I was able to get a working holiday visa in New Zealand! Why did I pick New Zealand? Many people say that more money can be made in Australia, but I liked New Zealand because, for me, the visa was cheaper! I did not have much money at the time I was applying so I decided to go there. The process is VERY simple. I just searched online for working holiday visas for my country and found our specific class of visas. It is wonderful because everything can be done online without talking to anyone (maybe I am a bit antisocial 😛 ).
Workaway in Auckland to a Hostel in Kati Kati
Prior to traveling to New Zealand, I had already set up an arrangement with a family in the Auckland area where I would help out at their farm in exchange for food and accommodation. I did this through the website, workaway.info. It is very similar to the more famous WWOOFing website in that a person does work in exchange for food and/or accommodation, however, Workaway offers more types of jobs. While WWOOFing is just for farm work, with Workaway you can nanny, or work in a hostel, or do any number of different types of jobs all over the world. There is an annual membership of $29/year for a single person, but it was well worth the price. It gave me peace of mind knowing that there was a place I was going to where I could eat and have a roof over my head in exchange for some work. I ended up staying on a farm with a lovely family who lived about an hour outside of Auckland and even though they lived on the North Island, which many people say is not as great as the South Island, I thought the area they lived in was very beautiful. It had amazing rolling hills with farm animals scattered here and there. The rainbows in that place were amazing and it was near some really wonderful beaches. While at the Workaway I looked for jobs. Actually, the family helped me a lot in this process, but I don’t think this should be your expectation. This family was just very kind. They suggested I go to a city called Kati Kati because at that time, March, it would soon be Kiwi season and they would be hiring workers. I will say that there are jobs in other areas too so look around. Kati Kati is just where I went. I (my host family) found a hostel in the area that said they could help me find work and had space available. I then went ahead and booked a room (or really a bed) and a bus ticket and awaited my fate.
Securing a job in Kati Kati
To be honest, when I first looked at the Kati Kati hostel I was a little…nervous. It honestly looked a little sketch from the outside. Who knew that I would end up staying there for a couple of months! 😛 In that hostel were people from all over the world (Although Germany and France were very heavily represented. Nothing wrong with that, though. I met some really great German and French people! 🙂 ). After staying there I found out that the way to get a job was to first get an IRD number. I had not done that and could not start work until I had one. I also needed to get a cell phone. A nice Kenyan guy at the hostel helped me with all of that. My host family had told me that the best type of jobs during the kiwi season would be kiwi packhouse jobs, much better than picking fruit on a farm where you are at the mercy of the elements. I am glad I listened. I walked to different packhouses, gave them my resume, and filled out the necessary applications. I afterward needed to call the jobs to ask for updates. That wasn’t too bad either. I turned in, in person, an application for a job at the Seeka Packhouse and when I called back the next day, was offered a position! Hooray! I think the time of year I went made a difference too. For the kiwi season, it would be a good idea to go in the middle or towards the end of March so that you can be there in time for the season in April. Don’t go too early, however. You then may just be hanging around without a job for some time. And that is basically it for how I got a job! I do not know much about getting jobs in other areas and at other times of year since I only worked in Kati Kati during New Zealand’s fall to winter seasons (Yeah spring and summer would have been nicer) but this plan is definitely something you could consider.
Working in the Packhouse
I think it would be a little unfair to recommend a job without telling you a little bit about it. The first thing to know is that in a packhouse, kiwis from farms are packed into boxes. Most jobs pay about minimum wage, $15.25 NZD/hr (as of March 2017). There are different jobs available. Here are all of the ones I tried out:
- Packer: Packs kiwis into boxes
- Grader: Inspects kiwis for defects (Of the jobs in this list, pays the most by a few cents)
- Helper: Goes from lane to lane and helps packers pack kiwis
- Tray Prep: Prepares the boxes that the kiwis go in
My Life During Kiwi Season
The way my week would go, on Sundays, I would go shopping and cook meals for the week. The next day I would wake up at around 5:00 am to be ready in time to get to work at about 6:30 am (5:00 am probably was a little overkill. My roommates most certainly thought so). My shift would go on until 5:30 pm at night. Yeah. It was a long 11 hour day and that was Monday through Saturday. However (fortunately and unfortunately) it was very rainy that season. If it rains, kiwis cannot be picked. If kiwis cannot be picked then they cannot be packed. If kiwis cannot be packed I have no work. On those days we would have the day off! 🙁 … 🙂 . So I would get no money, but I could take a break. Unfortunately, during break days, I would sometimes spend money to have fun. Well, cheap fun. I sometimes lean towards the old person life and Kati Kati doesn’t have a big nightlife so “fun” for me consisted of:
- catching up on some reading
- walking downtown
- checking out the bookstore but not buying anything
- going to the library and getting the books I wanted with a local person I knew’s library card
- going to a café and eating a nice brunch
- walking in the nearby walking area (This area was honestly super beautiful. Beauty is everywhere in New Zealand)
- and spending time with people (I was able to meet a bunch of really neat people and go on cool adventures with them and learn about their culture. They also got to learn a little about parts of my culture, like the delicious existence of chicken and waffles)
Along with this list, I was able, thanks to some really kind people, to catch up on some tv shows. Actually specifically all of the seasons of Game of Thrones and the first couple seasons of Breaking Bad = very productive. The guesthouse would also sometimes have parties. They were pretty cool. Supposedly the parties were much crazier before I arrived, but really that is sort of the story of my life. I think my, “go to bed by 9:00= success” aura probably permeated the atmosphere.
My advice for Kiwi season in New Zealand:
- Figure out the timing of the fruit picking seasons you are interested in and arrive in the correct city at the correct time or before the correct time so that you can secure a good job (Look online for this. Don’t go too early, however. You may just be hanging around spending money without a job 😛 )
- Get an IRD number AS SOON as you can after arriving in New Zealand. You can’t work and get paid legally without one.
- Get a cell phone number as soon as you can (to interact with the packhouses about work)
- If you put in a little effort you can probably find a better paying job with better hours. This particular job was just the easiest for me to get and I sometimes tend towards slacking. That being said, it wasn’t a bad gig. Because of this job, I was able to meet people from all over the globe.
- Check out websites like www.picknz.co.nz/ and www.seasonaljobs.co.nz for jobs. They list both jobs and hostels that can help you find jobs. Don’t discredit checking out the hostels and just going to them and asking around.
- I stayed in a hostel, but a lot of people found homestays where you can stay with a local New Zealand family. Those are a nice deal. Sometimes you can get your own room and food for cheaper than staying in some hostels…at least that was the case in Kati Kati. Once you get to a town, immediately check out the local library for people looking to host.
- It is okay to just go to a hostel and ask people, “What is the best way to get jobs?” That is actually a pretty successful way of finding work. If people make you nervous, read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is GREAT for helping you interact with others. Trust me.
Good Luck!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂