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Your Essential Guide to Obtaining a Visa for New Zealand

Apr 18, 2024
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Your Essential Guide to Obtaining a Visa for New Zealand

When I moved my family of 6 to New Zealand in 2013, the New Zealand visa process was a more challenging and time-consuming aspect. Lucky for you, I'm here to make YOUR journey easier from start to finish!

In 2023, the New Zealand visa and immigration policy changed dramatically. When we moved here, we were able to follow the process easily on our own through the NZ immigration website. We did not need any additional help from a lawyer or immigration consultant to get a visa.

Now everything has changed. There are multiple pathways (which is a good thing), but there are so many variables that it is now impossible to obtain a visa without an immigration company to help. In addition to all the new pathways, immigrating to New Zealand is now job based AND you have to obtain a job at a certain pay rate with an accredited employer. This is why we have teamed up with Working In to help all my clients with a visa, job, and relocation help.

Navigating the process of obtaining a visa for New Zealand can be complex. This guide simplifies that journey, explaining the visa application process, including types and criteria. I'll help you understand which visa aligns with your travel plans and what steps you need to follow to secure it.

Check out my YouTube video, where I partnered with Working In to help you with your visa application process. I am here to help you with your move to New Zealand! Start with my FREE course on how to get started...

Check out Working In!

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Key Takeaways

  • New Zealand offers a diverse range of visa options tailored to different needs, including work, partnership, transit, and entrepreneur visas, with Australian citizens having special entry privileges.

  • The New Zealand immigration website provides comprehensive online services for visa applications, guidance, and support, and the NZeTA offers a streamlined entry process for eligible visa waiver countries.

  • Applicants must carefully prepare documentation, demonstrate proof of funds and intent to depart, and adhere to biosecurity measures upon arrival in New Zealand, with fees associated with visa/NZeTA applications.

Determining Your Visa Requirements

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Planning a journey to New Zealand begins with familiarizing yourself with the various visa options. From the skilled migrant seeking a fresh start to the traveller looking for adventure, New Zealand offers many visa options tailored to various scenarios. Whether it’s the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, the Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa, or the Permanent Resident Visa, each category is meticulously crafted to the needs of work, family, skills shortage, and others.

Specialized visas cater to particular employment sectors and entrepreneurial activities, such as the Entrepreneur Resident Visa or the Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa, ensuring that whether you are a caregiver or a business visionary, there’s a visa designed with you in mind. Additionally, unique circumstances are not overlooked, with specific visas for victims of family violence or employees of relocating businesses highlighting New Zealand’s commitment to providing support and opportunities for all.

For those simply passing through, the transit visa enables a stay in the transit area for up to 24 hours without entering the country, a boon for travellers at Auckland International Airport. Australian citizens enjoy entering and living in New Zealand without a visa. However, Australian permanent residents will need an NZeTA, highlighting the close ties between the two nations.

Navigating the New Zealand Immigration Website

Exploring the New Zealand immigration website is harder than it used to be. The online portal offers a large variety of services, allowing users to apply for selected visas, check visa details, and stay informed on the status of their applications. With specialized guidance for skilled migrant categories and expressions of interest, the website is a one-stop shop for your immigration needs.

The convenience extends to document submissions, with features for online uploads and information on postal addresses for those preferring paper-based submissions. Support is readily available through translation services for non-English speakers and a telephone helpline operating during New Zealand business hours.

For any questions concerning visa application submissions, including process times and passport submission logistics, the ‘Contact Us’ section is your go-to resource.

The NZeTA and Visa Waiver Program

For numerous travellers, the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) and the visa waiver program offer a seamless pathway of convenience. Citizens from visa-waiver countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, can enjoy the ease of the NZeTA, bypassing the need for traditional visas for short visits while ensuring compliance with New Zealand’s entry requirements. Additionally, those from a transit visa waiver country can also benefit from this simplified process.

Australian permanent residents also benefit from this streamlined process, needing only an NZeTA to set foot on New Zealand soil.

Eligibility Criteria for NZeTA

Who is eligible for the golden ticket known as the NZeTA? If you hail from a visa waiver country, you’re in luck. The NZeTA is your key to unlocking the wonders of New Zealand without the traditional visa process. Australian permanent residents who do not possess a current New Zealand visa can also apply for and obtain an NZeTA, simplifying their travel experience.

The NZeTA isn’t just a convenience; it’s a requirement for eligible travellers, including New Zealand citizens travelling, making it essential to check your eligibility before planning your New Zealand escapade. Ensure your travel documents are in order, and embrace the opportunity for a hassle-free visit to one of the world’s most enchanting destinations.

Applying for Your NZeTA

Securing your NZeTA is a straightforward, user-friendly process. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Ensure your passport is valid.

  2. Fill out a simple form.

  3. Provide a photo.

  4. Confirm your details.

  5. Make a declaration.

  6. Proceed with payment and submission.

Accuracy is paramount—double-check that your valid passport details and photo are correct, and utilize the official Immigration New Zealand website or the NZeTA mobile app for secure processing and up-to-date information.

The mobile app offers a swift and efficient way to request your NZeTA by scanning your passport and payment card. While the standard processing time is within 72 hours, it’s wise to apply well before your travels to ensure any unexpected delays don’t dampen your plans. The fees are modest, with a charge of NZD $17 when using the app and NZD $23 for online requests.

Visa Options Tailored to Your Travel Purpose

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Whether you’re touring as a visitor or plotting an extended journey, there’s a visa option designed to suit your travel needs in New Zealand. Visitor visas cater to those seeking to explore the country’s majestic beauty, while working holiday visas offer a unique opportunity to travel and work in New Zealand. The right visa ensures your travels are enjoyable and compliant with immigration policy, so let’s explore options that align with your intentions.

Visitor Visas for Tourists and Short Stays

The visitor visa is your gateway to New Zealand’s enchanting landscapes for tourists and those on short stays. Upon successfully showing that you have sufficient funds for your stay and tickets for onward travel—or the means to acquire them—you’ll be well-positioned to obtain this visa. The visitor visa offers the flexibility of multiple entries for up to 6 months within 12 months, ensuring you can soak up as much of New Zealand’s charm as you wish.

In addition to financial requirements, you may be asked to declare that you will assume responsibility for your own healthcare or medical costs while in New Zealand, an important consideration for any traveller. If you’re sponsored, your New Zealand benefactor must demonstrate their financial capability to support your visit, ensuring a seamless and well-supported stay.

Working Holiday Visas

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For young adventurers from select countries, the Working Holiday Visa opens doors to a unique blend of travel and work in New Zealand. Applicants between 18 to 30 years old from select countries (and up to 35 for citizens in a few countries) can create an account on the New Zealand immigration website and submit their application online for this life-enriching experience. While enjoying the perks of the visa, there are some rules to follow, such as the limitation of working no more than three months with a single employer and refraining from obtaining a permanent job or engaging in illegal commercial services.

Education is also an option, with visa holders permitted to study or train for up to 6 months during their stay, adding another layer of richness to their experience in New Zealand. Processing times are reasonable, with most applications completed within four weeks, the flexibility to enter New Zealand within 12 months of the visa being granted, as well as the ability to travel in and out of the country multiple times before the visa expires.

For an idea about the best times to visit New Zealand, check out THIS YouTube video!

If you are graduating from High School or University - I highly recommend you take a year and do a working-holiday visa! It is an amazing way to see New Zealand, learn the culture and quite frankly just have an amazing year. We have had many "couch surf" with us from around the world who were on a working holiday visa. It is a lovely way to meet new people and honestly the people who travel are some of the coolest around :).

Planning Your Arrival: Entry Requirements and Biosecurity

As you near your arrival in New Zealand, it becomes vital to gear up for the entry requirements and biosecurity measures that are in place to protect the country’s unique ecosystem. Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date, ensuring smooth entry and peace of mind. New Zealand’s eGate service offers an expedited arrival experience for those with a biometric ordinary passport, allowing you to start your adventure even sooner.

The biosecurity requirements are stringent, with visitors expected to declare or dispose of any items that could pose a biosecurity risk, including certain foods, plant materials, and animal products. It’s a small step that plays a significant role in preserving the country’s pristine environment.

Insider tip: Clean all your shoes and equipment BEFORE you arrive as this will make getting through the biosecurity much easier. You don't have to be scared of it - just declare and clean!

Preparing Documentation and Proof of Intentions

When applying for a New Zealand visa, it’s vital to meticulously organize your documentation and clearly express your sincere intentions. Showcasing good character is fundamental and may involve providing police certificates if your stay is 24 months or longer or if requested. You’ll also need to declare your intent to pay for any healthcare or medical assistance during your stay, underscoring the importance of securing comprehensive health insurance.

Proof of intended departure is a cornerstone of the visa application, where a return ticket or evidence of sufficient funds to purchase one is necessary. Immigration authorities may waive this requirement under certain circumstances, such as for government officials on business or tourists with adequate financial means to leave the country. Whether you’re demonstrating financial capability or including all required documents in your online application, it’s crucial to present a clear and compelling case of your intentions to visit, study, or work in New Zealand.

True Story

My niece came a few years back and told immigration that she was gonna be my "nanny" but she was coming in on a visitor visa, not a work visa. She was held at the airport and my husband had to go claim her. They gave her 2 weeks to get a work visa or she would be sent home. She got the work visa in the end. (FYI- we talked about her being a nanny but nothing was decided :)

Understanding Fees and Costs Associated with Visas

Planning a trip to New Zealand also involves grasping the financial implications of visa applications. The costs to consider include:

  • NZeTA fee: This is a compulsory cost for most international visitors and is separate from the visa application fee. This is NZD $17 on their free app, or NZD $23 if completed online

  • International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL): This is also a compulsory cost for most international visitors and is separate from the visa application fee. This is NZD $35 but is included if you apply for NZeTA or a visa.

  • Visa application fee: This includes the cost of the application itself. This varies depending on the visa you are applying for.

It’s important to factor in these costs when planning your trip to New Zealand.

Payment for these fees can be made conveniently online using major credit cards, ensuring a smooth application process. It’s worth noting that some individuals, such as refugees, victims of family violence, or citizens of certain countries, may receive waivers or exemptions from visa application fees, highlighting New Zealand’s commitment to accessibility and support.

Special Considerations for Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents

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The close relationship between Australia and New Zealand permeates into travel, offering Australian citizens particular advantages. As an Australian citizen, you can travel to New Zealand without an NZeTA or visa and are typically granted an Australian Resident Visa upon arrival, which allows you to live, work, or study in New Zealand. Australian permanent residents, too, find it relatively straightforward to be granted a residence class visa, provided they have proof of their Australian permanent resident visa and complete their arrival card correctly.

For Australian citizens with dual nationality, obtaining a New Zealand citizen endorsement in their foreign passport can ease travel back to New Zealand. This endorsement, which can be a label or an electronic record linked to the passport number, ensures they can return to New Zealand on their passport as New Zealand citizens.

Frequent Travelers: Multiple Visit Visa Information

For frequent visitors to New Zealand, various visit visa options are on offer, tailored to diverse travel purposes. Visitors can stay for up to 6 months within any 12-month period, and eligibility for a multiple-entry visa hinges on not having been in New Zealand for more than nine months in the last 18 months. When applying for such a visa, evidence of the need for multiple entries, such as business or academic commitments, is required.

Specialized visa categories exist for business travellers and academics, including the Business Visitor Visa and Academic Visitor Visa, each allowing multiple entries for specified periods. Additionally, visas like the Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa and the Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa cater to those who wish to make frequent family visits or enjoy extended stays in New Zealand.

Ensuring Compliance: Overstaying and Visa Expiry

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Adhering to New Zealand’s immigration laws is mandatory, and comprehending the repercussions of overstaying your visa is critical. Immigration New Zealand keeps a vigilant watch on entries and exits, swiftly identifying those who overstay their welcome. Overstayers not only risk exploitation due to their vulnerable legal status but also face the possibility of deportation and being barred from re-entering if they remain in the country visa-less for 42 days or longer.

In the event of an expired visa, individuals must either leave New Zealand or make a special visa request under Section 61 if they believe they have a compelling case for an exception. This request must be backed by a detailed written explanation and supporting evidence, and if successful, visa fees must be paid before the visa is issued. It’s also crucial to note that decisions under Section 61 cannot be appealed, though judicial review of the decision-making process is available through the High Court.

If you have any problems with immigration - reach out to me directly at [email protected] as I can some great contacts in immigration!


In conclusion, preparing for your visit to New Zealand is a journey, from selecting the right visa to ensuring compliance with entry requirements and biosecurity measures. This guide has illuminated the path, providing insights into the NZeTA, tailored visa options, and the importance of preparing documentation. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to embark on your New Zealand adventure with confidence and clarity.

I am here to help you with your move to New Zealand! Start with my FREE course on how to get started...

Frequently Asked Questions

Do US citizens need visa for New Zealand?

Yes, US citizens need a travel authorization called an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to visit New Zealand for Business or Tourism. They can apply for the eTA online.

Do US citizens need a visa for Australia and New Zealand?

Yes, US citizens need a visa for Australia and New Zealand before travelling.

Do I need a visa to visit New Zealand if I am from a visa-waiver country?

Yes, if you are from a visa waiver country, you must obtain an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before travelling to New Zealand.

How much money do I need to show for a visitor visa?

For a visitor visa, you must demonstrate having at least NZD $1,000 per month for expenses or NZD $400 per month if accommodation is prearranged. If sponsored, evidence of the sponsor's financial ability is required.

What happens if I overstay my visa in New Zealand?

If you overstay your visa in New Zealand, you risk deportation, exploitation, and being barred from re-entering the country without a valid visa for 42 days or longer. It's crucial to comply with visa expiry dates or apply for a new visa to extend your stay.


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