Please note: New Zealand Now content reflects pre-COVID-19 conditions and outlook. For COVID-19 related updates to visa and border requirements, click here.

Moving to New Zealand from Australia

Whether you're a native-born Aussie, came to Australia from somewhere else, or a Kiwi who has been spending extended time in Australia, this page will help you understand what's different about life in New Zealand and a trans-Tasman move might involve for you and your family.

Visa options for you and your family

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia you don't need to apply for a visa to live and work in New Zealand. You can be granted a visa on arrival at the border. Find out more about the Australian Resident Visa.

If you're in Australia on a temporary visa then you'll likely need a visa to enter New Zealand. Our visa system is very similar to Australia's; if you're offered a skilled job by a New Zealand employer then they may be able to sponsor your temporary work visa application. There are also permanent resident options that allow you to stay indefinitely.

If you are a partner of a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you'll likely be able to apply for a partner visa based on your relationship.

For more information visit our Visas & Citizenship section.

Living in New Zealand

We speak the same language and share a lot culturally with Australia. You’ll feel very much at home.

The pace of life here is laid back, and we’re fortunate to live in what many people say is the cleanest and most beautiful country in the world. 

It’s easy to do things outdoors and you’ll have time for your own interests. Even in the biggest cities you’re only minutes from a beach, native park or mountain biking trail. It’s also a great place for children, with so many healthy recreational activities and an excellent education system that is largely free.

Discover the Innovation Islands, Michael Kirkaldy, Spark Digital
Jumping the Tasman: career & lifestyle (02:13)

Cost of living

Overall, New Zealand’s cost of living is about the same as Australia’s although if you come from Sydney it could be somewhat cheaper. 

Sydney is the world’s 66th most expensive city to live in, according to Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living survey. Auckland was much further down the rankings at 103rd and Wellington even less expensive at 123rd.

Other Australian cities on Mercer's list are more comparable; Melbourne came in at 99th, Perth 104th, and Brisbane equal with Adelaide at 126th. 

Cost of living in New Zealand

Family sitting outside in New Zealand discussing

Superannuation

Government payments

If you are eligible for the Australian aged-pension, you can claim this in New Zealand as part of the Social Security Agreement between the two countries. The agreement also allows you to add together your periods of Working Age residence in Australia and New Zealand, so you can meet the minimum requirements for the payment.

Alternatively, you may be able to apply directly for the New Zealand scheme (known as New Zealand Super).

Receiving a benefit or pension in New Zealand | WINZ

Pension saving schemes

New Zealand has an innovative and very popular subsidised scheme that helps people in work save long term for retirement. It’s called KiwiSaver.

With Kiwisaver you pay in a certain amount from your wages or salary.  That is matched by your employer and topped up with an annual bonus from the government. The money is invested for you by approved ‘KiwiSaver providers’ until you are eligible for NZ Super at age 65.

You can access the money earlier in certain circumstances — for example, if you are ill or have financial hardship or if you are buying your first home.

If you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or permanent resident and you normally live in New Zealand, you’ll be eligible for KiwiSaver. When you start a new job, if you're not already a member and are eligible, your employer will enrol you automatically in KiwiSaver. 

If you have an Australian retirement savings scheme, it may be possible to transfer your savings to a KiwiSaver scheme. Check the Australian Tax Office site. However, not all schemes offer this option, so you should check with the New Zealand provider of your particular KiwiSaver.

For more general information about overseas pensions, see the website of the Work and Income department.

Kiwisaver for individuals | Inland Revenue

Overseas pensions | Work and Income

Trans-Tasman retirement savings portability | Australian Tax Office

 

Healthcare

If you're a returning New Zealander, you should be eligible for publicly funded healthcare if you register with the local Primary Health Organisation (PHO). That simply means enrolling with your local doctor or medical practice, see the Ministry of Health website.

For Australians, there are two different eligibility classes.

If you're an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for the full range of publicly funded health care, provided you can demonstrate an intention to stay in New Zealand for at least two years continually. New Zealand doesn’t have a national Medicare system like Australia. Instead, once you are living in New Zealand, you should enrol with the PHO to receive subsidised healthcare.

If you're an Australian resident and don't intend to stay for two years, you're only eligible for immediately necessary hospital and maternity services and pharmaceuticals. You’ll need to pay the full cost of primary health care consultations, such as with a local doctor or nurse). This is often called the ‘casual’ rate and is what New Zealanders pay if they choose not to enrol.

New Zealand's health system | Ministry of Health

Australian access to public health services

Enrolling with a PHO | Ministry of Health

Healthcare in New Zealand

New Zealand has both publicly funded and privately funded healthcare

The differences aren't as subtle as people think... the culture is quite different, there is less hierarchy and people tend to get on with things more quickly.

Anthony Healy, CEO BNZ
(Australian living in New Zealand)

Accidents

Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand for injuries resulting from accidents - everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home or breaking your arm skiing, even if the person who is injured caused the accident.

ACC helps cover medical and treatment fees and rehabilitation costs such as physiotherapy or residential care, although there are part-charges for some treatments. They will also make a payment to families in the case of accidental death, even if the family live outside of New Zealand.

ACC cover is funded by levies that all employees, employers and vehicle owners pay.

Under New Zealand’s ACC system, you cannot sue anyone for injuries from an accident.

The ACC website has more information about what happens and what is and isn’t covered when someone is injured in an accident.

Injuries we cover | ACC
 

Education

Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are classified as domestic students in New Zealand so only pay local fees, including tertiary education. The vast majority of our top quality primary and secondary schools are free (although parents are expected to meet some minor costs).

New Zealand citizens are eligible to apply for Student Loans or the Student Allowance when they begin studying. However, New Zealand residents and Australian citizens and permanent residents need to have lived in New Zealand for at least three years before they are eligible.

Learn more in our Education & Schooling section.

Parents with children in New Zealand

NZ is ranked #1 for raising children abroad (Australia is #19)

HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2014

Housing ownership

An Australian who is a resident in New Zealand may rent or purchase land and property under the same conditions as New Zealanders. No restrictions apply to land value or size.

An Australian who is not actually residing in New Zealand may be classed as an “overseas person" and must obtain consent under New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Regulations to acquire or take control of significant assets in New Zealand. 

Overseas investment | Land Information NZ

Income tax 

New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents visiting and living in New Zealand are liable for New Zealand income tax on all income derived from New Zealand.

New Zealand tax rates and codes | Inland Revenue

Getting a tax number

If you have previously lived in New Zealand you may already have an IRD number and should use this number when you return. If you don't know your IRD number, you can find it using the IRD website.

If you've never had an IRD number, you should apply for one through Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when you arrive in New Zealand, particularly if you will be working here. You can find the form on the IRD website. 

If you do not have an IRD number, tax will be deducted at a no-declaration rate, which is higher than the normal deduction rate.

 IRD Numbers | Inland Revenue

Families from australia in new zealand having a picnic

Government support - Working for families

If your children are New Zealand or Australian citizens or permanent residents, you may be eligible for Working for Families. 

This is a package of benefits for families with dependent children aged 18 or younger that can help with the costs of raising children if you are working.

It can include tax credits, help with the costs of pre-school and out-of-school childcare, and help with housing costs.

The government’s Work and Income and Inland Revenue departments run different aspects of Working for Families.

For general information, see the Work and Income website. To see if you are eligible, visit Inland Revenue

Finding out if you are eligible | Inland Revenue

The Department of Work and Income also provides some subsidies to families for early childhood education and before/after school and holiday programmes.

Help with childcare costs | Work & Income NZ

Voting

Under New Zealand law, if you’re eligible to enrol on the electoral roll, you must do so, whether or not you intend to vote. You are eligible if you:

•    are 18 years or older
•    have lived in New Zealand for more than one year continuously at some time in your life
•    are a New Zealand citizen who has been in NZ within the past 3 years, or 
•    living permanently New Zealand and have been in NZ within the past 12 months.

Only those who are enrolled can vote, take part in a referendum, or sign a referendum petition.

Get ready to enrol | Electoral Commission

Citizenship options

To be granted New Zealand citizenship you need to have a minimum of five years’ residence. You must also meet character and English language criteria along with various other requirements. For details, visit the Department of Internal Affairs website.

About Citizenship in New Zealand | DIA

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.

It’s free and there’s no obligation.

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

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