Unless you're an Australian citizen, you'll need some sort of visa to set foot in New Zealand. Fortunately, we've made things simple for you. You'll typically be looking for one of the three choices below. Make sure you understand the difference between a visa and a permit - a visa is applied for while overseas, while a permit is applied for once you're within the NZ borders.
A visitor visa for New Zealand is pleasantly easy to sort out if you're a permanent UK resident. Just turn up at the airport in Christchurch, Auckland or Wellington and hand over your passport, and you'll get a six-month visitor visa absolutely free! No forms, no hassle, no worries.
The same applies for a number of other countries, except you will only be entitled to a three-month visitor visa. If you've had no troubles with entering countries before, then it is likely you'll be allowed into New Zealand.
It's also possible to extend the length of your stay in New Zealand to up to nine months by contacting the New Zealand Immigration services. This can also be done online, although you will need a valid VISA or Mastercard to pay the NZ$80 fee for the extension. They will also require proof of onward travel at the end of your ninth months.
To apply for a New Zealand working holiday visa, there are several requirements that you'll need to meet. New Zealand Immigration will only grant visas to childless tourists over 18 and under 30, and you must have a return ticket (or funds with which to buy one). They also ask that you have at least NZ$350 per month to support yourself, and that you meet various health and character requirements, so make sure you're on your best behaviour!
If you are already in New Zealand on a valid permit or visa, you can apply for a working holiday visa by using the online service supplied by NZ Immigration, or by contacting them directly. An online permit/visa is a print-out that you need to keep with you at all times, while the offline working visa is a label stuck inside your passport.
As of November 2005, you are able to choose either a 12-month or 23-month stay in New Zealand, although additional paperwork is needed if you're planning on the 23-month trip, including a medical chest and x-ray certificate (to supply with your visa application). Bear in mind that applicants requiring on-going medical care, such as dialysis, or with conditions like TB, are likely to have their applications declined (although to be fair, if you've got TB, it's unlikely you're looking for a holiday right now anyway).
Conveniently, your working holiday visa comes with multiple entry visas - the Kiwi government don't mind if you leave New Zealand and come back, as long as it's within the length of time specified by your work permit/visa. Time you spend abroad, unfortunately, won't be added to the length of time you're allowed to work. Once you hit the 12-month limit, that's your lot.
Before applying for a student visa or permit, you'll need to have a placement offer from a New Zealand education provider. This must include the name and location of the course, proof that the course is available to international students, and the fees (if any) that you are required to pay.
The length of your course is also an important factor in whether or not your visa or permit will be granted. If your course is less than three months, as a British resident you'll be able to study under the standard free visitor visa (see above). However, if your course is between three and nine months, you can either try to extend your visitor visa or you can apply for a student visa.
If you'll be studying for nine months, you'll need to provide NZ Immigration with proof you'll have access to NZ$1,000 per month, and an additional NZ$400 per month to pay for accommodation, or proof your accommodation has already been paid for. A course that lasts longer than nine months requires proof of NZ$10,000 per year to cover living costs.
The student visa granted by the NZ government lasts for a year, but as many courses will last longer than this the visa is renewable. Currently, the student visa costs NZ$230 - make sure to arrange your visa at least two months before your course is due to start, as it can take over a month to process.
Bear in mind that the student visa is not a working visa. You will be required to show you are attending your place of education, and that you are passing your course - so no slacking! You are allowed to gain part-time employment while studying full-time, however. This can take the form of practical work experience for your course, over the Christmas period if you are in full-time education, and up to 20 hours a week if you're at university and your course is longer than 2 years.
Exchange rate (01/12/2011) = £1 ; NZ$2.02