Visa application forms are available from NZ diplomatic missions overseas, travel agents or through the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS; 0508 558 855, 09-914 4100; www.immigration.govt.nz). The NZIS has over a dozen offices overseas; consult the website.
Citizens of Australia don’t need a visa to visit NZ and can stay indefinitely (provided they have no criminal convictions). UK citizens don’t need a visa either and can stay in the country for up to six months.
Citizens of another 56 countries that have visa-waiver agreements with NZ don’t need a visa for stays of up to three months, provided they have an onward ticket, sufficient funds to support their stay (NZ$1000 per month, or NZ$400 per month if accommodation has been prepaid) and a passport valid for three months beyond the date of their planned departure from NZ. Nations in this group include Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands and the USA.
Citizens of other countries must obtain a visa before entering NZ. Visas come with three months’ standard validity and cost NZ$100 if processed in Australia or certain South Pacific countries (eg Samoa, Fiji), or NZ$130 if processed elsewhere in the world.
Visitors’ visas can be extended for stays of up to nine months within one 18-month period, or to a maximum of 12 months in the country. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis; visitors will need to meet criteria such as proof of ongoing financial self-support. Apply for extensions at any NZIS office.
Work visa & working holiday scheme
It’s illegal for foreign nationals to work in NZ on a visitor’s visa, except for Australians who can legally gain work without a visa or permit. If you’re visiting NZ to find work, or you already have an employment offer, you’ll need to apply for a work visa, which translates into a work permit once you arrive and is valid for up to three years. You can apply for a work permit after you’re in NZ, but it’s validity will be backdated to when you entered the country. The fee for a work visa ranges from NZ$180 to NZ$280 depending on where it’s processed and the type of application.
Eligible travellers who are only interested in short-term employment to supplement their travels can take part in one of NZ’s working holiday schemes (WHS). Under these schemes citizens aged 18 to 30 years from 26 countries – including Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, the UK and the USA – can apply for a visa. For most nationalities the visa is valid for 12 months. It’s only issued to those seeking a genuine working holiday, not permanent work, so you’re not supposed to work for one employer for more than three months.
Most eligible nationals must apply for this visa from within their own country; residents of some countries can apply online. Applicants must have an onward ticket, a passport valid for at least three months from the date they will leave NZ and evidence of at least NZ$4200 in accessible funds. The application fee is NZ$120 regardless of where you apply, and isn’t refunded if your application is declined.
The rules vary for different nationalities so make sure you read up on the specifics of your country’s agreement with NZ at www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday.