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The Digital Nomads Guide to Living and Working in New Zealand

Interested in becoming a digital nomad in New Zealand? Here's everything you need to know about working remotely, from visas to the best co-working spots around the country.
By · March 29, 2024
The Digital Nomads Guide to Living and Working in New Zealand

New Zealand is a great place to be a digital nomad. If you’re thinking about switching from working in an office to working remotely or simply want to work for yourself and live a digital nomad lifestyle, this guide will help you navigate becoming a digital nomad in New Zealand.

Why become a digital nomad in New Zealand?

There are lots of advantages to becoming a digital nomad in New Zealand from lifestyle factors to simply being a safe place to live.

Here are just some reasons people choose to become digital nomads in New Zealand.

Scenery:

New Zealand is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, pristine beaches, native forests, and crystal-clear lakes. For those who want to live closer to nature, there’s no better place to live and work.

Good Quality of Life:

New Zealand consistently ranks high in global quality of life indexes. The country has a strong focus on work-life balance, safety, universal healthcare, and a high standard of education, it offers an excellent standard of living conducive to remote work.

Safe and Stable Environment:

New Zealand is known for its political stability, low crime rates, and welcoming atmosphere. For digital nomads seeking a peaceful and secure environment to focus on their work and personal development, New Zealand offers a reassuring sense of stability.

Outdoor Activities:

New Zealand is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities such as hiking, skiing, surfing, kayaking, and bungee jumping. Digital nomads can easily incorporate these adventures into their lifestyle, promoting health, wellness, and work-life balance.

Does New Zealand have a digital nomad visa?

New Zealand doesn’t have a digital nomad visa.

Most people working as digital nomads in New Zealand are on a Working Holiday Visa or a Visitor Visa. If you are an Australian passport holder, you can simply move to New Zealand without a visa.

To apply for a Working Holiday Visa you’ll need to:

  • Be a citizen of a country that has a working holiday programme agreement with NZ

  • Have a valid passport

  • Be aged between 18 and 30 years old when applying (or 18-35, depending on the country)

  • Provide proof of sufficient funds or a return air ticket

  • Have a verified police background check

  • Pass a medical exam and chest x-ray

What is the working holiday visa?

New Zealand’s working holiday visa allows visa holders to live and work in New Zealand for 12, 23 or 36 months depending on what country they are from. The working part of the holiday visa permits you to apply for jobs, a tax number and other necessities to work in the country.

How much does a working holiday visa for New Zealand cost?

The New Zealand working holiday visa costs around NZ$455.

What is the New Zealand visitor visa?

The New Zealand visitor visa is a visa designed for people simply visiting New Zealand. You cannot apply for work in the country.

If you are from a visa waiver country, you can apply for the NZeTA for NZ$17. Once your visa waiver application is processed you can then stay in New Zealand for up to 9 months.

If you are not from a visa waiver country, you can apply for the New Zealand Visitor Visa. You’ll need:

  • A valid passport

  • Valid passport photos

  • Chest x-ray and medical examination

  • A declaration of good character

  • Proof of sponsorship or the means to support yourself financially while here

  • Declaration that you will cover your own healthcare costs

  • A return ticket or proof of funds to cover the cost of a return ticket

The visitor visa application fee is NZ$246.

Can you work as a digital nomad on a New Zealand visitor visa?

This can be a grey area for people moving to New Zealand and wanting to work as a digital nomad on a visitor visa.

There’s nothing that states you can’t explicitly work as a digital nomad on this visa. However, any person who stays in New Zealand for more than 183 days (six months) in a year (a consecutive 12-month period) is considered a tax resident.

Becoming a tax resident in New Zealand as a visitor

If you apply for a visitor visa and plan on working, you’ll need to apply for a tax number and pay taxes on your earnings to the IRD. Make sure your country has a double tax agreement, otherwise, you’ll end up paying taxes in New Zealand and your country of origin.

Where are the best places for digital nomads to live in New Zealand?

There are three main choices digital nomads have when choosing to live in New Zealand; a city, a town or living a true nomadic lifestyle!

The Best Cities For Digital Nomads in NZ

First off, a big city in New Zealand is different to big cities around the globe. New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, has 1.7 million people, while Christchurch, our second biggest city has a population of 381,000. You might consider these small cities where you are from!

Some big cities you may want to consider moving to include:

Advantages of being a digital nomad in a city:

Networking Opportunities:

Big cities often have more events for digital nomads to meet like-minded people and grow their businesses. In a big city, it’s easier to find meetups aimed at other digital nomads or just industry events that might help you connect with other professionals, meet potential clients or even find a business mentor.

Access to Amenities:

As a digital nomad, you no longer have an employer to provide the resources and amenities you need to run your business. In a big city, you’ll simply have more amenities at your disposal. Whether you enjoy working from public libraries, coffee shops or coworking spaces, an added element of convenience comes with working for yourself in a big city.

Professional Development:

Big cities are hubs for innovation and industry and provide more opportunities for upskilling, attending workshops, and accessing specialised resources that you may not find in a small town.

The Best Towns For Digital Nomads in NZ

While New Zealand only has a handful of cities to choose from, if you’re a fan of living somewhere smaller, you’ll have plenty of places to choose from. These towns have populations ranging from 150,000 to 30,000:

Advantages of being a digital nomad in a town:

Close-knit Community:

Small towns foster strong community bonds, where residents often know each other and offer support. Digital nomads in smaller towns can experience a sense of belonging and connection with locals that they won’t find somewhere larger. Although small, Queenstown has a thriving expat community and is a popular destination for digital nomads.

Nature:

Whether you’re in Tauranga, Napier or Nelson, small towns in New Zealand are surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and provide ample opportunities for getting into the great outdoors. A small town is a particularly good place to move to if you enjoy outdoor activities such as mountain biking, fishing, boating or water sports as there are fewer opportunities to partake in these activities during the week in a larger city..

Lower Cost of Living:

New Zealand is an expensive country, and the success of any move can be impacted by how expensive it is. Small towns are far cheaper than cities, especially when it comes to your essentials. You can enjoy paying less for rent, groceries, eating out and entertainment in a small town. As a digital nomad, you can stretch your budget a lot further and enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle with less financial pressure.

The best co-working spaces in New Zealand

Auckland

Generator: Located in the Britomart precinct, Generator offers a range of coworking options, including hot desks, dedicated desks, and private offices. Prices for a full day start at around NZ$40-50.

The Workshop: Located in Ponsonby, The Workshop is ideal for people looking for more from a co-working space. You’ll find fash wifi, the option to add-in lunch or morning tea, bookable meeting rooms, on-site showers and an added perk of having Friday night drinks with your colleagues. Prices start from NZ$34.50 a day.

GridAKL: GridAKL has three locations to choose from including the Auckland CBD, Wynyard Quarter and Manukau. They mainly cater to tech industry workers but any kind of entrepreneur will enjoy working there. If you’re looking for networking opportunities, this is the place to work from.

The IceHouse: Located in Parnell, The Icehouse has everything you could want and more. It’s pet-friendly, has a full kitchen including toasters, microwaves and panini presses, offers Friday drinks including tap beers and is even dog-friendly. It also has plenty of natural light. Prices start from NZ$50/day.

Wellington

Urban Hub: If you are looking for a coworking space near, well everything, Urban Hub’s Lambton Quay location is your best bet. They have multiple membership offerings including hot desking or lounge access. You’ll also have access to the fully licenced cafe and bar and an outdoor terrace. Prices start from NZ$40/day.

Digital Nomad: If you like switching up where you work, without switching co-working providers, it’s time to try Digital Nomad. They have multiple locations in Wellington, including locations with stunning views of the waterfront. Prices start from NZ$190/week.

TwoFifty Seven: If you’re looking for a space that’s more collaborative, check out Two Fifty Seven. They host events as well as provide space for co-working. They have shared offices and meeting rooms as well as flexible pricing that starts from NZ$35/day.

Christchurch

QB Studios: Enjoy a members-only bar, on-site cafe, and a cool, minimalist space at QB Studios. There’s a number of coworking options including a dedicated studio and hot desking options. You’ll be in the CBD close to High Street, shops, cafes and so much more. Price on enquiry.

ARGO Beach Coworking: Located in New Brighton? ARGO Beach has the laidback vibes you probably love about this sea-side suburb. To say ARGO Beach has a fun atmosphere is an understatement. Enjoy an onsite cafe and bar and an open mic night every Tuesday! Pricing starts from NZ$40/day.

The best way to be travel as a digital nomad in New Zealand

If you really want to embrace being a digital nomad in New Zealand, you could experience working and travelling from a van or camper. Before you hit the road, just know that travelling in an approved self-contained vehicle will give you more options for places to stay.

With a self-contained certified (SCS) vehicle, you can stay overnight in freedom camping areas that are otherwise off-limits to vehicles without a self-contained toilet and freshwater storage. 

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