New Zealand, Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud.
If you’re thinking about visiting this beautiful country and want to stay longer than a regular tourist, your best option is probably the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.
The application process can seem pretty daunting at first, but don’t fret! I’m here to walk you through it and to provide some additional information to help get you started.
Previously, I’ve written about how a Working Holiday Visa can change your life, but this post is specifically about the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa and how to apply.
Requirements & Application
Update 13/10/2019: Please note that when the visa conditions state ‘months’, they mean calendar months. Eg. British citizens on a 23-month visa can only work for 12 months. If you work one day in a calendar month (or even one hour!) that counts as one month worked. I was caught out by this as it is not stated anywhere on the website or on the visa; however, I have contacted Immigration NZ by phone and by email and they have confirmed that this is true. If you are unsure about any of the details of the visa, it is best to contact them to clarify.
The first thing to do is to head to the NZ Immigration website and select the Working Holiday Visa option for your nationality.
There are 44 nationalities listed for New Zealand Working Holiday Visas, and the process will be fairly similar for all of them. Here, I will focus on my experience as a citizen of the United Kingdom.
- You must have funds of at least NZ $350 for every month that you will be in the country, plus enough to buy an onward plane ticket
- You must be aged between 18 and 30*
- You can apply for a 12 or 23 month visa*
- You cannot work for more than 12 months in total (even on the 23 month visa)
- You can study or train for up to 6 months in total
- You may be required to provide a General Medical Certificate
- You cannot accept a permanent job
*Varies depending on nationality
Once you are happy that you meet the criteria, you can apply for your visa through the website.
The cost for a 12 month visa is NZD $245, or free if you are from the US.
I provided a General Medical Certificate once I’d submitted my application, as I applied for the 23 month visa.
It’s very worth noting that they only give you 15 days to provide this, which I was not aware of when I was going through the application process.
An Approved Panel Physician must provide the certificate, so you likely can’t just make a visit to your local doctor.
I had to make a 5 hour return trip to visit my nearest approved physician in the UK.
Once you’ve submitted everything, you will likely have to wait a few weeks for the approval to come through.
When your visa has been granted you will have one year from the approval date to enter the country.
setting up in New Zealand
You’ve arrived in New Zealand! Hooray!
Along with the excitement of being in a new country and wanting to see ALL THE THINGS, there are a few important things you need to do before you can start working.
There are a number of different banks with different plans suitable for travellers, so it’s worth doing a little bit of research online.
I went with ANZ. The setup process was very easy and I’ve been very happy with the service, so I would definitely recommend them.
You will need an IRD number for tax purposes while you are working in New Zealand, so it’s best to apply for one as soon as possible.
You can easily do this in a Post Shop; they have all the forms there for many different things, including applying for IRD with the Inland Revenue.
All employers will ask for your IRD number before you start work.
As you’ll be living and working in the country for a while, make sure you set yourself up with a New Zealand phone number.
I’ve found that prepaid options are the best for travellers, and there are many different companies with great plans available.
I used Spark Prepaid because they often offer bonus data on their packages and 50% off Spotify Premium, but Skinny and 2degrees also have great value offers.
You’re on a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, so at some point between all the travelling fun times, you’ll probably need to stop somewhere and work for a while.
There are countless areas of work you could go into, from fruit picking to retail and everything in between.
Backpackerboard is one of the best resources I’ve found for job searching in New Zealand.
There are always heaps of job vacancies from around the country on this site, and the majority of jobs that I’ve done were found on here.
They also have plenty of New Zealand travel tips and activities on the website, so it’s a really good resource for backpackers.
If you’re after some fruit picking work on the South Island, Seasonal Solutions are very helpful and easy to reach.
Just fill out the registration form on their website and they will get in touch with you about jobs in your area.
Trade Me is a buying and selling website similar to Australia and UK’s Gumtree, and there are always a lot of job listings on their website.
Finally, look into joining some Facebook groups for backpackers in New Zealand as there are often job postings on there.
Where to stay?
The majority of travellers and backpackers in New Zealand tend to buy a camper van to enable them to travel around the country as much as they like.
There are hundreds of camping spots up and down the country for both self-contained and non self-contained vehicles, from basic free sites to luxury holiday parks.
If camping is not your thing, check out Trade Me again for the ‘Flatmates Wanted’ section. Airbnb, Hostelworld and many other accommodation apps will come in handy along the way as well.
And that, my friend, is basically all you need to know about moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa!
I hope that this will be the start of your next great adventure and that you will love living and working in this wonderful corner of the world as much as I do.
My last piece of advice to you is to make friends with the locals! They’re a brilliantly wacky bunch who are so laid-back and friendly; I guarantee you will have the best time with them.
Is there anything you’re still wondering about? Are you planning your own trip to New Zealand? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
Looking for more? Check out these articles:
- How a Working Holiday Visa could change your life
- 13 Essential planning tips for long-term travel
- Top 7 awesome things to do in Auckland
- Mount Taranaki Summit Track
- Great Barrier Island’s most beautiful day hike
All images in this post are the property of lastminutewanders.com
Hi! I’m looking into the holiday working visa post-covid. Your post was very helpful! I have one more question though, do you know if there are stipulations to how much or how little you’d be allowed to work per week with this visa? I couldn’t find that information on their website. Thanks!
Hi Melanie, as far as I know there is no rule around how many hours you can work in one week. Do be aware, though, that if there is a limit on how many months you can work on your visa (depending on your nationality), it is likely that they will be counted as calendar months, not the amount of time you’ve actually worked. For example, if you work only one day in April, that will still count as one month of work.
Please note that I do not work for the Immigration Department and it is therefore always best if you contact them directly with your questions to avoid any confusion.
I hope you have an awesome working holiday in New Zealand! 🙂