I noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot of information about New Zealand Working Holiday on YouTube. Most were about Australia or the UK. So, after completing a year in New Zealand I thought I would share some advice I wish I had when I first arrived.
Getting there and setting up is super easy and straight forward. The Visa is processed online and the application only took me about 15 minutes. Even the visa itself is digital so nothing was posted in my passport or had any wait time. I did have the extra hassle of needing to get a chest x-ray done thanks to previously living in Singapore but if you don’t have to get medical forms filled out by a doctor, it’s a really quick process.
Setting yourself up in New Zealand is super easy and straight forward too. If you want to be ahead of the game, you can print the forms for your IRD number before you even arrive. For getting your IRD number so you can work, just go to the post office with your form (or pick it up there and fill it out), a copy of your passport, your actual passport, another form of ID, and proof of address. I know it sounds like a lot but really it’s all very basic stuff and easy to get a hold of.
Setting up your bank account is just as easy. Proof of ID, proof of address, and $500 to put into your account. The frustrating part I had with this is that it took me a while to find a bank that had an available appointment slot within the week. You can’t just open a bank account walking in. They want to schedule an appointment even though the entire process took maybe 15 minutes. But it really wasn’t difficult once I got that appointment.
Travelling New Zealand is best done by car. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to road trip New Zealand so I can’t give any tips about this but trust me, it would be the best way to see the country. I travelled by bus for the entire year. You have lots of options of buses depending on what you are looking for and what you want to see. I took the Intercity Bus majority of the time. I purchased an hour-based bus pass that was valid for 1 year and when I booked a bus online, it deduced however many hours I would be travelling from the prepaid hours I had on the pass. Naked Bus is another popular public bus that will take you between cities that I took once. I also took ManaBus once which is a bit cheaper but is only on the North Island and only goes to a few cities.
There is another category of buses – the backpacker bus. Stray Bus and Kiwi Experience are the most popular. This are specifically designed for backpackers. There is a set route through the country and they will stop off at specific attractions along the way. It’s a hop-on/hop-off kind of bus so if you like a particular place you can stay there for a few extra days. It is a good way to meet people and see a lot of the country easily. The downside (at least from my perspective) is the fact that it’s a set route which may not line up to what you want to see/do.
Flying and train are other ways to get around the country but neither is practical. Flying everywhere can get expensive and a lot of the smaller towns wouldn’t have airports. Flying is good for short weekend trips or any time you want to skip a 10 hour bus ride. Check out jetstar.com or grabaseat.co.nz for cheap domestic flights. Train travel is kinda the same story. I took the train for the scenery (and the fact I love trains) but the train system isn’t the most well connected and therefore not the best way to get around.
I found that working in New Zealand depends a lot on where you are located and your experience. Personally, I wasn’t too picky about the kind of job but I was picky about the location (for a while until I got really desperate for work). I really wanted to work in Wellington. However, considering my experience was in digital media, Wellington really wasn’t an easy spot for me to get a job. Applying for bartending and waitressing jobs without any experience at the start of summer in a city that is filled with students and backpackers didn’t go well for me. Wellington also doesn’t have much of a digital media industry so I couldn’t land a job doing that. Eventually, I had to open up to possibilities in Auckland where I found a job in digital media that I worked for 3 months. With that said, I do think I would have been able to get a job waitressing if I was in a town like Franz Josef in the summer despite my lack of experience. It’s a major tourist town and would need lots of extra help so they would probably be more likely to give someone with zero experience a chance.
The other form of “work” I did was working for accommodation. This is a great way to cut costs while travelling. I spent my last month in New Zealand cleaning a hostel in Franz Josef. At this point I wasn’t looking to make any money but I also didn’t want to spend any more money than necessary. It was a great way for me to spend a little extra time close to the mountains before my flight out of New Zealand.
So those are my tips and advice for a New Zealand Working Holiday. Feel feel to comment if you have any other questions about Working Holidays or if you have any different advice I should add.