Before you arrive

Get a head start on your move to New Zealand by setting up a bank account and phone plan before you arrive. We’ve got you covered with tips and recommendations on major providers.


Bank Account

Can I open a bank account before arriving?

Make your move as smooth as possible by opening up a bank account before you arrive and have money waiting for you in your account when you get to New Zealand. A bank account is also required before being able to get an IRD number. Once your arrive, you will just need to pop into your local branch to activate your account (some may require to set up an appointment to do this). You can deposit any amount before you arrive, but you won’t be able to withdraw money until you have finished the process in person with your identification in a New Zealand branch of your selected bank. Depending on which bank you decide to set up with you can easily apply online between 90-180 days before you arrive but you must hold a valid visa before applying.

These are the leading New Zealand banks and their overseas account opening options:

  • BNZ (submit application online – no appointment needed, just arrive in branch)
  • ANZ (submit application online – book appointment to activate)
  • ASB (complete online enquiry form – book appointment to activate)
  • Westpac (print and complete application form, email the form and book appointment to activate)


Phone number

Organising a sim card/phone plan  

To stay connected with family/friends back home, scheduling future travel/activities, stay in touch with your new found friends and fellow travellers or arranging interviews you are going to want to obtain a NZ sim card.

Below are the some phone providers here in NZ who offer a wide range of packages.

Mobile phone plan terminology

Prepay: This is a type of phone plan that has no contract. You pay as much or as little in advance towards your phone bill. For more info on Prepay, read 5 Reasons to Choose a Prepay Plan.
Plan: It is a general term for the offer that you will be using to use your phone. It is often monthly but can also be weekly.
Pay as you go: Paying per text, call, data usage at a flat rate. It is the opposite of a “plan”.

Pros and cons of living in NZ

Breathtaking wilderness & outdoor activities

New Zealand is a nature lover’s paradise, with access to beautiful scenery and exciting activities right on your doorstep. From hiking in the Southern Alps to exploring the rugged west coast, Aotearoa offers an abundance of opportunities to experience the great outdoors. Whether you’re into hiking, skiing, or simply taking in the views, NZ has something for everyone.

Relaxed culture

One of the perks of living in New Zealand is adopting the laid-back and relaxed Kiwi lifestyle, which can be a refreshing change of pace for those used to the hustle and bustle of big cities. The slower pace of life can allow for better work-life balance, so you have more time to explore what our country has to offer.

Quality of life

With excellent (and often free!) healthcare, high quality public education, low unemployment rates and a strong sense of community, it’s clear why New Zealand is known for it’s high quality of life. We’re also considered as one of the most peaceful and safe countries in the world.

Island of isolation

There’s no denying New Zealand is a remote nation, which may be an advantage for some, but it can also make travel to other countries expensive. If you’re used to the convenience of cheap flights and quick trips overseas, you may find the travel costs to be a bit of a shock.

Things can take a while

New Zealand’s relaxed culture can make it feel like time moves at a different pace. This can mean longer wait times for things like hearing back from job applications, or getting paperwork sorted. It’s a small price to pay for our way of life, but it may be frustrating for those used to a faster pace.

Substandard housing

Contrary to our warm summers and fresh outdoor air, houses in New Zealand are often poorly insulated, dark and cold, far from the standards of other developed countries. The good news is recent changes in standards have introduced new rules to improve the quality of rental homes.

Where to Live & House Hunting


We recommend staying in the central cities when you first arrive, perhaps look at staying in a hostel while you find your feet and make friends with people in the same position as you (meet fellow travellers of all ages, nationalities and walks of life). Book a hostel for 5-10 days or longer while you look for longer term accommodation.

Quite a few people in your first hostel in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch will be in a similar situation to you; just arrived in New Zealand and looking for work or travel opportunities. Some may be towards the end of their trip and be able to share their experiences and tips with you.

Alternative to hostels are Air BnBs, both short term and long term options are available.

Shared Accommodation

Sharing a rental home can bring other benefits like being a great way to meet new people and not having to buy furniture, as these properties are often furnished. Look at Trade Me or join Facebook groups like Auckland Flatmates & Flats Wanted.

Average rent prices across NZ for a room for a single occupant in a flat share are between $140-260 per week, depending on the location.

Find a property to rent

In New Zealand, one of the most popular places to find a rental home is Trade Me, or One Roof.

There are also a range of property managers you can get in touch with, some of the most popular nationwide are Bayleys, Harcourts, & Ray White.

How to meet people

There are a range of ways to make new friends here in New Zealand. Here is a list of a few we recommend if you have an interest in any of the following areas:

Got your visa?

If you’ve already got your Working Holiday Visa or other NZ Work Visa then send us your CV (whether you’ve arrived yet or not) and we’ll help you find a job!

No visa yet?

If you’re waiting for your visa to be approved or haven’t applied yet, sign up to get email updates with useful information about living and working in New Zealand.

More resources

More useful information about living and working in Aotearoa.

Finding work in New Zealand

Learn more about how we can help you find a job in New Zealand!

Guide to Working in New Zealand

Everything you need to know about working in Aotearoa if you’re moving from overseas.