New Zealand

New Zealand is a unique and compelling place. Its geographical remoteness and relatively small population belie a dynamic, go-ahead economy with a strong presence on the world stage.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in New Zealand. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in June 2021.

Welcome to New Zealand

There is much more to Aotearoa, as it’s known in Maori, than stunning mountain scenery and sleepy pastoral farms. Certainly, it remains a friendly, peaceful and welcoming place to live and work. But today’s New Zealand is a progressive and outward-looking nation – open to trade, welcoming to business, and with thriving sectors as diverse as winemaking and clean energy technology.

HSBC has had a presence here for decades: in fact, it was the first overseas bank to be granted a banking licence in New Zealand, in 1987, following deregulation of the country’s financial markets. Our dedicated team of professionals is well equipped to support your trading needs in this market via three global businesses: Commercial Banking, Wealth and Personal Banking, and Global Banking and Markets.

I look forward to offering a personal ‘Kia ora’ and discussing how we can support your business growth in New Zealand.

burcu-senel
Burcu Senel Chief Executive Officer,
HSBC New Zealand

Essentials

map-of-newzealand
Population
5,112,300
Size
268,021 sq km
Official languages
English, Maori
Capital city
Wellington
Other major cities
Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown
Currency
New Zealand dollar
Dialling code
+64
GDP
USD206.9bn
Top exports
Dairy products, meat, logs and wood articles, horticulture, crude oil, wine
Top imports
Petroleum and products, mechanical machinery, vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, textiles
Unemployment rate
4.9%
Corporation tax
28%
Typical office hours
8.30am to 5pm
Time zone
UTC +13
Emergency numbers
111 (fire, police, ambulance, civil defence)

New Zealand: Land of trailblazers

  • Beyond the farm

    Wool, butter and lamb sustained New Zealand for many decades. But in the face of high tariffs imposed by other nations, the economy has branched out into areas such as forestry, viticulture and innovative tech.

  • Focus on wellbeing

    Since 2019 New Zealand has become one of the first countries to base its national budgets on wellbeing rather than GDP, prioritising sustainable development, innovation and action to tackle inequalities.

  • Chinese partnership

    New Zealand benefits from strong links with Asia-Pacific markets and especially with China, its biggest trading partner.

  • Well-off consumers

    With average disposable household income after tax of NZ$86,626, the 5 million-strong Kiwi population represents a strong consumer market.

  • A worldwide draw

    New Zealand’s dramatic beauty is also one of its biggest assets: international tourism contributed 20% to the country’s total exports in 2020.

  • Pioneering spirit

    New Zealand is a land of innovators and pioneers. In 1893, it was the first nation to allow women to vote in parliamentary elections and, more recently, it was the first country to legislate climate reporting. New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary, along with Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, was the first to summit Mount Everest.

Country profile

The quirky kiwi makes an apt icon for New Zealand. The furry, flightless bird is one of many creatures found nowhere else in the world – and is as utterly distinctive as New Zealand itself.

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,600km from its nearest neighbour Australia, New Zealand is made up of more than 600 islands. The ‘mainland’, North and South Island, is characterised by spectacular mountains fringed by rolling farmland.

New Zealand’s human history is shorter than that of any other country. The first Polynesian settlers, later known as Maori, are believed to have reached it in the 13th century.

The first Polynesian settlers, later known as Maori, are believed to have reached New Zealand in the 13th Century.

Maori culture was to su.er under colonial rule. Since the 1980s, however, it has undergone a renaissance: in today’s New Zealand, Maori and European customs and language are closely entwined. Meanwhile, the country has become truly multicultural, with a growing Asian population joining migrants from Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Similar in geographical size to the United Kingdom, New Zealand has a relatively tiny and dispersed population of around 5 million. But it punches above its weight on the world stage. For sports fans, it is renowned for the All Blacks, the team that has dominated international rugby for almost a century. Cricket, netball, hockey, golf, and the America's Cup sailing are also popular sports.

5 reasons to do business in New Zealand

  1. Simplicity
    With a business-friendly culture, minimal red tape and a simple tax system, New Zealand is officially the easiest place in the world to do business according to the World Bank's Doing Business Report 2020 report.
  2. Stability
    New Zealand’s political system is stable, and its economy is well placed to regain the consistent growth achieved before the Covid-19 pandemic.
  3. Integrity
    A commitment to fair play pervades New Zealand culture – the country is consistently perceived as the world’s least corrupt society.
  4. Proximity
    A strong advocate of free and open trade, New Zealand enjoys good links to China and other growing Asia-Pacific markets.
  5. Quality of life
    A welcoming environment, wide open spaces and dramatic scenery are among New Zealand’s many advantages as a place to live and work.

5 key challenges to doing business in New Zealand

  1. 1

    Remote location

    The islands’ isolated position makes for logistical challenges and adds to the cost of living.

  2. 2

    Limited workforce

    While the local workforce is well educated, the labour market is tight, with a dependence on migrant workers to help fill local skills gaps.

  3. 3

    Productivity gap

    New Zealand’s productivity lags behind that of its peers, partly due to difficulties in sourcing skills and capital.

  4. 4

    Ownership restrictions

    A welcome for investors is balanced by rules designed to ensure key assets remain in New Zealand ownership.

  5. 5

    Small market

    New Zealand’s population represents a high-income consumer market, but at around 5 million it is a limited one.