Work Holiday Visa

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Work Holiday Visa

1. Posted by lisanab (Budding Member 2 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Hi Guys!,

As of this year, I will be 30 years old, female, living in Singapore and planning to spend a year in New Zealand under a Work & Holiday Visa by myself. In the meantime, I'm researching what to do and where to stay. A few of the places I came across offered accommodation and pay as well as a job on a farm. Of course, I am also looking forward to exploring New Zealand this weekend!

It would be great if you guys could help me out with some of the questions that I've got

1. Which area of New Zealand should I start at?
2. Does working in farm or isolated place be easier be easy accessible?
3. Do I need my own transportation?
4. Will I need to pay tax even planning to stay there a year?
5. Is it safe to travel alone there?
6. What are the other advices you can give?

Greatly appreciate your advices in starting my new journey! Feel free to comment and definitely be hearing about it!


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5924 posts) 5w 2 Star this if you like it!

Assuming you have enough money saved up for it, I'd recommend travelling around New Zealand first to get a feel for the place, and where you'd like to spend more time at, before arranging work and accommodation for a long time.

You'll almost by definition "start" in Auckland, simply since that's the biggest city with the main international airport. From there (again, assuming you have the budget), take a month or two to travel around (e.g. 3 weeks North Island, 5 weeks South Island). That's enough to get an impression of what the country has to offer, while just whetting your appetite for more. Then based on that you can decide for yourself where to focus on settling down and finding some work.

For general travelling around, you don't need your own transport. Intercity busses take you almost everywhere you'd want to go, daily, and there's many regional altneratives as well, plus train lines for a few routes. It might be worth getting one of their travel passes to save some money, but if you can book well in advance, their discounted fares also tend(ed) to be pretty competitive.
If you indeed want to do farm work somewhere isolated, then it's probably good to have your own transport just to be able to get out - but that'll eat up a big chunk of the money you're earning there.

Yes, if you work and earn money, you need to pay tax over that. Depending on the type of work you do, they might withhold taxes for you already (so you might even get money back at the end of the tax year). It's been too long since I did this myself to feel I can offer valid advice here, so read up on things yourself, but you'll probably be a non-resident taxpayer (unless you stay in a house longterm, e.g. renting a room/house for more than a couple of months). You'll definitely need to apply for an IRD number, and will need to file taxes at the end of the tax year (which I assume still runs until the 1st of July. N.B. depending on when you're travelling and working, this might mean you'd need to file taxes twice, including once after you've left).

New Zealand is one of the safest countries around. This doesn't mean you should stumble around blind-drunk through Auckland at 3 A.M. at night with your wallet easily visible inside your open backpack, because crimes of opportunity exist everywhere - and in fact, the only time in my life I ever had my car broken into was in New Zealand - but overall safety is just not something you should be "worried" about. The number of solo travellers in New Zealand, both male and female, is huge, with absolutely excellent infrastructure to support this.

You don't say what time of year you plan to head to New Zealand. If it's in the coming weeks, be aware that transport on the North Island can be disrupted due to a (once-in-a-hundred-years) cyclone which caused a lot of flooding e.a. in recent days, while it's also still the tail end of high season (which runs from xmas through the end of February). Come June-September, the South Island is gorgeous with the Southern Alps covered in fresh snow, but that can also sometimes mean that some roads will be closed, so it's good to build in some flexibility in your planning, just in case.

Finally: Have an absolutely lovely time! New Zealand is without a doubt my favorite travel destination, with absolutely gorgeous nature everywhere you look. If you enjoy hiking, you'll be in paradise, since there's not a town around without half a dozen trails starting at its periphery. (Do make certain to not get stuck in the bigger cities; they're good for work and money, but no matter how nice they are, the real beauty of New Zealand is in nature.)

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2763 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

Hi Melissa

I'd echo everything Sander has said - that's all great advice.

As well as farm work, there is usually plenty of tourist-facing work to be had in places like Queenstown and Wellington. One of the pitfalls can be settling into one job, enjoying it, and not getting around the country to see everything. I talked to one guy working in a Wellington bar who had been there four years, his employer sponsoring him for residence, and still not explored the country much.

It's the safest place I know of.

Auckland is a big city, and many people would agree it's the least New-Zealandy place to be. I'd use it as a gateway, spend a couple of days there but then head out.

Wellington, the capital, is a small city and I like it a lot. If you want to be in a City I'd consider Welly.

Queenstown is a tourist town, situated by a lake and mountains, and packed with adrenalin sports. It's a love-it-or-hate-it sort of place. Lots going on, and surrounded by great scenery.

Rotorua and Taupo are the centre of the geothermal features, so with hot springs and boiling mud and fumaroles they get lots of tourism. Hence the nickname Rotovegas.

Most other places can be a little quiet. Much of NZ is small rural towns.

One popular backpacker job is guiding at the Hobbiton movie set (near Cambridge, north of Rotorua). Especially if you have another language as well as English. Similarly, lots of jobs at the tourist things in Queenstown - dealing with people going jetboating, bungee jumping, parachuting, etc. There is often casual hostel work as you travel around.

Places to see. Wanaka, Milford Sound, Glenorchy, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, Abel Tasman national park (beaches and forests, Split Apple Rock), Kaikoura for whale watching, Tongariro national park (volcanoes), Napier (art deco architecture), Coromandel Peninsula (Cathedral Cove and Driving Creek Railway), Bay of Islands, Waitomo Caves (glow-worms and blackwater rafting). Pancake rocks, Moeraki beach boulders, Castlepoint, Wellington botanic gardens, Christchurch city being rebuilt after an earthquake, Lake Tekapo (and Tekapo Springs hot pools), the ferry between North and South islands going through the Marlborough Sounds, Mount Maunganui, Weta Workshop tour.

4. Posted by lisanab (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w 1 Star this if you like it!

Thank you @Sander & @AndyF for a well-thorough breakdown of starting off my adventure!

My trip to New Zealand is planned for August or September. Trying to decide which island to visit first, North Island, Auckland, or Queenstown on the South Island. According to a friend of mine, Queenstown is the most expensive place for adrenaline rush activities. Luckily, I still have some time to plan. However, I appreciate the advice you provided!

As the month approaches, I'll have more questions along the way!


5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5924 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

The good thing about New Zealand in August/September is that it's very much low season, so many hostels will have discounts; mostly of the form stay 5 nights, pay 4. Opening hours / frequency of activities will however be lower.
If you like cold and snow, head to the South Island first, before spring starts. If not, start with the North Island, and avoid Tongariro for the time being. :)

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2763 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I don't think it matters too much where you start, as you'll have time to see it all.

You could also "wing it" without a plan. It's easy to move on when you're ready, and stick around when you're having fun. If you make some friends, continue in the direction they are going.

Do you have a good chunk of money to let you travel without needing to work straight away?

...I've just seen Sander's reply, which reminds me: I'd avoid the eastern part of North Island initially, if they are still going through cleanup after the cyclone. That's the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty (Tauranga), and Hawke's Bay (Napier). I have friends in Hawke's Bay and it's looking like a big job, for instance the main road to Taupo expected to be some months before reopen. South Island wasn't impacted, so that may be a reason to start there.

[ Edit: Edited on 1 Mar 2023, 09:57 GMT by AndyF ]

Post 7 was removed by a moderator