As an American, you can enter New Zealand with an NZeTA which will give you a 3-month visa (if you enter by airplane, cruise ship, or private yacht.) If you plan to stay longer than 3-months, which most cruisers do, you have to then apply for a tourist visa which will give you an additional 6 month stay. Most countries will allow you to extend your visas, especially if you are spending money in their country.
However, NZ allows Americans to either stay 9 months in an 18 month period or 12 months in a 24 month period (see here). Here is where we run into a problem and face possible expulsion from this amazing country.
Last season we arrived in early November and left in early July. Matt never left NZ while I flew back and forth to the states several times (as my dad was very ill). By the time we left, Matt had spent just over 8 months and I had spent about 6 months in NZ. Well shoot. Even if we got approval for the 12 months in a 24 month period visa that is not enough time for us. It would have us leaving in February which is the peak of cyclone season. So, we need to do something to fix our visas.
Booted or Booty?
Seems so strange to me that NZ would kick us out considering how much money we spent last season and this season on repairs and upgrades. But thems the rules. So, we had to decide…do we return and schedule a lot of work costing a lot of money with the hopes that we won’t get booted?
We decided to take the risk. Here is what we had to do to get an extended visa. It is a long process that wasn’t cheap.
Visit the NZ Immigration website. You complete a very long online application, upload about a dozen documents, pay money, get a complete physical and medical check, pay more money, and wait.
Reach out to us if you are interested in learning how to properly complete this application or hire an immigration agent to assist you.
The application inquires about standard information on you, your boat, and your spouse. They ask about your health, financial status, criminal background, and more. Nothing is sacred.
It requires proof and uploads of financial status (past 3 months), proof of the value of the boat (insurance documents work), proof of marriage (if applicable and applying as a married couple), scans of passport bio page, boat registration, temporary import entry (TIE), and completion of the INZ 1224 form.
In addition you have to upload a photo of yourself in front of a non-white, solid color background, not smiling, with hair behind your ears, solid color shirt, and a very specific pixel size. It was such a pain to get this just right. The system rejected a dozen of our photos!
NZ is a socialized medicine country which means they don’t want their tourists to be a burden on their society. Our visas required us to get a complete physical. We went to Rust Avenue Medical as they were able to get us in quicker than White Cross in Whangarei. Even though it was quicker, it was still a 2-week wait. This was rather a long process and took us about 2.5 hours and cost $300USD per person. They did a urine test, checked our vitals, asked us a dozen questions, asked us to do basic physical activities (bend over, touch toes, etc…), eye exam, listened to our heart & lungs.
From there, we walked two buildings down the road to the pathology lab and had a full blood test run (including for Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, HvA1C, and full blood count). This took about 45 minutes, no appointment needed, and cost $250USD per person.
Next we went to TRG Imaging which is next to White Cross in Whangarei. We had to get chest x-rays. We walked in without an appointment and were done within 15 minutes, the cost $250USD each.
The medical facilities all uploaded the results to the immigration website. Within 24 hours we were notified that immigration had all of our results. Now that is fast!
The Waiting Game: Visas
It is a bit nerve racking as you wait for your visa approval. Supposedly, if your application is submitted and is in process you don’t have to worry, even if your NZeTA expires. But that is a big “supposedly”
The other interesting thing is that our NZeTA visas are good for 2 years. So, our NZeTA is valid until 29 September 2024. Which means technically you can enter, leave and re-enter for another 3-months as long as this NZeTA is valid. But what I don’t know is how this works when your standard tourist visa expires. Surely their system shows that we have both an NZeTA and a tourist visa and we try to enter on the NZeTA with an expired Tourist Visa they will stop us? So many questions….
We finally had a reply three weeks after our medical records were submitted to immigration. The email was non-descript and short. It did not have any hints as to whether we will be denied and booted from NZ or accepted to stay. I opened the attachment with such trepidation and anxiety!
Kicked Out ?
We were ACCEPTED! Thank God! Not only that, but we were given a multiple entry (so I can fly back to the States). Usually this type of visa is a one entry visa meaning you only can enter once and being that we were already here we could not leave and come back during this visa period. So, lucky for us we got multiple entry so I can fly back to the states and return to my boat.
We feel so blessed to have been approved and look forward to exploring the NE shores of NZ!
Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events. This blog took place in November. Several beastly boat projects get completed in the last blog post.