Disclaimer: This blog post includes affiliate links, which means we receive a tiny commission – at no extra cost to you. Don’t worry; this doesn’t affect our recommendations whatsoever. It just helps us keep the lights on.
Imagine sitting with your laptop and the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand as your backdrop. New Zealand, or Aotearoa, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and welcoming locals, is a dream destination for tourists and nomads around the world. But if you are looking at moving to Aotearoa as a digital nomad, you may wonder: Is there a New Zealand digital nomad visa? And if so, how do you apply for it?
Well, today, we’ll answer the above questions and go over everything you need to know about living as a digital nomad in New Zealand.
Does New Zealand Have a Digital Nomad Visa?
Unlike many countries around the world that are slowly starting to release digital nomad visas for remote workers worldwide, New Zealand, unfortunately, does not have an official digital nomad visa. But don’t worry! This doesn’t mean you can’t go to New Zealand as a digital nomad. There are still a couple of different pathways you can take! Of the more than 100 visa options you can apply for, you’ll definitely be able to find one that best suits you. However, as a general rule, most digital nomads in New Zealand will apply for the Visitor Visa (or NZeTA if eligible) or the Working Holiday Visa.
Who Can Apply for the New Zealand Digital Nomad Visa?
Now, this totally depends on what visa you are going for. If you are planning to stay for fewer than 6 months, the Visitor Visa or NZeTA if you’re from a visa-waiver country would suffice. However, if you want to stay up to a year in New Zealand, you’ll need to get the Working Holiday Visa.
Between the NZeTA and the Visitor Visa, pretty much anybody from anywhere can visit New Zealand. If you have an Australian passport, however, you can simply show up in New Zealand.
On the other hand, if you want to apply for the Working Holiday Visa, you’ll need to be a citizen of a country that has an applicable working holiday visa agreement with New Zealand. Eligible countries include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, and the USA. You can find the full list of countries on the Immigration NZ website. On top of the nationality requirement, you will also need to meet the other visa conditions. Notably, in order to apply for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, you must be between 18 and 30 years old (or 18 and 35, depending on the specific country). You’ll also need to provide proof of sufficient funds in your bank.
Alternatives to the Digital Nomad Visa in New Zealand
With the absence of a true New Zealand digital nomad visa, the two visas most digital nomads will use in New Zealand are the Working Holiday Visa or Visitor Visa/NZeTA.
Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a visa that allows visa holders to work while traveling throughout New Zealand. While this visa is straightforward to apply for, it comes with a few caveats:
- You must be aged 18 to 30 or 18 to 35, depending on the country.
- You cannot accept a permanent job offer while in NZ.
- You must be from a country with a working holiday agreement with NZ.
For most, the Working Holiday Visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to 12 months, but for some passport holders, this may be longer. For example, if you have a Canadian passport, you can visit and work for up to 23 months. And if you have a UK passport, you can stay for up to 36 months!
Requirements for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa
The requirements differ ever so slightly depending on the country you are applying from. But here’s a general look at what you may need:
- Valid passport
- Chest x-ray and medical examination as proof of good health
- Police certificate(s) for proof of good character
- Aged 18-30 or 18-35, depending on the country
- Ticket to leave NZ or proof of sufficient funds
- Proof of at least $4,200 NZD
- No previous approvals for an NZ Working Holiday Visa
- Medical insurance
How to Apply for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
Step One: Gather All Necessary Documents
First things first, make sure you have all the necessary documents ready before you apply online. With regards to the chest x-ray and medical examination, you can choose to do this at a later stage if you want.
Step Two: Apply Online
Apply for your Working Holiday Visa online. At this point, you will also need to pay the application fee, which is $420 NZD + $35 NZD International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. That’s a total of $455 NZD.
Step Three: Satisfy Medical Requirements (If Not Done Already)
After sending your application, you have 15 days to submit your chest x-ray or medical examination to Immigration NZ. You’ll need to see a panel physician who is approved to complete chest x-rays and medical examinations for New Zealand visa applications. You can find a panel physician here.
If there are no approved panel physicians near you, you can simply send a chest x-ray certificate and/or medical certificate.
Step Four: Get Accepted
On average, you should hear back from Immigration NZ within 3 working days. However, this can take longer – up to one month or more – depending on whether you need to send medical requirements and other external factors.
You must arrive in New Zealand within 12 months of your visa acceptance.
For citizens of visa waiver countries, you can simply apply for the NZeTA, which costs $17 NZD. Processing time is up to 72 hours. However, if you are not from a visa waiver country, you will need to apply for a Visitor Visa, which will allow you to stay in the country for up to 9 months, depending on where you are from.
Requirements for the New Zealand Visitor Visa
- Valid passport
- Passport photo
- Chest x-ray, medical examination, or both, depending on the length of your stay and country
- Declaration of good character
- Proof of sponsorship or at least NZD $1,000 per month or NZD $400 per month if you have already paid for accommodation
- Declaration to pay own healthcare costs
- Return ticket or proof of enough funds to pay for a ticket
How to Apply for the New Zealand Visitor Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
Step One: Gather All Necessary Documents
Make sure you have all the documents on hand to apply for the Visitor Visa. If you are from a non-English-speaking country, this means you may need to get your documents translated. Additionally, if you are being sponsored for your visit, ensure you have your sponsor’s sharing ID.
Step Two: Apply Online
Apply online, upload all necessary documents, and pay the application fee. The Visitor Visa costs NZD $211 + NZD $35 – a total of NZD $246. This is a non-refundable fee.
Step Three: Get Accepted
Finally, wait for a visa decision. Generally, you should hear back from Immigration within 38 working days, but, on average, you’ll hear back as soon as 11 working days.
Extending the New Zealand Digital Nomad Visa
With the NZeTA and Visitor Visa, there is a rule that you can only stay in New Zealand for a set amount of months within a 12-month period, depending on where you are from. However, with a Working Holiday Visa, you can extend the visa for additional time if you want to stay in the country longer.
For most Working Holiday Visa holders, you can extend the visa for an additional 3 months maximum. To do this, you’ll need to apply for the Working Holiday Extension Work Visa, which costs NZD $455. However, if you are from Canada or the UK, there is an exception.
Canadian passport holders can stay in New Zealand for up to 23 months, while UK citizens can stay for up to 36 months. So, if your current visa is not for the maximum period, you can apply for the Working Holiday Scheme – Subsequent Work Visa to stay for the maximum period. You can find the link for the application for Canadian passport holders here and UK passport holders here.
Cost of New Zealand Digital Nomad Visa
If you get the Working Holiday Visa, the application costs NZD $455 total, which includes the NZD $35 International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy. If you simply need the NZeTA, that will cost just NZD $17. And if you are applying for the Visitor Visa, the application fee is NZD $246 total.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in New Zealand?
The average Working Holiday Visa processing time is just 3 working days, but it can take up to 23 working days or more. The NZeTA is relatively fast – you can get it processed within 72 hours. And finally, for the Visitor Visa, the processing time is 11 working days on average, but it can take up to 38 working days or more.
Can You Work in New Zealand as a Digital Nomad on a Visitor Visa or NZeTA?
This is a bit of a gray area. There’s nothing that specifically states that you can work in New Zealand as a digital nomad on a Visitor Visa or NZeTA, but there’s also nothing that says you can’t do that. With that said, the Visitor Visa should specifically be for the purpose of visiting the country – not for working. That is, your main purpose of travel to New Zealand with the Visitor Visa should be for tourism. However, since there’s nothing that explicitly bans you from working as a digital nomad in New Zealand, as long as you are working for foreign companies and individuals, you should be in the clear (confirmed by NZ Immigration workers).
Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in New Zealand
Most digital nomads likely won’t need to pay any taxes in New Zealand. However, if you stay in New Zealand for more than 183 days in a 12-month period, you will be considered a tax resident. When this happens, make sure you have an IRD number. You can easily apply for one on the IRD website. You’ll need an IRD to open a bank account in New Zealand as well if you’d like to open one.
As a New Zealand tax resident, your worldwide income is subject to tax. New Zealand has a progressive tax rate as follows:
- Up to $14,000 – 10.5%
- $14,001 to $48,000 – 17.5%
- $48,001 to $70,000 – 30%
- $70,001 to $180,000 – 33%
- $180,001+ – 39%
Pro tip: Make sure your country has a double tax agreement with your country to avoid paying double taxes! If your country doesn’t have one, it might be best to keep your visit to Aotearoa short and sweet. With that said, 6 months is plenty of time to explore the country!
Is New Zealand a Good Place for Digital Nomads?
From beautiful beaches, snowy mountains, rainforests, and volcanos New Zealand is a truly beautiful place. New Zealand is an especially amazing destination for digital nomads who enjoy adventure sports, hiking, and surfing. Here are a few of the pros and cons of making New Zealand your next digital nomad base.
|Absolutely stunning country. Of course, one of the main reasons anybody wants to move to New Zealand is the stunning natural beauty. Rainforests, snow-capped mountains, icy glaciers, and rugged coastlines – what more could you want?
|High cost of living. Probably, the biggest issue with living in NZ as a digital nomad is the high cost of living. Many goods are imported, meaning you’ll pay a pretty penny compared to what you may find elsewhere. Furthermore, the cost of housing has skyrocketed in recent years.
|Safe. New Zealand consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. It is also one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
|The sun! As NZ sits right underneath a hole in the ozone layer, the sun is no joke. It’s very strong, so stock up on your sunscreen; skin cancer rates are super high!
|Friendly people. Kiwis are some of the most down-to-earth and friendliest people you’ll ever meet! Even in a big city like Auckland and Wellington, you’ll be met with smiles wherever you go!
|Isolated. New Zealand is far. And while the isolation might seem like paradise, the reality kicks in when you have to spend hours on a plane and spend a lot of money just to visit your family or head to your next destination.
|Multicultural. As a country made up of immigrants, you’ll find people from all walks of life in Aotearoa. From Maori, European, Asian, and Pacific Islanders – New Zealand is definitely a mixing pot of cultures. So, the food is pretty spectacular, too!
|Wifi. Recently, NZ has upped its wifi game, and you shouldn’t struggle too much as a digital nomad in more populated areas. But if you travel somewhere more rural, you’ll definitely have some trouble with the less-than-ideal wifi speeds.
Best Places to Live in New Zealand for Digital Nomads
Now that you are considering moving to New Zealand as an expat or digital nomad, it’s time to figure out where exactly to go. While the best thing to do would be to travel throughout the entire country and discover both the North and South Islands, this list can get you started on some of the best places to live in New Zealand as a digital nomad.
The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, is one of the best places to live in New Zealand as a remote worker. This picturesque harbor is beautiful and easy to walk around. And for those lazy days, don’t worry; the public transportation system of Wellington will serve you well. You definitely won’t run out of things to do here. While Wellington’s weather may not be the best (the city is called Windy Welly for a reason!), the city boasts a great number of cafes, restaurants, cinemas, galleries, and events to keep you occupied. A couple of classic events to look forward to every year are: Burger Wellington (restaurants around the city compete for the best burger), Beervana (a massive craft beer festival), and Homegrown (Aotearoa’s best DJs and bands perform at a one-day music festival).
Located on the east coast of the North Island right is a fun town called Mount Maunganui. Mount Maunganui has always been a popular spot for kiwis and expats, and it’s easy to see why. The beach is stunning, the shopping is great, and the cafes are just *chef’s kiss*. If you’re a surfer looking for a surfing town, Mount Maunganui is a great option. Although the nightlife here may be lacking compared to other digital nomad destinations in New Zealand, you’ll still find plenty of bars (including craft breweries!) to satisfy your beer cravings. The warm climate is a definite plus here as well! And if you ever need those city comforts, Tauranga (and Auckland, too!) is just a short drive away.
If you’re after a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Aotearoa, the only city that will really give you what you are looking for is Auckland. Here, you can enjoy the variety of festivals and events the city hosts. Plus, Auckland has a vibrant nightlife, especially in areas like the Viaduct and the infamous K-Road. You definitely will have your pick in terms of shopping, restaurants, and bars as well. While it’s easier to get around in New Zealand with a car, it’s possible to stay in Auckland without one, thanks to its public transportation system. While the city itself offers a lot, there’s plenty to do for a weekend getaway as well. Auckland boasts some gorgeous wineries, wild beaches, and beautiful rainforests – perfect for surfing, hiking, and more!
If you’ve done any research on New Zealand, chances are you’ve heard of Queenstown. Queenstown is the adventure capital of Aotearoa, so you will have your pick in terms of fun during your days and hours off! Just some of the activities you can do here include bungee jumping, skydiving, and mountain biking. Queenstown is also a great jumping-off point to explore the Milford Sounds, Mount Cook, and Wanaka. A gorgeous town in New Zealand nestled within the alpine ranges, Queenstown is definitely a sight to see. The town overlooks a beautiful lake as well, adding to its allure. Besides the adventure activities and natural beauty, Queenstown is a surprisingly bustling small town with a fun nightlife!
Want the city life without the price tag? Christchurch is the biggest city in the South Island (by far) and boasts much more affordable living costs than Auckland or Wellington – especially when it comes to housing. Remote working is pretty easy in Christchurch, compared to other places around New Zealand, with plenty of cafes and coworking spaces for digital nomads. Christchurch offers your usual city amenities, including good shopping, bars, restaurants, and events scattered throughout the year. This is the place to pick if you want all of these comforts while still being within driving distance of the South Island’s hotspots and tourist attractions, including the Southern Alps and the gorgeous beaches on the coast. Kaikoura is not too far away, either, if seeing whales is on your bucket list!
Check out our full list of the best places to live in New Zealand.
Cost of Living in New Zealand for Digital Nomads
Before we jump into the nitty and gritty, note that New Zealand’s cost of living is generally calculated weekly instead of monthly. So, that’ll be the case for this short guide, too. If you want to get your monthly budget, just multiply all figures by 4!
The cost of accommodation in New Zealand is notoriously high. This is where a big chunk of your New Zealand budget will go. Housing prices can differ according to where you are. Notably, Auckland and Wellington are the most expensive. For example, for a room in a flat, you’ll pay around NZD $200 to NZD $250 per week, but this can easily go up to NZD $400 a week if you want a bigger room with an ensuite. If you’d prefer to live alone, a one-bedroom apartment will set you back NZD $500 to NZD $700 a week. Christchurch, on the other hand, has cheaper accommodation, so you should be able to find a one-bedroom apartment for NZD $350 to NZD $550 per week.
Food is another major player when it comes to the cost of living in Aotearoa. An average weekly grocery budget for a digital nomad is around NZD $70 to NZD $120 per person. Eating out in New Zealand is not the most budget-friendly either. You can definitely find lunch deals in the cities for around NZD $10 to NZD $15, but a meal at a restaurant or cafe will set you back NZD $20 to NZD $30 a plate on average.
While gas or petrol is not generally a concern for digital nomads in other countries, to get around New Zealand, you’re much better off renting or buying (and then selling) a car. This means you’ll have to deal with the petrol costs in the country. Petrol costs can have a huge range throughout the year, and as of the time of writing this article, petrol seems to be hovering around NZD $2.5 to NZD $3 per liter.
Healthcare in New Zealand for Digital Nomads
While New Zealand does have universal healthcare, this is not a benefit that is extended to most temporary visitors. As a digital nomad visiting New Zealand, you should already have health insurance, as it is a part of your application process. However, if you are simply in the country with an NZeTA, make sure you get valid health insurance anyway, as you want to be covered if something happens.
One digital nomad travel health insurance we highly recommend is SafetyWing, an insurance made for nomads by nomads! It’s super budget-friendly at just USD $45.08 per month for digital nomads and travelers up to 39 years old! Want to check out other options? Here are the 10 best insurance options for digital nomads!
Here’s the good news, though: New Zealand has an awesome program called Accident Compensation Corporation, also known as ACC. This no-fault personal injury insurance covers everybody in New Zealand, both Kiwis and visitors. So, if you happen to be injured during your time in New Zealand, you will be covered.
In other words, while New Zealand will cover you for a broken leg from a fall, you won’t be covered when it comes to a medical checkup regarding a cough.
If you do need to visit a doctor at some point during your visit for a regular 15-minute consultation, you will need to pay the full non-resident or non-registered fee, which generally ranges from NZD $120 to NZD $250.
Best Coworking Spaces in New Zealand
New Zealand’s cafes are set up very differently from those in the USA in that they are not generally set up for work. Instead, they are literally set up for brunches and having coffee with friends. In fact, many cafes may not even have free wifi! Shocker, I know. So, if you’re looking for a place to work while in NZ, you may likely have to go to a coworking space. While there aren’t too many, and they can be expensive, coworking spaces are a great place to work if you want to find an “office” outside of your home.
- The Workshop (Auckland) – NZD $39.50 per day, NZD $316+ per 10 days, or NZD $445 for one month. Based in Ponsonby and Avondale.
- two/fiftyseven (Wellington) – NZD $35 per day, NZD $300 for 10 days, or NZD $449 per month.
- Saltworks (Christchurch) – NZD $45 per day, NZD $499 per month for a flexible desk, or NZD $749 per month for a permanent desk.
- Bad Company (Mount Maunganui) – NZD $303 per month for 2 days a week, NZD $420 per month for 3 days a week, $155 per week for a dedicated desk.
How to Find a Place to Live in New Zealand
One of the first steps when you stay in a new country is to find a place to live. Thankfully, finding accommodation in New Zealand doesn’t have to be too difficult. But, as a digital nomad, there are a few considerations you’ll want to keep in mind in order to find the perfect home for your stay in Aotearoa:
- Strong internet connection: Of course, good wifi is an absolute must as a digital nomad. If wifi is included in your accommodation or if it’s already set up in an existing flat, make sure it is fast enough to handle your workload. Plus, if you will be living with others and your flatmates will also be studying or working from home, make sure the wifi is fast enough to handle everyone’s wifi needs!
- Location: Do you want to be living near the action? Is access to public transport important? These are important questions to ask yourself when it comes to picking a place to live in New Zealand.
- Insulated home: The standard of homes in New Zealand may not be what you’re used to. While New Zealand is not the coldest place on Earth, it may feel colder than you’re used to simply because many homes in New Zealand lack proper insulation. If you want to avoid wearing your winter jacket at home, it’s probably best to look for a newer build that complies with modern living standards. If this is not possible, you’ll need to get yourself a heater and an electric blanket!
Where to Find a Place to Live in New Zealand
So, now that you know what you’re looking for, here’s how to find a place to live in New Zealand. There are a few different methods.
Word of Mouth
Do you know someone who already lives in New Zealand? Ask if their flat has a vacated room or a room that will be vacated around the time you arrive in the country. And ask if they know anybody who is looking for a flatmate. Oftentimes, Kiwis will advertise a spare room on their Instagram stories, so you may not always see these flats on your usual rental websites.
Of course, one of the best ways to look for a flat or your own home in New Zealand is to check out a rental website. The most common one used in New Zealand is TradeMe. Think: Craigslist or eBay. Other websites you can check out include:
Join Facebook Groups
If you are looking for a flat rather than your own place, join a Facebook group. The below Facebook groups are great if you’re looking for a room in an already-existing flat. There’s a huge range of rooms here to suit any budget. You can also post something to introduce yourself and have potential flats reach out to you instead.
Travel Accommodation Sites
First, let us preface this by saying that we aren’t the biggest fans of using travel accommodation sites as digital nomads. Want to know why? Read our page on digital nomad ethics.
However, travel accommodation sites can come in super handy in a pinch. They’re a great way to get started in a new country when you’re not sure how to look for accommodation otherwise. For example, you can stay in a hostel or hotel in New Zealand while you are looking for a more permanent base. After all, you don’t want to get stuck in a flat that you’ve never visited in person! Pictures can be deceiving – trust us, we’ve got first-hand experience on this!
Here are the best travel accommodation sites to get you started in your digital nomad journey in Aotearoa:
Ready to Say Kia Ora to Aotearoa?
So, there you have it – the New Zealand digital nomad wannabe can certainly make their home in Aotearoa with the Visitor Visa (or NZeTA) or Working Holiday Visa. With these visas on hand, you’ll be eating meat pies, hiking gorgeous mountains, and brushing up on your Kiwi slang in no time! So, pack your bags, charge your laptop, and get ready to work and travel in one of the most picturesque places on Earth. Your Kiwi digital nomad adventure awaits!
Are you looking at other options for digital nomad visas? Check out Spain, Brazil, and Croatia. There are many more countries that offer digital nomad visas as well, so head over to our Visa page for even more!