New Zealand does not actually have an official retirement age. Nevertheless, many people aim to retire when they are 65 years old.

New Zealand does not actually have an official retirement age. Nevertheless, many people aim to retire when they are 65 years old.

65 is the age when most superannuation plans, including government-funded New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super), begin to pay out your savings.

NZ Super is a fortnightly payment for people aged 65 and over. You may qualify if you:

  • are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or hold a residence class visa
  • are ordinarily resident in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau when you apply, and
  • have lived in New Zealand for the required number of years since you turned 20, based on your date of birth. This needs to include five years from age 50.  

People may be able to meet the residence criteria by using time spent living in the New Zealand Realm countries (the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau) or a country that has a social security agreement with New Zealand (e.g., Australia).

The residence criteria are different for people using time spent in the Realm.

The criteria are also different for people who are recognised as a refugee or protected person.

You can find out everything you need to know about NZ Super on the Ministry of Social Development’s Government’s Work and Income website.

New Zealand Superannuation | Work and Income

Overseas pension in New Zealand

Overseas pension

If you or your partner get a pension from another country, it may affect the amount of NZ Super you may be eligible to receive.

There’s information about overseas pensions on the Work and Income website.

Work and Income’s International Services team can give advice about overseas social security.

Overseas pensions - Work and Income

Senior Services International | Work and Income

Tax on overseas pensions

In most cases, you will need to pay New Zealand income tax on an overseas pension. The government's Inland Revenue department has information.

Tax on overseas pensions is complex. As well as paying tax on the income you receive you may also have to pay tax on gains made by the overseas fund providing the pension.

You should seek financial advice.

Tax on overseas pensions | Inland Revenue

Transferring pensions to New Zealand

Pensions from some countries, including the UK, Australia and South Africa, may be transferable to New Zealand. There is information on the Work and Income website.

Navigating the New Zealand tax rules and the rules of overseas pension providers is complex. Start by checking Inland Revenue’s website.

The personal finance website has an article with more background.

Overseas pensions - Work and Income

Foreign Superannuation (Investment income) | Inland Revenue

Saving for retirement – KiwiSaver

While NZ Super will provide enough for a basic standard of living in retirement, many Kiwis are also into DIY (Do It Yourself) retirement saving.

To encourage that, the government offers workers in New Zealand ‘Kiwisaver’.

KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings scheme. If you ‘opt in’, then a small amount of your salary is deducted every payday and put aside in a KiwiSaver investment scheme. Your employer has to contribute an amount equal to at least 3% of your gross wage.

KiwiSaver is for citizens or residents who are living or normally living in New Zealand. If you are working in New Zealand on a temporary work visa, you should tell your employer you want to ‘opt out’ of Kiwisaver.

Kiwisaver - what is it, and hints and tips
Kiwisaver | (04:27)

KiwiSaver is also available for self employed people, although of course there are no employer contributions.

The money that builds up is invested for you by approved ‘Kiwisaver providers’ until you are eligible for NZ Super at age 65.

You can access the money earlier in certain circumstances - for example, if you become seriously ill or have financial hardship, or if you are buying your first home.

The government website has information about KiwiSaver. It includes a KiwiSaver savings calculator, information on choosing a fund to invest your savings with, and information on where to get more help.

KiwiSaver |

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