Everything you need to know about moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa

Who hasn’t dreamed of ditching their desk job and jetting off to a foreign country with nothing but a backpack full of clothes?  I did, constantly!

For most people, this daydream quickly ends after realizing that travel requires money and money does not grow on trees.  If only there was an easy way to travel and make money on the road. Oh wait.. New Zealand has a way for you to live in a foreign country and supplement your budget during your travels!

New Zealand offers a Working Holiday Visa as an opportunity for those travelers looking to live and work abroad for a year.  It’s easy to apply for and allows you to live the dream of traveling a country that has a rich culture and diverse activities for all people.


What are the requirements?

Requirements and application costs vary depending on your country of origin, so it’s best to check the Immigration New Zealand website directly before you plan to travel.  The website can tell you everything you need to know and if you have more specific questions, you can call the New Zealand immigration office.  You can apply for a Working Holiday Visa once you are in the country, but you want to make sure you have everything you need to apply before you arrive.

In general, the Working Holiday Visa is available to people aged 18-30 (or 18-35 in select countries) and allows the recipient to work for up to 12 months (or 23 months if you’re from the UK or Canada).  Also, you must have a return flight purchased or be able to show you have sufficient funds to buy a ticket out of the country.

A medical check may also be required (which could also require a chest x-ray and vaccination records depending on where you have lived and traveled over the past 10 years) to prove you’re in good health. Upon entry to the country, you may also need to show bank statements showing you have enough money to live on while you’re in New Zealand.

Once approved, your visa will be sent electronically.  Congrats, you’re ready to buy your ticket and pack your bag (if you haven’t done so already)!


How to apply?

Apply online at Immigration.govt.nz.  The application is quick and easy to apply for.  It’s typical to get your visa approval within a few weeks or in some cases even a few days. 

Because I am an American citizen, there was no cost for me to apply for the Working Holiday Visa; but there could be a cost depending on your country of origin.


The BIG question: How much money do I need to save?

This is completely dependent on the person going, how you plan to travel, and how long you plan to stay.  Immigration requires you to have $4,200 NZD saved up to get you by until you find a job (you maybe be asked to prove this at the airport when you go through customs).

The visa is meant for people traveling and working part-time, so there is no rush on getting a job secured right away.  My husband and I planned on WWOOFing while there, and though you don’t necessarily get paid to work on the farms, a Working Holiday Visa is required to do the work.

If you’re planning on traveling a lot and working a little, you’ll need more money saved up.  If you’re planning on buying a car, you should have $1,500 – $3,500 NZD saved up. Petrol runs around $2.00 per liter so if you’re planning on driving a lot, factor in fuel costs.  Food can get pricey in New Zealand, but you can save money by cooking your own meals at hostels or at your campsite.

Know how frugal you want to be with your money and try and calculate hostel or traveling costs for your trip, along with any touristy activities you would like to do.


You’re almost set, here are a few additional notes I want to give you!

Make sure you print off all your documents before you leave for your trip (i.e. visa, bank statements, return plane tickets if you bought them).

There are a few things you can do before leaving that will make your transition much easier, like opening a New Zealand Bank account.  Some banks require your IRD (tax) number to open a bank account while others only need your proof of identity and visas.

Casey and I decided to open a bank account before we left the U.S.  We chose ANZ Bank because we were able to get it setup before we left on our trip. We did have to make an appointment with the bank to activate the account once we arrived in New Zealand to get our eftpos/debit card.

Also, before you leave your home country, you will also need to purchase traveler’s insurance. This is mandatory for the Working Holiday Visa, and you’ll definitely want it if you need to visit the doctor for any reason during your stay.  New Zealand’s universal healthcare does not apply to travelers.

I would also like to give you tips on how to find work in New Zealand, but I will put all that awesome information in another blog post, as that would make this article a little more lengthy!

For now, be excited that you are taking the right steps to start your awesome adventure in New Zealand! Safe travels my friend!

If you have any additional comments about the process, or want to share your own experiences with getting a Working Holiday Visa, please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: