The Top 5 Jobs on a New Zealand Working Holiday

Expats Abroad, New Zealand, Working Abroad — By on January 10, 2011 at 12:36 pm

By Candace Rardon
LG Correspondant

Job hunting is stressful for everyone, everywhere. But that process of applying, interviewing, and waiting for a call back can be even crazier when you’ve just moved abroad and are starting fresh. I went to New Zealand on a working holiday, looking for a year-long, fixed-term job. Shortly after arriving, I changed my mind and decided to split my year between three cities, working my way around the country to make the most of my time. If you’re headed to New Zealand, here are five jobs to keep in mind to minimize work stress abroad.

Adventure Tourism in New Zealand

It could be said that adrenaline runs in the blood of New Zealand. There’s no end to the adventures you can have across the country—skydiving over Lake Taupo; bungy-jumping in Queenstown; swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura; learning to surf in Raglan. Unfortunately, living on the edge tends to come at a price, so working for one of the many adventure tourism companies could be a great way to take part while saving some money. Even if you don’t have specific experience in the industry, many of the companies look to fill basic positions like front office, sales and reservations, and housekeeping.

Key websites: Unfortunately, there is no central website to search for vacancies with adventure tourism companies. A good place to start is Seek, a Kiwi version of Monster, before looking at individual companies like AJ Hackett Bungy, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, and White Island Volcano Tours.

Ski resorts in New Zealand

There’s no question of where to spend your winter in New Zealand: in the snow. The stunning Southern Alps that span the western side of the South Island rival their Northern-Hemisphere namesake and are a popular destination with Kiwis and tourists alike. Two small but bustling towns called Queenstown and Wanaka, both set on the edge of pristine finger lakes with the snow-capped Alps at their doorstep, are home to a number of world-class ski resorts: Cardrona, the Remarkables, Mount Hutt, and Treble Cone. All of these employ large numbers of travellers for the season and positions can range from rentals to ski lift operator to instructor. The only thing left to do is grab your gear and hit the slopes!

Key websites: NZ Ski (Use this to apply for all resorts based in Queenstown and Wanaka) and Mount Ruapehu (an alternative, lesser-known resort on the North Island.

Vineyards and Fruit Picking in New Zealand

From award-winning vineyards to farms growing kiwis, strawberries, apples, and avocados, horticultural positions will get you outdoors and enjoying the seasons of New Zealand. Although the work is hard and phyiscally demanding, it could also be a great way to fill a few weeks while transitioning from one city to another.

Some of the more popular areas to look into vineyard and fruit picking work are the Nelson/Marlborough region at the top of the South Island as well as the eastern side of the North Island, including the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne. While I was hoping to do a bit of fruit picking myself, it didn’t work out due to timing issues. Because the nature of the work is so dependent on the weather, it’s important to be flexible and patient while waiting for the right opportunity to open up.

Key website: Pick NZ (especially helpful is their Regional Map helping you identify which regions of the country are hiring and when).

Hospitality in New Zealand

Whether it’s a cafe, bar, restaurant, or pub, jobs in the hospitality industry, or “hospo” as it’s known Down Under, can be the perfect way to start off your time in New Zealand. The country is known for its coffee culture as well as a remarkable offering of fresh seafood and meat (lamb, anyone?). During my year, I waitressed in a Mexican restaurant in Christchurch, an Italian restaurant in Wellington, and bartended at a gourmet pizza bar-turned-night club in Queenstown. Each time, the job introduced me to many other people my age, both Kiwis and other travellers, and was a great way to get a feel for each new city.

Additionally, an interesting alternative is working for a hospitality temp agency, such as The Temp Centre in Wellington. When I worked for them, I was placed in a number of roles—serving at a luncheon at the Korean Embassy; catering an Air Force retirement dinner at the Department of Defence; even hosting a corporate box at Westpac Stadium for the International Rugby Sevens tournament.

Key website: Trade Me (This site will be your best friend in New Zealand, a Kiwi version of Craig’s List that can help you find anything from a flat to a car to a job!)

Hostels in New Zealand

Staying in hostels is a backpacker’s badge of courage, braving 12-bed dorms, communal spaces, and more often than not: grungy bathrooms. But working in a hostel can be a fun reversal as you become an expert in your new adopted city and are able to advise other travellers on events and sights they can’t miss during their stay. Hostels abound across New Zealand and several organizations such as YHA and BBH can help you identify the hostels in a city you may be interested in working in. Many positions also provide accommodation and could help you save on costs.

Key websites: Backpacker Board and Seasonal Jobs.

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  • Great article! I leave for my WHV in Australia in about a week and I’m sure the job situation is pretty similar!

  • Nessie says:

    Awesome! I leave for New Zealand in 2 days on my WHV! Great advice!

  • Candace says:

    Hey Caroline! I’m jealous you’ll be in Australia…I never had a chance to visit during my time in NZ, unfortunately 🙂 Have an amazing time in Oz, though, and best of luck finding a job! I’ll be sure to check how it’s going on your blog.

  • Candace says:

    So exciting, Nessie! Hope this will be some help for you as you find your way in NZ 🙂 Can’t wait to read how it all goes for you!

  • Jackie says:

    I’m glad that this article is posted. I just came back from NZ and did not realize the sheer number of independent travelers that are on a work visa. Despite the idea of hostels being a “badge of courage” perhaps in certain countries, the YHA’s in NZ and Australia were actually really nice in offering an honest community supportive of eco-consciousness, cleanliness and friends.

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  • Mary says:

    Great article! I am actually in Australia on a working holiday visa but thinking about doing the same in NZ later in the year.

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  • Salamandr says:

    If you are interested in seasonal job, try to check my web, where is list of horticultural contacts: