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 Queenstown | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
Queenstown | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
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The 10 Best Places To Live in New Zealand

Picture of Joe Coates
Updated: 19 February 2018
In a word, New Zealand is varied. For a relatively small island nation there are many different places to live, offering lots of options in the way of activities and opportunities. Here are 10 of our favourites spots from around the country.

Queenstown

We just had to start with a bit of a hiss and roar with the adventure capital – as it’s known – of New Zealand. Of all the places to live in the whole of the country, there is perhaps nowhere else that encapsulates the stark beauty, extreme outdoors lifestyle and colourful Kiwi culture like Queenstown. It ticks all the boxes, whether you’re into filling your Instagram with photographs that defy belief, shredding the slopes on a snowboard, relaxing in top-class restaurants and spas, or hiking and biking around in the summer. It’s one of those rare places in the world that never ceases to take your breath away on a daily basis, no matter how long you live there.

Wellington

The nation’s capital is also one of the country’s most popular and much-loved places to live. It is also, unsurprisingly, one of the more expensive places. What’s great about Wellington is that even though it’s a capital city, it still retains the feel of being just a big town. It’s not like Auckland, which is frenetic and busy and electric. It’s more relaxed here, with an easily navigable city centre that you can effortlessly get around on your feet. It has excellent public transport, some of the best cafes, bars and restaurants anywhere in the country, and an incredible nightlife and music culture. When all the fun gets too much though, it has some beautiful suburbs and great hidden nooks.

Evans Bay, Wellington
Evans Bay, Wellington | © Phillip Capper / Flickr

Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is the perfect place to live if you’re into the finer things in life. That is to say, if you can see yourself inhabiting a piece of New Zealand that is famed for its sensational food, world-class wine and beautiful art-deco architecture, then look no further. Hawke’s Bay even has that beautiful east coast weather going for it. If you’re after a cracking place to kick back, eat good food, drink good wine and enjoy some relaxed beaches then head to the Bay.

Taranaki

It’s the lure of the ocean and mountain that call many people to this west coast region. The fact that you can snowboard in the morning and surf in the afternoon during the winter months is one of the chief appeals for the locals. There’s also the fact that the Taranaki locals are notoriously lovely, and that there are heaps of things to do outdoors. The food out in this rolling green country is pretty epic, too, and there is a growing boutique beer culture. Taranaki really epitomises its nickname of Taradise.

Oakura, Taranaki
Oakura, Taranaki | © Dave Young / Flickr

Northland

Northland is beaches, beaches and more beaches. The weather is also particularly clement up these ways, and makes for a great place to live. Think Ninety Mile Beach, Poor Knights Islands, Cape Reinga, the remnants of the ancient kauri forests and the Bay of Islands. It is stretches of white sand, excellent seafood and giant dunes. Living up here is living away from the masses, but conversely means that you’re not too far removed from them. It’s a good and beautiful middle ground.

Te Paki, Northland
Te Paki, Northland | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

The West Coast

The West Coast of the South Island has recently been named the happiest place to live in the country. It might be slightly out of the way – and you’d be forgiven for having not heard too much about it – but with its calm, tranquil way of life, it’s not hard to see why the locals love it. The area itself is stunning and there are a couple of tourist attractions that pull the big crowds – the Franz Joesf and Fox Glaciers for instance – but for the most part, a dreamy and peaceful solitude lies over this part of the country. Having said that, there are still jet-boat tours and helicopter rides to be booked if you feel the need for a little shot of adrenaline.

Punakaiki, West Coast
Punakaiki, West Coast | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is particularly popular with tourists, but why wouldn’t you want to live on an island that is home to one of the most beautiful beaches to be found in the entire country? Due to the fact that it has such a pumping tourist industry there are also heaps of jobs to be had on Waiheke. For the backpacker that intends to stay on this island off the coast of Auckland, it can also be a surprisingly good place to save money. If you’re happy to work a summer during the peak of the tourist season and stay in a tent, then you can save a lot of cash on accommodation. Plus you’ll be waking up in what many people would consider a little slice of paradise.

Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island | © Goueg / Flickr

Rotorua

The first thing you’ll notice about the Rotorua area is the smell. Yes, it’s a little whiffy and of the egg variety, but you’ll soon get used to that. With the plethora of activities that are available in the area the smell of sulphur will soon be the last thing on your mind. Not only is there a host of things to keep you busy, but Rotorua is also one of the cheaper cities to live in NZ. When you think that this great spot is only a three-hour drive from Auckland, just down the road from Taupo and a few hours from skiing at Mount Ruapehu, you’re really going to want for nothing.

Rotorua Art Museum
Rotorua Art Museum | © Tony Hisgett / Flickr

Mount Manganui

Mount Manganui – or The Mount, as it’s referred to by locals – is a bit of a hip-and-happening spot on the east coast of the North Island. Although it has been swallowed up by the expansion of Tauranga, it is still very much its own place and retains a separate identity to the bigger city. It stands out on a peninsula, surrounded by amazing white sandy beaches, and is home to some excellent, groovy independent bars and restaurants. It’s a haven for those who love their fitness, so if you’re into your paddle-boarding and early morning jogging then this could be the place for you to settle down for a while.

Auckland

Although this might stir up a bit of controversy among New Zealand locals, Auckland is one of our favourite picks for places to live on this versatile island. Yes, it’s mind-bogglingly expensive if you’re looking to buy a house; we’re talking an average house price of almost $900,000 NZD, which is roughly $300,000 NZD higher than the national median. Discount this ridiculous statistic though – and the fact that Auckland is a sprawling city – and Auckland’s charms are evident. The fact that it is the biggest city in country means that there is always something happening. There are a myriad of shows, restaurants, shops, sports events and parks to enjoy. Auckland has a little bit of everything going on.

Auckland Waterfront
Auckland Waterfront | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr