Are wondering what it’s like working in New Zealand as a Canadian? Do you want to know about the types of jobs you can get, how much you can earn, and how long it will take to find work in New Zealand?
As a Recognized Organization of the Government of Canada, Stepabroad is a trusted team of travel experts who provides assistance to Canadians wanting to work abroad. Not only have we helped many Canadians find work in New Zealand, but we have also done it ourselves and had the time of our lives!
The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa is available to Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35. This visa allows Canadians to work in New Zealand without having to arrange a sponsored job offer before arriving. This means you can travel to New Zealand, then look for a job when you get there.
There are many countries that offer working holiday visas to Canadians, but New Zealand is one of our best options. Many countries restrict working holiday visa holders to work in certain industries or for a specified length of time. Employers in those countries often don’t want to spend time training a working holiday visa holder only to have them leave the position in a few months. This usually means that visa holders are limited to the types of jobs they can apply for and end up working in casual or temporary roles.
Fortunately, New Zealand does not have any of these work restrictions associated with their working holiday visa. In New Zealand, you can work multiple jobs or you can stay with the same employer for the entire duration of the two-year visa. This makes it possible to look for long term or career-related jobs because more companies are willing to hire Canadians.
My experience working in New Zealand as a Canadian on a working holiday visa began in early 2017. After hearing amazing things about the country’s capital city, I went straight to Wellington. It is nicknamed the world’s ‘coolest little capital’ for the amazing restaurant and craft beer scene. There are more than 15 breweries in the city centre, and craft beer bars galore.
I had several years of office work experience before I arrived in Wellington. Although I preferred to find an office position, I was open to any type of job. A paycheck is better than no paycheck, right? Plus, you can always switch jobs if you find a better one. I applied for all sorts of available positions and within the first two weeks found a temp position at a government agency. The role was only meant to be for two months, but I was offered an extension to work in New Zealand for a year.
The job was fantastic and I got to work with a lot of amazing people and learn about an entirely new industry (aviation). This job eventually led to a higher position in the same organization, which allowed me to progress in my career while also experiencing life in a new country.
As a Canadian in New Zealand on a working holiday, you can literally work in any type of job! This is because the working holiday visa has no work restrictions to abide by. You can target the specific type of work you want depending on the lifestyle or experience you want.
Many people who move to New Zealand on a working holiday want to have the freedom and flexibility to move around the country during their time there. This allows them to experience the differences between living on the North and South Islands. To facilitate their travels, they look for casual style positions, such as jobs in customer service, hospitality, agriculture (fruit picking) and tourism.
Others decide to look for more professional job options that can support their career growth. There are a number of opportunities for professional work in New Zealand, but getting hired will depend on your previous experience, education, and skill set.
You don’t have to choose one approach or the other. For instance, I worked almost the entire duration of my visa with the same employer. This allowed me to save money which I used in the last couple of months of my working holiday to travel around the country in a campervan.
One thing travelers love about working in New Zealand is the laid back and friendly work culture. In North America, we place a big emphasis on getting ahead in your career. From the moment we finish university, we are thrown into the rat race and a work culture that is out of balance.
In New Zealand, the work culture is more balanced. New Zealanders ensure their lives do not revolve around their job. They work to live and enjoy life – not live to work. There are very few reasons to stay late at work, and if you do, most coworkers will call you out for it and tell you to go home.
Most employers do not have an official dress code. Obviously you must look presentable, but if you are working in hospitality or customer service, there is often no uniform. You just wear your own clothes. In most offices you wear a simple shirt and jeans (not ripped of course). Only if there is an important meeting will you need to wear business attire.
In New Zealand, family is an essential part of their culture. And your coworkers are seen as your work family. At my workplace in Wellington, it was very much celebrated that we were all in this together. It was a government agency head office with over 250 people where everyone was known by their first name. No one used titles or prefixes like Mr. or Ms. Everyone was an equally important part of the team.
There are lots of job opportunities for Canadians in New Zealand if you know how to find them. As New Zealand is a small country, many employers are familiar with hiring foreigners and have done so at some point or another. Canadians are also known for having a great work ethic so many employers are happy to hire us!
One of the best ways to find work in New Zealand is to look for jobs on job search websites. There are loads of industry-specific websites that focus on availabilities across the country in those specific fields. Most jobs in New Zealand are posted online. However, depending on the industry, applying in person or going through an agency is typically a more successful approach.
Be sure to start your job search by being open, flexible and managing your expectations. You wouldn’t expect to find a role at an IT company in Canada if you’ve only ever worked in your local grocery store before. The same applied in New Zealand. Consider lots of different types of jobs. After all, that is how you develop new skills. You can also use it as a way to find areas you never knew you were interested in (or areas you are definitely not interested in which is just as valuable). Once you find a job, if you want to continue looking for something else you certainly can. At least you have income coming in so you can take your time with your search.
Even still, it can be difficult figuring out where to start your search. In almost all cases, you likely won’t be considered for a position until after you have arrived in the country. This is because employers want to know you are indeed coming to New Zealand, and have a place to live before they hire you.
At Stepabroad, we provide a ton of resources to help you find a job in New Zealand faster. Our team will revise your resume to be in line with New Zealand standards and help you stand out to potential employers. We also go over which industries are easier to find jobs in, which websites are best, and the application methods that are preferred for specific industries. We offer first-hand advice on the best approach for your search depending on what type of working holiday experience you want to have.
Finding a job is generally easier in bigger cities because there are more positions available. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with just over one million people. Many companies have their head offices or at least one location here. It is the gateway to the rest of the country with international flights arriving daily. This means tourism is a big industry here.
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. While it is much smaller than Auckland, it is where the government and many other businesses are located. Wellington is also known for its dynamic food and beverage industry. It has more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York City!
Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island. The city was devastated by an earthquake in 2011. Nearly 10 years later they are still rebuilding, and are doing so in a way to completely modernize the city. In addition to almost any other kind of job, there are still lots of construction and trades jobs here.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of the country. Hospitality and tourism are the main industries here. It is a small city but is very popular with backpackers for these reasons. There are always a lot of people looking for work. This can sometimes mean it takes longer to find a job than in other areas of New Zealand.
There are many other areas of New Zealand where you can find work. When looking for agriculture jobs, the top of the South Island and the north & east of the North Island are popular areas. Tourism jobs can be found almost anywhere in the country, even in small towns. For example, Hobbiton and Waitomo are some of the most touristy areas of the country, each with populations of less than 10,000 residents.
Now you might be thinking New Zealand sounds amazing (it is!). So how do you go about getting the working holiday visa? Luckily, it is not as complicated as getting a regular work visa where you would need to seek sponsorship. However, you do need to make sure you are eligible and that you fill out the application correctly. If it is denied because you made a mistake, you don’t get your application fee refunded. To re-apply, you would need to pay the fee again.
This is where Stepabroad can help. We know the ins and outs of applying for the visa and how to get set up for life in New Zealand. As you’ve read, we have done it ourselves! We can save you tons of time trying to figure it out yourself.
To help facilitate Canadians moving abroad, we offer the lowest price support package available in Canada. For $249 CAD, our Send Off Package offers tons of one-on-one assistance and resources to help you kick-start your time in New Zealand. Our team will provide you with the tools to help you land a job faster, so you can start making money sooner. Also included in the package is a one-on-one video consultation where we walk you step-by-step through the entire working holiday visa application process. No need to stress trying to figure it out yourself!
There are only a few requirements you must meet in order to apply for the working holiday visa.
This visa really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As a Canadian, you can only use this visa once. Even if you receive the visa but never end up using it, you cannot apply again.
If you have decided you really want to do a working holiday in New Zealand you’ve made an awesome decision! It will be an unforgettable experience you’ll never regret. Now that you know about the working holiday visa, you might be wondering how to get started on planning your move to New Zealand?
It can be overwhelming to move to a new country and figure things out on your own. Even though it’s an English-speaking country, things do work differently there. When you arrive, not only do you have to look for a job and find a place to rent, you also need to get a phone and a bank account. You need a tax number before you can even start working. Eventually, you will need to figure out how to file your taxes. You need medical coverage too. There might be a number of questions you have before you depart and even some things you didn’t know you needed to know.
With all of our New Zealand Working Holiday programs, we provide comprehensive visa application assistance to help you navigate the paperwork. We also revise your resume to help you stand out to New Zealand employers and land a job faster. Before you leave Canada, we go over all the important information you need to know when arriving in New Zealand.
With our New Zealand Send Off Package, we provide all of this information in our pre-departure orientation and are on hand throughout your entire trip to answer any questions you might have along the way.
Our New Zealand Discovery Program offers all the support in the Send Off Package, plus a team in Auckland to welcome you with an arrival orientation, one-on-one job consultation, and fun social activities so you can meet other travelers. Airport pickup and the first few nights of accommodation are also included so you can easily adjust to your new time zone and life in paradise.
If you want to start your working holiday with a bang, check out our New Zealand Adventure Experience. You’ll make unforgettable memories with new friends during an exhilarating eight-day tour experiencing the best of New Zealand’s North Island. Explore hot springs, underground labyrinths, bubbling mud pools, cultural ceremonies, adrenaline-filled thrills, and much more!
At Stepabroad we are here to take all the stress out of planning your working holiday so you can focus on having a fantastic adventure in New Zealand!
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Farren was a Work & Travel Advisor at Stepabroad and obsessed with travel (we don’t blame her!). Before joining Stepabroad, she circled the globe over six years and did three working holidays – in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Recently, she took a leap and moved to the UK to experience life abroad once again!