Work and Travel in Oceania


What exactly is Oceania? Asking what countries make up the region, full of remote islands, can draw a blank from an experienced backpacker, let alone the average person looking at a map.

Officially defined as the geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of 3,291,903 square miles and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, the region of Oceania is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

The fact is, besides the major island countries like Australia and New Zealand, Oceania is definitely an underexplored region for travellers. This makes getting there a challenge, but once you’ve arrived, the opportunities are endless for a skilled working traveller. If your idea of paradise is sand, sun, and tranquil beaches, then read on for our guide to moving your life to tropical Oceania as a working traveller.

1. Australian Bushfire Conservation

The bush in Australia is a biodiversity hot spot, but has been ravaged in the past few years by the devastating effects of bushfire. The damage is so widespread that you can easily find volunteer opportunities. Whether feeding injured koalas or delivering food to families displaced by the flames, this is a good entry point into the wildlife conservation field in the region.

2. Work at a resort in Samoa

The Oceania region relies heavily on tourism, with visitors from across the globe tempted by the white sands and clear blue oceans. While jobs are simply fewer in number in remote islands like Samoa, the resorts you’ll find will often be large and all-inclusive, with work offered in all levels of the hospitality field, from bartender to fitness instructor.

3. Sheep farms in New Zealand

Sheep farming is a significant industry in New Zealand. If you have animal husbandry skills or wish to develop them, New Zealand is the place to be. The farms are so integral to the country that visiting them has become part of the tourism industry as well. So leading sheep farm tours is another way to find yourself in rural New Zealand, even if you don’t necessarily possess farm skills.


Each country in Oceania has different visa policies and entry requirements.

Generally, however, the issue of visas for countries in Oceania is less complicated for citizens of countries that have a bilateral agreement with this region. For example, almost all citizens of the European Union or countries like Argentina, Oman and Qatar etc., do not need a visa if staying less than three months in New Zealand.

While applying for and receiving tourist visas for much of Oceania is relatively easy to come by, moving to any of the countries for long-term stays, as for work, retirement, or to join family, long-stay visas and residence permits are usually required. This can be more complicated, but Australia, in particular, is famous for its Working Holiday visas. If you're aged between 18 and 30 (or 35 in some cases) and hold a passport for a country or region participating in Australia's Working Holiday Maker program, you may be eligible to apply for a 12-month visa which enables you to work in Australia while you are here.




For all of the parts of Oceania located in the Southern Hemisphere such as Australia, seasons are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter, and September to November is spring.

Springtime is generally a pleasant time to be anywhere in Australasia. The northern part of the continent is just coming out of the rainy season and the rest of the continent is leaving the hot season. You’ll usually find plenty of work at this time, regardless of where you are.

But be aware that many jobs in tourism are typically ending in Australia and New Zealand at this time of year. It’s a good time to begin making your way north again.


Summer in a place like Papua New Guinea is the most humid time of year. This is characterised by its proximity to the equator, which leaves it with a highly tropical climate. Summer in Australia, on the other hand, can be extremely cold at this time of year in areas of high altitude.

Believe it or not, you can even find snow in some parts of the country. It’s best to head closer to the equator at this time of year for the best temperatures.


Depending on what part of Oceania you find yourself in during Autumn, you’ll have a variety of opportunities to work and travel. If you hop around twice during the season, you may even find yourself in vastly different climates.

For example, autumn in East Timor is whale watching season, so this is prime time to pick up opportunities working alongside conservation organisations.

In Tonga, meanwhile, autumn is the shoulder season, which means you should expect more rainfall and high winds. Working outside can be difficult, so tutoring and community development projects are what you should be looking into at this time of year.


Australia and New Zealand experience their peak tourism seasons during the winter period. If you’re serious about securing paid work in the hospitality or agricultural industry, winter is the time to apply. You’ll have more leverage than in any other time of year to avoid having to settle for entry-level volunteer positions.


The major Oceanic countries like Australia and New Zealand are extremely used to foreigners visiting to work and volunteer in the country since the Working Holiday visa is so popular. For first-time backpackers just looking to start off in the work and travel realm, Australasia is the ideal part of Oceania to begin your journey in.

A more under-the-radar island country in the region such as Tuvalu has a local population that embraces more conservative values, so keep this in mind when travelling in these areas in order to respect the culture and avoid problems. Generally though, on the more remote islands, as long as you respect the culture of the island, you’ll have no problems working or volunteering here. Foreigners are more of a rarity here, so most will be extremely friendly and are eager to meet visitors from the other side of the world.

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