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Preparing for Your Working Holiday To New Zealand: A Comprehensive Guide

A New Zealand working holiday offers the opportunity to explore stunning landscapes, experience a new culture, and gain valuable work experience. As I prepare for my Working Holiday next year, I’ve done some quick research on what I need to prepare for prior to my trip. This is a working article, and I will be continuously updating this with more information once I go deeper into the planning stage. 

So far, the article summary is as follows:

  • Planning for your Departure to New Zealand
    • Destination
    • Timing Your Arrival
  • Basic Administrative Matters
    • Bank Account
    • IRD Number
  • Accommodation Options in New Zealand – A Brief Overview
  • Types of Jobs to Get in New Zealand – A Brief Overview
  • Insurance Requirements

Do let me know if I missed anything, or if there are other things you’d like to know.

coromandel new zealand

Source: Unsplash

TL;DR: What to prepare for your Working Holiday in New Zealand 


Task

When to Do It

Description
Apply for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa
Up to 1 year before your trip
Submit your visa application as early as possible.
Schedule a chest X-ray scanAfter submitting your Working Holiday Visa application Arrange a chest X-ray scan as requested by New Zealand immigration.
Book your flightCouple of months before your trip Research airlines and book your flight to New Zealand.
Create a budgetCouple of months before your trip Calculate your estimated expenses and create a budget.
Familiarise yourself with New Zealand's customs and regulations
Flexible
Research New Zealand's customs, regulations, and cultural norms.
Research accommodation optionsCouple of months before your trip Explore different accommodation options and make reservations if necessary.
Research job opportunities1 month before your trip, or when you’re at New Zealand
Research job opportunities in your chosen destination and industry.
Obtain personal insurance1 month before your trip Determine your insurance needs and obtain appropriate coverage.
Pack essential items for trip 1-2 weeks before your trip Pack appropriate clothing, travel documents, and essentials.
Set up a bank accountWhen you first arrive at New Zealand
Contact a bank and set up a local bank account.
Apply for an IRD numberWhen you first arrive at New Zealand Apply for an IRD number on the day of your arrival in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

The first step in preparing for your New Zealand working holiday is to obtain the appropriate visa. For Singaporean citizens aged 30 and younger, the Working Holiday Visa, also known as the Singapore Work Exchange Programme, offers the opportunity to travel and work in New Zealand for up to a year. This visa was previously valid for six months but has been extended to a year.

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You may find a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa in this article.

Planning Your Departure to New Zealand

wellington

Source: Unsplash 

1. Choosing Your Destination in New Zealand

 

New Zealand offers a range of destinations to choose from for your working holiday. Consider factors such as job opportunities, cost of living, and personal preferences when selecting your destination. Here are four popular places to consider:

  • Auckland: Auckland is the most populous city in New Zealand and a popular destination for working holidaymakers. It offers a vibrant city life, diverse job opportunities, and easy access to essential services.

  • Wellington: Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene. It offers a unique blend of city life and natural beauty, with easy access to stunning coastal areas and hiking trails. 
  • Christchurch: Christchurch is a great option for those who enjoy the outdoors. It offers a laid-back lifestyle, proximity to ski resorts and national parks, and a growing job market. 
  • Queenstown: Queenstown is a must-visit destination for adventure enthusiasts. It’s known for its breathtaking scenery, world-class skiing, and adrenaline-pumping activities like bungee jumping and skydiving.

Here are the estimated flight costs from Singapore to the respective destinations in New Zealand 


Ticket Type

Flight Duration

Estimated Flight Cost - Budget

Estimated Flight Cost - Traditional

Auckland

One-Way
9 hours 35 mins (Direct)

22-25 hours (Non-Direct)
$680 - $800

(Non-Direct Flight)

$951 - $1,183

(Direct Flight)

Wellington

One-Way

13 hours
(1 stop layover)

NIL

$997 - $1,113

Christchurch

One-Way
9 hours 40 mins
(Direct)

12-14 hours
(1 stop layover)
NIL $1,099 - $1,174

Queenstown

One-Way
12-15 hours
(1 stop layover)
NIL
$1,026 - $1,200

Cost estimate taken on 5 September 2023, for the period of 1 July 2024

2. Timing Your Arrival

 

whakapapa new zealand

New Zealand experiences four distinct seasons, and the timing of your arrival can greatly impact your working holiday experience. Here is an overview of New Zealand’s weather conditions throughout the year: 

Month Season Weather
December - February SummerWarm and sunny, perfect for outdoor activities
March - MayAutumnCooler with more frequent rain and autumn foliage
June - AugustWinterSnow in some areas
September - NovemberSpringWarmer temperatures with blooming flowers

Consider the following factors when deciding the best time to arrive:

  • Seasonal Job Opportunities: Many industries in New Zealand, such as fruit harvesting, vineyard work, and ski resorts, rely on seasonal workers. Research the peak seasons for these industries and time your arrival to maximize job opportunities. 
  • Weather Conditions: New Zealand’s weather can vary greatly between seasons and regions. Consider your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in during your working holiday. Do you prefer warm summer temperatures or enjoy winter sports? 
  • Travel Restrictions and Pandemic Considerations: Keep in mind that travel restrictions and pandemic-related regulations can impact your plans. Stay updated on travel advisories and be prepared to adapt your itinerary as needed.

By carefully considering the timing of your arrival, you can optimize your working holiday experience in New Zealand.

3. Administrative Matters: Chest X-ray, Bank Account, and IRD Number

 

bank

Before embarking on your New Zealand working holiday, there are several administrative tasks you need to complete. These include a chest X-ray, setting up a bank account, and obtaining an IRD number. Let’s explore each of these requirements in detail:

Chest X-Ray

As part of the visa application process, New Zealand immigration may request a chest X-ray scan. You may find out more about this in the Working Holiday Visa application article

Bank Account

Setting up a local bank account in New Zealand is essential for managing your finances during your working holiday. Most working holidaymakers choose ANZ or Kiwibank for their banking needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up a bank account:

  1. Contact the Bank: Email the bank of your choice a few weeks before your departure to express your interest in opening an account. They will provide you with the nearest branch location and the required documents. 
  2. Required Documents: Prepare the necessary documents, including proof of your Singapore home address (such as a bank or utility statement), photocopies of your passport and visa, and any additional documents requested by the bank. Ensure you block out any sensitive information on your documents.
  3. Appointment: Visit the bank branch on the scheduled date and time. You may be asked to review some paperwork, sign forms, and provide the required documents. Some banks may charge a small fee for issuing a debit or EFTPOS card.

  4. Manage Your Finances: Once your bank account is set up, you can deposit funds and start using your EFTPOS card for purchases. Familiarise yourself with the banking app provided by your chosen bank.

IRD Number

 

taxes

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number is a unique identifier used for tax purposes in New Zealand. It’s essential to obtain an IRD number before you start working. Here’s how to apply for an IRD number:

When To Apply Process Documents Needed
Apply on ArrivalThe most common method of obtaining an IRD number is to apply in person at the nearest IRD office on the day of your arrival in New Zealand.Photo ID (passport)


Proof of address (bank or utility statement)


Evidence of a functioning bank account


Proof of your working holiday visa (e-visa)

There is an alternative method of applying for an IRD number before arriving in New Zealand.

 You can email the required documents (photo ID, proof of address, proof of bank account, visa application form) to the designated email address. However, this method may involve additional steps and is generally less recommended.

Remember to keep your IRD number handy, as you’ll need it for job contracts and tax-related matters, and various administrative tasks during your working holiday. 

Accommodation Options in New Zealand

Finding suitable accommodation is an essential aspect of your New Zealand working holiday. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose from various options. Here are some popular choices:

Hostels

Hostels are a popular choice among budget-conscious travelers and working holidaymakers. They offer affordable accommodation options, and some may even provide opportunities to exchange work for free or discounted stays. Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travelers and make new friends.

You may find budget-friendly hostels via sites like Hostelworld.

Sharehouses

Sharehouses are a common choice for working holidaymakers in New Zealand. These houses are often owned by locals or individuals who have previously been on a working holiday themselves. Renting a room in a sharehouse can provide a sense of community and the opportunity to connect with other working holidaymakers.

Sharehouses can be found on local websites such as NZflatmates and Roomies

Accommodation Provided by Employers

In New Zealand, it is common to get accommodation as part of employee benefits if you work at a Backpacker hostel or motel. 

Some employers in industries such as agriculture and horticulture may provide accommodation for their employees. This can range from on-site housing to rental properties. If you’re considering working in a specific industry, inquire about accommodation options during the application process.

Living with Locals

Living with locals can offer a unique cultural experience during your working holiday. You can find opportunities to rent a room in a local’s house through online platforms like AirBnB or by joining local Facebook community groups specific to the town or region you plan to stay in. 

Alternatively, platforms such as WWOOF New Zealand allows you to work for a local in exchange for accommodation. This option allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain insights into the daily lives of New Zealanders.

Camper Vans

For those seeking ultimate flexibility and freedom, renting or purchasing a camper van can be an excellent option. Camper vans allow you to travel and live on the road, exploring different regions at your own pace. However, keep in mind that finding suitable places to park and access facilities can be more challenging in some areas.

Consider your budget, desired level of comfort, and the length of your stay when choosing the right accommodation option for your New Zealand working holiday.

Read More: How to Budget For A One-Year Working Holiday in New Zealand

Finding Jobs: Seasonal and Year-Round Opportunities

One of the highlights of a New Zealand working holiday is the opportunity to work in various industries. New Zealand relies heavily on seasonal workers, especially in agriculture, horticulture, and tourism. Here are some popular job opportunities for working holidaymakers:

Seasonal Jobs

 

Source: Unsplash 

  • Fruit Harvesting: New Zealand is known for its abundant orchards and fruit farms. From cherry picking in Central Otago to kiwi fruit harvesting, there are plenty of opportunities for seasonal work in the fruit industry. 
  • Vineyard Work: New Zealand’s wine industry is world-renowned. Grape picking and vineyard work are popular options during the grape harvest season, which usually occurs in autumn. 
  • Ski Resorts: If you arrive during the winter months, consider working at one of New Zealand’s ski resorts. Jobs range from ski instructors and lift operators to hospitality and customer service roles. 
  • Hoki Fishing: Hoki fishing is a year-round job opportunity in coastal areas such as Motueka and Nelson. This industry provides employment in processing and packaging fish products.

Year-Round Jobs

 

new zealand jobs

Source: Unsplash 

  • Hospitality: New Zealand’s thriving tourism industry offers year-round job opportunities in hospitality. Hotels, restaurants, and cafes often hire working holidaymakers to fill positions in customer service, housekeeping, and kitchen staff. 
  • Nursery and Flower Packing: If you have a green thumb, consider working in a nursery or flower packing facility. Christchurch, in particular, offers opportunities in the flower industry. 
  • Dairy Farms: New Zealand is famous for its dairy industry. Working on a dairy farm can provide valuable hands-on experience in animal husbandry and farm management. 
  • Retail and Customer Service: Retail stores and customer service roles are available throughout the year in cities and tourist destinations. This can be a great option if you prefer a more stable work environment.

Check Out These Sites For New Zealand Related Job Opportunities

Research job opportunities in your chosen destination and industry before your arrival. Join relevant Facebook groups and online platforms to connect with other working holidaymakers and stay updated on job openings.

Personal Insurance: Local and Overseas Options

 

Source: Unsplash

Having appropriate insurance coverage is essential for your New Zealand working holiday. It’s important to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances, such as accidents, theft, or medical emergencies. Here are some insurance options to consider:

Local Insurance

If you’re planning to stay in New Zealand for less than three months, local insurance agencies offer short-term plans to cover your stay. However, these plans may not provide comprehensive coverage for a long-term working holiday.

Overseas Insurance

Several overseas insurance agencies offer long-term insurance plans specifically designed for working holidays. These plans provide coverage for an extended period and typically include medical, travel, and personal liability coverage. Research different providers and compare their offerings to find the most suitable option for your needs.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

New Zealand has a unique health coverage system called the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). It covers medical costs for accidents and injuries that occur in New Zealand, including work-related injuries. However, coverage is limited, and ACC does not provide insurance for theft, travel disruptions, or illnesses unrelated to accidents.

New Zealand Insurance

Consider obtaining insurance from a New Zealand-based provider that specializes in working holiday coverage. 

Companies like Orbit Protect offer comprehensive insurance plans specifically tailored to the needs of working holidaymakers. These plans cover a range of risks, including medical expenses, personal liability, theft, and travel disruptions. Be sure to read the policy terms and conditions carefully to understand the coverage provided.

Evaluate your insurance needs and choose a plan that offers comprehensive coverage for the duration of your working holiday in New Zealand.

Preparing for Your New Zealand Working Holiday

Taking your time to prepare for your working holiday is important so that you reduce the risk of unexpected inconveniences. We hope this guide helps you better prepare for your trip, so that you will have a fulfilling year abroad! 

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