Expat New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most exotic places on earth and for those that love adventure, mountains and marine life New Zealand is a virtual playground. Relatively near Australia, both New Zealand and Australia receive millions of tourists each year, many seeking to see how life is down under. If you are looking for the land of adventure, New Zealand should be at the top of your list.


The climate in New Zealand varies and is considered to be complicated. In the north of New Zealand the islands are considered to be sub tropical and in the mountainous regions the climate is alpine.

Because of the mountains on New Zealand, rain and temperatures can drastically differ. Most areas of New Zealand receive about 23 inches to o 6 inches of rainfall each year, and most of the rain falls during the winter time. Temperatures vary, but can usually range from about the 50’s to 70’s. The coldest month of the year is July; the warmest are January and February.


New Zealand is a modern and stable democracy, while Queen Elizabeth II is considered to be the head of state, there is a parliamentary system in place that has its own prime minister who is the head of the government. If you are an American citizen, you do not need a visa to visit New Zealand, a passport is only required. You can stay in New Zealand with just a passport for up to 90 days at which time, you will need to either apply for a long term visa or leave New Zealand for a short period of time before returning. You can find out more information about visa and residency requirements at the New Zealand Conulate General in Los Angeles.

Tax System

The tax rates in New Zealand are considered to be high. The top income tax rate in New Zealand is 39 percent. There is also a corporate income tax and the highest rate is 33 percent. Besides these taxes is a Goods and Services Tax (GST), a tax on profits from real estate, and other levies.

The worldwide income of a New Zealand tax resident is subject to New Zealand tax laws. People who are not New Zealand tax residents (non-residents) are liable for New Zealand tax on their New Zealand-sourced income only. For specific information regarding expat taxes in New Zealand, read Non-residents and visitors at the New Zealand Department of Inland Revenue.

Medical Care

New Zealand is known as having quality medical care which is very accessible in major cities and towns. If you are located on an isolated part of New Zealand or up in the mountains, medical care will probably be more difficult to find. While the medical care in New Zealand is able to handle all types of injuries and illnesses, there may be times when you will need to be evacuated to your home country. If you are an expat classified as a tourist, your best bet is to have travelers insurance that includes medical evacuation.

Real Estate

Buying or investing in real estate in New Zealand is fairly straightforward and low risk, however hiring an attorney is considered to be a good idea. Real estate prices vary on New Zealand, however in most cases it is affordable compared to the US and Western Europe. Expect to find homes for around US $100K all the way up to several hundred thousand dollars. Condos and apartments are usually much less. There are plenty of real estate agencies in New Zealand and depending on location and property type can help you find that perfect piece of real estate.

If you are considering living on the island for a short period of time, you can easily rent or lease property. Prices are usually similar to the United States with most prices being on the low end. You can easily find apartments that start at about US $500 and range up to US $1,500 for a three bedroom home in a desirable location. If you are on a small budget, you can also find room mates to share a home making monthly payments extremely affordable.


Shopping in New Zealand is generally good. While many products are imported in, there usually is a wide range of choice and many brands from America can be found. Regarding luxury items, you can find many luxury items especially in the main cities.

Regarding entertainment, there is plenty of entertainment on New Zealand including fine restaurants, bars, night clubs and many outdoor activity choices as well. New Zealand is known for its natural beauty and many outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to New Zealand. There are many extreme sports available and it is known as a virtual playground among the hardiest of sports men and women.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is considered to range between affordable and moderate. While you can find many places to spend lots of money on New Zealand, for most residents the area is quite affordable with low cost housing available and most necessities being very reasonable. The two things that go against the low cost of living in New Zealand are the high taxes and the fact that many goods must be imported. However for those that are looking for a place to call home that is filled with adventure, New Zealand should not be missed.

Private Firearms Ownership

New Zealand gun law is covered by the Arms Act 1983 and the Arms Regulations 1992. In order to own a firearm, a person must obtain a firearms license.

These are issued by the police and enable holders to own and use sporting rifles, shotguns and ammunition. In order to obtain a license, applicants must pass a test on ‘safe and responsible firearms use, ownership, and storage’.

They must also be a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a license, based on a background check, and the license may be revoked for a variety of reasons. A special license is required by dealers, collectors, pistol club members, and owners of semi-automatics. Less than 3% of all firearms owners have such endorsements and they must comply with much more stringent conditions than sporting firearms license holders. When not in use firearms must be locked in a secure rack and cabinet.

Web Sites for Expats in New Zealand

New Zealand Country Guide

Country guide to New Zealand from ExpatForum.com.

Extradition from New Zealand

The Extradition treaty between New Zealand and the US was signed on December 8, 1970

This treaty was entered into force on December 8, 1970

Map of New Zealand