Introducing New Zealand
There’s a lot to like about New Zealand – with a per capita income of $37,896, it is one of the richest countries in the world. It has a great climate, a small population of 4.47 million, plenty of space for everyone and scores high on every survey on quality of life. Kiwis, as the people of New Zealand are called, are a reserved bunch, not given to blowing their own trumpet (unlike their neighbours, the Aussies) and respect hard work and punctuality above all. They have a good sense of (often self-deprecating) humour too.
New Zealand Geography
New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world with sandy beaches, majestic mountains (remember The Lord of the Rings?) beautiful lakes, rivers and fjords. New Zealand has 27,000 sq. kilometers of land mass and is located 1500 km east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. It is pretty much isolated from the rest of the world.
New Zealand Cities
Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. Over 35% of the population stays here. Wellington is the second biggest city and the capital of New Zealand. Christchurch is a beautiful city that reminds one of England or at least the way England used to be in the good old days. Christchurch had a massive earthquake in 2015 and is currently in recovery mode. Other major cities in New Zealand are Hamilton, Tauranga, Dunedin, New Plymouth, and Palmerston North. There are also 600 towns in New Zealand, most of them dependent on agriculture for income.
New Zealand is a very egalitarian society – most people are comfortably middle class here. The welfare system is very good and takes care of the underprivileged or those who have fallen on hard times. Kiwis are a very friendly bunch, even in the workplace, where everyone addresses each other on first-name terms, even the boss. Kiwis are known to be sticklers for the rules and are famous for their honesty. New Zealand ranks on top of the Corruptions Perception Index as the least corrupt country in the world.
How is the currency and exchange rate?
It’s the New Zealand Dollar or NZ$. The NZ$ is divided into 100 cents. On 17 February 2016, NZ$1 was worth US$0.66
The local languages
New Zealand has three official languages: English, of course, Maori and New Zealand sign language. English is the most important language in New Zealand and everybody speaks it.
New Zealand Taxes
The New Zealand financial year runs from April 1 to March 31. Those who spend more than 183 days of a year in Zealand are considered as residents for tax purposes. Recent entrants to New Zealand qualify as transitional tax residents, which exempts them from having to pay tax on any income earned outside New Zealand for the first four years of their stay. Everyone has to pay tax on their earnings in New Zealand, regardless of how low (or high) their earnings are. The tax rates start at 10.5%.
Since New Zealand has such a small population, there’s always a skill shortage in the country. New Zealand wants immigrants, but only those with the right skills. There are a number of industries in New Zealand ranging from hospitality to construction, healthcare to IT that are crying out for more skilled workers. This draws in immigrants from all over the world – in fact, in many parts of the country, immigrants outnumber the natives.
The Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand. The Maori culture and its emphasis on honesty, modesty and integrity, is what makes the Kiwis such a special bunch. Maoris are very hospitable and friendly people and go out of their way to help a foreign tourist in distress. They are also known to be super competitive when it comes to sports, by the way.
New Zealand Sports
Speaking of sports, Kiwis love sports. Rugby is very popular in New Zealand, and the famous All Blacks just won the 2015 Rugby World Cup held in England, beating arch-rivals Australia in the final. Kiwis also love cricket and have a handy cricket team as well. Netball is popular with girls and young women.