Boasting a high quality of life, low cost of living and a number of job opportunities, graduates should consider working in New Zealand

The Kiwi's know a thing or two about striking a good work-life balance. They work hard and relax often, using their free time to enjoy all that their spectacular country has to offer. According to HSBC's Expat Explorer Survey 2018, New Zealand ranks second as an expat destination and it's not hard to see why.

A number of job sectors are expanding and the New Zealand government are looking to attract workers from other countries to fill the skills gap, meaning good job prospects for international workers.

The country also enjoys a temperate climate, uncrowded communities and a low crime rate. You'll find Auckland, Waikato and Wellington in the north and Canterbury and Otago to the south. No matter where you settle there's plenty to see and do from sandy beaches, mountain trails and national parks to metropolitan cities.

Jobs in New Zealand

If you have the right skills and experience, it's always a good time to look for work in New Zealand. Unemployment is low at 4.3%.

There are currently plenty of job openings in industries such as engineering, IT and medicine - however, there are also opportunities to contribute more general skills.

Recent employment growth has been seen in human resources and recruitment, manufacturing, transport and logistics, trades and services, engineering and community service and development.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for a huge number of New Zealand businesses, even the country's big businesses are considered small by international standards. Higher education institutions, IBM and New Zealand Air are all popular graduate employers.

Because of competition for jobs, it's not uncommon for international job hunters to accept more junior positions in order to gain experience of working in New Zealand.

Don't limit your options by ruling out contract or part-time work - this can sometimes lead to permanent employment.

Search for jobs in New Zealand at:

Popular graduate jobs

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Financial services
  • Manufacturing
  • Real estate services
  • Tourism

Skills shortages

Certain skills are in short supply and to help combat this, both long-term and immediate skill shortages are listed on Immigration New Zealand.

Occupations on the immediate skills shortage list include:

  • accountant
  • arborist
  • baker
  • building inspector
  • construction project manager
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • outdoor adventure guide
  • snow sport instructor
  • stonemason
  • university lecturer
  • winemaker.

Long-term skills shortages occur in the following industries:

  • construction
  • engineering
  • finance
  • health and social services
  • hospitality and tourism
  • ICT, electronics and telecommunications
  • science
  • trades.

How to get a job in New Zealand

To obtain a visa you'll need to look for and secure a job before moving to the country.

Applications are typically made online with a CV and cover letter. CVs in New Zealand differ in the sense that they rarely list all past jobs, instead they explain the skills you have and provide examples of how you've used them.

If your application passes the first stage you may be offered a telephone interview. Face-to-face interviews tend to be informal and may be led by up to four people. Make sure you've thoroughly researched the position and the company before your interview.

A number of jobs aren't formally advertised, so making connections, networking and applying speculatively can prove useful.

Summer jobs

Every year thousands of workers are needed to help harvest the country's fruit crops. Thanks to the budding tourist trade you can also find employment in bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels, campsites and holiday parks.

During the winter season you may also be able to find opportunities at ski resorts.

If you have some childcare experience you could find work as an au pair.

If you want to give your CV a boost there are a large number of voluntary agencies throughout New Zealand. You can search for opportunities by type and location at Volunteering New Zealand.

Kiwi and Kiwi also offers gap year and working holiday opportunities.

Teaching jobs

There is tough competition for positions in New Zealand, with the majority of teachers coming from countries such as England, Canada and America. Teachers of science, technology and mathematics subjects are in high demand at both primary and secondary level. Supply teachers are also highly sought after.

Gaining a position is dependent on your previous teaching experience and qualifications. To check your eligibility and to discover how to apply to teach in the country, see Teach New Zealand.

To teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) you will usually require a Bachelors degree, plus a TEFL certificate. English is widely spoken, but you may still find opportunities in private language schools.

Upon arrival in New Zealand, teachers must register with the New Zealand Teachers Council in order for your qualifications to be assessed by the country's Qualifications Authority.

Popular places in New Zealand for those who want to teach include:

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Queenstown
  • Wellington.


Work placements and internships have a number of advantages. They obviously help build up your skills and experience and provide you with relevant contacts, who could help you get a permanent job.

Good places to start searching for work experience in the country include:

Speaking to companies directly is also a proven way of finding non-advertised opportunities.

New Zealand visas

There are several visa options available if you want to live and work in New Zealand, either permanently or temporarily, and these are explained in more depth at Immigration New Zealand.

If you are aged between 18 and 30 and want to work on a temporary basis, you can apply for the working holiday visa. The visa lasts between 12 and 23 months. To be eligible the primary purpose of your trip must be a holiday, with work a secondary intention.

More permanent options include the:

  • Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) - for those who have the skills, qualifications and experience to meet a New Zealand employer's need.
  • Essential skills work visa - opt for this visa if you possess the necessary qualifications and experience for a particular role and have been offered a full-time job. Valid for up to five years.
  • Work to Residence Category - if you’re qualified in an in-demand occupation such as those on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, or if you have a job offer from an accredited employer, this is the visa for you.

When considering applicants, Immigration New Zealand uses a points system. You get points for age, experience, employability and qualifications.

If you're not from the UK, contact the New Zealand embassy in your country of residence for more information on visas and work permits.

Language requirements

New Zealand's three official languages are English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

Most business is done in English, and most organisations require competency in spoken and written English.

How to explain your qualifications to employers

Employers usually understand UK qualifications as the New Zealand education system is based on England's framework, but you will need to clarify that this is the case before submitting your application.

Trade certificates, diplomas, Bachelor degrees and postgraduate qualifications are all acknowledged.

What it's like to work in New Zealand

Average working hours in New Zealand are typically between 37 and 40 hours a week across five days.

The minimum wage is $17.70 (around £9) per hour.

Holiday entitlement is generous by international standards. Workers are entitled to at least four weeks of annual leave and New Zealand has 10 public holidays. If you work on a public holiday your employer must pay you extra. Public holidays include:

  • New Year's Day
  • Day after New Year's Day
  • Waitangi Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Anzac Day
  • Queen's Birthday
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day.

Income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) is how New Zealand fund services for the benefit of all residents, and your salary in New Zealand is subject to income tax, whether you are considered a resident or are simply in the country temporarily.

Personal income tax is calculated as below:

  • 33% for income over $70,000
  • 30% on income up to $48,001 to $70,000
  • 17.5% on income up to $14,001 to $48,000
  • 10.5% on income up to $0 to $14,000.

For more information on taxes visit New Zealand Now.

The standard of living in New Zealand is considered to be high, while the cost of living is relatively low compared to prices in other countries including Australia and the UK.

Find out more

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