I wanted to provide some insight for anyone considering the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand and help you figure out if its the right adventure for you!
First of all, New Zealand is an incredibly gorgeous country filled with a variety of magical landscapes that change quite drastically from the North Island and the South Island. I was only in the country for 6 months and spent a fair deal of that working so unfortunately I did not see all of the country but I did see a bit.
Rangitoto (Dormant Volcanic Island in Auckland)
Getting back to the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand, there are many countries that are eligible for the visa and the age range is mainly between 18-30 and 18-35 depending on what country you are from. This information can be found on the government website. The visa lets you travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you’re from the UK or Canada.
I decided to get a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand because my visa was up in Australia and I wasn’t ready for my travels to end. I wanted to see what the the country was like being so close by in Australia, I felt I might not get the opportunity to go again with it being so far from Canada. I was also very lucky to have a group of friends to head over with and live with as well.
Hahei Beach, Coromandel, North Island.
In order to set-up a bank account, they will usually ask for proof of address. Not all but some banks will accept a hostel as one if that is where you are currently staying. I signed up with ANZ using my hostel address with no issues. There are a few options for banks in NZ so do some research and see which one is best for you.
You need to apply for an IRD number which is your tax identification number required in order for you to start working and paying tax. You can apply through the website. Wait until you are in the country to do this. You are required to have an address and bank account set-up before applying for an IRD and you’ll also need your passport, copy of your visa, and your tax number from your country back home. An IRD number is usually granted within 24 hours to a few business days.
There are a few companies to choose from to get set-up with a NZ number. I personally found Spark was a great option and really affordable at $20 a month for a basic plan. Some other options are Skinny Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone to name a few. Doing a bit of research will help determine the best one for you.
Choosing Where to Find Work
We decided on Auckland because it is the biggest city in New Zealand and felt that finding work would be easier here than some of the other cities. Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown are also popular options for backpackers. Especially Queesntown!
Auckland was a good choice as far as finding work and housing went but I personally felt the city was not quite what I was looking for and I think Wellington would have been better suited to my interests. Do your research and see what options are out there for you depending on what you might like to do, see and type of job you might want. For example if you work in construction, Christchurch might be a great option as they are still working on rebuilding parts of the city after the earthquake in 2011. Queenstown is the adventure hub with ski resorts, mountains and other activities like bungee jumping.
I was lucky to find a job in an amazing cafe located in Ponsonby called Dizengoff where I got my barista certificate and learned how to make proper NZ coffee, something the country is known for. Knowing how to make coffee is always a skill in my mind. After living in NZ, I have a new appreciation for coffee and can proudly say I’m a bit of a coffee snob now.
Cost of Living in New Zealand
New Zealand is up on the more expensive side of living especially Auckland and Queenstown. A room on average will probably cost you around $250-$350 a week depending on where you live. You could always get lucky and find cheaper, this is what I was noticing when looking. There are some awesome groups on Facebook to for backpackers seeking housing. One of the best websites to use to look for housing is Trademe.co.nz. Its comparable to Australia’s Gum Tree.
Groceries can also be quite expensive, especially avocados! Keep an eye out for deals at the local supermarkets (Countdown being one of the big chain stores) and if there are local farmers markets in your area make sure to check them out. You can get some great deals and you are also supporting local farmers.
New Zealand Wages
Another thing to keep in mind are the wages in NZ compared to the cost of living. Minimum wage is approx $16.50 an hour as of April 2018. Saving a lot of funds for travel can be tough on minimum wage especially if you are working under 40 hours a week. I recommend having a good amount of savings before coming over. Now if you have a skilled profession than it’s likely you will be able to find work in your field. There are many recruiting companies that can help with finding employment and two great websites are Seek and Indeed.
Travel in New Zealand
Now for the fun part! New Zealand has so many amazing sites and places to see. That’s one of the reasons to get a WHV. My favourite places I travelled to were Wellington and the Coromandel. (More on that in a later post.)
Having a car in New Zealand is really helpful for getting around. Even in Auckland I wish I had gotten a car as public transportation can be unreliable at times.
Staying in hostels when you first arrive on your Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand is a great option as it gives you a chance to meet fellow travellers, make new friends and perhaps even plan trips together! The backpacking community is so amazing from what I experienced in my own travels. Hostelword is my favourite hostel booking site and Airbnb is also a good option.
I hope that helps to provide some insight if you are considering the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand and its really an amazing experience to be able to travel and work in another country. You get to immerse yourself in the culture, live like a local and meet amazing people while creating lasting memories.
If you have any questions or additional info on the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand to add please leave a comment below!