Moving to New Zealand with a Pacific Access Category (PAC) Resident visa

If you are registered for the Pacific Access Category (PAC) Resident Visa or you are thinking about registering for it, then it is important to learn more about New Zealand and how it is different from where you live.

Find out what it is like to live and work in New Zealand and why it is important to plan and prepare for your new life here. If you plan well, you will make a better start for you and your family in New Zealand. 

Know before you go

What is New Zealand really like?

New Zealand is a big place. The weather is different, work is harder and what you see will be new.

Living in New Zealand costs a lot more than in the Pacific Islands. Life will not be easy at first. When you arrive in New Zealand you have to pay for many things, including a place to live. Basic things - like power, telephone, food and clothes - will cost much more than you are used to.

Make sure you know what you will need to start your life in New Zealand so you and your family can get what you need when you arrive.

Friends and family in New Zealand will tell you good stories – but there will be good and bad times. There are important things about living in New Zealand that you need to know. Ask them:

  • How was moving to New Zealand different from what you expected?
  • How cold does it get where you live?
  • How much do you spend on food, rent, heating, clothes and transport?
  • Do you manage to save enough money for what you need?
  • Do you have to borrow money?

Pacific migrant stories - New Zealand may not be what you expect

Watch videos of Pacific Access Category Resident Visa migrants talking about their experience of living and working in New Zealand, and how it is different from the countries they came from. Learn about why it is important to have a job before you leave, and how planning and managing your money can help you succeed in New Zealand. 

Videos of Pacific Access Category migrants from Tonga

Videos of Pacific Access Category migrants from Kiribati

Videos of Pacific Access Category migrants from Tuvalu

Move from Tonga - Plan and prepare


Moving from Kiribati to New Zealand


Moving from Tuvalu to New Zealand

Migrant stories

Ritia Tioti teaser 1

"In New Zealand there is more clock watching and working to a timetable. I have to work quicker. "

Read Ritia's story

What is working in New Zealand like?

Be prepared to work hard in New Zealand. It is important to be responsible and committed to your job – it will help you settle well in New Zealand. Do not waste this opportunity.

Find out from friends and family about their experience working in New Zealand. Ask them:

  • What is different about working in New Zealand?
  • How long does it take you to get to work?
  • How much does it cost you to get to work?
  • How many hours a day do you work?



Find a job

Use your time wisely

Use any time you have free now to improve your chances of success in New Zealand.  Practice reading, writing and talking English. Consider getting your driver license.  Look for work experience opportunities, so you have employer references you can then provide to potential employers in New Zealand.  With good skills, you might find a better job sooner.  

Plan and prepare to get a job that will help you find a better future.

  • Get some tips and advice on searching for jobs in New Zealand from
  • Look at jobs and sign up for job alerts on websites like Seek and Trade Me
  • Ask friends and family if there are any jobs coming up at their workplace
  • Use the CV Builder Tool on to help you build a CV or resume
  • Practise your English, practise interviews, and practise explaining your visa requirements. 

When you get a job offer, check if it is right for you. Ask yourself:

  • Does it match my skills?
  • Does it have acceptable working hours?
  • Is the workplace close to where I will live?
  • Is there opportunity for training and promotion?

Learn how New Zealand interviews work

Ask for advice and tips from friends and family who have been through the job interview process here.

Search for jobs | Seek

Search for jobs |Trade

Tips for job hunting        

Job and recruitment websites

CV writing tips

Tool to build a CV | 

Skills employers want |

Prepare your documents and visa application

Read your visa application carefully

There are a lot of things for you to get ready so start preparing early. 

If things are not ready at the right time your application will not be accepted, or you may have to pay more fees. 

You will have to make copies of some important documents that need to be certified.

Certified copy

A certified copy is a photocopy of a document that has been stamped or signed by a person of authority as a true copy of the original. The person who certifies your documents must be authorised by law to take a statutory declaration in your home country or in New Zealand. People who can certify documents include lawyers, Notary Publics, Justices of the Peace, and court officials. 

Documents you will need for your visa application

There are lots of documents you need for your visa application. These include evidence of your identity, citizenship, health, character, age and job offer. It is really important that you check the Immigration New Zealand website to find out exactly which documents you need. 

Resident Visa Application Guide PDF [500Kb]


Get your application in on time

The closing date for visa applications will be advised around the same time as the ballot draw. If you are successful in the ballot, you will have about eight months to submit your visa application with Immigration New Zealand. You will not be able to get a time extension. Most application decisions take 3 months, but it can take up to 9 months. 

Prevent delays with your application

Important documents needed

You must provide current Police and Medical Certificates with your Immigration New Zealand application. We recommend talking to your local police and doctor about the standard time required to receive these certificates.

  • Police Certificates must be less than six months old when you apply. 
  • Your chest x-ray and medical certificates must be no more than three months old when Immigration New Zealand receive them. 

Get ready for your new life in New Zealand

Be well prepared

Life in New Zealand may be very different from life in the islands. Being well prepared will help you and your family feel at home sooner. Here are some things you can do to prepare.

  • Consider living in a smaller town instead of a big city. Smaller towns are usually cheaper to live in and have fewer people so it can be easier to make friends.
  • Find out about your rights and responsibilities as an employee in New Zealand.
  • Get some good advice. Ask friends and family in New Zealand:
    • What problems did you have when you first arrived?
    • Did you have enough money when you first arrived?
    • How much money do you think I will need to bring with me?
    • What advice would you give someone who has recently arrived in New Zealand?

Migrant stories

Nurse sitting at a computer desk

“I did my research on Oamaru, checking out schools, house rentals – a lot cheaper than Auckland – and I liked that it wasn’t crowded.”

Read Mafa's story

You will need money to get started in New Zealand

Make sure you keep working, save up and take enough money to cover the first few months in New Zealand. You will have unexpected costs when you arrive and are settling in.

Have you saved money for:

  • your flights to New Zealand
  • transport to your accommodation on arrival
  • paying for your accommodation (check rental costs for the town or suburb where you will be living)
  • food and transport for at least 2 weeks, or until your first payday
  • warm clothes for the colder weather?

Before you leave home

Before you leave home, make sure:

  • your visa has been approved
  • you have arranged somewhere to stay or live when you arrive
  • you know your work start date and your employer's contact details.

Bring all these documents with you

When you pack, check that you have the following documents packed for you and your family:

  • passports with New Zealand visas
  • birth certificates
  • school qualifications and school reports
  • medical documentation (eg immunisation records for children to go to school)
  • driver licence (if you drive)
  • marriage certificate (if you are married)
  • your New Zealand employment agreement
  • references from previous employers.

What you need to settle well


Migrant stories

A man leaning against a stone wall

Lemeki describes how he built up a successful business in New Zealand

Read Lemeki's story

Even after you arrive in New Zealand your journey has just begun. Remember - visiting a country is very different to living in it. There will be many more things to learn. You will not be able to just go back home when times get tough.


Information in YOUR language

Sometimes, to be sure you understand and are understood, it can be helpful to have the support of an interpreter in your own language.

If you are needing to contact a government agency or use one of its services (including, hospitals, police, justice or NZ Immigration) you can ask for the assistance of an interpreter.

Just let the government agent know which is your preferred language. This service is free for you.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will also be able to help you and answer any of your questions with the help of an interpreter.

The government interpreting assistance is available"24/7" - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It could be useful to learn in English to say ‘I need an interpreter for ________ language’.

Help in your language

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