Frequently asked questions on New Zealand long term holidays or work & travel adventures

Walking up the Hooker Valley towards Mount Cook.

A work and travel visa - usually only available for people younger than 30 - allows you to work on non-permanent jobs while traveling. Perfect for people just finishing high school or university.

After seeing the same questions concerning work and travel in New Zealand coming up in different communities, we thought it might be helpful to write up the answers to these. Of course such an article can never be complete. Thus we will happily integrate any feedback from your side. So if you find anything missing in the article please leave a comment or write us via the contact form.

As mentioned above, this article specifically focuses on answering questions concerning work and travel in New Zealand. Unlike for the US, you can organize your work and travel holidays without mandating an agency. So just work through the individual tasks described below and you should be done.

The basic checklist

When planning your work and travel holidays, there is tons of things you can get busy with. The essential things  are very limited. Focusing on the checklist below will ensure you get to New Zealand in the first place and can work any non-permanent job you'll find.

The individual task you must do before leaving

  • Get a Passport
  • Apply for the Working-Holiday-Visum
  • Book the flight (see details below concerning return ticket)
  • Get a medical checkup (recommended) and insurance (required depending on country of origin. Read this article concerning pitfalls with health insurance.)
  • Get a bank statement showing a balance of more than 4200 NZ$ in your account
  • Proof of your actual residential address. The place you live right now.
    This proof could be a bill or statement sent to you at that address, or copy of your overseas driver's license (if it has an address on it).

The individual task you must do after arrival

  • Get a bank account
  • Get an IRD number
  • Find a job :-)

In most regards, "regular" traveling and work & travel holidays require the same preparation. Therefore, for a detailed guide concerning passport, health care, flight booking and what to do with your apartment, we suggest to read our travel preparation guide. The work and travel related questions are answered in the FAQ section below.

Frequently asked questions on Visa related issues

How long am I allowed to stay in New Zealand on a work and travel visa?

The New Zealand work and travel visa allows you to work in New Zealand for up to 12 months and study or train for up to 6 months in total.

Where and how to apply for a Working-Holiday-Visa in New Zealand?

You have to apply online at the official New Zealand web page. Select "I don't have a job offer", enter your citizenship and age. Afterwards the system will show you the different types of working visa available for you. Select the working holiday visa and continue to apply online.
No working holiday visa to see? Well, bad news, New Zealand does not offer this option for your country. Sorry dude, we could not get to any agreement with your government.

How much does  the visa cost and how to pay for it?

This depends on your citizenship. The New Zealand immigration website states that it costs €175, or £125 for people from the EU or UK. You will need a valid Visa or MasterCard to submit your payment.

How long does it take to get the visa?

It usually takes five working days or less from the time you successfully submit your application online. You’ll receive an email either approving your visa or asking for more information.

What does immigration require proof of?

Very important. Even if you got your visa approved, border control will only let you enter when you can show proof of the following upon arrival

  • Account with NZ $4,200 or equivalence in other currencies to live on while you’re in New Zealand.
  • Return ticket or proof of enough money to buy one in addition to the NZ $4200 mentioned above
  • Medical insurance covering you while in NZ
    You may need to get medical and comprehensive hospitalization insurance for the length of your stay. Please refer to your country’s specific requirements on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Frequently asked questions on work related issues

When and how to apply for an IRD number?

When working in New Zealand you need to apply for a IRD, the  Inland Revenue Department number. While your work and travel visa is sufficient to find a job you need to apply for the IRD the day you start working, the latest. Apply by following steps listed on the IRD website.

Documents you need:

Frequently asked questions related to buying a car

New Zealand has some great companies getting you to most places by bus or you can try to hitchhike. Nevertheless your own car gives you more flexibility and allows you to camp in spots you would not reach otherwise.

How much does a car cost and how do I find one?

The price of the car depends on your needs. To get a feel of the prices, have a look at  turners.  They show the average prices for different models and usage. As a rough guideline, add to this about NZ $500 for paper work etc. and you are good to go for at least 6 months. Of course only if you have money left for fuel and upcoming services and repairs :-)

Just in general: Take your time when looking for a car and you will find a reliable car within your price range.. If you are staying in New Zealand for several months, you can easily go without a car for the first few weeks.

When looking for a car we suggest to start following New Zealand related Facebook groups before boarding the plane. Here, each day, people about to leave New Zealand are advertising their cars.

Other possibilities are to visit one of the many car fairs (just goolge for car fairs New Zealand) or look at the black boards in super markets. Especially cars sold by residents in smaller towns usually are not as worn down.

No matter where you find the car be sure to inspect it thoroughly before buying it.

What type of driving license do I need?

Your national driving license entitles you to drive up to 12 months in New Zealand if it is fully written in English. If it is not written in English you need to get an international driving license.
Make sure you also read New Zealand's official page about buying and selling a car.

Do you have a step by step instruction to guide me through the car buying process?

Luckily the New Zealand tourist office gives an overview of the individual steps for buying a car.  Below we provide a short summary an a few extra bits and pieces:

  1. Automobile club
    Check if an existing membership in your home country entitles you for a free membership in AA Motoring, the New Zealand automobile club.
  2. Get the car inspected  
    If you found your dream car make sure you get it inspected before signing any contract. In principal any garage can do the job.
    We would give AA Motoring a try. They are independent and allow you to register online for a pre purchase inspection. The costs are NZ $149 for members and NZ $169 for non members and it will take about 1,5 hours.
  3. Check the history of the car (debt, stolen etc.) at motorweb or carjam for about NZ $20.
    New Zealanders often use their cars to secure loans. If you accidently buy a car which is loaded with debt and they track it down, it might have been easier to just flush your money down the toilet.
  4. Get a written contract of the sale
  5. Get a warrant of fitness (WoF)
    The WoF states that your car is fit to be used in New Zealand traffic and has to be renewed regularly. Shell out another NZ $25- 50 for the WoF at one of the 3200 WoF agents in New Zealand. Look in the Yellow Pages to find your nearest one.
  6. Get the car registered on your name for just another NZ $9 and renew the Registration (road tax) if needed.
    This can be done at any post office, or online. The renewal of the Registration is another NZ $30 - 100$ per half year. See this page for more details.
  7. Notify the New Zealand Transport Agency of the purchase for a small fee of NZ $10
  8. Get an optional third party insurance covering any damage you cause with your vehicle.
    There are many companies on the market. You might want to look at AA Insurance or NAC for a start.

Further tips from the community

Where to get good WiFi for free?

Go to McDonalds before 8 a.m.

How large should my backpack be?

In general take a larger (55-70l) and a smaller day pack (max. 30l) which you can compress enough to store it in your large one.

Do I need hiking boots?

The answer to this question is even simpler than for the backpack: It depends :-)

If you have never been on a day long hike into the mountains then get yourself some ankle high hiking boots before you fly to New Zealand.

On the other hand, if you already have experience in hut to hut hiking for example in the European alps, you might think about going with some trail runners only. Yes hiking trails in New Zealand can be wet and slippery but as long as you are on the great walks during the main season, it is more like walking on a highway than in the wild. If snow and strong winds with rain are forecast or you want to go on one of the less famous trails, hiking boots are a must though.