Updated last year

With a large economy and workforce, but a small population, New Zealand often needs expat workers to help sustain its many industries. Just about every type of job you can imagine is on offer in the country, with the primary export industries being:


  • Agriculture
  • Horticulture
  • Forestry
  • Mining

The sectors that have long term work shortages and therefore need skilled migrants are:

  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Health & Social Services
  • ICT, Electronics & Telecommunications
  • Science

Other popular areas of work that often need both long and short term workers are tourism, hospitality, and the film industry. Property is also one of New Zealand’s biggest non-export areas of commerce at the moment.

The country’s GDP in 2016 was US$185billion and it has continued to grow into 2017. The current national unemployment rate is 5.9%. The national currency is the New Zealand Dollar, sometimes nicknamed the Kiwi Dollar, and it is one of the top ten most traded currencies in the world.


The salary you earn in New Zealand will be dependent on a lot of factors. Qualifications, speciality, experience, and location will all be determining elements. The average income when you take the entire country into consideration is NZ$48,800 per year, roughly NZ$23.50 per hour. However, this will be higher in the larger cities where the cost of living is higher in general. According to job site Seek, the average advertised salaries near Christchurch were nearer NZ$72,000, in Auckland were over NZ$76,000, and in Wellington as much as NZ$80,000. Service and hospitality jobs tend to pay the lowest with annual salaries averaging NZ$32,000, while IT jobs can command in excess of NZ$100,000.

Working conditions

The legal national minimum wage is NZ$15.75 per hour for adults, which equates to NZ$126.00 in an 8 hour work day, or NZ$630.00 for a standard 40 hour work week. For those training or under 16 and just starting out, the wage is a bit lower at NZ$12.60 per hour. All employees, whether part time, full time, casual or on a fixed term contract, get four weeks of paid holiday time, or annual leave, per year. There are also 11 public holidays every calendar year, and if you are asked to work one you must legally earn time and a half. After six months you are also entitled to sick and bereavement leave.

If you are residing in New Zealand permanently, you will probably want to join the KiwiSaver scheme, which is a type of savings account/retirement fund that is automatically deducted from your paycheck. Your employer also contributes to your fund, and you can receive tax credits. You are eligible to withdraw your money when you are 65 years of age. You may be able to take it out earlier if you want to buy your first house, permanently leave the country, get hit by financial hardship, or become gravely ill.

  Useful link:

Department of Labour New Zealand

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.