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Make your physical migration as easy as possible by accessing the knowledge and experience we have available. We provide a plan of how to leave the UK, what to bring with you, who to use to bring your belongings, how to approach property purchase and renting, as well as the best way to settle into New Zealand.

before you go


what, and what not, to bring

This is a key dilemma for all of you looking at coming to NZ and in all probability the outcome will rest on your finances , but there will be a whole heap of emotion tied into this area as well, so be prepared. Ultimately, the key questions are: 

  • If I don't take it will I need to buy it over there? 

  • If I need to buy it in NZ what is the cost likely to be, what are the exchange rates doing at the moment and will I sell it for sufficient money here in the UK?

Naturally, there will be a cost for shipping all your belongings to NZ. You will need to take a really good look around the house and be hyper-critical of all your stuff and perhaps ask the following questions. We suggest you do this as a couple, and question each other about your belongings but do try NOT to fall out over things.

  • Do I really want this object? 

  • When did I last use it? 

  • How sentimental is it to me? 

  • Why do I want to keep it? 

shipping your belongings

No matter what anyone else says to you please NOTE the following... In our experience you should NOT send your personal belongings container to NZ until you have some form of visa that allows you to work in NZ. To have your container arrive in NZ without you having the right to work here will either see it turnaround and sent back (at your expense) OR you will be charged GST at 15% on the value of the goods within the container - that would be a definite “OUCH” moment!


Multiple people (including us!) have arrived in NZ and waited for their container to arrive and 'made do' either by buying some basics and/or by being lent stuff by any number of people.

One thing we DON'T RECOMMEND is bringing your mattresses! Up to 12 weeks in a container travelling through the tropics doesn’t make for a nice mattress on arrival (yet, it is your choice). If you do pick your mattress up on arrival, you'll have something more comfortable than sleeping on than the floor - but that's if you have a house to put them in!

The following are some crucial points to follow when shipping your things across to NZ:

  • Make sure ALL your belongings are thoroughly cleaned of all mud and dirt and any rust is sanded down and painted over. If you can, get a professional steam cleaner in and get them to create you a receipt showing each item they have cleaned. Take any such list with you to show MAF (Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries) here in NZ.

  • You should be able to bring over all your garden furniture, including wooden tables etc but again make sure they are clean and be ready to accept that MAF may want to fumigate some things, which will be at your expense! 

  • Know what ship your container will be going on. 

  • Keep a copy of the manifests of what is in the container with you when you travel to NZ. 

  • Know the date of departure and the date and port of arrival.

  • Make sure you take appropriate insurance cover.

The house

If you are emigrating and committed to that course i.e. selling the house, try and do this so it is all done and dusted before you leave. It is really difficult and frustrating trying to sort any problems from NZ - remember asking a family member to act as power of attorney is a 'poisoned challis' as it is not theirs but they feel the burden of sorting the problems for you.

We would suggest that if it means having to go into rented accommodation or stay with family for a number of weeks/months then so be it!

Keep it hush

This is a time when you need to be very careful what you say to your estate agent and to anyone who is apparently going to buy the house. Being extremely economical with the truth is the very best course. We have too many anecdotal stories of people about to leave (two couples were actually on their way to the airport) when they have received phone calls from purchasers threatening to pull out of the deal unless a large sum is taken off the price. Believe me you do NOT need this added pressure so best thing is to not let on to anyone (other than your solicitor - and tell him not to tell anyone) exactly where and when you are going. This may run contrary to your belief system but it is critical to your sanity, your financial well-being and you immediate future here in NZ.

Get prepared

Assume the worst and that someone will try and ramp down the price. Decide what amount, if any, you would drop at that last moment. Deciding beforehand and therefore having a plan means that you will be better prepared to react and deal with the situation without too much added stress and ‘yes’ you need to be prepared to lose that buyer if they want to play silly games!


The car

Unless you have a concourse status classic car, you have an emotional attachment to the car or the depreciation is more than the cost of shipping, don't even think about taking it to NZ. It can be fraught with problems in shipping and getting it through customs and MAF in NZ and meeting NZ safety and emission standards. 


If your UK car is new and under UK warranties do make sure they are worldwide warranties and acknowledge up front that a European car will probably cost more to maintain in NZ because of the cost of spares – this will not be the same with Japanese models.  If you take our advice and look to buy here in NZ then jump on to various websites and see what is available, then go and have some fun in the UK test driving various models – it passes the time whilst waiting for visas!



The key here is that it will usually take between eight to ten weeks to get here. In the interim you might either choose to stay in a motel or might be fortunate to find some furnished accommodation but most Kiwi rentals are unfurnished. There are companies in NZ who will rent you everything you need whilst you wait.

It does help you, and particularly any children, to settle more easily having familiar things around them when everything else is foreign! The simple truth is that you are not likely to get sufficient money for your possessions on the second hand market and certainly prices are lower in NZ to make up the shortfall between new and old and certainly the quality is not as you will find in the UK - even with a helpful exchange rate.

If you have white goods or furniture that needs replacing we very strongly suggest you replace them in the UK where the size of the market makes the pricing keener and where you will have access to better quality…….simply make sure that you unwrap from the manufacturers wrapping so your removals people can re-wrap.  For more information on furniture, please contact us.



Bearing in mind the size of your container, bring all your electrical stuff. Fridges, freezers, washing machines, hoovers etc will ALL work here - just take the plugs off before you leave and put new one's on once here.



These should work but age may be a factor here. Our TV was about 18 months old and contrary to popular belief and advice sought both in UK, Japan and NZ it did work. The TV pictures were being fed via the video and not directly from the wall to the TV and the video was purchased in the UK and seemed happy to run Kiwi videos (again contrary to comments made) and the DVD also seems to work although supposedly not a multi-regional one. Suggest you bring them and try them! At worst they won't work but could be used for play consoles and/or running UK videos through.

For the TV and smaller items suggest you leave the plugs ON but bring with you a number of multi-plug adaptors. By doing this you will only need to change one plug and all the others can plug in to the 4/5 gang sockets and work perfectly – there is no difference in power output here in NZ!



Landlines (digital) are not worth bringing as they will NOT work here although there is a way to make them work there are legalities around this and perhaps best avoided!


General advice

Try and sort out what you don't want to take as early as possible and set yourself up to sell as much as possible. Larger stuff take to car boot sales and go to school table top sales and put ads in the local free papers.

Unless you really do not want items of clothing we suggest you bring all clothing and probably stock up on the basics - whilst in some cases it may appear cheaper here in NZ the quality is not always what you would get in the UK.....and remember once here you will be on Kiwi wages!

For more information and tips on what to bring, i.e. pets, please contact us.

The house
The car
Before you go

essential papers to bring

Passport with Visa

Check expiry dates and make sure there is at least six months before renewal. Remember there are costs to renew both the passport and have the Visa put into the new passport. 


Birth Certificates

Always a good idea to get a couple of certified copies. You will need the long version for INZ notarised (showing both parents' names). 

Driving Licences  

Marriage Certificate

Again, try and get a couple of certified copies. 

Proof of last UK employment

This could be your last payslip, P45 etc and if possible a reference from your last employer. 

Medical records

These and records of all currently active immunisations can come in handy.

Essential papers

settling in to aotearoa


education IN NZ

The NZ school year runs early February to December and is made up of 4 terms. There are no half-terms and apart from the long break over Christmas/New Year (about 6/7 weeks) the break between terms is 2 weeks.

There is a three school system in the majority of places:
•    Primary School - from ages 5 to 11 
•    Intermediate School - from ages 11 to 13 
•    High School - ages 13 to 18 

Most of the bigger towns/cities appear to have some kind of zoning but it appears to us that it really only applies in the major cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga. Here in New Plymouth, for example, whilst zoning exists is doesn't seem to be enforced - we live on one side of the city and the kids' schools are on the other.

Generally the New Zealand school atmosphere is a little more relaxed than in the UK, however, there is still an emphasis on success and working hard. That being said, there aren't quite so many tests being done to provide evidence as to how successful the school is or supposedly is.

One father we know asked his son what he most liked about school in NZ after he'd been at school for about 3 weeks - the child replied that he liked not having fences all around the school which begged the question as to what he felt about school in the UK!


Here in NZ they have not yet got to the point of creating compounds and teachers are still readily accessible at the end of the day for a chat which is a nice change from the UK.  In addition, you will NOT get fined for taking your kids out of school.  We have regularly taken the kids on trips to the UK which cut into school terms and ALL schools have been very supportive and simply asked for a daily diary to be maintained.


If you have got your visas and you are getting ready to go we suggest you do the following:

  • General practitioner: Get down to your local surgery and ask your GP to gather up your records to take with you. Without doubt they will say they can't but under the Data Protection Act they must give you copies but do not have to include your GP’s ‘personal’ comments… it really pays dividends to take the info with you as it will help when registering here. You may have to be insistent (as we had to be) and it may even cost you but do not be put off.

  • Dentist: Do not bother with trying the same with the dentist Our experience is that they will not give you your records. You can try and we wish you luck.

  • Optician: We also went to our optician for copies of his records and he agreed to give me copies.

  • There will be other people you see/have seen and we suggest you approach them for copies of your notes, as it will make things that much easier once here.



In theory once in NZ you can register with any GP you want. Note, you will have to PAY each time you visit (approximately $30 - $60 each time). When registering they may well ask you to have a medical examination which is usually free. They are basically assessing what you may cost them in medical care. GPs do not appear to make house calls out of hours but there do tend to be out of hours clinics that you can access.


State Insurance / ACC

In NZ there is a State Insurance scheme called ACC. This is funded from taxation and allows that if you attend a GP or physiotherapist or osteopath because you have an injury you simply fill in a claim form and ACC will pick up the tab, or the majority of it. You may have to pay a small amount to cover the full costs. In some cases, if you are unable to work due to injury sustained whilst working, ACC will pay your wages after an initial period.

Once in NZ, where sickness is concerned, you should consider taking 2 types of cover:

  • Income Protection - this will pay you an income once you have been off work for a given period (minimum 4 weeks) until you return to work.

  • Hospital Cover - this will pay for you to see a specialist, have any required tests and any hospitalisation (including operations) up to a set amount per incident, as a private patient. It can cover the whole family. You can get cover for all GP visits and dental work but obviously the premiums are very high……but then if you are likely to see a GP on a regular basis this may be money well spent!!!

For more info on the cover outlined above and complete medical cover insurance, contact Mike.

Sick pay

Culture shock! Sick pay, in very general terms, is usually only for a period of 5 working days. If you are off for longer you then start eating into your holiday allowance or simply do not get paid unless ACC picks up the tab - most longer term illnesses seem to be as a result of an accident!



Hospitals are modern and have a pretty good reputation but like the UK waiting times for specialists and some operations can be long but it will depend where you are in the country. Naturally, the 3 large cities fare less well on the timescales than smaller communities.


New to NZ flu!

It is very common for new migrants to go through a period, within the first 6 months, of flu like symptoms. This tends to actually be due to the change in the vitamin and mineral make-up of the food here in NZ. NZ can be quiet deficient in minerals due to its volcanic nature. One key mineral which NZ is deficient in is iodine which affects your thyroid function and leads to lethargy and tiredness. This tends to be added to standard table salt but if you are not happy with taking too much salt try taking a kelp tablet day and night. The solution to this situation is to take mineral supplements obtainable from any good health food shop. In our experience, with the supplements we were through the "detox" period within about 9 months.



Now to state the obvious….this is not London or New York or even mad, bad Paris this is New Zealand so be prepared for:

  • Lack of trains anywhere! NZ’s largest city, Auckland, has a very poor commuter rail service (but getting better) whereas Wellington’s is not too bad - surprisingly the UK rail system looks like luxury!

  • There is only one passenger service which runs between Auckland and Wellington and that is mainly a tourist run – certainly NOT a commuter type service!

  • There are no tube systems in NZ

  • There are bus stations in most NZ cities for commuter, schools and long-distance travel although a more frequently run service is usually available only in the major cities. Here in New Plymouth (population about 72,000) bus service has only been up and running cross the city in the last 5 years

  • Flying between the cities is quite common and not overly expensive if you book far enough out from departure date but, be prepared to hop about and swap planes if flying within the provinces, as most flights only fly direct to Auckland or Wellington or Christchurch.

  • In comparison it takes us bout 5+ hours to drive to New Plymouth from Auckland but only 40 mins by air!

  • Travel between North and South Islands is either by air or by ferry and the ferry prices reflect the seasons…….it was significantly cheaper for a colleague to drive his family of four to Wellington and fly to Nelson on South Island than to take the ferry in January at the height of summer!

  • The car is the preferred mode for almost everyone and the range of options is huge from normal cars, to 4 wheel drives, to Utes (car like pick-up trucks), to vans, to the proverbial combi/motor home. 


Of course with the wide open spaces and lack of people motorbikes are very common as a leisure machine but not so much as a work tool (for instance there are NO motorcycle courier companies in Auckland or Wellington – they use pedal power bikes!) - indeed it is said that the South Island has some of the best biking roads in the world. Along with their big engined cars a vast number of Kiwis own boats or jet skis and, like cars, these tend to be over powered. A decent little day boat with an 80 horsepower outboard will set you back about $8,000 (about £3,000).


As in the UK you can get both petrol and diesel engines and both manual and automatic gearboxes. There is an additional tax premium paid for diesel engined cars based on the mileage driven (yep just a crafty old tax) – but is bought separately rather than included in the price at the pump so if you will do plenty of miles then go for a diesel. Prices for petrol and diesel are lower than in the UK but still seen as high here. You can also run your car (if it can be converted) on LPG but not sure what that costs - although it will be cheaper than either of the other two.

There appears to me to be a preponderance of automatics and we did struggle to find a manual with the size and power I wanted. Our impression is that Kiwis love their 4x4s and they must be the main cars on the road.

You can obviously buy brand new and there are deals about but our experience is that the main dealers are very reluctant, at present, to do deals particularly when they hear a Pom accent…there is a general view that you are getting $3 to the £ (we all wish) and that you are therefore “well off”!

There are plenty of second hand car dealers about and of course there are good and bad amongst them. In addition there are a lot of dealers importing second hand cars from Japan. These used to have a terrible reputation for being dodgy but regulations both in NZ and Japan have been tightened and if you use a reputable dealer buying a 'Jap import' should not be a problem.

Now for a shock… you do NOT have to take any car insurance out here in NZ! Naturally it is still very worthwhile doing so, especially Third Party (which covers the other car). Without Third Party you would be liable for any damage to the other vehicle or property. And cost of insurance is very reasonable compared to the UK!

A further warning now for parents of teenagers - Kiwi kids can start the driving process from age 16! Gaining a licence is a lengthy process and the advice we had from Kiwis was to start as soon as legally allowed. The only drawback to this, as a generalisation, is that apart from restricting the hours they can drive and who they can have in the car the system does not restrict the engine size/power of the car they can drive - but they have to start sometime.

As a driver in NZ with a UK licence you can drive with no problems for up to a year but will then need to switch to an NZ license.  This is very easily done at any AA shop and does not involve any tests – just money!  

With regard to the law, as you might imagine police are not always very popular so we suggest always stick to the limits in towns etc and be careful on the open road and very, very careful going through road works when temporary speed limits are in force and particularly around schools when the speed limit is rigidly enforced.  

The 100 kph limit is very frustrating with such large distances to cover, but for good reason, roads in NZ aren’t as good as UK.  Usually windy and narrow over mountainous terrain but then you do get to see more of this magnificent country!

For more information on how to move about in NZ, car dealers, prices and driving licence requirements, please contact us.

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