Sophie Ryan is a Business Herald digital journalist.

Why are so many Australians moving to NZ?

Figures show more people are moving from Australia to New Zealand than vice versa. Photo / iStock
Figures show more people are moving from Australia to New Zealand than vice versa. Photo / iStock

Craig Norenbergs is among the rising population of Australians moving to New Zealand, a decision he says is perfect for "the Average Joe Aussie".

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand this week showed in 2015 25,300 people moved from Australia to New Zealand with a net gain of 800 migrants from the Lucky Country.

The net gain of migrants ended a 20-year trend of more New Zealanders leaving for Aussie, known as the "brain drain".

Craig Norenbergs moved to Auckland from Sydney is 2014 and is the general manager broadcasting for the NZ Racing Board. Photo / Janna Dixon
Craig Norenbergs moved to Auckland from Sydney is 2014 and is the general manager broadcasting for the NZ Racing Board. Photo / Janna Dixon

Norenbergs arrived from Sydney where he was head of sport for Australia's ABC Radio in October 2014. He took up a role as the New Zealand Racing Board's broadcasting general manager and brought with him his wife and son.

"I had never been [to New Zealand] before we moved here. I accepted the job and thought 'why not'.

"It not only lived up to expectations it's been better than we expected."

Norenberg said his new Kiwi friends often joke he should be working for Tourism New Zealand because his review of living here is so positive.

"The people are so nice, the country is so beautiful."

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He thinks Auckland traffic is better than Sydney's and the housing market hasn't scared him off.

"It's not like it has been a jolt. If I had moved from a country town in Australia you'd go 'My God, the prices', but things are similar to Sydney."

Norenbergs said he believed the pay rate is similar in Australia and New Zealand, but the decision to move here wasn't all about money.

"It's similar for Kiwis that go to Australia... some are looking to better themselves, but there's also the sense of adventure.

"I'm sure once you get to the really top end... the sky would be the limit in Australia, but if you're an Average Joe Aussie New Zealand would be the perfect place for you and your family."

If his wife and 10-year-old son had not settled in well in Auckland the family would have moved back to Sydney, but the whole family had made many friends, he said.

"We have made so many Kiwi friends who are just the nicest people."

The change in migration trend has attracted the interest of overseas commentators. Foreign affairs commentator Adam Taylor wrote in the Washington Post this week: "New Zealand has long been overshadowed by its geographically larger and more populated neighbour Australia... complicated by the fact that many New Zealanders moved to Australia in search of jobs and other opportunities."

He said the change in migration flow meant "the shoe is finally on the other foot."

In August The Australian called it "Revenge of the Kiwis".

Statistics NZ figures showed December was the ninth month in a row with a net gain of migrants from Australia. Before April 2015, the last net gain in migrants from Australia had been in June 1991.

Of all migrant arrivals in the December year, 25,300 were from Australia. Fewer New Zealand citizens left for Australia, with departures down 11 per cent to 21,100 in 2015, less than half the peak departures set in 2010.

Read the full release from Statistics NZ here.

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