This post was updated 17 January 2020. Kia Ora. A working holiday in New Zealand is a popular option for many travellers. And no wonder, with beautiful scenery, great skiing and snowboarding, vibrant cities, indigenous Maori culture to discover and for Hobbit fans, it is home to Middle Earth. So get set to experience all this and more when you live, work and play in New Zealand on your New Zealand working holiday.
Visas to visit and work in New Zealand
Like all countries New Zealand has a number of visas so you can visit and work. These include and are not limited to a visitor visa, student visa, working holiday visa, work permit and the Trans-Tasman Agreement.
The Working Holiday Visa
For many, a quick visit to New Zealand isn’t enough. Thank goodness then that young travellers aged 18-30 years, (or 18-35 years for a few countries) can apply for a working holiday visa that allows you to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months. Or 23 months if you are from the United Kingdom or Canada.
Basically, if you are within the mentioned age range and from one of the following countries you can apply for a working holiday visa. Countries that New Zealand currently has working holiday visa arrangements with include: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Now some countries have a quota. Meaning only a certain number of the working holiday visas are issued to citizens of a particular country. This information is on the Immigration website.
There will also be criteria you will need to meet to gain a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. You will need NZ$4200 saved and provide evidence of this. Plus you will need an airfare to leave New Zealand at the end of your time or have enough funds to buy one. For more criteria details and to apply for your visa visit: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas. I would suggest you apply a few months before the time you want to arrive and not confirm any travel, like an airfare, until you have received the visa. You wouldn’t want to have to loose a deposit or pay a fee to change your arrangements if the visa doesn’t come through in time.
Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement
The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangements exists between Australia and New Zealand and allows citizens from each of these countries to reside and work in the other country, with some restrictions. For more details visit www.immigration.govt.nz.
Other Visas to visit New Zealand
There are other visas that allow you to visit New Zealand which include the visitor visa, student visa, work permits plus sport visas to name a few. Check out the website https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas for details.
First things first on your New Zealand working holiday
Once you’ve got your visa and arrived you will need to do a couple of things before you begin to work. Firstly you will need to organise a New Zealand Bank account that is fully functional. To help you the Inland Revenue Department have produced an information brochure advising what a fully functional bank account is and how to get one. Once you have this you can apply for an IRD (Inland Revenue Department) Number. You need this to be taxed correctly. Get it before you start work otherwise you will be taxed at the emergency tax rate of 48%, which is a huge chunk of your hard earned cash that is taken out when it doesn’t have to be.
Work types on your New Zealand working holiday
New Zealand has a number of work options for working holiday makers. I would ensure you have an updated CV showcasing your current skills to help you find employment.
Picking fruit and vegetables is a great way for travellers to make money to continue their travels. New Zealand has eight main agriculture regions each with unique weather conditions that grow different crops. You can literally work your way around New Zealand picking fruit and/or vegetables. You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘picker’ though, there are other jobs in the industry to be had such as working in the factories grading and packing the fruit or you may find yourself in the office monitoring fruit and vegetable sales. The best sources to find work is through sites such as www.picknz.co.nz or www.seasonalwork.co.nz.
Another option here is Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Basically in exchange for a few hours work each day you will receive food and accommodation. It can be a great way to help you move around the country. Visit www.wwoof.co.nz.
Ski field staff
New Zealand has some of the best ski fields in the world and every year hundreds of travellers are employed in a variety of roles to ensure visitors love their time in the areas. Positions can range from selling chair lift tickets, to maintaining the equipment, to hiring ski equipment to working in the ski lodges and in the cafes and bars not only in the resorts but the large towns that are often situated near the ski centres, such as Queenstown in the South Island. Check out our blog on the ski centres of New Zealand.
Trade and Construction Work
Currently working in a trade, then you are in luck as many travellers pick up casual work. In particular, new buildings are being built all the time, mostly in the major cities of New Zealand however, after the devastating earthquake that hit Christchurch you could make a difference by helping to rebuild this city by finding construction work. Best to head to Christchurch and register with a recruitment agency if interested. Check out https://www.trademe.co.nz/jobs.
Child Care / Au Pair
Being a child carer or Au Pair in New Zealand will not only ensure you have a job but takes care of finding a place to live as most jobs are live-in. On top of this you should receive a small wage and use of the car.
There are literally hundreds of places to find a job as a waiter/waitress or bartender not only in the major cities, but in the ski fields and smaller towns around New Zealand. You don’t necessarily need to have experience either but having some does help.
New Zealand has a very health farming industry and seasonal workers are often required for the dairy industry. Most jobs are in the North Island as 71% of the dairy herds are found there, particularly around the Waikato region.
Many travellers stay in hostels during their travels around New Zealand as hostels provide basic, clean and cheap accommodation. But did you know a lot of travellers are the ones usually running the hostels. They take on a variety of roles from reception to cleaning to maybe running the bar or café (if the hostel is large enough to have these). Many work for free lodgings and board but often a small wage is included. Check out Hostel World as it is not only a great booking engine but a great place to find out where the hostels are and which ones you might like to work in. Read our blog on working in a hostel.
Tourism industry jobs
The tourism industry in New Zealand is large as there are many things to do such as canyoning, bungee jumping, jet boating, sky diving, etc. And you could be one of the people pushing people off bridges amongst other things. Pick up the brochures and ask if jobs are available.
Administration, clerical, accounting, etc. jobs
Typically this type of work can be found in the major towns and cities and are best unearthed through recruitment agencies. I would ensure you have an updated CV listing your administration skills. Some Job search sites include www.seek.co.nz, www.backpackerboard.co.nz and www.careersnz.govt.nz.
Where will you live? – Accommodation in New Zealand
New Zealand has lots of accommodation options available ranging from hostels to house-shares with loads of other styles in between. Depending on the type of work you might do you might set up home in a major city or you might move around the country. There is plenty of short-term accommodation available in hostels, motels and camping grounds. Many roll in to town and find a place to stay however, it is always wise to be able to compare and book something in advance. If it is a hostel bed you are seeking compare and book through the booking site HostelWorld and if you want a hotel room then compare and book through Booking.com as this site has plenty of accommodation choices to suit you and your budget.
Longer term accommodation is not always that easy to come by particularly if you are seeking somewhere say for a month or two as you don’t want to be stuck paying for deposits, etc. Many do stay in hostels long-term and seek rooms where fewer people stay in them such as a twin or even a single room but this still the cost of doing this can add up. An alternative is to book a holiday home such as those through www.holidayhomes.co.nz for instance. Or you could consider housesitting. Housesitting is where you look after the house and pets and plants while the owner is away. In return for looking after the place you get your accommodation for free. This may be an option on your working holiday in New Zealand to visit and immerse yourself in places you may not have considered before. Visit Trusted Housesitters for more details.
Some prefer to travel with their accommodation such as in fitted out vans and RVs. If this is of interest to you visit the website RV Lifestyle for tips on how to achieve this.
What to see and do in New Zealand
There is plenty to see and do in New Zealand. Here is just a taste of things you could do:
- Explore the major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. In Auckland go to the top of Auckland Sky Tower, the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere for fantastic views of the city.
- Visit sea coves and cliffs in the Bay of Islands
- Unleash your love of Hobbits at Hobbiton and visit Middle Earth
- Visit the Glowworm Caves at Waitomo
- Enjoy the smells of the mud pools in Rotorua
- Experience authentic Maori culture at the Tamaki Maori Village
- Take a trek through the Abel Tasman National Park
- Go White River Rafting or Jet Boating down the Waiau Uwha River
- Walk the Mildford Track
- Ski in some of the world’s best ski fields or enjoy the apres ski
- Do a Bungy Jump
- Visit Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain
- Visit a glacier such as the Fox Glacier and/or the Franz Josef Glacier
- Undertake waterspouts at Lake Taupo
There is so much to see and do in New Zealand. Check out the GetYourGuide website for deals on New Zealand Experiences.
Tips for your New Zealand Working Holiday
- Packing can be an arduous task but it doesn’t have to be. I recently discovered packing cubes and they have revolutionised the way I pack. But here is my suggested packing list to take on your working holiday.
- Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Get a quote here from World Nomads.
- Obtain an International Driver’s Licence – New Zealand is a great country to drive around and you will need a current licence to do so.
- You might have a long flight to New Zealand. Read my blog on getting sleep on a plane.
With its vibrant cities, extreme activities, beautiful countryside and an indigenous Maori Culture to experience New Zealand is a great place to visit for a working holiday. I hope this blog provides you with a head start for your working holiday. But most of all, enjoy it.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.