Work and Travel in New Zealand

Help us grow. Share what you know about getting work in New Zealand for travellers.


Whether you know New Zealand as the home of Middle Earth or the lair of the All Blacks, this is one of the major destinations on the backpacking map. The problem is that New Zealand is an expensive place to travel around over the course of a few months. If you want to see a different side of New Zealand, or you just want to prolong your stay here, then volunteering in New Zealand is the option for you.

All the travel guides for New Zealand paint the country as a truly unique paradise. And when you work and travel in New Zealand you’ll know that to be true. These are some of the work and travel programmes in New Zealand you should be looking at right now.

1. Conservation Work in New Zealand

New Zealand is a country that takes pride in its natural beauty. Conservation programmes are rampant across the country. Whether it’s a project close to Christchurch or in Dargaville, you’ll be able to help protect the natural beauty of this country. Conservation work requires no real experience at all, although if you do have experience you may be eligible for paid roles.

Be prepared for long waiting lists during high season, however.

2. Working in Hostels

Travel in New Zealand and you’ll find that the backpacking infrastructure is far more advanced than nearby Australia. You’ll find affordable hostels everywhere and a lot of them will partially function with the help of backpackers.

Don’t expect to be doing anything other than general reception work and cleaning, but you’ll be rewarded with free accommodation. And sometimes they’ll even throw some food into the mix.

3. Teach People How to Dive

Diving is extremely popular in New Zealand. If you have the basic PADI qualifications you can teach people how to dive. The Hauraki Gulf and its outer islands are a prime location for this. You may be paid or it may be entirely voluntary. It depends on the job. But at the very least you’ll be able to take advantage of free accommodation and get the opportunity to meet some amazing people as you work and travel in New Zealand.


New Zealand is a Westernised nation. Naturally, it places strict border control on people entering the country. For the majority of Westerners, they will be able to enter without the need to apply for a visa. This applies to the USA, Canada, and Mexico in North America. It also applies to every EU country. The visa free period is for a total of three months, unless you’ve applied to join the working holiday scheme.

Bear in mind that residents of Australia are considered to be permanent residents of New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Agreement. This allows them to live and work in the country without the need to apply for a visa, and vice-versa.

New Zealand has a strong working holiday programme, enabling travellers from the ages of 18-30 to work in the country for up to a year. For residents of the UK and Canada, this is extended to 23 months.

Asian visitors from Japan and South Korea are also eligible to enter the country without a visa for three months. Both of these countries are also eligible for a working holiday visa.

Citizens of Russia, South Africa, and most other developing nations must apply for a visa in advance. Take note that some countries like Argentina require a visa but are still eligible to join the working holiday scheme.

For countries that require a visa, you’ll be expected to prove that you have at least $4,200 NZ for the duration of your stay.



The spring time for most people is considered to be autumn in New Zealand. The weather starts to get chilly but the tourists just keep coming. At this time of year you can expect all the traditional backpacking roles revealed above to be still open for business.

In terms of specific seasonal roles, farming is extremely popular as the spring time is technically the harvest time. Outdoor people will love to work and travel in New Zealand at this time of year.


Within the Southern Hemisphere, summer time is winter time. An increasingly popular option is to take on the ski slopes as a volunteer. Ski instructor positions are usually open on a seasonal basis. But most roles within ski resorts have positions for both volunteers and paid workers.

The popular ski resorts are around Queenstown, Wanaka, and Mackenzie.


The moments after the winter rush will bring about no specific seasonal roles. Again, all general backpacking roles are available and open, but many companies are typically gearing up for the coming of the tourists three months later. If you wish to work in the cruise industry, this is traditionally the time to start applying.


Winter time is summer time in New Zealand. This is when everyone is out on the water. Head down to the coastal areas and offer your services. You could be working in a surf shop, teaching people how to dive, or just handing out fliers for some of the night clubs.

Due to New Zealand’s long coastline, there are no specific areas to be in. Just head to the nearest popular beach town and see what you can find!


New Zealand is extremely welcoming and friendly. It’s also extremely cosmopolitan, so there are foreigners everywhere. The concept of a working holiday and volunteering is nothing new to Kiwis. It’s almost a rite of passage for young people to go to the UK or Australia for a working holiday, so it’s no surprise when other nationalities come to New Zealand to do the same thing.

As one of the most advanced working holiday programmes in the world, this is the place to spend the next year!

Recent Contributors

  • Edited on Jan 15 2018 by Yara

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