New Zealand: Thoughts After Seven Years, Part 3, by Nivek

Part 3



Weather in New Zealand is widely varied with the north island getting much more rain than the south island. An exception on the south island is the far south-western tip called the Fiordlands. It’s a very rugged place with thousands of waterfalls. It is worth seeing. The north island has higher temperatures and higher humidity. I chose a location on the top of the south island that would have the most sunshine and dryer weather. I am a desert person and it takes a lot of getting used to the humid conditions.

Take a look at some weather sites to see yearly averages to get a better idea of the climate you’re looking for. The storm systems can come from many directions and I have found that the weather prediction accuracy is very low, especially in our valley. The mountain ranges surrounding our valley greatly affect the weather patterns.

Here are two New Zealand weather forecasting sites:

Gun Ownership

This is one topic that a lot of you are surely interested in. First of all, you can own pretty much anything you want. I don’t think you could have a Barrett .50 caliber, but I’m not sure. Once you are a permanent resident you can own a firearm. The process is to go down to the local police station and fill out a form. Next you schedule a date to take a firearms safety course and written test. Once you pass, a policeman or inspector involved in firearms will inspect your home to insure that you can store the weapon properly. They are most concerned with thefts as that’s how most of the gang members obtain their weapons. Once you obtain your ID card you are then able to go and purchase your weapon. They do not record serial numbers and the gun store does not report your sale to the police as far as I know. The gun store will only sell to permit holders.

With the basic permit, you can get a rifle or shotgun with a limitation on ammunition capacity. [Seven-round magazines except for .22 caliber rimfires.] It is a relatively simple matter to get ‘endorsements’ added to your license. You need to have these endorsements for large capacity magazines, military style weapons, full auto and such. As you move up in endorsements the police will want to see more secure storage. There is no permit required to purchase a suppressor and they are very common. Contrary to popular belief, you can own a handgun. Again, it is an endorsement to your license.

Here are a couple of useful links:

The first is the police department application process and rules.

The next is a Wikipedia explanation of theNew Zealand gun laws.

A Place to Shoot?

So now for the bad: Yes, you can pretty much get what you want. But finding a place to just shoot is difficult. There are clubs and ranges that you can join for shooting rifle, shotgun or pistol. You will most likely be reported to the police if you decide to just go out somewhere and plink away. I hear people call into the police every so often over the scanner. Different parts of the country will have different reactions, just like back in the States.

Hunting is a big deal here and sometimes the land owners will welcome you for critter control. I have seen pictures of guys that go out to ranches and farms to shoot rabbits. It’s funny to see them in groups, prone on the ground, suppressors on the rifles and blowing away rabbits. I’ll bet the low score buys the brews at the pub. The larger game that is hunted is wild boar, deer, and game birds. Different times of the year I see where competitions are held for the largest boar taken. The boars do quite a bit of damage to the forests and crops. Other game is hunted but those are the big three, off the top of my head.

Like most things you will do in New Zealand, become a gun owner with a place to shoot will require you to make relationships with like-minded folk. Again, don’t be a jerk.

Costly Ammunition

The other bad:  Ammo is expensive here. You’re not going to go out to the local gravel pit and blow through 500 rounds, unless you have recently won the lottery and you have permission to shoot. Remember the people that call in to the police upon hearing or think they heard gunfire. To cut costs, many reload, but the components are a little pricey. Here is a link to one of the larger sporting goods stores.

So you think you will just get a .22 and plink in the woods. Well, much of the forest land is either privately owned or it is called DOC land –administered by the Department of Conservation. They don’t allow .22 rimfires to be fired on DOC land, from what I have been told.

In general, I like the laws that they have set up here for gun ownership. Namely: License the owner, not the gun. Remember it’s not the U.S. and they have a different set of laws here. Most people here don’t understand the mentality of the U.S. ‘gun nut’. Again this leads back to the perception that is brought forward from the media. If you’re able to find an agreeable land owner you might be able to have a good time shooting away. One last item to consider is that they do not have a ‘Bill of Rights’, so things could change without notice. Remember what they did in Australia.

If you want to bring over your guns from the states you need to get a form from the police department. It’s a little tricky and you have to put down serial numbers and such, but it can be done. Get help from the police to do it right. I considered it at one time (if I actually owned a firearm), but I think the firearm would be making a one-way trip. I just can’t imagine the hassle to bring it back to the U.S.

More scanner info: When I hear of a traffic stop or domestic problems, one of the things they mention is if the person is a firearms license holder.


On my trip in 2004 I rarely saw a newer vehicle. Most of the vehicles on the road were 10-to-20 years old. Now, you see a majority of newer vehicles. I guess the old ones finally wore out or the economy got a lot better. It’s actually both. Home prices have soared along with the price of vehicles. They recently changed a law about importation of vehicles from Japan. Japan was the main source of used vehicles that I know of. I am sure the automobile dealers had some say into this. So now that the Japan import market has dried up the dealers are free to run up the prices. Here is a link to a local dealer in town.

There are extra fees associated to get the Road User Certificate so the price you see may not be the final price.

The used car market is very strong, since the prices are much lower. Although high quality sought-after models hold a high value. An example would be a 20 year old Toyota Hi-Lux 4WD, 4 door, diesel pickup. They call pickups Utes (Utility trucks.) This truck would typically have a resale value of $15,000. You can check for many different types of vehicles on a site called Trade-me.

You will also find a large range in prices between cities. For example, I have a 2002 Toyota Prado diesel Landcruiser. I paid $18,000 for it from a used car lot near Christchurch. That same vehicle in the town I live in would have been $5,000 more.

Gasoline and diesel prices will vary quickly, with the changing world oil prices. Here is a graph I found on retail prices. And here is another good link on fuel prices.

An added cost to using a diesel vehicle is that you have to purchase Road User Miles. I usually buy them in 10,000 km blocks and the last one cost me about $700. There are no extra road user fees for a gasoline vehicle and the bottom line is they are about equal to maintain when you consider fuel costs, oil changes and other misc. items. But I like diesel because of the safety factor in the event of an accident.

Car insurance is much lower in New Zealand than in the States. My wife drives a 1996 Toyota Rav4 and her yearly insurance is around $160 per year. My 2002 Prado is about $450 per year. I think we have a deductible of around $500. They call a deducible an ‘excess’. Car registration fees are also much lower for used vehicles.


We travel back to the U.S. every one or two years during the school summer break (mid-December to February. )  We do our major shopping at this time. We travel to the U.S. with mostly empty suitcases and buy our clothes and shoes for the next year or two. If we need to, we buy an extra suitcase and pay the extra baggage fee with the airline on the return trip. This saves a lot of money and we have a much wider selection to choose from. Computers and other pricey items are also purchased on these trips. We forego any warranties with the idea of saving money. I have not been burned yet with some high price electronics failing. This also allows obtaining more modern and up to date technology.

Another way to save money or at least have access to items not available here is to shop on Items show up here in about 10-12 days, sometimes much quicker. However, New Zealand just passed some new laws this year on internet shopping so now taxes have to be paid on overseas purchases. I guess Amazon is killing business here also. If you do a little creative ordering, meaning making your orders under a certain dollar amount, you may be able to go under the limit that the tax kicks in. I believe it is around $200 but this may change anytime. I am sure there is a cost limit where it is not worth it for them to chase tax on minor purchases.

(Part 4, to be posted on Sunday, February 10, 2019, will conclude this series.)


  1. New Zealand is not as “free” as it sometimes appears to be in freedom rankings, etc. We’d have a fit if someone from the gov’t came into our houses before we could have permission to own a firearm! It does sound appealingly “old-fashioned” though judging by the writer’s comments that charm may be waning as the next generation of New Zealanders become tech addicts.

    1. This article paints a much different picture of NZ. If someone comes to the US to buy clothes and shoes and electronics, what does that say about what they have there and what it costs. I heard that the taxes were pretty high there and along with having to import most things makes life pricey.

  2. comment for part 3

    Thanks for the many comments. I will post this in all four parts of the article. It was the editors option to split the article up the way he did.

    1. I moved to NZ for my children’s primary education years. I did not plan to stay as long as I have. My son started in school year 1 (age 5), now in year 8 (age 11/12).

    2. We never gave up our U.S. citizenship as we always planned to return to the states for high school and university years. We picked up NZ citizenship and a passport as a bonus. We can use it or forget it, but we have it and that may mean something someday. Believe it or not, there are some places in the world you don’t want to have a U.S. passport on you.

    3. I agree the costs are high here and I tried to give you an idea of what some costs are. If you want to relocate, you better have some cash reserves or a highly sought after skill. All in all, you can have a good life here. Everyone will be different.

    4. The medical is a two level system. One side is all public and you wait your turn. The other is private. You pay for the ability to be seen quicker and by private doctors/surgeons. That’s why the taxes are high.

    5. It is not the U.S. and can never have the infrastructure that we have in the states. You are moving down the ladder to a more rural and simpler system. Yes, they do things different here in the way the government tackles problems. It is far less stressful living here and can be much slower. Time to enjoy life instead of buying that next big screen TV or another new car. It’s what you make of it.

    6. Yes, China is having great influence in NZ and Australia. If China wanted to take over, it probably would not be too difficult, aside from a few arguments, then World War X would start. If that were to happen? Well that’s what all of the ‘doom and gloom’ books are about.

    7. One person questioned the idea that the schools have a program where the kids go away from home on increasingly difficult outdoor trips. Yes, it’s a risk to let your children leave home, but they have to learn. It’s something I probably wouldn’t do in the states, but they do learn responsibility and how to get through a hard hike. I am very impressed with the strength and determination the children learn by the age of 12.

    8. Another person made a comment about kids in school with ADD and how they handle them. Well, in the U.S. I think that is mostly a result of kids sitting in front of the TV/video game all day and eating bags of snacks. The playgrounds in NZ would be an ambulance chasers dream come true. You see quite a few kids each year with broken arms and legs. Guess what, they learned that sometimes you fall down and get a boo-boo’. But these same kids are usually running right along side their friends playing, cast and all.
    The kids in class are monitored at the start of the school year as to their abilities in math, spelling, reading… and placed in groups that ‘push’ them to do better. The slowest kid does not slow down the rest of the class. They realize some kids are dumb and will most likely learn how to operate a shovel someday.

    I know I didn’t reply to everyone’s comments. I would be happy to answer if you want to email me through my web site.
    In closing, I tried to give you a sense of what it is like here. I am sure the same problems would be found for where ever you want to go. Again, my primary purpose was education for my children and a chance to run through a park barefoot.
    My next challenge will be to try and teach them to live in America with all of the problems in the states, but also all of the benefits which make the U.S. great.

  3. “Weather in New Zealand is widely varied with the north island getting much more rain than the south island. ”

    ???!!! Actually they are about the same on average. Parts of the South Island have extremely high rainfall – particularly the West Coast – and parts of the North Island are as dry as the dry parts of the South Island (e.g. Hawkes Bay).

  4. ACC is the accident compensation corporation – essentially compulsory accident insurance and the reason people don’t sue over personal injury from accidents (because they can’t by law). Levies are deducted from wages with your taxes (about 1%?) and from employers and petrol (to cover motor accident injuries). It covers medical costs of injuries from accidents (including at home or playing amateur sport) and pays 80% of salary for time off work due to the injuries.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up. I never used it.
      I didn’t have much exposure to life in the larger cities so I am sure that some of my comments in the article would be different if I lived in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

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