Before you Go
Getting your Visa
First things first, get your visa sorted. The New Zealand Immigration website is a great resource that gives clear precise instruction on what steps you need to take in order to qualify for a visa.
Once you are granted your visa you typically have 12 months to enter the country and activate it. Once your visa activates you have 1 year to work and travel. Travellers from Ireland have the option of completing three months of farm work in order to qualify for an additional three months. Travellers from the United Kingdom can chose to extend their visa by an additional year. Some people will often fly to Australia for a few weeks holiday after their working holiday visa expires then apply for the three month tourist visa. Although you can’t work with this visa you are free to travel throughout the country.
Once you get your visa confirmed you can book your flights! Depending on how far away you’re moving it can be worth booking this a couple months in advance to get them cheaper. If you’re going long haul then think about whether you can afford (time and money) to stop somewhere on the way to break up the time travelling. I’ve traveled direct from Ireland to Melbourne and let me tell you, you’re a zombie by the time you land. When we moved to Wellington we stopped in L.A (see my LA blog here) and it was so worth the extra time and money. Once we got to Wellington we weren’t really jet lagged at all and could really hit the ground running.
You’ll need somewhere to stay once you land. I booked into an Airbnb for 2 weeks from when I landed. The couple were great, we had our own space, kitchen etc. and were right in the town centre. Lots of people book into hostels and this is a great option to keep costs down and get to know people.
Consider taking out some form of health insurance before you go. In New Zealand some doctor visits are partially covered by the government under ACC. I was already signed up with VHI in my old job. When I was leaving the country I just called them up and changed my policy to cover me internationally for one year. I can email copies of my receipts from any doctor, dentist or physio appointment to claim money back.
Once you Arrive
Setting up Your Phone
Finally something that is actually cheaper in Ireland. Phone calls are pretty rubbish in New Zealand and are fairly pricey. There are several different networks you can choose from but the most popular are Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees. First thing to do is make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave or else buy a new phone. I have a One Plus 6 which is dual sim and is brilliant for travelling as it means I can keep both my Irish and NZ sims in my phone at the same time. This is something i suggest doing straight away as it’s a quick and easy item to get off your list. It also means you can update your CV with a NZ number for agencies to call you.
Say goodbye to your unlimited data because that’s not an option down here. For $40 (about 24 euro) you can expect to get approx. 500 minutes and 500 texts to NZ phones as well as 4GB of data. Compared to the data packages you can get at home it’s very little and it takes some adjusting. Luckily the Wifi in most offices and houses is great and there is free Wifi in the city center too. When you arrive just pop into any of the shops with your passport and they can set you up in about 10-15 mins.
Setting Up a Bank Account
One of the first things you’ll need to do when you arrive is set up a bank account. You’ll need to give your bank details to your agency/ employer in order to get paid, to pay your rent and in order to get your IRD number. I signed up with ANZ and the main selling point of this bank was that I could get the account 90% set up from overseas. I was able to set up all my personal details (with the exception of my NZ address).
Once I arrived in Wellington I was able to email the ANZ staff member who set us up, she then arranged for me to go into my nearest branch. Once they scanned copies of all my documentation I was able to get a bank card immediately. When I first arrived I put my Airbnb down as my address. Because I chose to get a non-contactless bank card on the spot it meant I didn’t have to worry about anything getting posted to my Airbnb address. Once I moved into my new house a couple weeks later I just popped into the branch and they updated the address immediately and I was able to then get my contactless bank card sent out to me for free.
Getting an IRD Number
Your IRD number is your personal number that is used to earn income, apply for loans, buy or sell property and file taxes. You cannot get legal employment in New Zealand without this number. You can apply for your IRD once you arrive in the country. This can be done online here. You’ll need the following document:
- Your work visa
- Passport details
- Overseas tax number (PPSN if you’re from Ireland)
- Your immigration application number (located on your work visa)
- Proof of your NZ bank account showing your full name and bank account number
Once you apply it typically gets emailed to you in 3-5 days. A hard copy will also get posted to your chosen address.
Finding a House
Finding a house is daunting in a new city because you don’t know the lay of the land or where you’ll end up working. Wellington is not a big city and you can easily walk from one end to the other in 40 mins, so no matter where you live you won’t be too far. Google maps is going to become your best friend here. Pick a place in the center of town and map out how far away the houses you’re looking at are to get an idea of distance. The best way to find a place to live is Facebook. Join the following groups and just start messaging people or do like we did and stick up a summary about yourself and say you’re looking for a room!
- Vic Deals
- FAM (Flatmates and more) Wellington
- Flatmates Wanted Wellington
- Wellington Flatmates and Rentals
Other sites that might be handy are:
- Irish People Living in New Zealand
- Irish Around Wellington
- Trade Me
Finding a place to live was my biggest worry moving over but it really isn’t something you can do until you arrive as you can’t go view it or meet the people beforehand. When you do start house hunting I would suggest having some money left aside for your bond/ deposit (usually 2 weeks rent) and have some references lined up from old landlords if possible. It’s also worth noting that in Wellington all rent advertised is the weekly price rather than the monthly price like in Ireland.
Finding a Job
Have your CV up to date so all you need to update is your NZ phone number and address (I put my Airbnb until I got a house). Figure out what work you’re looking for and target your search. If you’re looking for hospitality work then it’ll be most often advertised in the windows of shops, bars and restaurants so take a walk through town. It’s also worth checking out any hospitality jobs being advertised on the Trade Me app. If you’re looking for administration work then start emailing agencies in the area. Include your CV, how long you’re in wellington for, the experience you have, the type of work you’re open to and how long your work visa is valid for. Some agencies worth contacting for administration work are:
If you’re open to construction you’ll find no shortage of jobs being advertised on Trade Me. You can also reach out to the following construction agencies:
The salary you get will vary depending on the work you get. Construction is low and pays around $17 an hour for a general labourer, hospitality pays around $20 an hour while administration can pay anything from $21 an hour up.
When you’re going to meet any potential employers or agencies treat it like a job interview and wear a blazer and shirt/ suits pants/ dress. I also recommend getting a pack together including:
- New Zealand bank account details
- IRD Number
- Work visa
- Names and contact details of at least 2 references (they will contact them before you can start work so be sure to have asked the person before providing their details)
By far one of the things that’s most likely to make you homesick is not knowing anyone in the new city. It was definitely one aspect of moving that I hadn’t anticipated finding so tough. The truth is, making friends as an adult can be hard and daunting. You’ve gone from having a core group of school, college and work friends at home to not knowing anyone and it can be isolating. The only thing to do is throw yourself into it. Apps like MeetUp are a great way to meet people with the same interests of you. It has groups that do everything from running, football, acting and board games to book clubs, rock climbing and wine nights. Work is a great way to get to know people – arrange Friday drinks or volunteer to help out organising social activities. Most of all just give it time. When you first arrive it can feel as though you’ll never get to know people but after a couple weeks you’ll soon have a nice little network!
Are there any key pieces of advice you think are missing? Was there anything you did or would do differently – let me know below!