A Working Holiday in New Zealand: a Series about Living and Working in NZ

7 mins read
Job Seeker employment job seeker new zealand temping working holiday Working Holiday Visa

Looking back now, it seems pretty random that I have ended up living here in Auckland – but I am mighty pleased that fate led me here. I love my life here in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The seed of the idea was planted when I was living and working in Tenerife, way back in 2013. I had moved in with a British girl I met there, and we quickly became friends. My new friend had lots of travelling goals and plans, and not long after we’d connected, she was saying goodbye to Spain and heading off to fulfil her dream: a working holiday in Australia, followed by the same in New Zealand. I was impressed with my friend’s adventurous spirit – at that time, a working holiday ‘down under’ didn’t seem quite as commonplace as it feels today! We kept in touch, and when I was looking for a fresh start, contemplating what to do next with my life, my friend gave me a wee nudge. She suggested I come out to where she was, in New Zealand. It was only six months later that I was on a plane myself. Destination: Auckland.

I arrived on a chilly day in July, which is winter here in the southern hemisphere – though it’s not too cold by UK standards. I slowly got to know the city. I made new friends, I joined a very helpful Facebook group (more on that in a later blog), I found a place to live, I found a job, I travelled and explored. I started building a new life in New Zealand. Of course, that’s a very brief summary! It all took a fair amount of effort, and I learned a LOT along the way. Looking back now, I realise I have collected some useful insights and wisdom to impart to anyone else out there – wherever you are – who is also contemplating a big move across the world.

Welcome to ‘A Working Holiday in New Zealand’ – a seven part series that I’ve developed with the goal of helping those who find themselves looking for a similar adventure – seeking to explore, live and work in beautiful New Zealand.

Because I came here using the Working Holiday Visa scheme, that particular experience is the core focus of this blog series. However, most of the content will be relevant to anyone planning to travel and work here, under any type of visa. In each blog, I’ll cover a different aspect of backpacker work, life and travel, including what I’ve personally experienced, and what I’ve learned about the practicalities of a working holiday in New Zealand – stuff that the travel guides don’t necessarily tell you! This is part one, I’ll kick things off with the essential fundamentals of moving to New Zealand: the Working Holiday Visa.


About the Working Holiday Visa (WHV)

New Zealand has a working holiday scheme agreement with many countries around the world. Aimed at young people, this visa allows you to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you are from the UK or Canada.


Who can apply?

People aged 18 to 30 (or up to 35 years old for some countries) whose main intention is to travel or holiday in New Zealand, with work or a short amount of study as secondary intentions. Not every country has a Working Holiday Visa Scheme with New Zealand – you can check if yours does here.


How do I apply?

It’s pretty easy. You apply online through the New Zealand Immigration website, which typically is done before you arrive. It’s also possible to apply once you’re here, but there may be other requirements and it generally takes longer.


Do I need a job first?

No, you can find a job once you’re here. Keep an eye out for blog number four of this series, as it will include lots of useful information about job hunting, including ten different ways to find a job. The Madison website also has plenty of helpful content for when you reach this stage, including how to adjust your resume for the Kiwi market, and many ideas and tips to make job hunting a smoother process.


How long does the visa take?

Obviously COVID has made timelines everywhere a little wonky, but Immigration NZ seems to be on track with the WHV and usually (not always) you’ll get an email within 20 working days from when you submit your online application, to confirm if your visa has approved or to ask for more information.


How long does the visa last?

Up to 12 months, or up to 23 months if you’re from the UK or Canada.


How much does it cost?

This varies depending what country you’re from. More information can be found here.


Are there any other conditions?

Yes, other conditions may apply, and again, they vary depending which country you’re from – find out more here. One important condition to be aware of is that you cannot have a permanent job while here. This means you’ll be looking for temp work only. This isn’t a negative – there’s loads of interesting temp work available, where I am here in Auckland, in all the major cities and across the country in many other locations. Also worth noting is that there’s currently a labour shortage here in New Zealand, and temp workers are in high demand.


What is temporary work?

Temp work is when a worker is engaged for a specific period of time to complete project or task-based contracts, seasonal or casual work. A temporary role is as it name suggests – not forever!  However temp work can range from anything from a one day assignment, to several months in one position – it depends on what the business needs and what you can fulfil. And there’s huge variety in the work too. You can find temp work in an office, such as front desk Receptionist at an Accountancy firm in downtown Auckland or outdoors, for example, picking apples in sunny Nelson for four weeks.


Types of temp work

There are temporary roles found in all industries and sectors, and it doesn’t just have to be solely about making cash, temp work can also be a real career boost. If you are looking for a job that will further your career and that makes use of your degree, existing skills and experience, there are plenty of temp roles to meet your needs. You may find yourself working as a Project Coordinator, or Manager for a large corporate, or working on the latest advertising campaign at a digital marketing agency.


Finding temp work

Temp work is organised through a recruitment agency, like Madison, but actually done at an employer’s (client of the agency) workplace. You can read more about types of work, and temping through Madison here, and check back on this page in a couple of weeks when I’ll publish my blog that covers the full ins and outs of finding work in New Zealand, including working with a recruitment agency.

Temporary working is ideal for backpackers and travellers with an WHV, as it fits the conditions of your visa and gives you the flexibility to work for shorter periods of time, giving you the space to travel. It’s fun to try out different roles and industries, plus, temp work can be found everywhere around New Zealand, which is great for exploring!


Can I stay on after my working holiday?

The working holiday visa is an excellent way to travel and sample living in another place in the world, but it’s not intended for long-term stays. If you do decide that you’d like consider New Zealand as a more permanent destination, I recommend checking out the Immigration NZ website, which has loads of info about visa options.


What is it like to work in New Zealand?

I get asked this question a fair bit, as well as being asked a lot about the downsides (yes, there are some!) and the positives of living and working in NZ. I will share all in my second blog, so check back soon to find out: Why New Zealand?

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me today!

Gemma Hill
Principal Consultant

A bit about me In 2016, I arrived in New Zealand from the UK and my recruitment journey began. With experience in people focussed industries like healthcare and hospitality across the UK and…

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