Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to somewhere completely different to live and work for a while?
Working Holiday Visas are fantastic opportunities. They make it possible for young people to live and work in other countries for extended amounts of time. On a working holiday visa you will be able to get a job in another country, get a bank account, rent a place to live and experience living abroad for a year. Being able to work while you travel allows you to extend your trip for longer and afford more tours and experiences.
There are a lot of countries around the world that offer working holiday visas, but New Zealand is one of the most popular. New Zealand is a superb destination for a working holiday and there are many advantages to travelling this part of the world – including the friendly people, the incredibly gorgeous and varied landscapes, the abundance of outdoor activities, the ease of finding backpacker jobs and the laid back pace of life.
If you are under the age of 30 and from Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, Uruguay, the USA or Vietnam – you are eligible to live and work for a year in New Zealand.
You could work in any type of job, but most backpackers end up working in hospitality, retail or picking fruit on a farm. With the extra cash you earn from your job in New Zealand, you can go on a lot of exciting adventures – from hiking the Tongariro Crossing to wine tasting in Marlborough to cruising Milford Sound.
The process of applying for a working holiday visa, finding a job and planning your trip isn’t too difficult, but it can be a bit complicated and time consuming. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there that make it easier. Here are 10 of the most helpful resources out there for planning a working holiday in New Zealand.
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Of course, this website will be your first stop when you are preparing to travel to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. It will give you all of the information and requirements you need to know for applying for your New Zealand working holiday visa.
The application isn’t too complicated, but you do need to have the required information and be able to show that you have the funds to support yourself. You can make your application online and if they decide that they need you to send further information to support your application, they will email you.
To find the visa that is relevant for you, just use the search box on the front page. For example, if you are an American looking to work abroad in New Zealand you can just search “USA Working Holiday Visa.” Simple!
This website has been around for a long time – I used it when I backpacked New Zealand in 2009 and it’s still as useful as ever. In fact, it was on the job listings section of Backpacker Board where I found the position at Napier Prison advertised – where I met and fell in love with Lee. While you might not find the love of your life on Backpacker Board, you will find job listings, activities, tours, hostels and lots more. I would recommended checking back on it every few days to see what new postings are relevant and helpful to you.
Check out the Special Offers section where you can find timely postings featuring sales and discounts on tours and bus passes and people offering lifts to destinations throughout the country. You can also post things yourself – it’s free to sign up.
Travelling by bus can be one of the cheapest ways to get around New Zealand and Naked Bus has some of the best deals on tickets. (Don’t worry, Naked Bus is just a name and there is no nudity involved.) If you plan on doing a lot of exploring, they offer passes for 3, 5, 10 and 20 trips which will be much more economical than paying for each trip separately.
Sometimes NakedBus sells bus tickets for $1! At least one seat on every bus is a $1 seat and they are the first to be sold, so book early for your chance to get it. You can sign up to their newsletter to get notified whenever they release the $1 seats, or you can read more about it here.
I love Couchsurfing – it always reminds me of how kind and generous people can be. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it is a worldwide network that connects travellers with locals who are willing to offer their couch or spare room for free. That’s right, you can stay as a guest of someone else and no money is exchanged (although guests often offer to treat the host to a meal or give them a thank-you gift). The host is simply happy to share their home and have the company of an interesting international guest.
Not only does using Couchsurfing save you money on accommodation, it is also a great way to get a better understanding of a destination by getting to know the locals and seeing what daily life is like for them.
Lee and I have used Couchsurfing while backpacking across Canada and it was such a positive experience. I would absolutely recommend that you use it when backpacking around New Zealand, as I know for a fact that Kiwis tend to be warm and welcoming and make excellent hosts.
If you don’t want to stay in someone’s home but you still want to meet up with a local who can show you around, you can still use the website and just state this in your profile. Also, Couchsurfing now has a new “Hangouts” feature that allows you to find people in your area who want to meet up for a coffee or go on an excursion together.
Trademe is the Craigslist of New Zealand and it is very useful for travellers. You can use it to find a cheap used bike or car that you can use to get around during your visit, then use it a few months later to sell it again.
You can check the job listings and find a lot of temporary and casual work – which is perfect for short term backpackers. You can sell any excess junk if your backpack gets too heavy, or pick up items you need for cheap. You can find an apartment for rent, or advertise that you are looking for a housemate. I used Trademe so many times for so many different purposes while travelling in New Zealand!
You can add items to your “Watchlist” and then keep trade of their price as others bid on them. That way you can monitor the bidding and not miss out on something you really want to buy.
Seek is one of the biggest job sites in New Zealand, so this is a good place to start looking for employment. Most backpackers on a Working Holiday in New Zealand will end up getting a short term, casual position in retail, hospitality or fruit picking. However, if you have skills and experience in a certain industry you could find a job that is more closely related to your field. It’s all about being proactive and putting yourself out there in your job search to increase your chances.
Seek allows you to create a profile that you can customise with information about yourself, your skills and your past work experience. It can be a great way to showcase what you have to offer, so make sure that you take advantage of the opportunity and fill it in completely.
If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and doing some farm work, the WWOOF program can be a fantastic way to travel New Zealand on a budget. It stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms and the way it works is that you exchange 3-4 hours per day of labour on a farm for free accommodation and food. You pay for a membership, which gives you access to a database of farms and allows you to contact the people who live there.
I did it during my Working Holiday and I found myself on a beautiful farm in Hawkes Bay on the North Island. I spent my mornings feeding the chickens, milking the goats, doing the laundry and babysitting and my afternoons swimming in the nearby waterfall or taking walks in the forest. It was wonderful.
WWOOFing is a fun way to see a different side of New Zealand, learn about life on a farm and get to know a local family. It’s also a great way to stretch your budget further and stay in New Zealand for longer. Because your accommodation and food are provided you will barely spend any money, especially because you are in the middle of nowhere.
When you are applying for WWOOFing positions most of the time the tasks are typical farming jobs such as milking, fruit picking, planting, gardening, weeding, cutting wood, etc. However, if you have other skills make sure that you mention them! I have experience in childcare so I ended up babysitting my host family’s four year old son. You could find yourself involved in a wide range of tasks including making mud-bricks, baking, construction and much more.
Reddit is a great place to join in conversations about anything you are interested in and there is a “subreddit” (forum) for everything. Before you head over to New Zealand for your working holiday, consider hanging out in the New Zealand corner of Reddit. You can join in the conversations and ask questions about Kiwi culture, current events and things to see and do – or you can just read the posts and get a sense of what the locals are interested in. If you hit it off with another poster on the subreddit, they might just become a friend whom you can meet up with when you get there!
The rules of the subreddit state that any link you submit must be New Zealand related, so don’t raise the ire of the regular posters by blithely ignoring the protocol.
These are 10 very helpful resources that will come in handy when you are planning your working holiday experience in New Zealand. Another valuable resources to consider is the wisdom and experience of other travellers. I learned a lot just from chatting with other people at the hostel when I arrived and getting their recommendations, tips, advice and warnings.
I remember that one of the most helpful things about travelling in New Zealand is that nearly every town and city I visited had an “i-SITE.” They were official visitor information centres and there are over 80 throughout the country.
Whether you are in Napier or Wellington or Rotorua you can simply walk into the i-SITE and the staff there will give you so much information about what to do, where to eat, where to stay and much more. The staff are locals, so they can give you insider tips on what to do during your visit. They can also help you make bookings for tours, activities and accommodation all over the country, as well as give you free maps.
Plus, they are usually really friendly and nice to talk to, and there’s nothing like a smiling face to make you feel welcome anywhere you go.
Here is a map of all of the 80 i-SITE locations throughout New Zealand.
While the immigration website for many countries is not much more than a confusing labyrinth of bureaucratic nonsense, that is not the case for New Zealand. The NZ Immigration website is fantastic and provides so much helpful information in an easy to navigate way.
One of the coolest features is “New Zealand Ready” which is a customised online tool that will help you to plan your trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud. First of all, it will ask you a few simple questions about yourself, such as where you are from, whether or not you already have a job offer, etc.
Then, it will put together a checklist for you of all of the tasks that you need to complete before and after you arrive. While it is not perfect and many of the items on the list may not apply to you, it can still be very helpful and can give you some ideas of what you need to do before you go, such as “check what you are allowed to bring into New Zealand,” “create a New Zealand-style CV and cover letter.” It also helps you know what to do once you arrive, such as “activate your bank account” and “apply for a tax number.”
There are a lot of tasks to check off, which can make the process of moving towards your working holiday in New Zealand feel a little overwhelming. However, each task in itself isn’t too difficult, so just focus on crossing them off one at a time and eventually you’ll get there.
These are just a few of the best resources out there that you can use when planning your Working Holiday in New Zealand, as well as when you are on the road. If there are any other resources that you have found helpful, please share them with us in the comments.