Anyone who’s been will tell you nothing quite compares to the magic and mystery of New Zealand. Yes, you can catch a glimpse of it in The Lord of the Rings films, but it’s so much more.
The largest city on the two islands is Auckland, which nestles near the tip of the north island. Here exists a beautiful synergy between urban and wilderness lifestyles that is perfect for adventurous freelancers.
Exploring the landscape
Auckland is split in two by the sea. Water surrounds you and is a big part of life. Lots of people commute in on the ferries, which skirt around the edge of the mainland and drop you off in the Central Business District (CBD). In the evenings, the journey home involves watching the sunset over the water.
Beautiful islands are dotted around the coastline close to the city. Rangitoto is a favourite. It’s a dormant volcano that popped out of the sea 600 years ago, and stands majestically watching over the city. Views from the top are second to none.
In the city itself, there are three dormant volcanoes that make for great walks – One Tree Hill (no connection to the popular TV show), Mt Eden and Mt Wellington. You’re certainly never short on places to visit for inspiration.
Life as a freelancer
Sprawling over this mystical landscape is a modern and bustling city. Big sectors in the Auckland region include public relations, tourism, construction and technology.
To get set up as a freelancer, you first need an IRD number from Inland Revenue. Without this, you can’t get paid by a New Zealand client.
As of April 2017, contractors/freelancers receiving certain types of scheduler payments will have income tax deducted before payment is made. It’s important to read up on these changes and get the right information that applies to your situation.
There are also two schemes to be aware of – ACC and KiwiSaver. The first involves regular payments to help cover medical costs if you have an accident anywhere (there’s no NHS out here) and the second is a government scheme to save for retirement. Neither are compulsory, but are worth looking into even if you’re in New Zealand for a short while.
Once you’re set up, finding co-working spots isn’t hard. The Generator is one of those industrial chic ones in the city centre. It has comfy and cool furniture if you’re thinking of staying for the day. Membership can be casual, part-time or full-time. Movers&Shakers is also a good central choice.
The trendiest part of Auckland is Karangahape Road (or ‘K Road’ if you’re a local), and it has become synonymous with stylish food joints and coffee shops that double up as great workplaces.
Verona Cafe in a 1920s building has excellent food. It has big windows letting the light in but provides shelter if, like me, you’re still not used to the NZ sun.
Being the largest city in New Zealand also means a great nightlife for when you’ve finished working.
Where to stay and how to get there
Public transport is not as good as it could be for a city that covers such a large area. But the buses are quite extensive and fairly reliable. There are also big plans to extend the train and bus networks over the next ten years.
Get yourself a HOP card – a kiwi version of the Oyster card – to save money. Just remember to tap off the buses.
Here, the car is king. But with a recent population increase, journey times have become long.
It has also affected living costs. Average rent prices have risen in Auckland and can vary from $425 to $682 per week (£227 to £365 at the time of writing) for a two bedroom flat.
Just renting a room, of course, is cheaper. Whatever you’re looking for, the best place to find accommodation is on TradeMe.
The exchange rate is one thing to keep your eye on though as it has had a rollercoaster ride over the last year, and could change a whole lot more as 2017 plays out.
Why you should consider moving here
Auckland is a beautiful place where modernity meets ancient lands.
Tired of an office environment? Go climb a volcano. Bored with doing work for a while? Go kayaking around the bay with dolphins.
It’s a bustling, growing city where two worlds meet and exist beautifully together. If Auckland isn’t quite for you, how about these other New Zealand cities:
On 4 May 2017, Deutsche Bank research revealed Wellington as the best place to live in the world. It may not be the size of Auckland – you can walk around the city – but it’s the capital and has a certain buzz to it. It is also the gateway to the south island, which has mountains to die for.
The city is still recovering from the latest earthquakes, but is doing so in its own creative way. The south island has this magical feel too that's hard to explain. It's got interesting art institutions to visit and is traditionally the most English of New Zealand cities. Perfect for a taste of home.