Dreaming of a laidback year or two, spent working and travelling around the beautiful country of New Zealand? Well, you’re just in luck. A wide range of people from many countries around the globe can apply for a working holiday in New Zealand! With a New Zealand working holiday visa in hand, you can start packing your bags. Then head off on a wonderful adventure and a future full of new and exciting opportunities on a working holiday in New Zealand. This post updated March 2022.
New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Program
The working holiday visa program in New Zealand allows you to work and travel throughout New Zealand for up to 12 months or 23 months if you’re from the UK or Canada! You must be between the ages of 18 and 30 or 18 and 35 depending on the country you’re from.
You can find the full list of countries that are eligible to apply here.
When choosing to apply for the working holiday visa in New Zealand, you must have enough money to fund your plane ride back home. More specifically, they require you have $4,200 NZD before you arrive and must show evidence of the funds. You’ll also need to provide evidence of medical insurance in case something were to go wrong during your stay there. When applying it’s important to understand that the intention of this visa is to allow people to primarily travel around the country.
Whilst you can certainly work while living in New Zealand for the year, the holiday aspect is heavily pushed, which isn’t a bad thing! There are endless activities for nature lovers but New Zealand has a high cost of living so you’ll need to stay on top of your expenses while you’re there.
If you’re able to apply for the 23 month program, keep in mind that you’re only allowed to work 12 months in New Zealand, no matter what! That means if you stay for up to two years, you’ll only be allowed to work for one of them. If you choose to stay that long, you need to have extra money saved and you should account for additional expenses so you don’t find yourself in a bad position. If you’re simply planning on taking advantage of one year working in New Zealand, you can work the entire year but won’t be allowed to apply for permanent positions. We’ll get into your options later on in this post.
Those who are eligible for the 23 month long visa will also have to provide a General Medical Certificate. This is easy to obtain if you’re in your home country but more challenging to get if you’re already living or travelling someplace else!
When you’re ready to apply for your visa, you can do so through New Zealand’s government website. Here you’ll have to provide all documentation, including proof of current funds. The process can take a few weeks to months depending on how many applications are coming through!
Choosing Where to live in New Zealand
Auckland is a great place to start your working holiday in New Zealand
New Zealand is a small country, so it makes travelling around and seeing it all quite easy! You’ll probably want to settle in one place for the year or two but you could also opt for staying in a few different cities or towns if you like to change things up.
There are a few major cities where most of the country lives. This would be a good place to start if you’re not sure where you’d like to go. Before we jump into the different cities, you should consider what island you might want to start exploring. New Zealand has the North Island and South Island, both of which are beautiful!
You’ll find an international airport on each island, Auckland being home to the North Island’s and Christchurch being home to the South Island’s. Although both islands have lots to offer, they can be very different from each other and appeal to different people with varying interests.
The North Island is where you’ll find pristine beaches and a fairly warm climate year-round. There are some mountains as well which are great for hiking and some beach towns have spectacular surf!
The South Island is much cooler temperature-wise, which should come as no surprise with the mountainous landscape. The south is also known for its adventure activities, hiking and skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.
If you think you may enjoy the North Island best, you might want to consider living in Auckland or Wellington. Your best options for the South Island would be Christchurch or Queenstown. Either way, you’ll find a spot that feels right eventually and if you get sick of one place, you can easily move on to another.
Things To Do When You Arrive in New Zealand on a Working Holiday
The second you land in New Zealand, there will be a few things you’ll need to get in order!
1. Sort out your accommodation
2. Open a bank account
3. Get a SIM card
4. Find a job
5. Register for a Tax File Number
These can be done within the first few days of arriving and will help you settle in your short-term home.
Accommodation in New Zealand
Before you get to New Zealand, you’ll want to think about accommodation for the duration of your working holiday visa. Should you rent a place for a few months? Sign a year-long lease? Ultimately, it depends on what you want your experience to look like!
It’s best to start off with a short term rental at an Airbnb or book a hostel or hotel room for a week or two. That will give you enough time to get things organized when you arrive and determine your next steps.
Many on a working holiday in New Zealand will choose to stay in hostels long term but you can also find short leases as well. A great place to start looking for your accommodation would Facebook groups, HostelWorld or Booking.com.
If you choose to rent a room in an apartment, it’s not cheap. It will cost anywhere from $160 NZD to $210 NZD per week! Queenstown is also the most expensive place to live so if you’re hoping to settle somewhere more than a few months, you may want to take a look at your other options.
Work Options in New Zealand
Hospitality jobs are popular with working holidaymakers
As mentioned at the start of this blog, you can find work throughout the country, so long as it’s not a permanent position! So what does that entail exactly? Job options vary depending on your preference and experience but you can expect to find jobs in certain industries much easier than others.
A great place to start looking for jobs or to get an idea of what jobs are available is on the New Zealand Backpacker Jobs Facebook Group!
Hospitality Jobs in New Zealand
Similarly to the Australian Working Holiday visa, you should have no trouble getting work in hospitality, especially if you’ve done it before. Many people work at hostels in exchange for free accommodation, which is a great position if you enjoy a laidback work environment and meeting lots of new people from around the world!
READ MORE: How to find A Job in A Hostel
You can also work in bars, restaurants or cafes as well. Since people come and go from these jobs on a regular basis, there are always positions available and they’re easy to leave behind when you’re done working and ready to travel.
Retail Jobs in New Zealand
Retail jobs are a great option for a casual position during your time in New Zealand. They pay minimum wage which isn’t bad considering it’s up to $20 NZD as of 2021! With many big cities around the country, you should have no problem finding a store to work at. It definitely helps to have experience but it shouldn’t be too challenging if you have any customer service related experience.
Horticulture Jobs in New Zealand
If you’ve never heard or horticulture, you’re not alone! It’s working with crops, fruit orchards or vineyards and it’s a huge industry throughout the country. Entry-level jobs in horticulture are easy to get without any relevant experience.
There’s work throughout the year depending on what you’re looking for in particular. For example, if you hope to work at a vineyard you should look for a summer position, meanwhile, indoor packhouse jobs can be done year-round.
Other Work Opportunities in New Zealand
Of course, if you aren’t thrilled by the thought of working in hospitality, retail or horticulture, there are other options to choose from. Some of which include:
• Tourism – With so many tourist attractions throughout New Zealand, it’s fairly easy to find a position. Queensland would be a great option if you love adventure activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, mountain biking etc. If you find an activity you love, chances are that you can get hired to work there and teach others!
• Construction – Labour jobs such as construction are always in need. You’ll need to have relevant experience but they pay well and you’ll be able to find a position right away.
• Ski hills – If you’re interested in seasonal work, there are many ski hills open in the winter months. You can work as an instructor if you’re experienced or find a job a reception, for example.
READ MORE: Get A Job in New Zealand Ski Resort
• Farm work – Similarly to horticulture jobs, there’s also farmwork available. Dairy and sheep farming are the most prevalent options, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering there are more sheep than humans living in New Zealand!
Travel Options in New Zealand
Visit Hobbiton While Travelling Around New Zealand
New Zealand is a great place to travel during your working holiday visa. If you’re able to hire a car or campervan, you can travel around New Zealand on a tight budget and see it all!
If you don’t have access to a car or don’t drive, you can use hop-on buses. Stray Travel or Kiwi Experience allow travellers to pick a route and travel as they please. It’s a great option for solo travellers who want to meet new people. It’s also great if you’re with a group of friends. Another option is to hop on a train, of which there is quite an extensive service. Read the top 6 travel options for New Zealand here.
Start a Blog on New Zealand
After spending a year or two living in New Zealand, you’re bound to be an expert. You can start a blog while you’re there and share your travels with others who hope to do the same someday! After starting your blog, you may continue your travels and build a community based around your travel experience.
READ MORE: How to Start a Blog
It’s Time For a Working Holiday in New Zealand
There’s no reason not to spend some time exploring all that New Zealand has to offer. Start submitting the information needed to apply now and you’ll be on a flight to New Zealand sooner than you may think. You’ll have the best time of your life and you’ll never forget it! If you are planning a trip to New Zealand or have been on one I’d love to hear in the comments following.
Where to after New Zealand? What about an Australia Working Holiday