The best places to raise a family in New Zealand

/ / Family Immigration, Life in New Zealand

New Zealand is regularly voted as one of the best countries to live in, for individuals and families alike.

Parents choose New Zealand because of the high quality of education and the lifestyle the country offers their family. Not to mention the fact that New Zealand is one of the world’s safest and most peaceful countries.

When one then has to consider the best places in New Zealand to raise a family, it’s almost impossible to single out specific cities or towns! It really comes down to what your family is looking for.

Big city lights

New Zealand’s three largest cities also happens to be three of the most popular cities with migrant families settling in the country.


Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, is in the North Island. It’s a diverse and cosmopolitan city, and Auckland is also New Zealand’s leading economic hub.

When it comes to things to do and see, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Auckland is home to many museums and historic sites, and regularly hosts festivals and sporting events. Auckland is also within travelling distance of magnificent natural attractions such as Rotorua Island, Muriwai beach, and Waitakere Rages Regional Park.

Auckland isn’t short on exceptional schools either. Of New Zealand’s eight best schools, six are located in Auckland! These schools are a mix of girls’, boys’ and co-ed schools:

It should come as no surprise that Auckland is also home to New Zealand’s top university. The University of Auckland is ranked as the number one university in the country year after year.


You can’t go wrong with Wellington. In the past it has been voted the ‘Coolest Little Capital in the World’. The city is also regularly voted as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

When exploring Wellington, you can visit several of New Zealand’s largest and oldest cultural institutions, quench your thirst at one of its many bars, cafes and restaurants, and indulge in the arts and cultural events.

With six of New Zealand’s eight best schools in Auckland, there are only two spots left – and both schools are in Wellington:

  • Scots College: Independent Presbyterian boys’ school. The school is however changing over to co-education for years 11 – 13 in 2020.
  • Queen Margaret College: Independent girls’ school.

Just like Auckland, Wellington can also boast one of the best universities in New Zealand. The Victoria University of Wellington also continuously performs well in world university rankings.


There is much to see and do in New Zealand’s oldest city. You can admire street art, marvel at state-of-the-art architecture, dine at world-class restaurants, and take in the creative scene.

Some of the highlights of Christchurch are:

When it comes to education, Christchurch is home to two of New Zealand’s top universities. The first one is the University of Canterbury, which is one of New Zealand’s oldest universities. The second institution is Lincoln University. This University prides itself on giving students ‘personalised attention’, which is made possible by keeping classes small.

Living at a slower pace

Life in big cities aren’t for everyone. Some of us prefer smaller cities and cities with a more relaxed pace of life.


Known as the ‘adventure capital of New Zealand’, Queenstown sits on the edges of Lake Wakatipu on South Island. Its lakeside location offers residents the chance to indulge in numerous activities ranging from jet boating to fly fishing and everything in-between! The surrounding mountains are perfect for walkers and hikers as well as photographers eager to capture the area’s beautiful landscapes

Despite all of the adventure activities on offer, Queenstown is described as quaint and relaxed. The city also hosts many cultural events throughout the year and has numerous fine-dining restaurants and cafes.


New Zealand’s 14-most-populous city offers plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained. You can explore the Whanganiu River that runs through the city, visit history museums and art galleries, or take a leisurely walk in one of the area’s natural parks and reserves.

Living in Whanganui also means you’re only an hour’s flight from Auckland. It’ll be easy for family and friends to visit!


Here’s something you may not know – Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun. Rise with the sun to make the most of the city’s beautiful coastline, forested mountain parks, and surfing and fishing opportunities with the kids. Many people do! It’s common to see Gisborne local surf or cycle before work.

You may also want to indulge in the magnificent food and wine the city has to offer. Gisborne is especially known for its chardonnay.

Need more reasons to consider Gisborne? According to the city’s official website, Gisborne ranks ‘high in happiness surveys’. The sunny climate, open skies and welcoming community most likely have a lot to do with this!

You want to be close to all of the best sights and sounds New Zealand has to offer

If you want to experience as much of New Zealand as possible, Hamilton and Rotorua should be at the top of your list.


Hamilton is set on the banks of the Waikato River and only 90 minutes from Auckland. However, the cost of living in Hamilton is much more affordable than in Auckland.

Living in Hamilton which means you’re never too far from somewhere to go or something to see. You’ll find Raglan, New Zealand’s surfing capital, the Hobbiton movie set, and the world-famous Waitomo Caves within driving distance of Hamilton.


Rotorua is a tourist hotspot and an all-year-round destination thanks to its mild climate. It’s never too hold or too cold. Another reason for Rotorua’s popularity is its central location on the North Island. You’ll get to Auckland, Napier, the Coromandel Peninsula, Mt Maunganui, and Mt Ruapehu in just under three hours.

The icing on the cake? The fact that Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most affordable cities to live in.

Want to find out if you and your family are eligible to live in New Zealand?

Finding out if you can call New Zealand ‘home’ is as easy as booking a free initial assessment with us. This assessment is non obligatory and will show any migration pathways open to you and your family.

Get your FREE initial assessment here

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

You'll get immigration advice and be the first to know about visa changes

Return to our blog