Why New Zealand is Brilliant for Working Holidays

Back in 2009, I had the travel itch and I had it bad.Ā I wanted to live in another country for a long time, long enough to get to know the people, the geography and the culture. I knew I didn’t have the funds to travel long term, so the perfect solution was a working holiday visa.

With a working holiday visa I could spend longer abroad, taking short-term jobs to fund my travels. I looked at everywhere which had a working holiday visa scheme with Canada and out of a fondness for the Lord of the Rings films I chose New Zealand. I didn’t realize at the time what an excellent choice I had made.

Rotarua, North Island, New Zealand
Rotarua, North Island, New Zealand

After nine months of traveling and working in the Land of the Long White Cloud, I believe that New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to take a working holiday. Here’s why:

An Abundance of Backpacker Jobs

When it comes to finding temporary jobs as a backpacker, New Zealand is ideal. A huge component of the Kiwi economy is agriculture, as this lush and green island is teeming with fruit orchards, vineyards and sheep farms. Seasonal labor jobs are everywhere in New Zealand and any backpacker can make their way around the country picking fruit, pruning vines or harvesting vegetables.
Another large industry in New Zealand is tourism and many hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes are looking for outgoing travelers with customer service experience and the right attitude to join their staff. They also used to dealing with people on a working holiday visa.

Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

Cheap and Plentiful Accommodation

Of all the countries I have traveled in the world, New Zealand is one of the best when it comes to selection of cheap places to stay. From hostels, to budget motels to holiday parks with self contained accommodation, you will never be stuck looking for a room for the night. My recommendation: stay in a funky backpacker hostel as they are always filled with interesting travel-types who are up for spontaneous adventures and great conversation.

A Network of Other Travelers

Speaking of interesting travel-types, this is one of the other reasons working holidays in New Zealand are so much fun. Perhaps they are influenced by the laid back kiwi attitude, but travelers here seem to be so friendly and when you are new someone will always be happy to give you tips on what to do and where to go. You will come home with offers to visit 10 different countries to stay with all of the travelers you met along the way.

Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. A place that you should definitely visit while in New Zealand on A Working Holiday Visa

Amazing Locals

As well as the friendly travelers, you will love the welcoming New Zealander attitude as well. Down here everything is “Sweet As Bro” and nobody seems to worry about much. In my experience, Kiwis love their beautiful country and enjoy showing it off to tourists. During your working holiday you are sure to connect with a few locals who will do their best to make your experience as great as possible.

These are just a few of the reasons why New Zealand is an ideal setting for a working holiday. If you have the travel itch, what are you waiting for? Apply for a working holiday visa today!

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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  1. What a beautiful blog post! I have always wanted to visit New Zealand, but always found reasons to put it off. This encourages me to make room for my dreams. I think it is especially helpful that you including a link to apply for a working holiday visa. I am serious about getting one of those for my home business. And it’s funny that you said “Lord of the Rings” made your interested in the typography and geography of New Zealand. For me, it was “Chronicles of Narnia.” The cinematography made me realize that there is no other place like New Zealand on earth!

  2. Oh I am so jealous of you! Lol – my brother and my SIL along with my nieces visited New Zealand a few years ago and guess what? They chose the location because of LOTR! Even though it was just the area (minus the props and such) that they visited, my brother was totally floored by the view and how green the area was.

    I would certainly love to visit New Zealand and Fiji. In fact, my partner and I have been thinking about retiring in Fiji in a few year’s time. Gotta wait for the two kids to grow up first!

    Any chance you have been to Fiji and written a blog on it? Would love to know some views on Fiji.

    1. Hi Mystique,

      No, I haven’t been to Fiji yet. I had a two week stopover booked on my way home to Canada from New Zealand, but then I happened to fall in love with an English guy and ended up going in the UK instead. You never know what is going to happen when you go travelling! šŸ™‚
      However, Fiji is still on my list and I look forward to going there someday.


  3. New Zealand to me was a land of hobbits, and ornery Pacific Islanders who are prone to fighting. You can thank this opinion to watching movies such as “Once Were Warriors”. But after viewing this article, I have to realize that New Zealand is much more than that. Living in Hawaii, I can tell that New Zealand is very much similar in history and lifestyle. If I have the money, I will definitely visit one day!

  4. As a kiwi I recognize where all the photos were taken. The Rotorua one seems to be shot from on top of the museum. There are stairs that you can climb and it’s well worth it, even for those who have vertigo. You can also put on a hardhat and go underneath the museum too.

    To anyone reading this, it’s all true. Come see New Zealand and experience our friendly hospitality. Most of the accomodation/backpackers are world class and are ideally located in exceptional locations in the middle of cities.

  5. Oh, wow… I will definitely keep this in mind when I travel abroad. From the pictures, the place looks lovely and I had no idea that there was such thing as “backpacker jobs;” That makes things easier!!! On the other hand, after watching that movie Hostel (I know….horrible to be freaked out by a *movie*), the idea of staying at a hostel freaks me out…what was it like?

    1. Funny you should mention that, as I just wrote a post recently about the movie Hostel making people afraid to travel. As I said in that post, there is really nothing to worry about. It’s a horror movie and it is designed to scare people, not be realistic.

      Hostels are not dangerous at all and I have stayed at tons of them around the world. They are actually really fun places to stay because they allow you to meet other travelers and make friends. Check our guide for what to look for in a hostel.

  6. That sounds like a great way to travel! I know I have always wanted to go here, but I cannot afford it right now. Hopefully in the future when my kids are all grown I can afford to do more, but right now all of my extra money is going to my kids.

  7. Yesterday, I watched a surf documentary on a group of free-surfers traveling along NZ’s coast. Seems to be a country teeming with new adventure and fun wildlife. I’m definitely interested in traveling with a working holiday visa. Thanks for the insightful guide!

  8. Pingback: Which Countries Offer Working Holiday Visas for Canadians? ā€“ WYSE Work Abroad
  9. Thank you soo much for posting this! I am actually trying to make really important decisions in my life on whether I should go for a year or not. I just turned 30, got out of a very serious relationship and have no debt so I am thinking to go away for a year, reflect and do something different. I am lucky because I have family in Dunedin that I will stay with when I arrive. Thanks for the information, I am pretty sure you just helped me make a final decision. I will be applying for my visa today………….Thank you!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      That is wonderful news! I am so excited for you! Going to New Zealand on a working holiday was the very best thing I ever did and it changed my life in so many ways. You are going to have such an amazing adventure and staying with family in Dunedin will be a great help while you get settled.
      If you have any questions or want some tips for working and travelling in NZ from someone who has been there, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My email is krdunning@gmail.com. I would love to help in any way that I can.

      I wish you all the best in your travel adventure!

      1. Hi Kelly, I’m from Malaysia, I just want to if I can apply WHV for NZ because my age is 33yrs old now.

      1. Hi Kelly, I’m from Malaysia, I just want confirm if I can apply WHV for NZ because my age is 33yrs old now.

  10. I already had listened about that kind of traveling-working since 2006, but until today I knew what is it and how it function.

    I have have for a long time the desire to move to another country, and NZ was on my mind besides Canada and Australia, and I want to know if this could be the beginning of this plan.

    Thank you very much!

  11. I’ve been itching to go to New Zealand but in terrified!!!! Everything in me wants to go there. I just don’t know where to start!

    1. Hey Janice!

      I know the feeling, I felt the same nervousness and apprehension before I went travelling for the first time! I was absolutely terrified too, but once I went for it and started travelling the initial fear was overcome and now I know it was the best decision I have ever made.

      You can read about how nervous I was on my first travel experience here: http://global-goose.com/travel-philosophy/alone-and-scared-solo-travel/

      If you have any questions about travelling, please let me know. If I can offer you any answers or help that will make it easier or less nerve-wracking, I would be happy to!

      Take care,

  12. I am curious, how hard is it to attain citizenship in New Zealand? And is dual citizenship as an American possible? I am too old for a working Visa, but would love to spend my summers there! =)

    1. Hello Lisa

      I realise you asked your question two years ago, but in case you were still interested….

      New Zealand does allow dual citizenship. To become a New Zealand citizen, you must first hold a residence visa in New Zealand for five years. There are a number of ways to become a resident, which you can find on the Immigration New Zealand website.

      New Zealand offers a variety of temporary work visas as well. Most of these require you to have some skill which is in shortage over here, and require you to be tied to the employer who sponsored your visa.

    1. Iā€™m from Nepal and I like to travel the places and this way seems quite affordable too. But Iā€™m not sure if there is any chances to apply holiday working visa for nepali citizen in any country:/

  13. For NZ, what factors apply to whether they will accept someone btwn 30-35? And I’m interested to know decent/convenient areas for cheap rent in shared apts. And how much I can expect to pay a month for that in USD. A ballpark. 600-700?

  14. hey there,
    first of all, thank you for sharing so many important infos, I end up coming here from watching a video with Nathaniel Drew for all that matters.
    My question is, I am Brazilian and I turned 32 in 2021, I have checked NZ have some exceptions about being over 30’s but apparently as the website mention the criteria for my origin Country is 30 y.o. What a shame, I guess I will have to take that as it is, but I would like to know if you guys ever heard that this is a real thing or if its worthy for me to apply and hopefully Covid is a good excuse to make this easier since I couldve apply for that last year before turning 31.
    Any tip, guidance or advice? I would love to hear from you.
    well take care and tks for now, tchau.

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