- Download our Moving to New Zealand Guide (PDF)
For those considering working in New Zealand, the experience can be a thrilling and fulfilling one. With its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage and robust economy, New Zealand provides a plethora of opportunities across various industries. It's an excellent destination for both skilled professionals seeking new challenges and recent graduates eager to start their careers.
The country's thriving job market and welcoming business environment make it an ideal place to live and work. With more sheep than people and more pine trees than sheep in the country, expats looking for work in New Zealand can certainly count on employment opportunities in the agricultural sector.
Most businesses in New Zealand have a standard five-day, 40-hour work week and are generally open from 8am to 5pm, with a lunch break of between 30 minutes and an hour. That said, businesses often determine their hours according to the needs of their industry, employees and customers. For instance, it is common for employees at hospitals and factories to work outside regular work hours.
Job market in New Zealand
New Zealand has become a popular country for expats to immigrate to, which means there is stiff competition for the limited jobs available. The biggest issue foreigners may face will be meeting the stringent immigration requirements. Those with specialised qualifications and are proficient in English will be most successful.
While the country is known for its agricultural output, other large industries in New Zealand include tourism, manufacturing and finance.
Occasionally, the government announces qualified personnel deficiencies in a specific job field and expats in that field will then be actively recruited. This is especially true for towns other than Auckland.
Skills deficiency announcements can be found on Immigration New Zealand's Green List. The list outlines the job fields and skill sets that are needed in the country and is a good guide for expats looking for work in New Zealand.
Obtaining or qualifying for a job on this list allows expats to streamline the visa application process, as employers will not have to prove that there are no New Zealanders able to take the position that is applied for. The Green List is reviewed and updated regularly.
Other industries in New Zealand that continuously provide employment to expat workers include IT, new media, medicine, construction and engineering.
New Zealanders are also known for being great entrepreneurs, and there are many small businesses in the country. This bodes well for expats wanting to move to New Zealand to start up a business, as the government is open to entrepreneurs with a focus on job creation.
Finding a job in New Zealand
The official Immigration New Zealand website is a valuable resource for the most up-to-date information on industries that have a short- or long-term shortage of skilled workers.
Expats can also try searching for jobs through recruitment agencies, in the classifieds section of major newspapers or on online job boards. One example is CareersNZ, which is a government supported website. It provides helpful advice on finding a job in New Zealand, and lists job postings for both locals and foreigners. SEEK, Indeed and Glassdoor are also excellent resources for finding jobs in New Zealand.
Expats wishing to take up employment in New Zealand must also ensure that they have a valid visa.
- CareersNZ lists a host of job vacancy and recruitment websites.
- The job listing websites WorkHere and WorkingInNewZealand are specifically aimed at expat specialists.
Work culture in New Zealand
New Zealand's work culture is deeply influenced by Maori values, highlighting the importance of family and relationships. Expats will find that Kiwi workplaces foster community and camaraderie through collaboration and open communication.
Building professional relationships in New Zealand is essential, but the process for doing so is often more relaxed and informal compared to other countries. Networking typically takes place at barbecues or sports events. New Zealanders also value their work-life balance, prioritising family, friends and outdoor activities.
Hierarchy in New Zealand is typically egalitarian, with flatter management structures. Managers are approachable and often engage in team tasks. Employees usually address each other by their first names, regardless of rank. Most managers encourage proactivity and will require workers to share their opinions any chance they get.
Formality levels vary across industries, with an overall informal and approachable atmosphere. Finance, law and engineering have more conservative dress codes, while tourism, hospitality and technology industries are more laid back and flexible.
►For more on business etiquette and culture, see Doing Business in New Zealand
►For more on adjusting to life in the country, see Culture Shock in New Zealand
"Thankfully, I don’t work in an office for anyone as I have my own business. From what I’ve gathered, though, there are many lazy workers here who do the very minimum as it’s hard to fire people without going through a lot of red tape. I have a feeling if I did work in an office, people would resent me for trying to make it run more efficiently or getting upset over people not pulling their weight." Check out our interview with American expat Steph to find out more about working and doing business in New Zealand.
"One of my favourite things has been seeing how Kiwis prioritise their work/life balance. Anyone working a full-time job is guaranteed a minimum of four weeks annual leave, and you’ll never be made to feel guilty for using it." Read our interview with American expat Eve to learn more about working in New Zealand
Are you an expat living in New Zealand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to New Zealand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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