So you’ve decided to come to New Zealand on a working holiday. I bet that you are really excited about the chance to work and live abroad, as you should be. New Zealand is gorgeous with its mountains, beaches, and other impressive landscapes. It’s full of laidback, kind people from all over the world. You only get one working holiday visa for New Zealand in your life and you want to make the most of it. I did a working holiday visa in New Zealand in 2011 and have since stayed. I also work at a backpackers and have met many working holiday makers. I’ve seen people struggle to find work, and others florish. I wanted to give some advice and tips.
There are a lot of people on working holiday in New Zealand and Australia. I was quite surprised by the numbers when I first arrived. There is competition for jobs, especially depending on where you are looking.
(1) If you can, try to get hospitality experience before you leave home. Try to get any work you can in restaurants, whether it be waitressing, coffee making, bar work, kitchen hand, etc. Or if that’s not your thing try to get experience in hotels with housekeeping or portering. These are where the majority of the jobs are for working holiday people and they want to see experience. Do you have a college degree and experience in a “proper career?” Don’t bet on finding that kind of job here. You are on a temporary working holiday basis and you need to come to terms that you are most likely going to be doing low-paid work you never maybe would have thought of at home. The positive is that you will learn new skills and make yourself a more-rounded individual.
(2) Do your research. Every year, lots of backpackers come to Queenstown (where I live) in April and May looking for work. They think it’s smart because it’s just before the ski season so they think they will be one of the first to get work. The reality is this is one of the slowest times of year, no one is hiring and there are no jobs until June. Most of these backpackers then leave, frustrated , or they end up spending lots of money hanging around in town waiting for the job opportunities to start coming. Look into when the busy seasons are in which areas of New Zealand and go from there.
(3) Live in a hostel in the beginning. Try to get work for accomodation. Talking to other people who have jobs is a great way to get in and find a job for yourself. Knowing the right people can make a huge difference. If there’s a place you really want to work spend time there getting to know the staff. Then when the opportunity arrises people will come to you first for the job.
(4) Remember, you are looking for a job. Act professional. If you are going around asking for work, bring copies of your CV. Take the time to talk to people and don’t be obvious that you are literally going from business to business. Remember, you are one of many people looking for work. You want to be remembered. Take the time to write clever cover letters when applicable. If English isn’t your first language have someone check your CV. I have seen some real poor ones dropped off in my day that go straight to the bin.
(5) Don’t give up. If there is a town you really want to be in and the work is not there keep at it. You will eventually find work. The most patient people I have observed are some of the most successful. If you land the right job it might even lead to your sponsorship and more time in New Zealand. I’ve seen many people look for work for about a week and then quit and move on. If you are realistic, find work for accomodation to keep you going that little bit longer, and don’t blow your money all at once, you will be alright.
(6) Apply for your IRD (tax code) number right away. If you can, find a place where you can get it in a day if you pay a small fee. Otherwise it can take weeks to get it and you can’t really get paid until you then (unless you want to be taxed at 50%).
(7) Accept that things might be different here. That is why you want to travel, right? To try something new? Some things will be more expensive and not make sense. You may be working different hours and have different pay than you are used to. Instead of complaining, embrace it!
Good luck and enjoy your working holiday in New Zealand!