With its high quality of life, reasonable cost of living and a range of job opportunities, graduates will find that New Zealand can offer the perfect work-life balance
The Kiwis know a thing or two about living life to the full. 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 2021, New Zealand ranked third behind Switzerland and Australia as an expat destination and it's not hard to see why.
A number of job sectors are expanding - including consulting, sales, sport, hospitality and tourism - 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 on the North Island, and Canterbury and Otago on the South Island.
No matter where you decide to settle, there's plenty to see and do - from exploring mountain trails and national parks to enjoying the sights and attractions of metropolitan cities and beach towns.
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 3.2% (February 2022).
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 (HR) 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, while even the country's larger businesses are considered small by international standards. Higher education institutions, IBM and Air New Zealand 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 - as this can sometimes lead to permanent employment.
Search for jobs in New Zealand at:
Popular graduate jobs
- Financial services
- Real estate services
Certain skills are in short supply and to help combat this, both long-term and regional skill shortages are listed at Immigration New Zealand - Skills shortages.
Some of the occupations on the regional skills shortage list include:
- early childhood teacher
- outdoor adventure guide
- primary school teacher
- snow sport instructor
- specialist physician
- university lecturer.
Long-term skills shortages occur in the following industries:
- health and social services
- hospitality and tourism
- ICT, electronics and telecommunications
Specific skills are also required in the construction and infrastructure sector. In-demand roles include:
- building inspector
- civil engineer
- construction project manager
- electrical engineer
- project builder
- structural engineer
How to get a job in New Zealand
To obtain a visa to work in New Zealand, 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.
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, and at 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.
You can begin your search to find seasonal work at SEEK - Summer jobs.
If you want to give your CV a boost, there are a large number of voluntary agencies located throughout New Zealand. You can search for opportunities by type and location at Volunteering New Zealand.
There's always tough competition for teaching positions in New Zealand, with most 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, visit the Teaching Council of New Zealand website.
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 Teaching Council for your qualifications to be assessed by NZQA.
Popular places in New Zealand for those who want to teach include:
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 may be in a position to help you get a permanent job.
Good places to start searching for work experience in the country include:
- BUNAC - Intern and work combo NZ
- The Intern Group - Internships in New Zealand
- Intern NZ
- Internship New Zealand
- New Zealand Internships
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 - Explore via options to work.
To summarise, if you're aged between 18 and 30 (or up to 35 in a select few countries) and want to work on a temporary basis, you can apply for the working holiday visa. The visa lasts between 12 and 23 months for those from the UK or Canada. 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. It's 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 (LTSSL), 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.
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'll 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 for adults aged 16 years or over is currently set at $21.20, which converts to around £11.07 per hour (April 2022).
Holiday entitlement is generous by international standards. Workers are entitled to at least four weeks' annual leave and New Zealand has 11 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're considered a resident or are simply in the country on a temporary basis.
Personal income tax is calculated as below (from 1 April 2021):
- 39% for income over $180,000
- 33% on income from $70,001 to $180,000
- 30% on income from $48,001 to $70,000
- 17.5% on income from $14,001 to $48,000
- 10.5% on income up to $14,000.
To get more information on taxes for workers in New Zealand visit the New Zealand Inland Revenue.
The standard of living in New Zealand is considered to be very high, while the cost of living is relatively low compared to prices in other countries including Australia and the UK. For more comparisons, see Numbeo - Cost of living in New Zealand.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in New Zealand.
- Get the full lowdown on working in New Zealand at New Zealand Now.