Retirees in New Zealand are spoiled for choice. Every region offers something spectacular, from world-class beaches to mountain ranges, buzzing city centres to picturesque lakes.
So, where in New Zealand should you retire? Which region best suits your lifestyle?
With so many options, the only difficulty is making a decision. To help, we have put together a quick guide to what’s on offer for retirees in each region.
Sunny Northland is a relaxed holiday utopia. This long, skinny part of the country is all coastline, with a few stunning natural features inland to boot, such as Rainbow Falls and Whangarei Falls. It’s one of the warmest regions in the country, with long, hot summers. The climate, combined with the coastline, make it a beach-lover’s dream.
Whangarei is the laid-back, urban centre of the region, and there are towns of various sizes scattered around Northland. For anyone who loves the beach, mild weather, and a relaxed pace of life, Northland is an ideal retirement destination.
View Retirement villages in Northland
Auckland might surprise you with its sheer abundance of possibilities. The city itself, on the shores of the sparkling Waitemata Harbour, is an urban oasis of bars, cafes, restaurants, galleries, events, festivals and endless things to do and see.
The region boasts natural highlights too: the verdant Waitakere mountain range and wild black sand beyond, the many volcanic cones that rise from the suburbs, the sandy beaches of the North Shore and the islands that lie offshore.
If you plan to stay busy during your retirement years, the exciting Auckland region is a great option, and it’s home to numerous villages to please all tastes.
The rural Waikato region is a Kiwi heartland, and a great low-key place to live with scenic farmland and down-to-earth towns. It is centred around Hamilton, which provides the urban necessities, and bisected by the mighty Waikato River.
The region is far more than just fields full of cows – it stretches to include the beach-and-forest wonderland that is the Coromandel Peninsula, and the surf beaches of Raglan on the west coast, as well as vast Lake Taupo. It’s also home to the quaint country town of Cambridge. A popular spot to retire, Cambridge is a beautiful town with a great community spirit. Cambridge has several first-class retirement villages.
If you like a friendly farming community, one of the many retirement villages in the Waikato might just be the right choice.
Bay of Plenty
A bay full of delights, the Bay of Plenty stretches from Tauranga to the tip of the East Cape and inland to Rotorua. It’s known for its cultural attractions, amazing geothermal displays, coastline of sandy beaches and the buzzing seaside town of Mount Maunganui that is New Zealand’s answer to the Gold Coast. The region is also home to many orchards, ideal for anyone who loves fresh produce.
Tauranga in particular is great for anyone seeking an urban lifestyle close to the beach. It has all you need from a city, including ample choices for retirement: there are 26 villages in Tauranga alone. It’s also New Zealand’s fastest growing city, so there is plenty of infrastructure investment and development underway. Tauranga’s retirement community is expected to grow significantly over the coming decade, so if you retire here, you’ll be in great company.
Tucked away at the bottom of the East Cape is Gisborne, the first place to see the sun each day. The region is located on an exhilarating coast of surf beaches, where big waves roll in from the South Pacific, and boasts some stunning vineyards further inland.
Gisborne city itself offers a relaxed, low-key lifestyle with a ‘small town feel’ that’s popular with young families and retirees alike. At around six hours drive from Auckland and Wellington, it’s one of the more isolated cities in the North Island – but that’s all part of its charm.
The Hawke’s Bay region is a breath of fresh air, a stunning part of the country where forested mountains give way to green hills that roll down towards a beautiful coastline. The cities of Napier and Hastings are the urban centres of the Bay, which includes the Kaweka Forest Park inland and a string of ocean-facing beaches from Mahia down to Blackhead.
The Hastings suburb of Havelock North is one of the most beautiful spots in the region, and it’s home to seven retirement villages – so there is no shortage of choice. Havelock North is known for its village-feel, heritage beauty, boutique shops, and excellent eateries.
If bucolic beauty and evocative ocean views are your preference, the Hawke’s Bay is a fantastic retirement location. Of course, there’s one major highlight we haven’t mentioned - the abundance of stunning vineyards and wineries that dot those pretty hills!
This special region on the west coast, centered around the mighty Mount Taranaki, is earthy and beautiful with a strong Maori heritage and plenty of history. The city of New Plymouth provides a great dining and arts scene, and is known for its picturesque coastal walkway that extends from Bell Block to Port Taranaki.
Retiring in one of the many villages around Taranaki could procure you a permanent mountain vista – if not from your home, then quite likely from your street. Mount Taranaki dominates the landscape; one can easily spend hours gazing at this special mountain over a pot of steaming tea.
For a low cost of living and a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, consider the Manawatu-Wanganui region for your retirement. The region is green and enticing, with a welcoming pastoral vibe which will make retired farmers feel right at home.
Whanganui is a lovely river city with heritage buildings and riverbank walkways, and has a hidden artsy side with old port buildings converted into studios and galleries. Another city in the region, Palmerston North, is New Zealand’s seventh-largest city and has a youthful vibe, thanks to its student population.
Urbanites, look no further than windy, wonderful Wellington as a vibrant place to begin your retirement adventure. While it’s a little smaller than Auckland, it is full to the brim with amazing places to eat, drink, shop and sip coffee while the world goes by. The compact nature of the city centre makes it easy to get around by foot or public transport, and there are myriad cultural and historic attractions including the famous Te Papa Museum.
From Wellington you can reach beaches, mountains, forests and more – it’s not all city slicking! The coastal community of Kapiti Coast is just a short drive away and a popular spot for retirees, with nine retirement villages. The sprawling suburbs of Lower and Upper Hutt also offer an excellent lifestyle, as does Masterton.
Overall, a retirement in Wellington would be full of fun and keep the most active minds occupied.
Sun seekers, Nelson and the Tasman region is for you. Not only does this part of the country get the most sunshine per annum, but it offers plenty of ways to enjoy it – the stunning beaches of Golden Bay, the walking trails and sandy coves of the Abel Tasman National Park, the sights of the Nelson Lakes National Park and even just coffees on cafe patios in Nelson’s charming city centre.
Retire to Nelson or the Tasman region and you’ll be in good company – many have already chosen to spend their golden years here. It’s great for a relaxed atmosphere and access to beautiful natural attractions.
Wine lovers unite in gorgeous Marlborough. There is so much here that makes it a wonderful place to live, particularly for retirees who have the spare time to truly enjoy the region. Sitting outside a cellar door with a glass of the local tipple is just one of the highlights - you might also enjoy cruising the Marlborough Sounds, where steep green hills drop into calm waters, strolling the waterfront of Picton, a charming port town, and generally making the most of the laid back pace of life.
Retiring in Marlborough is perfect for those who like the finer things in life, with scenery and wine at the top of the list.
The wild West Coast of the South Island is an astounding place of desolate and remote beauty, jawdropping nature and adventures galore. From the icy white heights of the Franz Josef and Fox glacier to the black sand and driftwood of the many long, evocative stretches of sand, the West Coast is a place for free spirits.
Active retirees will love the outdoor recreation on offer around every corner of State Highway 6, and those who like to feel connected with the nature’s power will benefit from the amazing landscapes of this coast.
There are currently no retirement villages on the West Coast, but we’ll be the first to let you know if any developments get underway.
Canterbury is far more than just Christchurch, although the elegant Garden City with its beautiful Avon River and leafy parks is enough to attract any discerning retiree. The region beyond is a contrast of mountains and plains, with stunning braided rivers running towards the coast. Gems include Kaikoura, the charming whale-watching town, Lake Pukaki which shine turquoise blue like the cover of a travel brochure, and the famous thermal resort town Hanmer Springs.
The numerous retirement villages of Canterbury are ideal for anyone who wants to experience the stunning scenery of the South Island while remaining not too far from a big city.
Tucked away in the southeast of the South Island, Otago has it all: a lively student city (Dunedin), an internationally famous tourist destination (Queenstown), a climate with four distinct seasons, coastal beach towns and an array of ski fields. Life is a little more remote down here, and there is a great community vibe as a result.
If you like cosy winters, sunny summers and cool, crisp spring and autumn days, and enjoy that friendly neighbourhood spirit, Otago might just be the right retirement location for you. Don’t forget to bring the a pair or two of long johns.
The southernmost region of New Zealand has a lot to recommend it: the same seasonal array as Otago, an abundance of delicious oysters, a low cost of living, the historic architecture of Invercargill, the beautiful Catlins Forest Park and one of the most stunning national parks on the globe: Fiordland, where cliffs and waterfalls drop into the clear wildlife-filled waters of the Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds.
A retirement in Southland opens up all kinds of possibilities. If you like to stay active and get out and about in the great outdoors, it is a fantastic option.
So, where in NZ will you retire?
As you can see, every region offers something special. If you’d like some help making your decision, please get in touch. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about moving into a retirement village.