How to rent a home in New Zealand

After the Christchurch earthquake, the grassroots movement Blog4NZ was born, aiming to support New Zealand tourism after the earthquake. For 72 hours, travel bloggers from all over the world will tell stories about a country we love. Here’s one of mine:

After I had my youngest daughter, I used the opportunity afforded by Norwegian family law (46 weeks parental leave with full pay) to travel somewhere and stay a while. And so we ended up living in New Zealand for half a year. One early January day in 2003, we left minus 25° C and arrived in Auckland at the height of summer; a wonderful beginning to our little adventure.

Inspired by New Zealand

Now, where to stay? My oldest daughter, Alex, and I had spent a week in Auckland a few years earlier and liked the big city. However, with a baby, I preferred somewhere smaller and more quiet. Leafing through an old Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand, I noticed a village called Devonport, just 10 minutes from Auckland by boat! It seemed perfect. Too good to be true, I wondered… Not at all! I’ll always have a soft spot for LP for pointing it out. Devonport turned out to be a charming and lively little village with everything we needed for everyday life and very cool city views across the Hauraki Gulf. And the short ferry ride to Auckland was a treat in itself. Sometimes we’d hop on just for the ride back and forth.

Alex, then 14, was to be a Year 11 student at Takapuna Grammar School.

rent a home in New Zealand
Takapuna Grammar School

The baby and I would just hang out and play all day. Other than that, no advance planning; I hadn’t even found somewhere for us to live. But these things have a way of sorting themselves out. And they did – although it was a little more difficult than I had anticipated.

How to rent a home in New Zealand – the process

Renting a house or a flat/apartment in New Zealand is a bit different from Norway and the USA. Here’s the gist:

  1. You look in the paper (more likely on the web these days) and see if there’s a property you like. The street will be listed, but not the house number, so now you
  2. call the estate agent, who then after a little conversation gives you the house number.
  3. You then go and have a look at the house from the outside – and if you like it, it’s
  4. back to the estate agent to make an appointment to see it from the inside.
  5. After you’ve seen it, and you like what you see, it’s back to the estate agent to sort out the details

Oh, and rent is calculated pr week, not month.

Ii was a bit difficult finding somewhere to live, as we arrived right before the America’s Cup. New Zealanders are keen and excellent sailors. Having won the America’s Cup two consecutive years, they were now confident of another win, despite the fact that the captain, Russell Coutts, and half the winning NZ team had abandoned ship, so to speak, to join the competitor Alinghi (from the great seafaring nation Switzerland). Understandably, the locals were a bit miffed. But I digress.

Darling Devonport

Devonport turned out to be right in the middle of the race course and the village was full of temporary residents (including billionaire sheiks) who paid heaps for accommodations. But after a lot of searching, I found a house that recently had been sold and due to be cut up and shipped to its new owners 2 months later. Problem solved. At least for a time.

This was our back yard – and the undisturbed view through the floor-to-ceiling windows in our sitting room:

Not very good quality photo, I’m afraid – scanned and all. But you get the idea. The friendly little mutt belonged to the neighbour and was a bonus.

Between volcanic Rangitoto Island and our sitting room, the sail boats would pass.

And the occasional cruise ship.

After the two months, we rented a little studio in a large, lovely garden for the rest of our stay. But that’s another story. If I’m ever to become a digital nomad, Devonport will be my first port of call.

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  1. Andrea 23 March 2011 at 0037 - Reply

    Very helpful post! We didn’t stay anywhere long enough to rent a place long-term but there are plenty of places there that I’d love to plant myself for awhile!

  2. Robert G 23 March 2011 at 1255 - Reply

    Interesting and useful post. In Australia they also calculated rent per week. I wonder why that is.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2011 at 1532 - Reply

      @Robert: Someone told me it has to do with salaries being calculated per week. Only hearsay, though…

  3. Marie 23 March 2011 at 1642 - Reply

    My goodness – that view is just stunning! Must have been damned difficult to give up.

  4. Randy 24 March 2011 at 2046 - Reply

    I love the idea of going somewhere and just holding up for a while. What a great experience that must have been. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the good information about the rental process, too.

  5. Sonja 25 March 2011 at 1420 - Reply

    Looks lovely! My thoughts are with NZ and their recovery.

  6. Marie 29 March 2011 at 0252 - Reply

    Nice post, Sophie! You can also rent directly from the owner in some cases rather than go through an agent. But that place you scored is amazing! I’ve never had a view like that:)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 March 2011 at 0702 - Reply

      @Marie: It really was. Didn’t need a TV, could just sit and look at the moon over Rangitoto all night.

  7. Sabina 1 April 2011 at 0715 - Reply

    Geez, freakin’ Louise – 46 weeks paid leave? This makes me want to come to
    Norway and have a baby just so I’ll be able to travel and get paid for it.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2011 at 1527 - Reply

      @Sabina: It’s pretty sweet, although up here we’re taking it for granted. It’s also possible to spread it out – 46 weeks with 100 % pay, 56 weeks with 80 %, and so on.

  8. Sensibletraveler 7 July 2011 at 1753 - Reply

    What a great back yard! Good post, with some good tips. I had to adjust to the weekly rent thing myself when I lived in NZ.

  9. Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 July 2011 at 2358 - Reply

    @Sensibletraveler – It was the perfect backyard! Funny, when I think of New Zealand, it’s the silhouette of Rangitoto that first pops to mind.

  10. James Cook 1 December 2011 at 2205 - Reply

    That is a great view of Rangitoto Island. I loved my trip there.

  11. Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 December 2011 at 0057 - Reply

    @James – Missing it myself now that the temperature is dipping below zero up here.

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