clients were choosing mobile, internet or ATM banking for 90% of their transactions. However, there are still plenty of branches if you prefer the personal touch.
Banks in New Zealand have lots of experience in helping migrants, so you’ll be in good hands when setting up your new accounts. In fact, each of the six major banks in New Zealand have dedicated migrant banking specialists to help you.
Cards are the most common form of payment in New Zealand and ATMs are dotted along most main shopping streets. Figures for 2013 show about 2/3 of total spending in New Zealand was done with cards, twice the international average.
The New Zealand Government department that collects taxes is called Inland Revenue, or IRD. It’s similar to the IRS in the United States or HMRC in the United Kingdom.
The New Zealand tax year generally runs from 1 April to 31 March, and most people pay their taxes as they earn their income under the PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) system.
PAYE means that when you receive pay from your employer, it’s already had tax and ACC levies deducted. (ACC levies help pay for the free treatment you receive if you have an accident).
Everyone who works in New Zealand needs an IRD number, including new migrants. You can download the forms you need online.
The tax rate is a graduated scale rather than a flat rate. For 2012-13 it starts at 10.5% for income up to $14,000, capping at 33% on $70,000 or more. There’s an additional, currently 1.7 cents in the dollar, for ACC - New Zealand’s unique accident compensation scheme.
A Goods and Services Tax (GST) - currently 15% - is applied to almost everything you purchase, other than rent, land and some financial services. It’s usually built into the cost of your purchase.
Read more about taxes in New Zealand at Inland Revenue.
Energy and water
All but the remotest settlements are reticulated for energy and water.
Most homes use electricity for all their energy needs, although piped natural gas is also an option for cooking and water heating in the North Island. In the South Island, bottled LPG is available.
Tap water is safe to drink. In most areas it is fluoridated.