Getting Started in New Zealand

If you’re planning to visit New Zealand for a year on a working holiday visa, then here are my top recommended tips to help you settle when you arrive. You will probably fly to either Auckland in the North Island or Christchurch in the South Island, and I know you will be bursting with excitement to adventure out and explore what this beautiful Country has to offer, but follow these tips first so you will be organised. Get the important things out the way first, then New Zealand is yours!

Setting up a Bank Account
This one is a little tricky as I would recommend setting up a bank account before you arrive in New Zealand. The process is very simple though, I would recommend joining one of the big four banks out here, research them online and apply via your chosen website.

  • ANZ: The Australian and New Zealand leading Bank Company
  • BNZ: Bank of New Zealand
  • ASB: Auckland Savings Bank
  • Westpac: New Zealand second largest bank

I decided to join ANZ as this bank allows me to use their services in both New Zealand and Australia (for when I visit). We set up our bank accounts when we arrived in New Zealand and the process was very difficult, so definitely apply for an account before you arrive. If you do this when you arrive in New Zealand, simply visit a branch with your passport, account details and proof of address, and a team member will finish setting up your account. One of the steps will include paying in money to your account, and making two withdrawals to show active transactions on your account, you will need this document for your next step- getting an IRD tax number.

Suggestion: If you decide to join ANZ bank, I would suggest choosing ANZgo account; this is the only account which doesn’t charge a monthly fee!


Applying for an IRD Number
Once you have a fully functional New Zealand bank account, the next step is applying for your IRD number. This is really important as you want to be taxed correctly out here, and not have emergency tax on your first Kiwi payday. The website you need is, and all information you need is enclosed. You’ll need a few important documents to support your IRD application form: Copy of your Passport, proof of current or previous address, a copy of your accepted holiday visa, and relevant bank documents. Here is a link for you to see the IRD number application form, so you can familiarise yourself with the information.

Tip: Once you have sent off your application at a post office in New Zealand, the process can take up to two weeks for your application to be reviewed. You will also need to stay in the same address you wrote on your application for at least two weeks to receive the letter with your number!

Buying a Car or Campervan
This step is really up to you as it depends if you’re planning to buy a car or campervan for your travels, or use public transport. Dave and I decided to buy a car so I will list a few helpful websites to buy second hand cars from.

We bought our car from U-Sell, New Zealand’s park and sell site with hundreds of second hand cars.
I would suggest visiting NZ Transport Agency website for useful tips and guidance to buying a car in New Zealand-

Tips: Any car you buy in New Zealand you must have a valid WOF (Warrant of Fitness), for those of you in the UK this is a MOT and Registration, which is road tax in the UK.

Insurance: Insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, but I would recommend getting third party insurance just to ease your mind.  

This is our car!

Find a Home
When you book a flight to New Zealand for your year-long adventure, I would suggest booking a stay for three weeks so you can sort everything above. Once all these steps are completed, you can then move on and find further accommodation. Again the type of accommodation you choose is very personal to you; I’ve found from experience that you either prefer hostels or hotels. Here is a list of websites I would recommend using to find accommodation, they range in price because when you are travelling, you want accommodation to be cheap.

  • features both hotels and motels (slightly cheaper)
  • Air BnB- homestay network in a whole apartment or a private room
  • Book a Bach- stay in a holiday Bach, known as a holiday home back in the UK
  • New Zealand holiday homes-
  • Holiday parks or camping grounds- plentiful!
  • com

Suggestion: I always use Air BnB, it’s cheaper than staying in hotels and in some cases it is cheaper than hostels. It’s the best way to meet and speak to locals, stay in their homes, talk with the locals and gain a kiwi experience.

Bonus: Follow this link to sign up to using Air BnB and receive a $43 nzd voucher of your first booking! 

belo-200x200-4d851c5b28f61931bf1df28dd15e60ef  download  download.jpg

As you are planning to stay in New Zealand for a while, you will need a local sim card to connect to local employers and family & friends back home. If you have an unlocked phone back home then fabulous, if not then you can buy a cheap phone out here. I bought a phone from Vodafone for $40! There are a number of networks providers to choose from and get set up in New Zealand: Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees. When you arrive find a local branch and see the best available deals to suit your needs.

Tip: If you decide to go with Vodafone as your network provider, I suggest choosing a prepay plan as this gives you access to Fantastic Fridays. Amazing deals and experiences at the Movies, Sports, and Music events.

Favourite Travel Apps
When I arrived in New Zealand my go to travel app was 100% Pure New Zealand, an essential New Zealand travel guide.


And Enjoy! These are my important tips to getting settled in New Zealand. Once you have these steps out the way, you can start exploring this beautiful Country. I will write again soon with tips on finding a job. Speak soon!

Thank you, Sadie Chillingworth,

Check in again soon.




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