New Zealand North Island Working Abroad

Complete Guide to the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

new zealand working holiday visa

In 2019 we are so lucky that we can access the world so easily. Travelling is something I urge everyone to do if you want to. Since exploring Australia whilst on a working holiday visa I think it’s a brilliant way to travel and we are so lucky to have this option. From Australia to Canada working Holiday Visas are available in multiple countries around the world including New Zealand. Working Holiday Visas give travellers the opportunity to travel whilst working with different countries. In this blog post, I’m giving you a complete guide to my experience in gaining a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. 

Disclosure: This is not immigration advice. This is my experience of gaining my working holiday visa. The information in this post is about my experience only and not immigration advice. The information was true at the time of publishing in August 2019 and may have changed since. 

How to Get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

If like me you hate paperwork then you’ll be pleased to know that you can apply for a New Zealand working holiday visa completely online. There is no need to print out any external forms which makes the process quicker too. The only document we needed for our applications were our passports and I think I input my driver’s license too. Just have two forms of identification ready just in case. 

Who Can Get a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand?

New Zealand is one of the many countries around the world that offers travellers a working holiday option when visiting the country. In order to apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand, you need to be a citizen of a country that has an agreement with New Zealand, see a list of these countries here. There’s also an age limit on getting a working holiday visa in New Zealand. All applicants must be aged 18-30. Upon receipt of a New Zealand working holiday visa, you’ll be allowed to live and work in the country for up to 12 months. 

I think that working holiday visas should be taken advantage of. We are so lucky as travellers to be able to stay in a country for an extended period of time. It gives us a chance to really connect with the destinations instead of just passing through quickly as well as giving us a chance to work. Backpacker jobs can be found relatively easily in New Zealand but if you can take your current career with you then why not. I qualified as a nurse in 2015 and have nursed in three countries across the globe. If your job is transferrable it’s definitely looking into it for a job on a working holiday visa in New Zealand.

2 Year Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand 

A standard working holiday visa gives you one year in the country as mentioned above. But if you’re a citizen of the UK or Canada you may be allowed to stay for 23 months. New Zealand has an agreement with both countries which gives travellers an opportunity to get a 2-year working holiday visa to New Zealand. In order to gain the 2-year visa to New Zealand, you’ll need to have a medical done to show that you are in good health. There are also requirements for the one year visa which I’ll outline below. 

A beach to visit in new zealand whilst on a working holiday visa
Imagine spending a year in places like this!

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Requirements 

In working to get a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be aged between 18-30 years 
  • You have no children or dependants on this visa 
  • You cannot accept a permanent job 
  • A medical certificate is required for a 23-month visa (UK and Canada)
  • Have sufficient funds in your bank account

If you meet these simple requirements and your country is eligible to apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand then you should be all good. You can check on this website to check your country. Click on the country and the next page will let you know whether or not you’re eligible to apply for a working holiday visa to New Zealand at this stage. Try not to worry too much if applications are ‘closed’ for your country it could be subject to change at any time. 

The Cost of a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

The great thing about working holiday visas is that they don’t cost the earth. In May 2019 when I applied for my New Zealand working holiday visa the total cost came to $232 Australian Dollars or 123 GBP. So it really isn’t that expensive especially if you are saving and planning ahead for your trip. Other visas such as work visas or permanent residency visas are much more expensive. So, a working holiday visa is also a great option if you’re looking to travel on a budget whilst earning as you go. 

How Long Does the Visa take to come back?

On the website, they say to allow up to 28 days for processing of a Working Holiday Visa. Again, this is subject to change depending on when you apply for your visa. But for us, it took only 4 days to come back to us accepted. I think it just depends on how many applications they have to get through at that time and if you have any additional factors on your application that need addressing. 

How Much Money Do You Need in the Bank for a Working Holiday Visa?

I think this one depends on which country you come from. Once granted a working holiday visa to New Zealand you won’t need to prove that you have a return ticket. What you may have to prove is that you have sufficient funds in your bank account. I don’t know if this is different depending on where you are from but for us coming from the UK, we needed to have 320 NZD for every month we’re in the country. It worked out at like $4000 each or something near that. Once you start your application the exact figure will be outlined.

In reality, you may or may not be checked upon entering New Zealand. We didn’t get asked to prove our funds but I know some people have and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Weta Cave - one of the unique Lord of the Rings Attractions to visit on a Working Holiday Visa
Or visiting unique movie set locations like this?

If you can’t afford to support yourself maybe you should rethink your travel plans or saving strategy. I do get that it’s frustrating because on a working holiday visa you can work and perhaps you plan on working right away. But rules and rules being marched straight out of the airport is seriously not worth it. It states on the New Zealand immigration website that your primary intention on visiting New Zealand should be to ‘holiday’ so I guess they’re just making sure you have some money to do that. Although I’m not sure who could live on $320 a month here in New Zealand because it is hella expensive, I spend that a week at least! 

Extending a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa 

As I mentioned above extending a New Zealand working holiday visa is possible. If you are from the UK or Canada you may be eligible to extend your 12-month visa to 23 months. For more information check out this website. Even if you’re from another country you may still be able to apply for a three-month extension in New Zealand but there are some requirements. You must have completed 3 months of seasonal work in New Zealand to be able to apply for this visa. 

What is Seasonal Work in New Zealand?

I guess this rule is similar to the one in Australia where if you complete farm work you can extend your Australian working holiday visa. However, this one is only for a three-month extension no more. The immigration website defines seasonal working as someone who has undertaken work in the following fields during their time in New Zealand, planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops.

Finding a job in New Zealand 

Finding a job in New Zealand for us was relatively easy. My partner David has been working in the hospitality industry for a lot of years and got a job as soon as we finished our Auckland to Wellington road trip. As a nurse by trade, I’m lucky that I continue my career whilst on a working holiday visa too. But there are a few websites which can help you get a job if you’re looking for more of a temporary or ‘backpacker’ style of employment. Backpacking jobs in New Zealand are so varied from bar work, farm work, waitressing, working at a hostel to more seasonal jobs such as fruit picking or working at a resort during the Ski-Season. I recommend joining some Facebook groups as soon as you’re ready to start looking for a job because a lot of people advertise through Facebook. 

Travelling in New Zealand 

I’m sure as soon as your feet touch down on New Zealand land you’ll want to be off exploring. We travelled the majority of the North Island for our first month in the country and it was awesome. But a few things to note about New Zealand whilst you plan your working holiday visa. New Zealand is expensive and I didn’t realise how pricey the country was until I got here.

If you’re familiar with Australian living costs then imagine that but a little more. Petrol is double that of Australia. Yes, diesel is cheap but you have to pay diesel tax in New Zealand so I’m not sure how cheap that makes it. Food is expensive, I mean $6-10 for value cheese – come on! Ensure to be prepared and do some research before planning an epic New Zealand road trip. The wages are also a lot lower than Australian wages but a lot higher than UK wages. The living cost is the same as in Australia. I’d just say plan well and do your research.  

Aside from the slightly higher than expected living costs, maybe I was in denial, our working holiday visa in New Zealand has been amazing so far. Work has been easy and the process of getting our visa was also easy. Once you’ve filled out the application form you should be well on the way to arriving in New Zealand for your next adventure!

Sharing Is Caring

I hope that you enjoyed this guide to obtaining a New Zealand working holiday visa. I also have a post on getting a Working Holiday Visa in Australia which you can read here. Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding working holiday visas in New Zealand and I will try my best to answer as best I can!

If you're looking into a working holiday visa in New Zealand then this post is your ultimate guide. Find out who get a New Zealand working holiday visa, how to get one and everything you need to know based on my personal experience! | New Zealand Working Holiday Visa | Work in New Zealand | Live in New Zealand | Live and Work in New Zealand
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Wishing you happy travels to New Zealand and beyond!

Alicia 

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