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Where Are The Best Places To Live In New Zealand?

best places
There are many factors that will decide where to live in New Zealand.   For most the work that you will be doing will determine where you will be living.  Wherever you live you will be close to the stunning scenery and have access to an outdoor lifestyle.  The cities around the country have rather different attractions and we set out the options below:


Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with a population of over 1.5 million, which is nearly a third of the population of New Zealand.



Auckland is the main commercial centre in New Zealand with significantly higher salaries than the rest of the country.

The city has a fast-growing number of tech companies and employers.  There are roles available in IT, especially in software and technical fields.  Developers, tech analysts, business analysts and project managers are highly sought after.  Takapuna, a seaside suburb on Auckland’s North Shore, has been nicknamed ‘Techapuna’, with at least 50 high-tech startups all within one square kilometre.

There is continuing demand for construction workers in Auckland with growth in residential building, including apartments, student accommodation and retirement homes, as well as civil and commercial construction projects.



Auckland has warm humid summers (average temperature 20°C) and mild damp winters (average temperature 11°C).  Auckland enjoys an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine a year.

The city is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the world.  It is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world with over 200 ethnic communities.  It is also home to the largest Maori population in New Zealand.

It is a cosmopolitan city on the coast with a wide variety of things to occupy you whatever your interests.  Auckland combines a buzzing city life with spectacular scenery all around the city.  There is a lively arts scene and entertainment in the form of music, theatre, film and comedy.  You can also get great food and wine, shopping and an exciting nightlife.

Less than an hour from Auckland are the black sand beaches.  Highlights include Muriwai Beach with its  clifftops with gannets and the surf beach at Piha.  There are also the islands of Rangitoto with its dormant volcanic cone, Waiheke known as the ‘island of wine’ with its wineries and vineyards as well as beaches, restaurants and other activities and Great Barrier Island covered in forest gives the opportunities for hikes as well as rare animals in the Glenfern Sanctuary.



The city is described as sprawling with over 200 suburbs to choose from when deciding where to live.  There are four main areas are Auckland City in the centre with North Shore to the north, Manukau City to the south and Waitakere City to the west.  You can choose between modern apartment living in the centre of the city, a home and garden in the suburbs or coastal living.  The costs of property in Auckland are the highest in New Zealand.



Wellington is the national capital and a very popular destination for expats.  It is much smaller than Auckland with a population around 400,000.



Wellington has the highest concentration of web-based and digital companies in New Zealand with almost 50% of the workforce in knowledge intensive industries.  There are a number of creative and innovative tech businesses as well as global science and tech companies and research institutes.

With the New Zealand Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand based in Wellington it is also a centre for financial and professional services roles.  The health sector is the third largest employer in Wellington with several private and public hospitals.



Average summer temperatures are between 19°C and 24°C and Wellington enjoys over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year.  Although temperatures fall to 6°C to 9°C in the winter frost are rare, but there is a 55% daily chance of rain.  The city is particularly famous as the windy city as the winds are funnelled

Wellington is a much smaller city than Auckland with a population of just over 400,000.  It is easy to get around the city centre as it is fairly compact and there is a good public transport system.

A kilometre from downtown, Te Aro has a range bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. Miramar, south-east of the city centre, is a beach-side suburb with attractive coastline and famous film studios.  Mount Victoria with its forested areas used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy is mainly a residential suburb.  Kelburn at the end of the cable car has some of the priciest properties in Wellington as well as having the Botanic Gardens and the Carter Observatory.

Oriental Bay located on the harbour is the nearest seaside suburb to Wellington’s city centre and Eastbourne, which can be accessed by road or ferry, is a popular day trip destination with popular water activities, including swimming, kayaking, and wind and kite-surfing.



Johnsonville and Hutt Valley have excellent schools and good public transport into town are popular with families to settle.  Brooklyn with great views of the harbour and city and with the main city a short ride away this is also a popular area with those who want to be close to the shops and pubs.

For those looking to live by the coast there is Island Bay with great views of the south island. It is fairly inexpensive and close enough to the city centre (10 minute drive) and has good schools as well as arts and culture.  Another option is Houghton Bay which is a similar distance from the city centre and with its sandy beach and rocky headlands is popular with surfers and divers.

Young, single or professional couples who are looking to enjoy an active social life look to Aro Valley, which is relatively inexpensive compared to some other suburbs.

Kelburn is an inner city suburb popular with many wealthier families due to its proximity to the city centre as well as with students as it is close to the local university.

Khandallah overlooking the harbour is an area with a wide range of local amenities and large areas of parkland.  It is one of the most affluent areas in Wellington.



Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island with a population just below 400,000.  There has been major reconstruction since the earthquakes of 2011 which destroyed much of the city centre and the economy is now achieving steady growth.



With the reconstruction required after the earthquakes there has been a great demand for skilled construction workers and there continues to be a demand.  Manufacturing and IT are two sectors that Christchurch is focused on.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s third largest centre for IT and has businesses in software as well as electrical and electronics, equipment and software for the health and medical sectors, telecommunications and IT services.

Only Auckland has a larger manufacturing sector than Christchurch.  Christchurch provides specialist manufacturing for global niche markets, including agriculture and food processing, medical devices, marine, defence and others.



Christchurch has a temperate climate with an average of 2,100 hours of sunshine a year and is relatively dry with rain falling on fewer days than New Zealand’s other major cities. Average daytime high temperatures in the summer are 21°C – 23°C and 11°C – 13°C in the winter.  Temperatures often fall below freezing at night with an average of 70 days of frost a year and snow once or twice a year in the hills around Christchurch.

Christchurch is the gateway to New Zealand’s South Island where you can enjoy the outdoor lifestyle skiing, bungy jumping, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, swimming and surfing.  You can also see whales, dolphins and seals, visit wineries and gardens and, of course, shop and be entertained.

The regeneration of the city has led to many innovative schemes with state-of-the-art architecture changing the look and feel of the city.  It retains its traditional British feel with its large population of British expats and emigrants.  It also has a young population with many students.  Street art, cafes, restaurants, festivals, markets, museums and more give it a vibrant atmosphere.

You can explore the city by double-decker bus, vintage bicycle, tram or punt or simply walk around the bars, restaurants and boutique shops.



Merivale is a residential area to the north of the city centre which is popular due to its central location and a local mall with a large selection of boutique shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

If you want a seaside home Sumner is in a coastal valley with a beach that is popular with surfers, swimmers and holidaying families.

Cashmere allows you to escape the downtown rush to an area with a village feel.  without straying out of the urban areas. History buffs will relish the suburb’s village-like flair, and the heritage buildings that come along with it – including esteemed crime writer Dame Ngaio Marsh’s former residence, which now serves as a museum. A trove of chilled out cafés and and retail shops also add to Cashmere’s appeal.

Fendalton is one of Christchurch’s oldest and most affluent suburbs to the west of central Christchurch near the University of Canterbury.

St Albans is close to the city centre and one of Christchurch’s largest suburbs.  There are parks and a major shopping precinct.

Ilam has the University of Canterbury, but it is a leafy suburb that is more than just a home for students with a major retail area as well as cafés and restaurants that serve students, visitors and residents.


Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay is an area in the south-east of the North Island and includes the districts of Hastings, Havelock North and Napier.  It is a famous wine area and popular with families with its outdoor lifestyle.



Hastings and Napier have strong employment and population growth and this is expected to continue.

The largest employers are in the health/community services sector, trade and hospitality services, rural production, manufacturing, processing and business services.

Hawke’s Bay contributed 2.7 per cent to national GDP (year ended March 2016), provides 4.1 per cent of national employment (together with Gisborne), and is home to an estimated 3.4 per cent of the national population



Hawkes Bay is famous as New Zealand’s premier food and wine region stocked with fine wine, fresh produce and gourmet dining destinations.  It offers much more, however, with mountains and coast giving the opportunity for outdoor activities,

You can paddle a kayak or raft down the Mohaka enjoying awesome scenery, canyons, gorges and rapids, fish for trout, cycle along cycle trails, hike the Kaweka and Ruahine Conservation Parks.  You can dive, snorkel or walk in the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve or visit Cape Kidnappers, home of the largest mainland gannet colony in the world

Hawke’s Bay is steeped in Maori history and mythology and offers many opportunities to experience their culture.  Hawkes Bay is also home to the longest place name in the world:


Napier has attractive Art Deco architecture built in the 1930s following a major earthquake whereas Hastings’ architecture has a Spanish Mission influence.  The other major centre in Hawkes Bay is the country village of Havelock North with its tree-lined charm and thriving arts community.



Hawkes Bay offers the chance to live either close to the sea, in a picturesque rural setting, in a friendly suburb or in the middle of a small city.  Prices are on the rise hitting record highs this year.

The main urban areas are a combination of family homes in the suburbs and apartments in the centre. Hawke’s Bay homes tend to be good for outdoor living with good-sized plots.

Napier South is an attractive inner-city suburb with a reputation for good schools within walking distance of town and Marine Parade.

Havelock North is known as the “village” by locals.  It is a picturesque suburb with three private schools and is considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in Hawke’s Bay.

Parkvale next to Havelock North has good schools such as Karamu High School. Frimley is considered one of the most popular suburbs in Hastings close to the hospital and good schools.


Other Options


The thrill-seeking capital of New Zealand is home to the highest bungee jump, skydiving, white water rafting, ziplining, paragliding, sailing, skiing, climbing and many more opportunities for an adrenaline high.  It is not just an adventure playground however and has bars, arts, dining and vineyards and is popular with expats.  Tourism is the major employer resulting in reasonably full employment but lower wages.



The combination of the mountains and the coast allow you to ski or snowboard in the morning and then surf in the afternoon during the winter.  Black Beach with its shifting sand banks is popular with surfers. Fitzroy Beach is a place for families to swim in summer and walk their dogs in the winter. Opunake combines safe swimming with an artificial surfing reef.

Short commutes to work means there is plenty of time to enjoy the lifestyle in Taranaki.   Taranaki is home to oil and gas, engineering and production as well as dairy.  There is a rapidly growing tourism and events sectors, The affordable housing adds to the attraction of this region.



Dunedin is the second largest city on the South Island and has a proud Scottish heritage.   There are employment opportunities in property services, education, business services, health services and food manufacturing. Communication, government administration and tourism are also key employers.

The average temperatures in the summer are around 19C and winters generally stay above freezing with average lows around 4C.  It is a rainy city with constant drizzle rather than heavy rain storms.  There are dormant volcanoes around the city and stunning beaches, woodland gardens and rare wildlife.

Dunedin is home to New Zealand’s oldest university, University of Otago, and has a significant student population.  There is a vibrant independent music scene.