If you’re a traveller in New Zealand and you have a visa that allows you to work, at some point you might consider finding a job to fund your continued travels. But how do you find seasonal work in New Zealand?
There are many different resources that you can use, but first you should consider what type of work you would like to do.
Are you interested in hospitality work, office-based roles, or would you prefer to work outdoors?
This article is focused on the latter: outdoor seasonal work.
New Zealand has a huge amount of work in the agriculture, horticulture and viticulture sectors. And these employers will often hire travellers to help them during their busy seasons.
Here’s everything you need to help you find outdoor seasonal work in New Zealand.
Check your visa
Before you can even think about finding a job, you must ensure that you are legally allowed to work in the country.
The most common visa that allows you to work and travel in New Zealand is the Working Holiday Visa.
There are other visas that allow people to work in New Zealand, but a job offer is usually required in advance for these.
So, if you’ve established that you are on a Working Holiday Visa, the next step is to check the working requirements for your nationality.
For example: I am British, meaning that I can stay in New Zealand for up to 23 months, BUT I can only work in 12 calendar months. So, if I only worked for one day in May, then May would still be counted as a month that I have worked in and I’d only have 11 calendar months left.
If I was from a different country, let’s say Norway, I would be able to stay in New Zealand for up to 12 months and I would also be able to work for up to 12 months.
So check your specific visa conditions.
I’ve written a more detailed guide to the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa here.
Before you start
Alright, so you’re on the right visa and you know what your conditions are for working in New Zealand.
But before you can actually start working, there are a few other matters you need to attend to:
- Bank account. Your new employer will ask for your bank details upfront so that they can actually pay you! There are a number of banks that you can choose from, just go in and ask to set up an account. (I went with ANZ).
- IRD number. This is your tax number with the Inland Revenue, and it’s another thing you will be asked for by your new employer. Simply pop into your local Post Shop for an application form.
- Phone number. Make sure you have a local New Zealand phone number so that any potential employers can get in touch with you! Pick up a prepaid SIM card in any supermarket or dairy.
Which job for which season?
Of course, when you’re relying on work with crops, fruit and vegetables, the season will be an important factor in what jobs you can find.
Some seasons will be easier than others to find work. Don’t worry though, it is possible to find outdoor seasonal work in New Zealand all year round.
Here are a few examples of the seasons for certain crops:
September, October, November.
Spring jobs are mainly pruning, bud-rubbing and shoot-thinning in vineyards and kiwifruit orchards, plus hop collection and propagation.
- High: (North Island) Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay.
- Medium: (North Island) Waikato, (South Island) Marlborough, Nelson and Otago.
- Low: (North Island) Northland and Wairarapa.
December, January, February.
Summer starts to get busier with the picking and packing of soft fruits, grapes, cherries and apples.
- High: (North Island) Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and (South Island) Marlborough.
- Medium: (North Island) Waikato and (South Island) Nelson.
- Low: (North Island) Northland, Wairarapa and (South Island) Otago.
March, April, May.
Autumn is the busiest season with a huge demand for harvesting of most fruit including apples, pears and grapes.
- High: (North Island) Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, (South Island) Marlborough, Nelson and Otago.
- Medium: (North Island) Northland.
- Low: (North Island) Waikato and Wairarapa.
June, July, August.
Winter is less busy but you can still find work picking and mostly pruning of vineyards and orchards.
- High: (North Island) Bay of Plenty and (South Island) Marlborough.
- Medium: (North Island) Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and (South Island) Nelson.
- Low: (North island) Waikato and (South Island) Otago.
You’ll notice that the above jobs are all focused on fruit growing and harvesting.
But there are other types of outdoor work that you can do, too!
New Zealand has a huge number of dairy farms, which require workers all year round.
And you might have heard that there are a lot more sheep than people in the country (which is true, by the way. A LOT more).
If you are strong, fit and up for a challenge, why not apply for a job on a sheep farm during shearing season?
Or, for something a bit different again, apply for a job at a nursery (for plants, not children), where there is always something to do.
Below are some of the websites that I’ve found are very helpful when looking for seasonal work in New Zealand.
- Backpacker Board. This is a fantastic resource for backpackers looking for work. Their ‘Jobs’ section covers vacancies all over the country in different industries, whether paid or for accommodation and food. You can filter them for farm jobs, fruit picking jobs or anything else you might be interested in.
- Seasonal Solutions. This site will let you register for work and you’ll be assigned to the representative for the area you’re in, who will let you know what vacancies there are near you. This service is only available on the South Island.
- Work the Seasons. Sign up to Work the Seasons and gain access to jobs in many different seasonal industries, with the option to filter out anything that’s not for you.
- Google! There are so many websites for finding seasonal work in New Zealand, so if you want to try more than the ones above, just pop your search into Google.
My New Zealand seasonal jobs
How do I know so much about finding outdoor seasonal work in New Zealand? I did it myself!
I spent almost two years in this wonderful country and loved it, so here’s how I spent my 12 working calendar months.
Kumara plant cutting – Dargaville, Northland. Unfortunately, I only spent a couple of weeks at this job, as the continuous wet weather meant that we couldn’t work regularly. The job involved cutting new shoot growth from the previous year’s planting so that they could be planted in a nearby field.
November – December
Avocado orchard – Pukenui, Northland. This was a very varied job on a new orchard. Some of the duties included planting new trees, fertilising, weed-spraying, irrigation and picking.
Dairy farming – Oamaru, Otago. A busy job with very early starts (3am!). Duties included herding, milking and feeding cows as well as other odd jobs around the farm.
March – April
Grape harvest – Cromwell, Central Otago. Harvest season in the vineyards of Central Otago was a lot of fun with a great team. Days were spent walking the rows and picking grapes for wine.
May – August
Rootstock grading – Waimea Nurseries, Nelson. This job was technically not outdoors as we worked in a grading shed. Another team harvested the rootstock out in the fields and our job was to grade them into different sizes and count them into bundles of 25, ready for grafting.
October – November
Hop cutting – Waimea Nurseries, Nelson. I returned to Nelson for the hop season after some time spent travelling. The job duties included taking cuttings from off-site hop fields, planting them in trays and moving large numbers of hop trays around the nursery.
And that’s it for my guide to finding outdoor seasonal work in New Zealand!
I prefer this kind of work to any roles in the hospitality or contact centre industries, which I’ve done many times before.
There’s something about being out in the open with the gorgeous New Zealand countryside around you that is just so good for the soul.
Plus, it gives you the freedom to move around the country while making money AND you can make so many new friends!
I hope that I’ve convinced you to find some seasonal work for yourself and that the information in this guide has helped you to get started.
Is there anything else that you’d like to know? Where do you plan to start? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa
- How a Working Holiday Visa could change your life
- Workaway: an introduction to work exchange
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