I completed my New Zealand working holiday almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve received a lot of emails and questions from others who are about to start their own working holiday. A lot of the questions are the same, so I thought I’d go ahead and put together a FAQ post (frequently asked questions).
I’m actually working on a full New Zealand Working Holiday Guide, which will include ALL of the information you could possibly hope for. Since it’s probably going to be a while before I get that posted, I wanted to go ahead and get something up that covers the basics.
I love giving out advice about New Zealand, so I actually enjoy emailing with my readers privately. However, not everyone wants to reach out to me personally, so this post is meant to answer basic New Zealand working holiday questions for quick reference. Please be aware that rules for this visa will vary depending on where you’re from. Since I am answering based on my own experience, information in this post will be tailored to those from the USA, Canada, and the UK.
If you’re planning for your own New Zealand working holiday, or even if you’ve never heard of a working holiday, this post is the perfect place to start!
Here are answers to the New Zealand Working Holiday questions I get asked the most.
Answers to Your New Zealand Working Holiday Questions
What is a working holiday?
A “working holiday” is the term used to refer to a certain type of visa. Many countries have these visas available, but this post is focused on New Zealand.
The New Zealand working holiday visa allows people from a pre-approved list of countries to work and travel within the country for a specified length of time. For those from the USA, the visa allows you to stay in New Zealand for up to 12 months. For those from Canada or the UK, you can apply for a 12- or 23-month visa.
The purpose of the visa is to bring travelers into the country to take up temporary work in popular industries (hospitality, retail, agriculture). Visa holders should come to New Zealand primarily to travel, although you are generally allowed to work for the entire length of your visa.
What’s the age limit for a New Zealand working holiday visa?
The New Zealand working holiday visa is available to those between the ages of 18-30 (18-35 for residents of Canada).
For those on the higher end of that range, don’t fret! You can apply for the visa within your 30th year, as long as it is before your 31st birthday. If your application is approved and you receive a visa, you have up to one year to enter New Zealand and start your working holiday. That means you could technically be 31 by the time you get there, but pay attention to dates, deadlines, and technicalities regarding age.
Can I extend my working holiday visa?
Rules for extending your visa vary depending on where you’re from. You can check the New Zealand Immigration website for details specific to you.
For those from the USA, you have the option of extending your New Zealand working holiday visa for an extra three months. In order to do this, you must complete three months (90 days) of agricultural work. Once you’ve done this, you have to apply and send proof to receive the extension.
For those from the UK or Canada: if you initially applied for the 12-month visa, you can apply to extend to the 23-month visa while in New Zealand.
What kind of jobs can I get on a working holiday?
The New Zealand working holiday visa allows you to take up TEMPORARY work in the country. You are not allowed to take up a permanent role. This still gives you a lot of options for work, but the main industries for working holiday goers are hospitality, tourism, retail, and agriculture.
Typical jobs in these industries include restaurant work, housekeeping, fruit picking, hostel reception, baristas, etc. If that type of work isn’t for you, a lot of people also sign up with temp agencies to do office work.
How much money should I save for my New Zealand working holiday?
According to the New Zealand Immigration website, anyone entering the country on a working holiday visa should have $4,200 NZD. This is to insure that you can cover your general travel/life expenses while in the country, and purchase onward travel when your visa expires. If proof of funds is requested and you can’t provide it, you may be denied entry into the country.
While it is considered a requirement, it’s not guaranteed that anyone will check for proof of funds. But I recommend saving AT LEAST that amount, and printing out bank statements for proof. I know plenty of travelers who came to New Zealand with much less, but you don’t want to wind up broke in a country that you will eventually be kicked out of.
Do I really need working holiday travel insurance?
The answer to this question very much depends on where you’re from. If you are from the USA, it is technically required that you maintain medical insurance. Whether or not anyone will check to make sure you have it is questionable. I personally wasn’t asked for proof, and most people I know weren’t asked either.
However, buying travel insurance for an extended trip like this is smart, regardless of whether it is legally required. Having catastrophic coverage and emergency evacuation through your travel insurance is the main thing you need to worry about for the sake of the “medical insurance” requirement.
I wrote an entire post about New Zealand working holiday insurance right here.
How do I open a bank account in New Zealand?
Opening a New Zealand bank account is necessary before you can start working and earning money. There are a handful of large banks that most travelers use: ANZ, Westpac, and BNZ. Opening a bank account is easy, and all of these banks deal with working holiday goers regularly. All you really need to do is bring in your documents (visa & passport) and they’ll tell you what to do.
I had an account with ANZ. I chose this bank because I was able to open an account BEFORE I moved to New Zealand and transfer money into my account. This meant that I had money waiting for me as soon as I arrived. Within the first couple of days that I was in the country, I just went in for a scheduled orientation. A banker helped me finish up my paperwork, they gave me a debit card, and that was it!
What’s the best New Zealand mobile plan/provider? How do I get a sim card?
The three main mobile providers in New Zealand are Spark, Vodafone, and 2Degrees. I used Spark Mobile. I walked into a Spark store and bought a $5 sim card to put into my iPhone. I signed up for a prepaid plan, which allowed me to choose how much data/texts/minutes I wanted from month-to-month, and just pay for what I needed. Some months I didn’t even buy a plan, and just used wifi instead. Overall, I was happy with the service coverage.
Was finding a job in New Zealand hard?
I found my job in New Zealand within the first week or two of being there. I only applied to two jobs, was offered both, and accepted the one that seemed best for me. So in my opinion, no, finding a job in New Zealand isn’t hard. But I know that answer is going to be different for everyone.
I’m very aware that being a native English speaker gave me a huge leg-up in finding a job. If English isn’t your first language, getting a job might not be as easy. However, I worked with/met plenty of travelers who were fairly new to the English language and had no issue finding work.
I encourage people to treat a job search in New Zealand as you would a job search at home (i.e. be professional and work hard at the jobs you get). Many travelers treat work here as a joke, and don’t care at all about being dependable or responsible. So if you can prove that you’re NOT like that, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a job.
Do I Need a Chest X-Ray?
One last thing people often ask about is the Chest X-Ray during the application process. This is only required from people who have lived or traveled within certain countries in the last 5 years to ensure that you don’t have TB. Since I didn’t have to get the chest x-ray, I don’t have any first-hand experience to help answer questions about this process. However, Dia over at Here with Dia wrote a whole blog post about the process, so hop on over there if you want to read more about getting a Chest X-Ray for the New Zealand Working Holiday!
Those are the New Zealand working holiday questions I get asked most often. Like I said earlier, I do plan to write a full guide that will answer these questions in more detail, as well as lots of other questions. I would love for you guys to leave a comment or send an email with any other questions you have about New Zealand working holidays so that I can make sure they get answered in my guide.
Here are a few more posts I think you’ll be interested in:
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Featured image by Henry McIntosh on Unsplash