New Zealand, with its stunning landscapes, friendly communities, and vibrant culture, is a top destination for Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holders. If you are looking for a job in New Zealand, it is important to do it right! Indeed, finding a job in a foreign country with potentially a foreign language requires a minimum of preparation and organization! In general, it is quite easy to find a small job with a Working Holiday Visa or a Student Visa. For skilled jobs, it usually takes more determination but don’t panic, there are plenty of opportunities. This article provides essential information, tips, and advice for WHV makers planning to work in New Zealand.
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Finding a job in New Zealand in 2024
Coming to work in New Zealand therefore offers many opportunities and even more favorable conditions than before.
To be sure to find a job, adjust your search to the seasons and the climate. In summer, favor tourist areas such as Mount Maunganui, Kaikoura or Bay of Islands. In winter, focus your research on ski resorts such as Wanaka, Queenstown or Mount Cook.
The job opportunities are many and varied, but it can sometimes be more complicated to find a qualified job that matches your profile. This is the main reason why many backpackers choose a less skilled job during their WHV in New Zealand. Here is a non-exhaustive selection of the different job opportunities in New Zealand.
Work in hospitality and Tourism
With New Zealand’s thriving tourism industry, there are ample opportunities in hotels, restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions, especially in tourist hotspots like Queenstown, Rotorua, and Auckland.
The hospitality industry employs many backpackers. The positions offered can range from receptionist, waiter, kitchen assistant, dishwasher, bartender or barista. These jobs are generally well paid, from $23 to $25/hr + tips, and hourly rates increase in the evenings, on weekends and on holidays.
For a first experience in New Zealand, working in a restaurant can allow you to work a lot of hours and therefore be able to save money quickly.
Agriculture and Horticulture:
Seasonal work in fruit picking, vineyard work, and other farming activities is popular among WHV holders. Regions like Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, and Marlborough often need seasonal workers.
It is possible to do it all year round, it is a sector that recruits regardless of the season. Be careful, it is often a job paid by the weight or bucket, with long hours, which can be exhausting. On the other hand, it allows you to earn a good amount of money in a short time. Kiwi, avocados, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, you will easily find a farm looking for labor. To find out more about the regions to favour depending on the season, go to PickNZ.
Working with animals
You may not know it, but there are nearly 40 million sheep in New Zealand! To supervise and take care of the animals, the shepherds often seek a little help from backpackers or Wwoofing enthusiasts.
For fishing lovers, New Zealand is a paradise! Many anglers hire young people to help out, so why not give it a shot?
Au pair / nanny
In exchange for accommodation, food and usually $300-400 pocket money per week, you take care of the children of a family. This experience is also a good way to improve your English quickly and not spend too much on accommodation and food.
Many WHV holders find employment in retail, working in shops, supermarkets, and malls across the country. You can find jobs in big and small cities and in a variety of shops.
Qualified jobs (recruiting sectors)
After the health crisis and the closing of the borders, New Zealand is currently in need of skilled labour. If you have diplomas recognized in New Zealand, you may be able to practice in your field. Some examples :
- Construction (painter, tiler, welder, etc.)
- IT (webdesign, social media manager, etc.)
- Trade / Craft
Internship in New Zealand
To prove yourself after your studies or to have a first approach to the country, you may wish to do an internship in New Zealand. Be aware that in the country, the internship is considered a volunteer observation experience in a company. This explains why most are unpaid or simply offer a small compensation.
Note: to carry out your internship in New Zealand, you will need a specific visa: the Student and Trainee Visa. To obtain this visa, you must be a student, your university or school must validate your internship project and the internship offer must match with your field of study.
Volunteering in New Zealand
Volunteering is common practice in New Zealand. Having one or more volunteer experiences in New Zealand can be useful as it is often highly appreciated by recruiters. Many associations are looking for volunteers to lend a hand.
Wwoofing is a very popular practice around the world. The principle is simple, you are housed and fed in exchange for a few hours of work per day. Your hosts provide you with a roof (caravan, room, tent…) and feed you. In exchange you help them in the management of the property. To access all the contacts, you need to register on the Wwoofing website: wwoof.nz (paid registration).
HelpExchange is a program based on the same principle as Wwoofing. To access the ads and hosts details, you need to be a member to access the proposed ads. You can work on a farm, a ranch, a property in exchange for a roof and meals. Register at: www.helpx.net
The idea is the same, you work a few hours for accommodation and food. This cultural exchange program connects volunteers with hosts from all over New Zealand, providing a wide range of experiences, from helping out on organic farms, assisting in family-run businesses, to participating in conservation projects. It’s an excellent way for individuals on a Working Holiday Visa or those simply looking to extend their stay in New Zealand affordably, to learn new skills, meet locals and other travelers, and explore the country’s stunning landscapes.
Before you can work in New Zealand
A work visa
First of all, you will need a work visa to work in the country. Indeed, a simple tourist visa does not allow you to work legally. Here is a selection of the main temporary work visas:
- Working Holiday Visa: valid for 1 year, it allows people aged 18 to 30 (35 for Canadians) to be able to work to finance their stay in New Zealand. You will be able to claim a 3-month extension of your visa if you can prove that you have worked at least 3 months in viticulture or horticulture.
- Student Visa: for those studying in New Zealand. The Student Visa allows students to work outside of class, up to 20 hours per week and full-time during school holidays.
- Post Study Work Visa: valid for 3 years, it allows you to work in New Zealand for any employer in all sectors of activity. You will need to justify 60 weeks of courses in New Zealand. In summary, if you enroll in a New Zealand university or school, you will be eligible for a Post Study Work Visa at the end of your studies.
Before even looking for a job, you must:
- Get a New Zealand phone number
- Open a New Zealand bank account
- Have an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number
- Write a CV with New Zealand standards
- Get a New Zealand phone number.
Get a NZ phone number
The simplest step of them all. Go to one of the telephone operators (Vodafone, Spark, 2Degrees, Skinny) and choose a phone and a package that best suits your budget. The following packages are recommended for backpackers;
- Prepay: A prepaid contract has no lock in dates, it can be cancelled at any time. Prepaid credit usually includes a certain number of minutes of call, sms and data.
- Pay as you go : Instead of paying a certain amount every month, you will pay every minute of call, every text or every Mb of internet. This is the best option if you do not use the internet a lot.
Once your phone line is open, do not forget to write down your phone number, which will be used for your next steps and to be contacted by your future employers.
Get health Insurance
Whether you are on a student visa, expat or PVT, it is strongly recommended to come with good health insurance. In New Zealand, healthcare costs are extremely high, so the slightest visit to the hospital can cost you a lot. Count more than 1000 NZD per day spent in the hospital and 200 NZD for a simple X-ray.
Also read: Backpacker Travel Insurance
Open a bank account
The 5 major banks in New Zealand are: ASB, ANZ, BNZ, KiwiBank and Westpac. They all have distributors across the country. Most of them offer a free bank account for everyday transactions (statement of accounts, transfers) and have a mobile application.
You can pre-open a bank account from France, but you will need to make an appointment with an advisor once you arrive in New Zealand. There is also the option of opening an account directly with the bank. However, we recommend making an appointment with the advisor to avoid long waiting lines.
Important Note: To open a bank account you must present a proof of residence in New Zealand in addition to your passport and your visa. All you have to do is ask your hostel, or wherever you are staying. It is not obligatory that they have to say yes, some may refuse.
Get an IRD number
After opening your bank account, you must now apply for an IRD number (Inland Revenue Department), which is free of charge. This number will allow you to pay your taxes in New Zealand that will directly be withdrawn from your employer. Generally, you will be tax deducted at 105% if you earn less than $14,000 NZD a year. However, if you do not apply for an IRD than you will be at risk for being taxed 45% of your wage.
How to get an IRD?
Previously, it was necessary to go to the post office, complete a rather tedious form and then wait ten days to receive the IRD by mail and SMS. You can apply online at the official website ird.govt.nz/managing-my-tax/ird-numbers
To apply online you will need:
- Your passport number.
- Your New Zealand immigration application number (different from your visa number). This number was emailed to you when your WHV application was approved.
- The tax number of your country of origin
- Proof of opening a functional bank account in NZ (statement of account, certificate of your bank).
The online application is very simple and only takes about fifteen minutes. Once your IRD request has been accepted, you will receive your IRD within a few days, either by post or by SMS (you can choose the option that suits you best during the online process).
This number is to keep preciously, since it will be asked by your future employers. It is, however, possible to work without an IRD, as long as you have made the process.
Write a New Zealand CV
A long and detailed CV is highly appreciated in New Zealand. Do not hesitate to explain in detail what each professional experience has brought you and the skills you developed during your time of employment.
To get an idea, here is the order in which a New Zealand CV should be written:
- A header with your details such as your full name, email address and contact phone number. There is no need to talk about your age or your visa, this could work against you.
- Personal profile: a short paragraph summarising who you are and what you are looking for.
- Skills: Things like your ability to communicate well, your software proficiency, the languages you speak.
- Work experience: As with any resume, it’s time to talk about your professional experiences. Highlight the title of your position, rather than the name of the employer. You can then summarise in a few lines your responsibilities in this position.
- Interests: For the employer to gauge your personality, write a few words about your interest and your hobbies .
- Referees: One of the most important categories for employers. This is where you will mention the phone numbers and email addresses of your former employers that could serve as a reference. Do not forget to check that your references are able to speak English.
How to find a job in NZ?
Armed with your best smile, and some printed resumes, it’s possible visit companies, mainly cafes and restaurants, to find work in New Zealand. Ask to see the manager directly and briefly explain what you are looking for before handing over your resume.
In the big cities such as Auckland and Christchurch there are many recruitment agencies that you can register with. The recruitment agencies will keep all your details on file and if they find a job that would suit your experience, they will contact you on behalf of the employer. You can register with recruitment agencies online or face-to-face.
Word of mouth
Talk to the people you meet and spark up a conversation about looking for work in New Zealand. Often, they will share their experience or know someone who is looking for an employee. If you stay in hostel, do not hesitate to chat with other travellers, they might be or have been in a similar situation and could give you some hot tips!
Tips for Finding Work
1. Prepare Your CV: Tailor your CV to New Zealand standards, highlighting relevant experience and skills. Keep it concise and to the point.
2. Use Job Search Websites: Websites like Seek, Trade Me Jobs, and Backpacker Board are excellent resources for finding job listings suitable for WHV holders.
3. Network: Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Attend meetups, join Facebook groups related to working in New Zealand, and connect with fellow travelers.
4. Be Flexible: Being open to different types of jobs and locations can increase your chances of finding work quickly.
The minimum wage in NZ is $23.15 per hour, effective 1 April 2024. Unlike Europe, wages are paid weekly or fortnightly. It’s a little confusing at first, but rents are also to be paid every week, you get used to it very quickly.
Types of contracts
There are several types of employment contracts in New Zealand:
- Full time: A contract of 40+ hours a week, with most of the time, fixed hours each week.
- Part-time: A part-time contract carries out fewer hours than a full-time position, usually 20-30 hours per week. It is possible to have a couple of part-time jobs at the same time however; it does require lots of organisation and you must have regular fixed rosters for each job.
- Contract Job / Temporary Job / Fixed term job: A contract that has a designated term of work, whether it is over a few weeks or months. For example, fruit picking or a relief role for someone who has taken annual leave.
- Casual job: A contract that is the equivalent of a French extra contract. Your rosters are not always the same, each week is different and there is not a guaranteed number of hours. However, that does not mean that you will work few hours. It is quite possible to do as many hours as someone in full-time position.
As you work, you accumulate paid holidays. Full-time workers are entitled to 4 weeks of paid leave per annum. These are sometimes included in your payroll “Casual Holiday Pay”, which means that if you go on leave, they will not be paid.
If you are in full-time position, it is possible to take more or less holidays as you want. It might be worth noting that the main holiday period in New Zealand is between mid-December and mid-January, which corresponds to our July 14 – August 15.
Working in New Zealand as a WHV holder offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world while gaining valuable work experience. By preparing adequately, staying informed about your rights, and approaching your job search with flexibility and openness, you can ensure a rewarding and enriching working holiday experience in New Zealand.