How to do Business in New Zealand

14 min read

New Zealand is an ideal trading partner for small businesses in the US due to its market size, stable import-friendly democracy, and widespread use of English.

As an island, foreign trade has been an essential part of New Zealand’s economy. It has a long history of lucrative imports and exports with the US as well as its other trusted trade partners.

New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, serves a hub for retail and trade shows alike showcasing the newest agricultural and technological innovations. These shows are typically held on a scheduled, annual or biannual basis.

New Zealand has always been an ally to the US and one of their preferred trade partners

Historically, New Zealand has always been an ally to the US and one of their preferred trade partners. That tradition still continues to this day and over time the two have evolved to make business between them as possible. There’s currently a proposed free-trade agreement between the two countries that would further improve the business opportunities between them both.

New Zealand grows by the day and continues to innovate. They’re developing new products and innovations in the agricultural, machinery, metal, and plastic fields. Get your foot in the door now with our guide and find out how you can expand your business to this growing island nation.

The Archipelago New Zealand

New Zealand is an archipelago, a chain of 700 smaller islands that surround two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. These islands are part of the continent of Australia, who also happens to be their closest neighbors.

The economy of New Zealand relies on importing foreign mechanical and pharmaceutical goods, and on exporting their own agricultural products.

The business practices of New Zealand are very similar to those practiced in the US, with a couple of differences, making them an ideal business partner for up-and-coming small businesses.

Major Cities


Windy Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, and the second most populated urban area of the country. It’s known as the world’s southernmost capital, and the world’s windiest city.

The Wellington area is built on four different local areas. Wellington city at the core is the central business district and contains half of the total population of Wellington. Porirua, built around the Porirua Harbor, to the north is noteworthy for its large Maori and Pacific Islander communities. The Lower and Upper Hutt districts to the Northeast are largely suburban districts, collectively referred to as the Hutt Valley.

Although the city is mostly populated by English-speaking New Zealanders, the native Māori and Pacific Island communities make up the minority.

The city is located near the geographical center of New Zealand making it an ideal trade location for businesses both local and foreign.

As the capital, New Zealand’s Government, Parliament, Supreme Court and most of their civil service hubs are based out of Wellington.

As the capital, New Zealand’s Government, Parliament, Supreme Court and most of their civil service hubs are based out of Wellington.

The economy of Wellington is largely structured around service, with a focus on finance, business services, and government.

It is considered to be the center for New Zealand’s film and special effects industries, and has been steadily developing into a booming hub for information technology and innovation.

Wellington serves as the primary seaport in and out of New Zealand for both domestic and international shipping. As well, the city’s boasts ample transportation options including the Wellington International Airport, far-reaching train and bus lines, and a ferry which connects the North and Southern Islands.


Auckland is situated on New Zealand’s North Island and is the largest urban area in the country with over three times the population of the capital.

Despite not being the capital, Auckland is the primary financial and business center for New Zealand. It serves as a hub for international business and is an ideal locale for suppliers to import and export from.

Many major international businesses have offices that are located in Auckland.

Auckland as a city specializes in scientific and technological services, manufacturing, retail trade, and education training. These economic opportunities make Auckland desirable for many SMBs.

Auckland has multiple options for public transportation including buses, an electric train, and a large ferry system. Not to mention, Auckland’s ports are among the largest in the country and generate constant inbound and outbound supply traffic.

Auckland was ranked third in 2016 on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey which claims it to be one of the best and most livable cities on the planet.


Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and is New Zealand’s third most populated city.

Agriculture makes up the foundation of Christchurch’s economy.

Besides agriculture, Christchurch is the second largest manufacturing sector in New Zealand after Auckland. They specialize in producing food products, machinery, metals, and plastics. Due to their location and proximity, most of the developed goods are sent to Australia.

The primary forms of transport into and out of Christchurch are the Christchurch International Airport, while the Metro bus system handles local and long-distance travel within the city.

As a result of a series of earthquakes during 2010 to 2012, the city has been involved in an ongoing rebuilding and recovery effort.


The primary form of currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZ$) commonly known as the Kiwi-Dollar, or just “The Kiwi.”

For trade, New Zealand happily accepts US currency..All major credit cards are accepted (Visa, MasterCard) and there is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into or out of New Zealand.


The two languages commonly spoken in within New Zealand are English and Maori.

English makes up the primary business language of the country as well as the language spoken by the majority of citizens.

English makes up the primary business language of the country as well as the language spoken by the majority of citizens. Maori speakers make up roughly 4% of the population and it is rarely used to conduct business.


New Zealand has 10 major holidays that are publicly celebrated. With that being said, not all businesses close down for each of them. Most businesses will continue to operate during public holidays, though some may have altered hours of operation. Typically most New Zealand businesses operate on the same 9 – 5 schedule as the US and have the weekends off.

Waitangi Day and Anzac day have, in the past few years, been “Mondayized.” It means, that for holidays that occur on a specific day, if it lands on a weekend, the next Monday is the counted as a holiday, much like in the US.

It’s important to consider the following dates and ask your associate in New Zealand if one of the following dates or times work with their holiday schedule. They’ll happily tell you if they’re available on any given day.

New Year’s DayJanuary 1Nationwide
Day After New Year’s DayJanuary 2Nationwide
Waitangi DayFebruary 6Nationwide
Good FridayFriday before Easter SundayNationwide
Easter MondayDay after Easter SundayNationwide
Anzac DayApril 25Nationwide
Queen’s BirthdayFirst Monday in JuneNationwide
Fourth Monday in OctoberLabour DayNationwide
December 25Christmas DayNationwide
December 26Boxing DayNationwide

Traveling to New Zealand

When traveling to or from New Zealand there is little option besides boarding an airplane or sitting on numerous ferries for several hours.

You’ll require a visa to stay in New Zealand for an extended period of time, US travelers have the luxury of being able to stay for up to 90 days without having a visa as long as the traveler has a valid passport. This can be very convenient and save quite a bit of hassle for your company.

Some of the major cities have electric train rails that make for accessible transport between cities. Most areas have a reliable bus network that runs at a timely fashion. That means you’ll have no problem making that first meeting on time!

It’s important for visiting US citizens to remember that the electrical outlets in New Zealand are a different make than the ones back home. Electricity is supplied at 230/240 volts, though most hotels have 110 volt outlets for razors. An adapter or converter is usually required for most US travelers however, there may be some locations that are made specifically to accommodate US electrical appliances.

Telecommunications & Internet Access

New Zealand offers a modern telecommunications infrastructure, meaning mobile phone service is similar to the US. The phone line density is also comparable to what is currently available in the US.

If you’re looking to place a call to New Zealand from the US then follow these simple steps:

  1. To begin dial 011, the US exit code.
  2. Then dial 64, this is the country code for New Zealand.
  3. Finally you’ll dial 1-(three digit area code) followed by the 7-digit phone number.

There are three cellular networks in New Zealand, 2Degrees, Vodafone, and Telecom. Vodafone and Telecom offer phone rental services for visiting travelers which will be important to consider for representatives from small businesses traveling overseas.

Internet is readily available across New Zealand, and it can usually be accessed freely within hotels, various wireless hotspots, and at internet cafes should the need arise. Keep in mind that the internet there is slower than in the US. The government is working to improve this with two recent initiatives: the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative. The Ultra-Fast Initiative targeting urban areas, while the Rural Initiative is intended to bring similar speeds and service to rural locations across New Zealand.


For an extended business trip it may become necessary to have a representative stationed in New Zealand for a longer period of time. US citizens are able to stay in New Zealand for up to 90 days without a work visa. But if you need to stay longer, then you’ll have to get a work visa.

There are two primary work visas in New Zealand – the Entrepreneur Work Visa and the Essential Skills Work Visa.

There are two primary work visas in New Zealand - the Entrepreneur Work Visa and the Essential Skills Work Visa.

The Entrepreneur Work Visa is a three-year work visa for experienced businesspersons looking to start or expand a business to New Zealand. The two stages of the Entrepreneur Work Visa are the Start-up stage and the Balance stage.

The Start-up stage of the visa begins after your application has been approved. You’ll be initially given a 12-month work visa, which will allow you to begin working in New Zealand.

After the 12 months you’ll enter the Balance stage. Near the end of your Start-up stage your business will be examined, and if you’ve taken adequate steps to ensure its success you’ll be given a two-year visa to continue working.

The requirements for obtaining an Entrepreneur Work Visa are:

  • A minimum capital investment of NZ$100,000
  • 120 points or more earned based on factors like the likelihood of the businesses success and it’s value to New Zealand
  • Proof of a clear business plan
  • A clean history of bankruptcy, business failure, and fraud
  • Health, character, and English language requirements

The second long stay work visa is the Essential Skills Work Visa. As an archipelago chain of islands with a fairly low population, New Zealand as a country has certain needs. If one of its visa applicants is working in a profession they’re currently in need of they’re more eager to accept their application.

To check if your business qualifies for an Essential Skills Work Visa check out the regularly updated listing at ( If it is, you can apply for a temporary work visa that lasts as long as the immigration board believes the job will take.

Supplying to New Zealand

When selling to New Zealanders, it’s important to consider that they typically prefer to buy products directly from local manufacturers or providers due to a history of limited importation. The New Zealand market has only begun to open up over the past 30 years, before that time it was tightly regulated by the government but since then it’s become a free trade economy.

To this end, businesses have been using sales agents who operate as representatives of overseas companies. The sales agent’s job is to visit trade shows and potential suppliers on behalf of their company. As well, import-distributors that specialize in delivering and selling imported goods have played an important role for New Zealander consumers.

Having a local presence on the ground in New Zealand is definitely the best way to provide them with your goods and services.

Finding New Zealand Suppliers

The primary exports of New Zealand are agricultural goods and technologies. In addition to that, they’re well known for outsourcing their technological innovations to foreign manufacturing companies.

When you’re looking for a supplier in New Zealand the best site to use is ( They can help provide you with a ready and willing exporter.

Typically, New Zealand focuses on a specialized but limited array of goods and services. Most of their providers would likely accept and appreciate a phone call from a willing importer. Should talks go well they’ll request a face-to-face meeting.

Old fashioned networking and person-to-person interactions are the cornerstone of the New Zealand business world. If you’re hoping to break into it would be best to play by their rules.

Country content

You need 7 tools to master international trade. Find out what they are.

Major Trade Shows and Events

WhatWhereWhenWhat about
Autumn Gift & Homeware FairAucklandSpringGift & Homeware fair
Christchurch Home ShowChristchurchSpringRenovating and building expo showcasing latest products
FielddaysHamiltonSummerAgricultural Fair
Spring Gift & Homeware FairAucklandSummer Gift and Homeware fair
Canterbury Home ShowChristchurchFallHome and Garden products and services exhibition
Waikato A&P ShowHamiltonFallCanterbury’s foremost Agricultural and Entertainment Event

Business Culture

The business culture of New Zealand is very similar to that of the US. With that being said, there are some key differences to note. We’ve laid a few out to help you better understand the way they do business.


New Zealand’s business culture is a competitive one. There is both a necessity and reliance on shipping for both imported and exported product. This makes constant monitoring of shipping costs essential for any business attempting to enter into the market.

Literally Having Your Feet on the Ground

Considering how far New Zealand is from the rest of the world, it is critical for long-term business relationships and ventures to have a representative in New Zealand who can provide a local sales presence. New Zealanders appreciate meeting in person. It shows a level of commitment to the business deal and relationship.

Business moves quickly in New Zealand, new innovations are revolutionizing their industries rapidly and the state of the shipping industry is in flux. Having a local representative to monitor the market offers a considerable boon to the business attempting to make their way into New Zealand’s market.

Put as simply as possible, have a local presence, and pay close attention to the market.

Business Etiquette

The business etiquettes of New Zealand have surprisingly western sensibilities. Many US businesses will likely find themselves feeling comfortable talking shop with their Kiwi partners.

Dress to Impress

It’s expected at meetings that participants will respect corporate dress policies; a classic suit-and-tie style.


US businesspersons can also feel comfortable with their knowledge of appropriate business colors. The most adventurous tie you’re likely to come across at a business meeting would be a simple red.

Use Your Time Wisely

A properly maintained schedule is important as well. Scheduling a meeting at least a week ahead of time is considered common practice. Availability for meetings are usually on a case-by-case basis. It’s best to ask your contact if a time works for them and if not, allow them to suggest a better alternative.

Keep in mind that it may be difficult to schedule a meeting during December or January as those are common months for summer vacation. And yes, you did read that right. The months are reversed in New Zealand compared to what we’re used to in the US. Summer happens from December to February.

Bringing Gifts

It’s not considered standard practice to bring gifts to meetings. However, you should definitely bring and offer a business card, as well as accept the cards of whomever you’re meeting. While there is no proper timing to exchanging business cards, business in New Zealand is usually conducted by using Mr., Mrs., or Ms. followed by a surname. It may be helpful to your associate if you give them your business card quickly to help them out with this.

Due Diligence

Businesses in New Zealand take due diligence very seriously.You should expect business partners to look into your business, and know that they’re expecting you to do the same.

All countries care about due diligence, however due to New Zealand only entering a free trade market a little over 30 years ago they’re still somewhat cautious. It’s important not to see this as a sign of disrespect.

The most important actions involved in due diligence are…

  • Referee checks
  • Company Office checks
  • Audited Accounts’ checks
  • Credit checks
  • Insurance Certificate checks
  • Compliance Certificate checks
  • Site visits
  • Clarifications of Methodology and Approach to Delivery

So long as these checks come back all clear, the first obstacle to business in New Zealand will be a non-issue and you’ll be safe to begin talks.

Regulations, Permits, and Tariffs

As with all countries, New Zealand likes to import things that it does not produce itself. Which usually means manufactured goods such as clothing, electronics, or foreign produce.

New Zealand takes import control seriously and has a list of controlled products that cannot be brought into the country or require extensive paperwork and ministry approval. This includes the common items such as firearms and narcotics, but also focuses heavily on pesticides, plants, animals, and plant and animal products. This is to protect their own agriculture since it plays such an important role in their economy.

New Zealand takes import control seriously and has a list of controlled products that cannot be brought into the country or require extensive paperwork and ministry approval

In addition to the controlled imports list, certain publications, films, audio recordings, and computer disks are restricted due to objectionable content control laws. These laws are meant to limit violent and sexual media which is seen as harmful to the public good.

The New Zealand Ministry of Commerce allows imported goods not commonly available to enter the country for free. This typically applies to passenger vehicles and computer parts (software & hardware).

For more details on New Zealand’s import taxes you can look at their customs website. (

Business Advisories

Traveling to New Zealand is smooth sailing despite its unique climate. There is little you’ll need to be concerned about.

The standard traveling vaccines are recommended. It’s also common for traveler’s diarrhea to set in for the first while after arriving so talk to your doctor before leaving.

The primary concern for staying in New Zealand is that earthquakes are a common occurrence due to it being situated in an active seismic zone. They don’t usually interfere with day-to-day life, but it might be wise to be careful about what you leave near the edge of your desk.


The Internet age has been a considerable boon for New Zealand businesses due to the archipelago’s remote nature and its distance from the rest of the world.

As well as easing the import-export process, access to the internet has allowed ecommerce to thrive in New Zealand.

The need for efficient online payments makes Veem an efficient B2B payment option for trading with your Kiwi partners.

When conducting business with New Zealand it’s essential to maintain a consistent, readily-available, professional demeanor.

Veem can help by being your professional, round-the-clock answer to secure B2B transfers sent in a timely manner.

Thanks to our end-to-end verification system and real-time tracking you can rest easy knowing your money is going where it needs to be.

Making a payment with Veem as easy as sending off an email.


New Zealand Small Business Immigration: Starting a Business
New Zealand Small Business Directory and Travel Guide



* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.