Migrant Tales – Disappointed with the Reality of New Zealand, Leaving After 1 Year


Castle Crag, Borrowdale Valley. Britain does scenery, lifestyle and environmental responsibility. Why trade it for second rate NZ?

Welcome to our Migrant Tales series – hundreds of first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Today’s tale was sent in by a British vet who hails from the Lake District. She found New Zealand didn’t live up to its promises, and that information supplied to potential immigrants is misleading.

She lists a host of issues commonly experienced by migrants in New Zealand: low salaries, high cost of living, taxation, poor work-life balance, low standard of housing, the 100% pure myth and dangerous driving conditions.

Here’s why she’s leaving New Zealand after one year…

We moved here just over a year ago from the UK and we have already decided to move back. Just like many young people we were drawn across by the promises of a better work life balance, better weather, cheaper houses and living costs and a greener society. We were very disappointed with the reality.

Houses are only cheaper compared to expensive areas of the UK, I am from northern england and prices here are more than at home. Add to that the quality of housing. ‘Glorified sheds’ is the best description I have heard. They have no insulation, central heating or double glazing. Even though winter was much milder I was permanently cold.

The cost of living is significantly higher. Food, drink, clothes, bills, cars, furniture – everything costs so much more. Healthcare is not free at the point of entry, doctors visits incur a charge as do ambulances! There is no state subsidised dental care for adults available, compared to NHS dental practices at home.

I am a vet and the pay here is significantly lower. I get paid approximately 10gbp per hour and work a 45 hour week. My partner struggled to find work here and ended up as a casual farm worker. There is no personal tax exemption here as in the UK and so since august he has paid 1,500 gbp in tax which would have been 0gbp in the UK. Annual leave is also 4 weeks instead of 6.

The roads are the most dangerous I have encountered outside of Greece and Eastern Europe. We had heard it was mostly due to tourists however it is DEFINITELY due to kiwi drivers. They are incredibly dangerous. Undertaking is commonplace, merging is not understood and dangerous overtaking is the norm. I have witnessed a fatal crash and at least 5 other crashes since being here. The figures are widely available and clearly show you are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident in NZ. Over the Christmas period this year there were 19 fatalities on nz roads compared with 19 fatalities on UK roads, astounding when you take into account the difference in population size.
The warrant of fitness for cars is also not equivalent to an MOT at home. There are vehicles here on the roads from the 80s which definitely wouldn’t pass an MOT. After 9 months of owning our Japanese import we were notified that in fact the passenger airbag had been disabled before import! I also know someone whose car just passed its WOF despite not having a passenger side wing mirror!

I am from the Lake District and find the outdoor opportunities here disappointing in comparison. Walking trails are more limited and as such busier, trails are very boring and in most of north island dogs are banned. Many campsites also ban dogs. It is very different to the UK as a nation of dog lovers.

Animal welfare standards are also much lower here. The SPCA here does not compare to the RSPCA back at home. In my area the spca recently shut down due to lack of funding, leaving hundreds of people and animals in a desperate situation.

Finally the notion that NZ is a ‘green’ country is questionable. I have witnessed tyre burning many times since being here. The waikato river recently claimed to be amongst the 5 cleanest in the world however I highly doubt this. Farming practices are far from environmentally friendly and eutrophication is worse than in the UK. Nitrate application by farmers appears to be far less tightly controlled. Cars are poorly maintained and much older compared to the UK and as such have very questionable emissions. Recycling is at a similar level to the UK and certainly not superior. Poor insulation means poor energy efficiency in homes, and since every house relies on wood burning stoves air quality is compromised in winter, and the amounts of wood needed to heat the average house are not sustainable.

All in all I would recommend an extended trip to NZ before committing to a life here. I feel information supplied for potential immigrants is misleading and needs to be rectified.

For more migrant tales click here: LINK

Twitter responses

10 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Disappointed with the Reality of New Zealand, Leaving After 1 Year

  1. [Deleted and banned, don’t troll. You say you’re in NZ, your IP and time stamp says differently. Why is it that people who like NZ the most are the ones who don’t live there? Admin]

  2. Yes go home quick as you can I’m surprised you were even allowed to get a job here in the first place as you don’t have N.Z experience often people are exploited until they gain the legendary N.Z Experience ,by the sound of it you’re still young and can recover from this financially ,don’t blame yourselves as you were lied to ,go home and be happy ,all the best.

  3. Regarding the terrible road toll over Christmas. I was particularly saddened by the tragedy of the 3 teenagers near Christchurch. Lyrics from the U2 Song “Bloody Sunday” sprang to mind (a totally different context of course).

    “I can’t believe the news today
    Oh, I can’t close my eyes
    And make it go away
    How long
    How long must we sing this song?
    How long? How long”

  4. Interesting read.
    As a New Zealander whose lived most of my life here ,sadly id have to agree with alot of what youve said.I think its about time New Zealand stopped the ”Lies”, & the Misleading of Tourists, Visitors & immigrants.From the beginning of European immigration from Britain & Europe back in 1840 to this Country, people have been ”Mislead”- Lied too, about the realities of this Country.In circa 1840 or there abouts an Englishman Man named Wakefield , helped set up ”The New Zealand Company”, with the intention of getting people to come here.They apparently were even then ”Misleading” – Lying too, people in Britain.They published a Map of Wellington, which was posted in Britain, showing a fully established City with beautiful Parks, Museum, etc.The only problem was, it didnt exist.People believed it & when the ships sailed into Wellington Harbour, instead of this ”Established European City”, there was a scattering of shacks & huts on the foreshore.The passengers were dropped of on the Beach & told basically ”Its every Man for himself”.It wasnt possible to turn around & go back to Britain, so it was basically ”Sink or Swim” time.So you could say that New Zealand was Founded on People being Mislead , deceived, & lied too.If they had known the reality, many or most would never have come here.

    • Oh great, I guess it is not going to stop then.

      Shirley this dishonesty from the top down must impact the nations spirit in a negative manner?? Oh wait….

    • A little bit of progress today with Greenpeace being allowed to continue their advertising campaign about polluted NZ rivers.

  5. Absolutely correct.
    You are very fortunate, to be able to go back to your country, unlike many other migrants who are trapped here.
    Your statement: ” I feel information supplied for potential immigrants is misleading and needs to be rectified “. is 100% correct

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