Working Holiday New Zealand – Experience and Advice

Working holiday New Zealand

Working holidays are a great way to travel to a new country, immerse yourself in the local culture, meet new people and get paid along the way. They are such a great way to travel, but they can be overwhelming to plan. This guide to planning a working holiday for first-timers is a great place to start, then you need to decide on a destination. Popular working holiday destinations include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Today we will be hearing from Nicole who has been on a Working holiday in New Zealand and has a wealth of knowledge to share.

Why choose New Zealand as a working holiday destination?

Working Holiday New Zealand – Experience and Advice

New Zealand is a favourite working holiday destination for many travellers. The landscapes are beautiful, opportunities ample and the Kiwi people are so friendly and welcoming.

The process of getting a working holiday visa in New Zealand

Working Holiday New Zealand – Experience and Advice

It is easy to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand if you are under 30.  Basically, you apply online and pay the fee.  New Zealand has a set number of visas each year so as long as you apply while they still have some available, you should get approved. You can apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand here.

Advice for others planning a working holiday in New Zealand

Decide what type of experience you want.  Most people either pick fruit or work in hospitality/tourism.  I (Nicole) decided to work in an office job as I have a degree and experience. Remember that the job you get and where you choose to live will impact your experience so take this into consideration when planning your working holiday in New Zealand.

If you’re looking for a fun, carefree experience, head to Queenstown and get a job on the ski hill. If you’re looking to move forward in your career, look for an office job in a city, Wellington or Auckland perhaps.

Advice for finding a job in New Zealand

You can actually start applying for jobs in New Zealand before you arrive. In fact, you can apply for jobs in New Zealand even before your visa is approved. is a great place to start a search for jobs. You can apply online and arrange an interview over Skype. Just remember that you can apply for jobs before your visa gets approved, however, you won’t be able to start working and earning until your visa is approved.

Hospitality jobs are abundant and so are fruit picking jobs in the summer. These are some more common working jobs available.

Pay rates in New Zealand

The pay in New Zealand is high because the cost of living is also high.  Minimum wage is around $15/hour.  Most office jobs pay around $25/hour.  If you work in hospitality though its good to know that Kiwis do not tip so your wage is all you will take home. See more on pay rates in New Zealand here. 

If you do find a full-time job, New Zealand has five weeks of annual leave per year and most places close down over the Christmas/New Year period. The work-life balance is great!

Recommended locations in New Zealand

Working Holiday New Zealand – Experience and Advice

The location you choose to live in depends on the experience you want to have. I live and work in Wellington which is often overlooked by people.  You could choose a city like Auckland and Queenstown where jobs are abundant but accommodation is expensive, or you could go for a unique experience and move to a smaller town in New Zealand.

Must-see destinations in New Zealand

Working Holiday New Zealand – Experience and Advice

Milford Sounds is hands down the most amazing spectacular site.  It’s a day trip from Queenstown where you can cruise through the sounds and see all of the waterfalls and if you are lucky, seals and dolphins.

Would you recommend a working holiday in New Zealand? Why?

The New Zealand economy depends on Working Holiday visa workers.  We have a skills shortage in New Zealand and not enough people to fill all of the jobs.  Finding work is easy here, you just have to be a bit smart about your spendings.

Working Holiday New Zealand

Nicoles Experience on a working holiday in New Zealand

For my working holiday in New Zealand,  I worked at the Department of Conservation on the Biodiversity Fund.  This project taught me so much about the Flora and Fauna of the country and was truly a unique experience to work with Kiwis and Kakapo – native NZ birds. I loved New Zealand so much I decided to apply for a second visa and started working for a computer tech company which is now part of Spark, one of the national mobile companies.  Its where I met my partner and we’ve been together since and I’ve decided to make New Zealand my home!

Working Holiday New Zealand

Nicole LaBarge got her first taste for travel when she was 16 years old.  Ever since then she has been hooked and calls herself a travel-holic. She believes you can travel and have a career and she is over halfway to her goal of visiting every country in the world.  Nicole is a serial expat living in five different countries to date and is currently based in Wellington.  She loves travelling and is heading back to Africa to visit 20 countries in West Africa later this year. Nicole runs the adventure travel blog Travelgal Nicole and you can follow her travels there or on Facebook and Instagram.

Overseas Travel Checklist

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is necessary for anyone planning a working holiday. I recommend World Nomads. If you aren’t sure whether you should get insurance or not, read this.

Check out my top travel resources

Do you need some more help with planning your working holiday? These are the top travel resources that I use to help me plan my trips. You will find my favourite flight, accommodation, insurance and tour providers.

Create a travel budget

Creating a travel budget is an important part of any overseas trip, especially a working holiday. Admittedly, it isn’t the most fun part, but it will help you manage your expenses and plan the trip of a lifetime, without blowing your budget. For my tried and tested method for creating a comprehensive travel budget, click here.

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