Living in Queenstown as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Queenstown Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Queenstown

Nestled in the heart of New Zealand's South Island, Queenstown is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, adventurous spirit, and high quality of life. With lakes, mountains, and vibrant urban Areas, this city has a unique charm that attracts tourists, students, and expats from all around the world. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or a startup enthusiast, Queenstown has something for everyone.

Tips for expats in Queenstown

Visa requirements

To live and work in New Zealand, expats must obtain a resident visa. This can be easily obtained through the New Zealand Immigration Service website. Completing an Express Entry work visa or an Essential Skills work visa depending on the type of job and qualifications applications can be completed online or through a New Zealand embassy or consulate. The visa fee ranges from NZD $415-$1785 (USD $290-$1265) depending on the visa category.

Language resources

While English is widely spoken in Queenstown, learning the local language (Maori) can help expats integrate better into the community. The Maori language is taught in primary and secondary schools, and it is also possible to learn the language through Maori language classes and cultural events.

Cost of living for expats in Queenstown


The cost of accommodation in Queenstown varies significantly based on location, proximity to amenities, and type of property. A room in a shared house typically costs between NZD $120-$180 per week (USD $83-$126 per week), while a one-bed apartment would cost around NZD $210-$280 per week (USD $149-$195 per week). Two-bedroom apartments cost around NZD $330-$500 per week (USD $228-$341 per week), and three-plus bedroom houses cost between NZD $660-$880 per week (USD $455-$615 per week).


The cost of groceries in Queenstown is high due to the city's remote location, but it is still lower than that of Auckland and Wellington. A weekly grocery budget of around NZD $150-$200 (USD $101-$135) should be sufficient for a person or couple. Going to a supermarket like Countdown, New World, or Four Square should save you some money.


Transportation costs in Queenstown are relatively low, with a public transportation ticket costing NZD $3-$5 (USD $2-$3) per trip. Monthly bus passes are also available at discounted prices. Taxis and ride-hailing services cost more, with Uber fares starting at NZD $6-$10 (USD $4-$7) for base fares.

Climate in Queenstown

Queenstown's climate is described as a sub-alpine mediterranean climate characterized by long, warm, and mostly dry summers and short, cold, and wet winters. The average highest temperature in January is 21°C (69.8°F), and the average lowest temperature in July is 1°C (33.8°F). Queenstown receives moderate rainfall spread throughout the year, with the highest rainfall during the summer months.

Job market in Queenstown

Queenstown's economy is flourishing, and the job market is robust across multiple industries, including tourism, education, healthcare, and agriculture. The tourism sector is the city's primary driver of economic growth, accounting for over 80% of the employment rate, while top employers in the education and healthcare sectors are Ara institute of Canterbury, Cromwell Medical Centre, and Queenstown Resort College. Industry events and job fairs are regularly held to connect job seekers with employers.

Healthcare in Queenstown

Queenstown offers unparalleled healthcare services with the Lakes District Hospital and the Queenstown Medical Centre providing essential primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare services. In case of an emergency, the St John Ambulance Service can be contacted via 111. The New Zealand Government also provides subsidized healthcare services to eligible expats holding a resident visa.

Transport in Queenstown

Queenstown has an efficient and reliable public transportation system, comprising bus services operated by Ritchies Transport Souther, Orbus, and GoSouth. Several bike routes and walking trails are available for those who prefer active transport. Taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are also readily available.

Safety in Queenstown

Queenstown is a safe city to live in, with crime rates relatively low compared to other New Zealand cities. Common crimes include theft and property damage, which are preventable through the use of locks and vigilance. Expat women are advised to be cautious at night and avoid walking in isolated areas outside the city center.

Neighborhoods in Queenstown

  1. CBD (Central Business District)

    The heart of Queenstown, CBD is the center of the city's commercial and cultural activities. It is easily accessible by public transportation and offers a variety of amenities, including restaurants, shops, and accommodation options.

  2. Frankton

    Located on the western side of Lake Wakatipu, Frankton offers a relaxed and laid-back lifestyle with easy access to the lakeside boardwalk, Frankton Beach, and several restaurants and cafes.

  3. Arrowtown

    Located 25 km west of Queenstown, Arrowtown is a historic town with well-preserved gold rush architecture and numerous hiking trails, rivers, and lakeside beaches.

  4. Queenstown Hill

    Located to the north of the Central Business District, Queenstown Hill offers stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, mountains, and the city. It is perfect for hiking, jogging, and picnics.

Attractions in Queenstown

  1. Milford Sound

    Located 120 km west of Queenstown, Milford Sound is a picturesque fjord that offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including boat cruises, hiking, and kayaking.

  2. Te Anau

    Located 190 km southwest of Queenstown, Te Anau is renowned for its scenic beauty, including the Milford Sound, the Doubtful Sound, and several glaciers.

  3. Skydive Queenstown

    Experience adrenaline pumping action with Skydive Queenstown, which offers skydiving experiences with stunning views of the mountains, lakes, and the city.

  4. Queenstown Bungy Centre

    Used in the "AJ Hackett Bungy Centre" in Queenstown's Kawarau Bridge, the Queenstown Bungy Centre offers thrilling bungy jumping experiences for adventure enthusiasts.

International Schools in Queenstown

  1. Queenstown Primary School

    Located in Rata St, Frankton, Queenstown Primary School is a government school that offers a traditional New Zealand education and has an excellent reputation for pastoral care.

    Queenstown Primary School offers homeroom teachers for Years 1-6 and provides after-school programs, sports teams, technology learning, and library resources. Fees are charged, and free lunches are provided. An international fee of around NZD $14,500 (USD $9,950) per year is applicable.

  2. Remarkables Primary School

    Located in Stanley St, Queenstown, Remarkables Primary School is a decile 9 government school that offers quality education to students from Years 1-6.

    Remarkables Primary School provides homeroom teachers for Years 1-6, after-school programs, sports teams, technology learning, and library resources. Fees are charged, and free lunches are provided. An international fee of around NZD $14,500 (USD $9,950) per year is applicable.

  3. Arrowtown School

    Located in Tucker St, Arrowtown, Arrowtown School provides traditional New Zealand education for students from Years 1-6.

    Arrowtown School offers homeroom teachers for Years 1-6, after-school programs, sports teams, technology learning, and library resources. Fees are charged, and free lunches are provided. An international fee of around NZD $14,500 (USD $9,950) per year is applicable.

Useful expat resources in Queenstown

Expat destinations in New Zealand