Electricity and gas
A lot of New Zealand’s electricity comes from hydroelectric, geothermal and more recently wind generation, so it is relatively clean and abundant.
New Zealand power outlets take electrical plugs with three flat pins, one of which is an earth pin. Some power plugs do not have the earth pin but they still fit into the power outlets. Electricity in New Zealand is supplied at a minimal voltage of 230-240 volts and 50 hertz.
Many homes also use gas for cooking, water and space heating. In some areas of the North Island Natural Gas is piped to homes, elsewhere it is available in bottles as LPG (liquid petroleum gas).
Because gas is naturally odourless, suppliers add a smell to help identify and locate any leaks. Make sure you are familiar with New Zealand’s natural gas odour as it is probably different from the smell that you are used to.
There are a number of electricity and gas retailers in New Zealand, and they offer a variety of plans. You can look around for the best deal on the PowerSwitch and Glimp websites.
Wood burners are a common form of heating in New Zealand. If the home you rent or buy has one, there are some basic things you need to know.
- You need a source of dry wood. You also need to understand how to start, build and maintain a fire.
- Check that the burner has a building consent and get the chimney swept annually to keep your insurance cover valid.
- Some areas prohibit the use of wood burners for air quality reasons, so if you have a wood burner in your home check with the local council that you are able to use it.
You can have a look at the New Zealand Home Heating Association's video about how to operate a wood fire.
New Zealand’s reticulated water has small quantities of fluoride added to help prevent tooth decay. There’s information about this on the Ministry of Health’s website.
Water in New Zealand cities and towns is treated to drinking quality, so you can rely on water from the tap. Dams and reservoirs can run low, especially in late summer, but generally water is freely available. Local councils administer the water supply and will let you know about any restrictions.
In some rural areas, homes collect their own rainwater in tanks or use underground bores.
Most regional councils charge for the water they supply - rates vary from region to region.
If you own your home, the cost is added to your rates (council tax) as water rates.
In some areas, homes have water usage meters too. Tenants in these properties pay for the water they use, while the owner covers the other charges.
Fixing water pipe leaks between the toby (the tap on the road where the water pipe enters the property) is the homeowner’s responsibility, not the council’s. Keep an eye out for signs of leaks and check bills against the previous year’s usage.
Rubbish and recycling
In urban areas, local councils collect rubbish and offer recycling services for things like glass, plastic, paper and cardboard.
Kiwis are great recyclers and we often buy second hand goods. Most cities and towns have transfer stations (rubbish dumps) where you can leave good used items for recycling.
For information on rubbish collection and recycling in your area, visit your local council’s website. You will find the address under ‘useful links’ in our Regional pages.
New Zealand TV has gone totally digital. You can either watch it free-to-air or subscribe to Pay TV.
You can access a wide range of free channels if your TV is linked to a Freeview box. The Freeview website has a programme guide.
Even more channels are available with pay TV. There are three providers - Sky, Igloo, and Vodafone (not all areas).
New options such as Netflix and Neon are becoming popular.
Internet and telephone
There are a range of options for buying internet and telephone services in New Zealand.
Most internet connections are through phone lines with ADSL2+ available in most parts of the country. Some areas have cable connections through Vodafone. 3G mobile broadband is available through most of the country. 4G is available in cities and major towns and coverage is steadily increasing.
Many rural properties rely on satellite connections for broadband internet access or access dial up services through their phone line.
Chorus is the company responsible for the lines and they are currently building an ultrafast broadband network. Around 87 per cent of New Zealanders, in over 390 towns and cities, will be able to access ultra-fast broadband by the end of 2022. You can check the current availability of this service in your area on the Chorus website.
Chorus sell access to the lines through approximately 70 retailers and most people buy their phone and internet connection through the same company.