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Moving to Wellington?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Moving to Wellington with relevant information for expats.

Serhat Ahmed

Living in New Zealand, from Turkey

"With all of the information that InterNations provided on Wellington, it made my move from Turkey easier than I could have imagined."

Melanie Rasbery

Living in New Zealand, from the USA

"Since I knew about the active expat network in New Zealand, InterNations made moving to Wellington more exciting than it had seemed before."

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Wellington at a Glance

Moving to Wellington

As one of the most unique capital cities in the world, with a temperate marine climate and a rich history, moving to Wellington is a great choice for any expat. Learn more about what you can expect in terms of city life and climate and make sure you have your visa in order with the help of this guide!

About the City

Located on the southwestern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, the city is named after Arthur Wellesley, the hero of the Battle of Waterloo. Wellington’s earliest name ‘Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui’ or ‘the head of Maui's fish’ is taken from the Maori legend that the Polynesian demigod Maui caught a huge fish, which then became the North Island. 

In 1865, Wellington became the capital of New Zealand and has been the center of its government since then. The population was just over 380,000 people in 2014. Statistics show a diverse culture, with many people relocating here. Approximately 25% of the people are born overseas, with around 70% of the population European, 12.8% Maori, and 11.7% other New Zealanders.

The Climate in Wellington

Often referred to as ‘Windy Wellington’ life here really is a breeze! This is due to the Cook Strait having a wind-funneling effect, and the rugged landscape resulting in variations of wind strength and direction. 

However, the temperature is not one of extremes. Summer (October–April) has the warmest weather with average temperatures between 17°C and 21°C. Winter (June–August) is short and snowfall is rare, but the occasional frost can be found on the hills. Though the temperature will never really drop below 4°C, the wind can make it feel colder.

The average hours of sunshine per year is 2,025 (169 days), but expats moving to Wellington should be warned that the summer sun is extremely strong. The average rainfall is 1249 mm, with June and July being the wettest months.

Visas for New Zealand

If you aren’t New Zealand or Australian born but want to move to Wellington permanently, you will have to apply for the appropriate visa, which will be based on your occupation or skill. A Skilled Migrant Category visa is for people with skills, qualifications and experience that New Zealand deems is needed.

A Work to Residence visa is for people who are: qualified in occupations that are in demand in New Zealand; have a job offer from a recognized employer; or have outstanding talents in sports or the arts. This visa is a step to help you gain permanent residency, after two years you would then apply for a Residence from Work visa.

For those joining family, you can apply for Family Stream as a way to temporarily work before applying for full residency. For more information, visit the Immigration New Zealand website or have a look at our dedicated article on Moving to New Zealand.

InterNations Expat Magazine