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Life in New Zealand

Is New Zealand a safe place to live?

Yes. In fact, according to the 2010 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is one of the safest places to live in the world. Up against 144 countries, New Zealand came out on top followed by Iceland (2nd) and Japan (3rd). Other nations such as the UK (31st) and US (85th) were much further down the list.

New Zealand is a relaxed and welcoming place to live. It is a modern, secular, cosmopolitan democratic society with a mix of lifestyles. People from many walks of life call New Zealand home and the majority of New Zealanders are honest law-abiding citizens.

The local police force is strong and all criminal matters are taken seriously. As in any country, there are incidents of crime and New Zealand Police are dedicated to solving and resolving offences.

New Zealand is a secure nation and we pride ourselves on maintaining safe communities. Even our biggest cities are considered some of the top places to live on earth – Auckland (3rd) and Wellington (13th) ranked amongst the best on Mercer's 2012 Quality of Living survey.

What is the difference between a resident visa and a permanent resident visa?

Both of these visas allow you the same privilege of living permanently in New Zealand, but they provide you with different travel conditions. Your resident visa will allow you to travel in and out of New Zealand (as a resident) for a specified period of time only – usually 24 months.

After the two years period you are required to apply for a permanent resident visa (PRV) which is indefinite. This means that you are able to travel in and out of New Zealand (as a resident) at any time, as long as you have the permanent resident visa in your valid passport.

To qualify for a PRV you must:

  • Have held a resident visa for at least 24 months
  • Have met any conditions of your resident visa, and
  • Have shown a commitment to New Zealand in one of the five ways that meet the requirements

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What is New Zealand culture like?

New Zealand is a pure clean country and prides itself on maintaining a clean, green environment and is known for its laidback atmosphere. New Zealanders enjoy spending time outdoors and love their sports. Café society and cultural activities rival those anywhere.

Kiwis are a welcoming bunch and New Zealand has a true multicultural feel. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 residents were born overseas. This is a cosmopolitan country and you will find people from all ethnic backgrounds living in New Zealand.

In addition to welcoming new cultures, New Zealand has great pride in its Pacific heritage. Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand and their sacred and traditional beliefs are still honoured today. Many museums, local iwi (tribe) and historic sites are located throughout New Zealand with lots to learn about our Pacific background.

What is Settlement Support New Zealand?

Settlement Support is a service offered by Settlement services – a division of Immigration New Zealand. The Settlement Support NZ network links migrants and refugees with services and agencies in their local community. This service is free to migrants in the first two years they are in New Zealand. Finding information and services can be a challenge to new residents. Settlement Support NZ is a clear point of contact for information to help newcomers settle. There are 18 Settlement Support NZ agencies funded by the Immigration New Zealand.

What do I need to know about renting or buying a house?

Property styles and prices vary widely. Prices have risen sharply in recent years due to high demand. Expect to pay more for properties with features such as views, car parks, gardens, outdoor areas and close distance to schools, shops or public transport.

Most New Zealand houses are separate wooden buildings. Newer houses are insulated but older houses have minimal insulation. Most houses are heated by open fires, wood burners, or electric or gas heaters; central heating and double-glazing are uncommon.

I am looking to settle in Auckland – what is it like?

Commonly referred to as the "City of Sails", Auckland is New Zealand's largest city. With a population of 1.4 million, Auckland serves as the gateway to New Zealand and is home to about half of all migrants who land here. It is the commercial capital of New Zealand.

It is a desirable place to settle and offers its residents access to beautiful beaches, harbours, walking/biking trails and more. Known for its lively nightlife, cafe culture and fine dining, Auckland is rich in diversity.

Whether you are located downtown or on the outskirts of the city, you are likely to find an enjoyable lifestyle and a variety of career opportunities. As a commercial hub of New Zealand, there are over 160,000 businesses across a wide range of sectors. Major local industries include health, manufacturing, retail, IT and finance.

What is the population of New Zealand?

As per figures available for 2012, the resident population of New Zealand is over 4.4 million. The population is estimated to increase by one person every 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

Population count history

  • 2012 : 4.4 million
  • 2006: 4.1 million
  • 1996: 3.6 million
  • 1966: 2.1 million
  • 1936: 1.5 million
  • 1901: 815,853
  • 1858: 115,462

Figures from The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, For the most up-to-date population estimation, visit Statistics New Zealand's population clock. Our population is projected to reach 5 million by 2025.

What religions are most prevalent in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a modern, secular, democratic society, and freedom of religious beliefs is guaranteed by law. Over half of New Zealanders identify themselves as being Christian. The main Christian denominations include Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in people whose religion is non-Christian. As more migrants choose to make New Zealand home, the landscape of religion is changing. Hindu, Buddhist, Islam and Spiritualism make up the most significant minority religions.

What is the weather like in New Zealand?

New Zealand's located in the Southern Hemisphere, so our seasons are opposite to countries in the Northern Hemisphere:

  • Winter – June-August
  • Spring – September-November
  • Summer – December-February
  • Fall – March-May

Auckland (Centre North Island):

  • Summer: 24ºC/75ºF
  • Winter: 11ºC/52 ºF

Wellington (Southern North Island):

  • Summer: 19ºC/66ºF
  • Winter: 9ºC/48 ºF

How do I obtain New Zealand citizenship and passport?

NZ Citizenship and passport applications are administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, so it is best to contact them directly for information on eligibility and application process.