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Fitness and Sport for Expats in New Zealand

Submitted: October 2014


As with most First World countries, New Zealand has been victim of the recent obesity epidemic. However, it is still a sporty nation with fitness centres around the country. The Ministry of Health provides a qualification system called the REP (Register of Exercise Professionals), and you should ensure that any gym or facility you sign up with adheres to these guidelines and is made up of REPs.

The beautiful scenery of New Zealand ensures that cycling is an excellent experience. Have a look at the Bike Barn or other sites to find good quality bikes, and note that if you are sticking to urban routes you are best off with a road bike. If, however, you wish to experience the landscapes of New Zealand first hand make sure you buy a mountain bike. Both can be found for $250 NZ upwards, though if you are planning to cycle regularly do some research and buy a higher quality bike.

Cycle New Zealand is an excellent resource for any aspiring cyclists, providing bike hire, maps of routes, and guided cycle tours for beginners or those worried about getting lost. There are hundreds of cycling events all year round ranging from leisurely rides to gruelling off-road events, and the official tourism website provides a calendar of events to check out here.
Fold-up bikes can be carried on most NZ trains free of charge. Some rail services may allow any kind of bike free of charge on a first come, first serve basis as there is a limit to how many bikes can be carried on a train; some services may impose a charge. Make sure you do your research before planning a trip or you may get a nasty surprise in the form of extra fees or even a fine.

If you prefer a full workout, there are over 200 licensed gyms throughout New Zealand, from small independent gyms to large chains. The vast majority contain basic cardio and resistance training (weightlifting) equipment, and many beyond that will have other facilities such as pools, rowing machines, saunas and trained sports masseurs. Subscriptions are generally paid either yearly or monthly and tend to cost from $40 a month, though many gyms will allow you to pay for a day pass. If you prefer not to be drawn into a long contract, some gyms may offer a contractless monthly payments plan wherein you choose how many months you wish to pay for. A full directory of gyms with contact details and a county map can be found here.


Sport is extremely popular in New Zealand. The number one sport is rugby union, and the New Zealand All Blacks are widely considered to be the best rugby team in the world, currently ranked first and holders of the Rugby World Cup. Rugby is the unofficial national sport of the country, and a large part of NZ culture. If you want to take an active role in rugby, have a look at the Rugby Union website which provides a guide on how to get started. Or, visit the Planet Rugby calendar to check out fixtures to attend.

After rugby, the most popular sport in New Zealand is cricket, especially during summer. New Zealand competes as one of ten nations in Test Match cricket, and are currently ranked 7th in the world by the ICC. Cricket clubs can be found in abundance around New Zealand, or you may see it being played on the fields and beaches in summer. Alternatively you can book packages to play and coach around the country and enjoy your surroundings.

The most popular women’s sport in New Zealand is netball, and the Silver Ferns are widely regarded as one of the best teams in the sport (currently ranked 2nd in the world, just below Australia). Yet again, clubs and centres can be found around the country if you wish to play, with scouts regularly attending to seek out talent if you are particularly good. For any further information, have a look at MyNetball to book tickets or find a centre.




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