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New Zealand Visa Requirements for South Africans

How to get a New Zealand visa with a South African passport

All those travelling on a South African passport now require a visa in order to visit New Zealand. This was implemented in 2016, as a result of an increasing number of South Africans being denied entry at immigration stations at New Zealand's airports. The South African government quickly retaliated by making visas mandatory for Kiwis visiting South Africa.

Breaking news: On 1 Apr 2018 Immigration New Zealand is closing its Pretoria office, as "there is no need for visa applicants to physically go into an Immigration New Zealand office to lodge their applications". In future Visa Application Centres, which provide a service on behalf of Immigration New Zealand, will receive all applications.

Most South Africans looking to holiday in New Zealand will want to apply for the "visitor visa", which usually allows travellers to enjoy a vacation for up to 9 months in the country (the other types of visas are business, work, joining family, study and residence). Of course, even if you obtain a visa, you can still be denied entry by border officers - this is at their discretion - so make sure that you have all your paperwork with you when you travel, so you can at least argue your case.

Having said that, tourism-related activities employs 8% of Kiwis, and is their largest export-earner (forming 20% of the total) - surpassing dairy. Tourism There are several steps to obtaining a New Zealand visitor visa.

Step 1: Ensure that you have a valid South African passport

If you need to apply for a new passport, in our experience you can usually get it within 10 days from South African Home Affairs (but be prepared to queue for a long time - this can take you the better part of a day). Temporary passports are no longer issued. You can find your closest home affairs office by clicking here.

Passports must not be older than 10 years. South African passports must be valid for at least 3 months after the date of return to SA (why the need to have it valid after your return date? Well, governments tend to err on the side of caution, factoring in any unforeseen circumstances which may occur). The passport must have the applicant's signature on the relevant information page (newer SA passports already have the signature embedded on the hard cover; Older SA passports must sign the information page at the back). Passports require 2 valid, blank and consecutive pages (marked VISA). Visa pages are invalid if damaged or stained by stamps from other pages.

In the year to 30 Jun 2018, 125 South Africans attempting to travel to New Zealand were offloaded (see report).

In year to 30 June 2018, 125 South Africans were refused entry either on arrival in New Zeland, or prevented from boarding a plane to the country

Step 2: Establish which Visitor Visa to Apply for

There are several types of visitor visas:

  • (general) visitor visa

  • group visitor visa

  • parent & grandparent visitor visa

  • visa waiver visitor visa

Step 3 : Establish What Documents You Need

Note that all documents must either be in English or have English translations.

  • Valid passport (upload a copy when applying online, when applying on paper ideally send the original passport); however even for online applications you must send your original passport via courier.

  • 2 visa photos if applying with paper, or 1 if you are applying online

  • If you're visiting New Zealand for more than 6 months, you need to have a chest x-ray, to show you don't have tuberculosis.

  • Work, personal and financial commitments in South Africa or New Zealand.

  • Details of any family you have in SA and New Zealand.

  • Any other documents which show you'll be wanting to return to South Africa.

  • A ticket to fly back to South Africa - do not purchase your plane tickets until you've obtained agreement in principle that you will have your application approved.

  • Documents which indicate that you are indeed holidaying or visiting family or watching sport, or whatever the purpose of your visit is.

  • Documents which indicate you'll be able to support yourself during your stay. This must be a minimum of NZD400 / month if you have prepaid for your accommodation; and NZD1000 / month otherwise. Other evidence may be travellers' cheques, credit card statements, bank statements and proof of anything prepaid; like hotels or accommodation (or details of free accommodation if you are staying with friends/family). If you have a sponsor, then their details should be provided, including their ability to support you.

  • Ideally have proof of medical cover during your trip.

In addition to the documents required; you also need to be of good character. For example; you won't be granted a visa if you've ever been

  • deported or removed from any country; or convicted of offences to do with passport laws, citizenship or immigration.

  • have ever been imprisoned as a result of being convicted for an offence, been sentenced to imprisonment for more than 5 years, been sentenced to prison for a year or more anytime during the last 10 years, or are being investigated or charged with an offence which has a prison term of a year or more.

Step 4 : Submit your application

Applying online is the way to go if you're doing an individual application and have a credit card to pay with - it's faster and cheaper. Of course for online applications you'll need to have electronic copies of all the documents; e.g. your passport. If you apply online then you could possibly get an eVisa - a visa approval letter which you can print out and take with you. Click here to start the online application process (if you find discrepancies between this page and that one, take that one as being the correct version).

Step 5 : Pay the Fees

Fees can be paid with various credit cards and debit cards: Mastercard, UnionPay or Visa.

Click here for US visa requirements

Click here for India visa requirements

Click here for Schengen visa requirements

Click here for UK visa requirements

New Zealand Embassy in South Africa

If there are any questions for which you cannot find the answers you may want to contact the New Zealand embassy or consulate in South Africa:

  • Pretoria (Embassy): 125 Middle Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, 0181 (near to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea; between Melk Street and Florence Ribeiro Avenue). Phone 012 435 9000. Email

  • Cape Town (Consulate): Eastry Road, Claremont, 7708. Phone 021 683 5762.

Click here to see the official website for the New Zealand embassy in South Africa.

Working Holiday Visa

South Africa isn't on the list of countries for which New Zealand offers a working holiday visa option.

Globally, the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand immigration processes are the best at identifying and recruiting skilled immigrants who meet their country's labour force needs.

Emigrating to New Zealand

So, you want to go the whole hog, and emigrate to New Zealand? You are not alone, in fact the 2013 census showed that just over 1% of New Zealand's population have South African roots; including the likes of Andrew Mehrtens (All Black rugby player) and BJ Watling (cricket). Besides the obvious attraction of far lower crime, New Zealand shares the same colonial background and of course the same language (English) as South Africa.

September 2017 Election

A new government led by Labour's Jacinda Ardern came into power, with one of their stances being to reduce net immigration into New Zealand by 20,000 to 30,000p.a.; and have more stringent rules to force employers to first look to hire New Zealanders before considering foreigners. So, if you want to emigrate to New Zealander you'd better move soon, before politicians make it harder to do so. On the other hand, she has no plans to build a wall and there will still be a significant amount of immigration into New Zealand allowed. 'We are trying to balance how to make sure we have the right skills set that comes via immigration, whilst also being able to provide those who call New Zealand home with a decent standard of living.' Jacinda Arden quoted on the 31st October 2017.

Another election promise was that Labour would only issue stuent visas for undergraduate degrees if they were assessed by NZQA and TEC (Tertiary Education Commission).

A polish model flew into Auckland with a visitor visa actually intending to work as a model. Her Facebook post said: "So I booked a 3 day job in New Zeland! Dreams do come true!". The model was not allowed to . enter the country and had to leave on the next flight out.

Visa to Emigrate

There are 4 avenues for emigrating to New Zealand:

  1. Studying

  2. Working

  3. Investing

  4. Joining up with family already in New Zealand

English in New Zealand has its nuances.

"Sweet as", "Ugly as" and "Good as" are all Kiwi slang - everything ending in "as".

Getting invited for "tea" is dinner - just invite them for a "cuppa". To confuse things more, supper is tea!

Going for a "smoko" means taking a break at work - few people smoke anymore, but the expression remained.

Be careful with using the word "must", as it'll be interpreted that you're demanding that somebody does something.

A traffic circle is a roundabout.

A cooler box is a chilli bin..

A "geyser" is a hot water cyclinder.

A "robot" is a traffic light.

"Ice creams" are ice blocks.

A bakkie is an UTE (Utility Vehicle).

Study Visa

Are you looking to study for less or more than 6 months? If you're looking to study for less than 12 weeks then a visitor visa is probably the way to go. If you're older than 18 and are looking to study for more than 6 months in New Zealand then your options are:

  • Exchange student visa (at the end of which you could potentially apply for a visitor visa, to holiday in New Zealand)

  • Fee paying student visa (at the end of which you could potentially apply for a work visa, or a new student visa)

  • Foreign government supported student visa (at the end of which you could potentially apply for a work visa, or a new student visa)

  • Pathway student visa (at the end of which you could potentially apply for a work visa, or a new student visa)

The student visas are for a maximum of 4 years, except for the Pathway Student Visa which is for up to 5 years.

If your end goal is to reside in New Zealand, then take care to study for a course which will result in a level 1, 2 or 3 ANZSCO; as this woul make it easier to get a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.

Fee Paying Student Visa

This allows you to study full-time for more than 12 weeks in New Zealand, whilst, as the name would imply, paying your own way. The visa allows you to work up to 20 hours a week during the holidays. Your children and partner can apply for visas:

  • Child of a student visitor visa. You children can be in New Zealand for the same amount of time as the parent's visa allow. The children may attend school in New Zealand for a maximum of 3 months.

  • Partner of a student visitor visa. This allows you to study up to 3 months and be in New Zealand for the same time as your partner's visa. Similarly to all visitor visas, it does not allow you to work.

Working Visas

There are various types of work visas:

  • Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

  • Essential Skills Work Visa

  • Specific Purpose Work Visa

  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa

  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Resident Visa

  • Post Study Work Visa - Employer Assisted

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa

  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Resident Visa

  • Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Resident Visa

  • Partner of a Student Work Visa

  • Business Visitor Visa

  • Post Study Work Visa - Open

  • Partner of a Worker Work Visa

  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa

  • Entrepeneur Work Visa (and then Entrepeneur Resident Visa)

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa

If you are looking for a path to permanent residency and have work experience and skills in an area where there is a shortage in New Zealand, then you may want to check whether you qualify for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. The visa also allows any children you have who are 24 years old or younger to be included in your residential visa application, as well as your spouse or partner (if you are not married, then you must have an enduring and stable relationship with your partner). Yourself and your partner/children may then indefinitely live, study and work in New Zealand. The SMC Resident Visa works on a points basis.

You don't actually start the process with an application, rather the first step is to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), and every 2 weeks a draw is done from the EOIs based on points scored, to invite prospective immigrants to then apply for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (ITA = Invitation To Apply). Currently those EOIs with at least 160 points are automatically invited to apply.

After receiving an ITA you will then have 6 months within which to submit your application. Within the application you will need to provide evidence that you actually have the points that you claimed on your EOI, for the New Zealand immigration authorities to verify. Points are awarded for the following categories:

  • Qualifications. Your qualifications will either need to be on the list of qualifications exempt from assessment (click through to see the list of South African qualifications), or you need to get your qualifications assessed (an expensive process which can take up to 35 days).

  • Work experience. The work experience only counts if it is in the same field as your job/offer as well as your qualification.

  • English ability.

  • Age. You must be younger than 55, and the younger you are the better.

  • Whether you are already working in or have been offered a skilled job in New Zealand. The job must involve 30 hours or more of work per week, and be for a contract of at least a year or permanent employment. The employer must offer you at least the legal minimum leave requirements and pay the market rate which would be paid to somebody living in New Zealand (they want to avoid a situation where foreigners are paid less than locals to do a job, thus resulting in locals not being able to get work). If you want to run your own business in New Zealand, then you should not apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa - an option you may want to consider is the Entrepeneur Resident Visa. In order for it to count as skilled work the job must be:

    • ANZSCO (Australian & New Zealand Standard of Classifications) skill level 1, 2 or 3 & be paid NZ$48,859 p.a. ;

    • Other occupations must earn at least NZ$73,299 p.a.;

    • Note that bonuses dependent on performance are excluded from the calculation of the hourly rate;

    • The thresholds are recalculated every November.

  • Above details for your partner (if any).

You will also need to be "of good character". Yourself and any partner & children who are applying alongside you will need to meet health criteria (New Zealand wants to avoid people who are going to become a burden on the state).


Level of Recognised Qualification

Level 3

Level 4 to 6

Level 7 to 8

Level 9 to 10









Years of full time study in New Zealand

Partner Qualifications


2 in Bachelor Degree

1 Post-grad

2 Post grad

Level 7 to 8

Level 9 to 10

Bonus Points








Work Experience













Points awarded for work experience were recently increased.


More than one year's skilled work experience in New Zealand

2 to 5 years work experience in absolute skills shortage area

6+ years work experience in absolute skills shortage area

Bonus Points




Whilst you don't have to supply documents to prove this with your EOI, if you apply for the residence visa you will need to supply your do so, including supplying an employment contract.



20 to 39

40 to 44

45 to 49

50 to 55






Job in New Zealand

The same points are awarded if you/your partner already have/has a skilled job in New Zealand, or if you/partner have/has a job offer.


Skilled Job

Job situated outside of Auckland

Job in an area where there is an absolute skills shortage

Partner has a skilled job

Very high salary







English Competency

Whilst it doesn't count for points, you'll need to demonstrate that you are competent in English; as well as your children who are younger than 16 and still dependent, and your spouse/partner.

Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa

This is a 9 month visa to come to New Zealand to look for a job; for those who are aged from 20 to 35 years old, who are highly skilled. It's currently closed, and will reopen on the 28th November 2018.

Entrepeneur Work Visa

You must be willing and able to start a business in New Zealand, with seed capital of at least NZ$100,000; the business will be scored on various criteria and it will need to score 120 points or more. Don't bother applying if you've ever been involved in fraud; or been involved in business failure/bankruptcy in the last 5 years.

As for other visa applications, you must be sufficiently competent in english, be of good character and healthy enough.


Check the website of the government department which regulates your profession/industry, whether your qualifications need to be accredited. So, for example, check the law society's website if you are a lawyer. Click through to this page to check whether you are required to be registered for your occupation.

Registration is not required for accountants, engineers, plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers.

Registration is required for architects, barristers, cable jointers, cadastral surveyors, chiropractors, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, clinical dental technicians, clinical dental therapists, dental hygienists, dental technicians, dental therapists, dentists, dietitians, dispensing opticians, electrical service technicians, electricians, enrolled nurses, insurance advisers, financial advisers, line mechanics, medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, medical practitioners, medical radiation technologists, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, plumber/gasfitters (sanitary work only), podiatrists, psychologists, real estate agents, solicitors, teachers, veterinarians, veterinary surgeons and psychotherapists.


If you're in the construction industry then you're in luck - there is strong demand for those in the trade - carpenters,, diggers, drain layers, drivers of class 1 to 5 vehicles, foreman, joiners, mechanics, scaffolders, structural engineers an welders. Click here to upload your CV and apply.

The easiest way to find a job in New Zealand is to use a recruitment agency, but they would take a cut of your salary - click here to find a list of recruitment agencies. The best websites to use to look for jobs are and as they specialise in connecting businesses in New Zealand up with foreigners who are wanting to emigrate to New Zealand. Alternatively, you could try other job sites, but the employers may not necessarily be open to hiring foreigners - e.g. and

Investor Visa

There are three options:

  1. Investor Plus Visa

  2. Investor Visa

  3. The Entrepenur Work Visa - see above

The major difference is the amount of the investment.

After being accepted you need to invest the money in New Zealand, and you will need to provide proof that you have invested the money in New Zealand. Of course there's nothing stopping you from investing in NZ before you have been accepted. Once the money is invested in NZ, you may shift it between qualifying assets.There are a wide range of acceptable investments, ranging from relatively safe investments in NZ government bonds to NZ venture capital funds. Qualifying assets are the same for the Investor Visa as the Investor Plus Visa.

With either visa you'll be able to take your family with you to New Zealand (dependent children under the age of 25 and spouse/partner). You will be able to work and study in NZ, on an indefinite basis.

Investor Plus Visa (Investor 1)

This requires an investment of NZ$10m or more, which must be invested for 3 or more years.

Investor Visa (Investor 2)

This requires an investment of NZ$3m or more, which must be invested for 4 or more years. You may only apply up to the age of 65, and only 400 investor visas are issued every year. A points system is used to make selections. You will be required to spend a minimum number of days p.a. and over a 4 year period in New Zealand, and to be competent in english.

Joining Family in New Zealand

There are a number of possibilities:

  • Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa

  • Parent Retirement Resident Visa

  • Dependent Child Resident Visa

  • Parent Resident Visa

  • Refugee Family Support Resident Visa

Parents Visa : Discontinued for Now

The option for parents to immigrate via the "parents category" has been closed - this decision may be reversed in the future. The reason for the temporary closure is because of the large number of applications which are already in the system versus the annual maximum of 2000 visas. The options available to parents are (1) The Parent & Garndparent Visitor Visa (maximum of 6 months at a time, over 3 years, with 18 months must be being spent outisde New Zealand); and (2) The Parent Retirement Resident Visa, which requires investment of a minimum amount in New Zealand.


Other visa-related bits and pieces:

Keep your SA Citizenship

South Africans are allowed to hold dual citizenships, but must first obtain written permission from the Minister of Home Affairs, before trying to get a second citizenship.

Online Application / Personal Assistance

Most visa applications, whether for visitor, student or work, can be done online, and it's often cheaper and quicker to do it that way. Navigate to to see how. You can not only pay your application fees online; but also upload photos & documents.

Whilst everything can be done yourself, sometimes one needs a bit of help. Your first port of call is to visit the knowledge bank and its FAQs. You can phone New Zealand Immgration and ask your question at +64 9 914 4100; or send an online query here.

If you do require personal advice from somebody, make sure that person is properly licensed. Click here to check whether your advisor is licensed. There are some categories of advisors who are exempt from being licensed, e.g.: lawyers with a New Zealand practice certificate, government employees whose day to day job involves giving immigration advice and, education agents who are restricted to advising on student visas.


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