Your guide to expat life in New Zealand

Working in New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its agricultural exports, but finance, tourism and manufacturing are also key industries and expats often work in education, healthcare and forestry. The Essential Skills in Demand List published by Immigration New Zealand is a useful starting point if you're looking for a job.

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Doing business

New Zealand is one of the world's most business-friendly countries. Immigrants have played an integral role in shaping the country's character. And its corporate environment is particularly welcoming if you want to start your own business.

The New Zealand government is equally supportive of local and expat entrepreneurs and small businesses comprise a significant proportion of the total labour force. The country is also renowned for encouraging foreign investment and its lack of red tape. But this stellar reputation means there's huge competition for jobs. Being aware of the business culture will give you an advantage.

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Business culture

The business environment is friendly but professional. New Zealanders value multiculturalism and welcome expats as part of the workforce.

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Communication style

New Zealanders can be reserved at first, but they're always polite and welcoming and they'll quickly move to first name terms. While they appreciate brevity, directness and humour, they don't like colleagues who overpromise or make exaggerated claims.


Meetings should be scheduled well in advance and punctuality is key.


New Zealand has an egalitarian culture where status or hierarchy isn't particularly valued, so exceptional achievements in the workplace aren't always acknowledged.

Fast facts

Business hours

Usually from 8am or 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Occasionally 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.


New Zealand's business dress code is difficult to pin down, although being well groomed and presentable is highly valued. In more formal settings, men tend to wear traditional dark suits, while women choose smart dresses or business suits. Some industries have a far more relaxed dress code, and jeans are often worn with sports jackets or pretty blouses.


Business greetings are usually casual, consisting of a handshake, a smile and direct eye contact.


Gifts aren't often exchanged during business meetings. If you're invited to a colleague's home, take some wine, chocolates or flowers.

Gender equality

Women are treated as equals in the workplace and are often appointed to senior corporate positions.

Expat salaries

Expat salaries may be lower than you expect, but you're likely to earn more if you work in a job that appears on Immigration New Zealand's Essential Skills in Demand List.

The country is less controlled, there are more opportunities to be creative in business, and it's less bound by social niceties, friendlier, with more supportive communities.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for New Zealand

Making life easier for expats

  • Starting a new life abroad has its complexities.
  • Your finances shouldn't be one of them.
  • We believe that choosing to live abroad has the power to enrich your life. It can be a journey that leads to new experiences and opportunities. But it can also be complicated. That's why we're here to help manage your finances and make planning for the future simple.

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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