Going on a working holiday is a special kind of experience. If you’re looking to escape the stale rat race of your regular job, and embark on long term travels, then you should totally consider a working holiday!

In my opinion, one of the best countries to explore through a work and travel arrangement is New Zealand! This absolute gem of a country is the perfect shake up that your life needs. Not only will you learn about the Kiwi’s wonderful work/life balance, but you will get to explore some of the world’s most stunning landscapes during your time off.

Do you want to explore Hobbiton one weekend and bungee jump over a lake the next? In New Zealand, that’s pretty standard, bro! There are also incredible multi-day treks you can take through some of the juiciest mountains known to Earth. And not to mention, Kiwis are some of the friendliest and most down to earth people you’ll ever meet – win, win!

You may ask – how do I plan for a working holiday in New Zealand? What visa do I get? Where in the country do I go? And who will look after my dog?!

Ok, I can’t tell you who will look after your dog.. but I can give you insights on all the other logistics! In this post I’m going to tell you all my tips and tricks for organising a DIY working holiday adventure – and also about the necessary visas and such!

I will also gently yell at you to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand! A lifetime worth of memories awaits.

Taking a Working Holiday in New Zealand

tips to save money in new zealand

Anyone who is looking to take a career break, go on a grown-up gap year, or wanting to travel without a dime to their name should consider going on a working holiday.

New Zealand is the land of working hard and playing harder. However you stack your cash while traveling, it’s the life that happens around work that you will remember for years to come. This magnificent country has SO MUCH to explore and adventure, the moments of working will only make up a small percentage of your time. And you can always consider backpacking New Zealand once your employment is up to see even more of it!

When the workday is done there is no more vegging out and watching Netflix. Instead, there are whole new cities to discover, and fresh surfing trips to plan! With a working holiday in New Zealand, you get to try on a whole other way of living, and who knows? Maybe you’ll even fall in love with it…

Not to mention, the added bonus of working while on holiday is that you won’t have an awkward gap in your CV. You’ll have a sexy year abroad with invaluable experience gained!

Since there are so many work and volunteering options, it might get a bit overwhelming to choose what to do. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Check out these two options…

Go with Worldpackers

Worldpackers is an online company that connects travelers with foreign volunteer hosts who then work in exchange for housing. That being said, Worldpackers does do more than just connect volunteers to hosts. It offers a plethora of additional resources, a great support network, a blogging platform for collaboration, and a whole lot more.

Sounds pretty rad, right? But wait, there’s more!

According to their mission statement, Worldpackers is “a community based on collaboration and honest relationships that make travel more accessible to those seeking a profound cultural experience.” They value environmentalismauthenticitygrowth and working together above all else and make a great effort to provide the best experience possible.

And even better – Broke Backpacker readers get a special discount of $10! When you use our special hookup, it makes even more sense to pay. Just use this Worldpackers discount code BROKEBACKPACKER and membership is discounted from $49 a year to $39.

Worldpackers: connecting travellers with meaningful travel experiences.

Go with Global Work and Travel

With companies like Global Work and Travel handling all the small details, you really don’t have any excuse not to give it a go!

It’s got a bit of a different approach than Worldpackers, but it offers JUST as many amazing opportunities for travellers.

It provides working holidays, teaching abroad, volunteering, au pair and student internship packages. On top of that, the agency plans, sorts and assists with visa requirements, connections to local businesses, accommodation search and job interviews.

Most products even come with flights and basic medical insurance, a 24/7 Emergency line and payment plans.

Global Work and Travel Promo Code

Top 5 tips for a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Rightio, what do you REALLY need to know about cashing checks and hiking mountains in New Zealand?

I found that planning a working holiday can get over complicated, when really it can be simple! I mean sure, it’s an epic adventure that breeds crazy stories for years to come, but you’ve got to K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid). 

Lake Wakatipu

Here are the top 5 easy tips for a successful working holiday in New Zealand: 

  1. Work out the best visa for you. If you’re 18 – 30/35, then chances are the designated working holiday visa fits the bill. This visa allows you to travel the whole of New Zealand while finding work along the way. It also covers things like internships and volunteering, or WWOOFing
  2. Know the length of your stay. The longer that you want to stay, the more a working holiday visa makes sense. Although, if you only have time for a quick visit to New Zealand to help out at a volunteer project, then a working holiday programme may not be for you. 
  3. Make a budget. I mean, all work and no play makes this just a dull, regular job. It’s a working HOLIDAY, after all. Find out how much you want to spend each month on fun activities (like bungee jumping!), and how much you’ll need to be earning from your travel job!  
  4. Find accommodation and transport. New Zealand’s only fault might be that their housing is pretty expensive! Keep a lookout for something both comfortable and affordable – and be clear about your budget from the get-go. I’d recommend getting your own vehicle if you’re going to be in New Zealand for more than three months. Even though the country is small, it’s cheaper and logistically easier to have your own transport! Plus, you can usually sell your car or van for almost what you paid for it when you leave the country.
  5. Find the right job. Remember that if you don’t like this job, you can always find another. Especially when on your working holiday adventure, don’t settle for a job that makes you miserable! And take the opportunity to try out different fields. Maybe hospo, or farm work, or even a call centre job will turn out to be more enjoyable than you think. I’d also encourage you to tap into the WWOOFing and volunteering networks in New Zealand because they are full of some truly unique experiences. 
  6. BONUS! Make sure to smell the daisies. This is a sneaky bonus tip, but in all your planning and working hard, don’t forget to enjoy your time in New Zealand. It’s truly a one in a million place that will have you in awe.
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New Zealand Working Holiday Visas 

The working holiday visa requirements and availability varies depending on the nationality of your passport. The best way to stay up to date with the changeable visa information is to visit the New Zealand Immigration website.

Typically though, those between ages 18 and 30 can apply to stay for 12 months in New Zealand. You’re able to work and travel, as well as leave and return to the country in this time period. Generally, you need to have $4200 in your bank account and return tickets out of New Zealand to be considered eligible. 

The visa typically costs around $245 – again, this depends on the nationality of your passport. For example, those from the US are lucky and only have to pay the administrative cost of $24 for their visa!

For Canadians and UK folks, you can apply to stay for up to 23 months on a working holiday visa, but you will be required to submit chest x-rays and other medical records. You’ll also need to have $350 NZD for each month you intend to stay in your bank account. 

As I mentioned earlier, the New Zealand working holiday visa covers internships and volunteering, so if you’re on a gap year in New Zealand – regardless of what you intend to do – this is probably the best visa for you. 

Most of the time, you’ll need to have some kind of insurance to cover your stay, as well as a ticket out of the country. But you don’t need to have a job lined up before you arrive. It’s such a flexible way to get your foot in the door of a country, and start an epic experience.

If you don’t qualify for a working holiday visa, it’s well worth checking out the jobs and skills shortage lists for New Zealand. While other work visas are not as straightforward to obtain, they can lead to residency. If you’re truly looking to change the direction of your life, and you have skills that are in demand in New Zealand, you could consider this option.

Applying for a Working Holiday Visa

It is relatively easy to organise a working holiday visa to New Zealand yourself. You just need to fill in the correct forms through Immigration New Zealand, and tick all the boxes. 

Except, as with all things bureaucracy, it’s not that simple! I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of visa paperwork, and at times wished I’d just bit the bullet and get some help from an agency. 

With Global Work and Travel, the initial set-up and coordination of visas and flights are made easier with their help. They also provide an orientation, ongoing support, and throw in bonus activities for you to enjoy! 

They’ll help you set up interviews and provide a 24/7 emergency line in case things get hairy. Basically, it’s nice to know someone’s got your back and can help you with the logistics so you can spend more time travelling and less time stressing.

If you are wanting to take a more relaxed working holiday, and not planning to book an organised program, you can still get help with your visa application with Visa First. They will handle the nitty gritty while you sit back and look forward to your trip.

Insurance for a Working Holiday in New Zealand 

We always recommend having insurance no matter what kind of trip you are planning. World Nomads has been the Broke Backpacker’s go-to insurance provider for years. They’re a reliable company with good coverage and an easy to use website. 

You can read our full review here, or click the doobly-doop below to get signed up today!

A banner creative for World Nomads travel insurance

It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.

There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!

Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉

Working Holiday in New Zealand Budget

Ok, now we’ve gotta talk money. Obviously, you’ve got to have enough money for a plane ticket to New Zealand, as well as the minimum $4200 or so in savings.

At some point you are going to be off to work, so you won’t blow through all of that in a week. But, you do need to think about your budget because it’ll be hugely variable depending on where you choose to stay in New Zealand, as well as your taste for eating out. 

It will also vary greatly depending on which city you spend the most time in. For example, a monthly budget in Wellington or Auckland will be more expensive than one in Nelson or Westport (smaller regional towns). 

Tourist hotspots like Queenstown tend to have more expensive living costs as well (but they are fun to live in!).

Including rent, food, transport, and activities, a rough monthly budget for New Zealand in Wellington, Auckland, or other city centres is $800 USD and in regional areas: about $650 USD. If you find work that includes accommodation, or if you eat out more than you cook for yourself, or any number of other factors, then this budget will vary.

Even working a minimum wage job, you should be able to save a little money while working in New Zealand to spend on awesome once in a lifetime experiences!

If New Zealand is just one stop on a longer trip, consider how much money you need to travel for a year!

Working Holiday Visa
ExpenseNZD$ Cost
Rent (Central vs Rural)$120NZD – $250NZD/week
Eating Out$20NZD/meal
Groceries$80NZD – $120NZD/week
Car/Public Transport$10NZD – $20NZD/week
TOTAL$210NZD – $410NZD/week

Earning Money on a Working Holiday Visa

Hokitika Gorge New Zealand

Before you get any kind of job in New Zealand, you will need to get an IRD number. This allows you to be legit and square your taxes away while travelling. 

Be sure to double-check your visa conditions, as citizens from certain countries are only allowed to stay with one employer for a maximum of three months, or may not be allowed to accept permanent work. 

Some of the most popular backpacker jobs in New Zealand include farm and orchid work, bartending and waitressing, au pair and babysitting, and sales. However, these are certainly not the only jobs on offer – there’s always something a little offbeat to try out like working as a fishing crew, or if you have the relevant skills and experience, settling into a marketing career in one of the cities. 

I worked on fishing boats and in restaurants while I was travelling in New Zealand, and I can guarantee you will gain some crazy stories to bring home from both industries!

The best thing about working in New Zealand is undoubtedly the people. Your co-workers and customers are all absolute characters that are excited to have a new face amongst them. I always felt at home in New Zealand, literally from the moment I landed in the small town of Motueka. 

Backpackers and working holidaymakers can easily open a bank account in New Zealand, which will make paying taxes more straightforward.

For all matters of finance and accounting on the road, The Broke Backpacker strongly recommends Wise – The Artist Formerly Known as Transferwise! It is our favourite online platform for holding funds, transferring money, and even paying for goods. Wise is a 100% FREE platform with considerably lower fees than Paypal or traditional banks. But the real question is… is it better than Western Union?

Yes, it most certainly is.

Pre-planned Working Holidays with Global Work and Travel

wellington-cable-car

While you can totally organise your own working holiday adventure, it’s not a complete write off to have some help! The logistics of getting settled into a foreign country can be tricky at the best of times – let alone when you’re also trying to find work.

The visa itself is usually straightforward enough (although take it from someone who has had to fight New Zealand Immigration all too often: sometimes you should take professional help) work placements can be a little trickier. 

Well, hospitality and farm work is pretty easy to find, but more specialised jobs like au pairing, or any kind of internship require more local contacts. That’s where it can be super useful linking up with an agency like Global Work and Travel. They have extensive networks on the ground and can help you with the more headache-inducing paperwork side of things. 

That way you’re free to touch down and explore the best that New Zealand has to offer!

Au Pair in New Zealand

Being an au pair normally involves living in with a family and providing childcare. You might also do a little bit of cooking and cleaning, but primarily you’ll be looking after kids. I think that this is one of the most amazing opportunities you can have when you’re travelling as it provides a lot of room for personal growth.

You are bound to develop a super close bond with the kids, and it can be hard to say goodbye! You’re also living with a family and having a fully immersive cultural experience.

You can sort out your own au pair job by looking at noticeboards and job boards for backpackers. As it’s one of the most common backpacker jobs, it’s usually pretty easy to find. However, it’s worth vetting the people and getting to them at least a little bit before you move in and start working. 

As you’ll be living, sometimes in close quarters, with your host family so it’s important that you’re a good fit. It’s not just about you working hard enough or them not being accommodating, sometimes you just aren’t going to mesh. 

This is where an agency like Global Work and Travel can come in handy. They’re able to place you in a safe and welcoming placement with a pre-approved family. The agency also provides additional support like setting up a New Zealand bank account and sim card.

Included in the au pair package for Global Work and Travel is first aid training, sightseeing tours, plus 2 weeks of paid vacation every six months. You can expect to work 20 – 40 hours a week and walk away with $200 – $365 per week, with a $1040 bonus at the end of a successful placement. 

So while it’s more than possible to organise your own placements, it does help to have an agency batting in your corner!

Interning in New Zealand

Honestly, unless you have contacts on the ground it’ll be pretty hard to secure yourself an internship in New Zealand. Interning differs from volunteering as it’s a more structured environment that actively helps you move forward with your career. 

There are certainly interning opportunities in New Zealand, but it doesn’t have the same internship culture as the USA, for example. This is where you’d need to rely on Global Work and Travel to help you find a placement. 

Your visa would remain the same (a working holiday) but you can utilise Global Work and Travel’s network of internship placements across a huge variety of career fields. All the usual perks like help with logistics and a bonus sightseeing tour are thrown in for good measure too!

For recent graduates, interning can be an amazing way to feel like you aren’t wasting your time on your working holiday. You truly get the best of both worlds when you get to travel the world and gain amazing insights into your future career. 

DIY Working Holiday in New Zealand

backpacking-queenstown-winter-waterfront

As I’ve mentioned, you can totally DIY your working holiday in New Zealand – I certainly did! This is the most flexible option, and most attractive to those with a little backpacking experience under their belts. 

You still need to organise a visa, have flights booked, and enough savings in your account to fall back on – but then the fun begins! When DIY-ing your working holiday, you’ll lean into the hostel life for a number of reasons. Hostels are the cheapest way to live in New Zealand until you get your own van, or even score accommodation through your work. 

Hostels are also great ways to socialise with other backpackers and working holidaymakers. You might even find yourself having a wee fling with a rather dashing German hippy type ;). They will also help you network and find jobs. While online job postings are increasingly the norm, good old word of mouth still helps backpackers score temporary jobs.

If you’re looking for a different type of working holiday experience, you can also try WWOOFing, Worldpackers or Workaway. This is a kind of volunteering where your food and accommodation are covered in exchange for your help on a project. Usually, the projects are some sort of farm work or landscaping, although childcare or artistic projects are also common. 

This arrangement is much more laidback than an actual job, with fewer hours expected to cover your food and accommodation costs. However, you should still give all your energy to the project when you are expected to be working. Even if it’s volunteering, it’s important to take it seriously to get the most out of it. 

There’s simply so many ways to balance a little travel and little work to create your own experience of a lifetime!

Final thoughts on a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Honestly, taking the plunge and going travelling is one of the best things you can do for your personal growth. But crashing and burning through all your savings is pretty stressful. The happy medium is to go on a working holiday adventure.

Not only can you fund your travels, but you get to experience a country from the inside out as you form personal connections. When you get to slow down and enjoy a place for a longer period of time, you develop a stronger connection and it’ll stick with you for many years to come. 

Whether you go at it alone and DIY your working holiday experience, or you lean on the help of a trusted agency, your trip abroad is bound to be EPIC!


Bye for now, but not forever!

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