Christchurch resides on New Zealand’s South Island in the Canterbury region, nestled right along the Pacific coast. A resilient city still in the midst of reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in 2011, Christchurch offers expats a more serious, work-friendly atmosphere than its South Island neighbors. Those who enjoy the great outdoors will find a haven, as will expats who want to lend a personal hand in rebuilding the town from the ground up. Gain the chance to tell your own Canterbury Tales and work abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand!
What you need to know to work in Christchurch
Christchurch has a ton to offer expats, even in the wake of major destruction. The job hunt will be simple enough for those who aren’t too picky, and once the search is over, there will be many spoils to enjoy in your off time.
Popular jobs in Christchurch. The economy in Christchurch is driven by agriculture, so it won’t come as a surprise that jobs in this (literal) field are plentiful. Expect crisp mornings on vineyards or sunny afternoons picking fruit on orchards. If you’re lucky, you might get the chance to sample world-renowned Canterbury wine on the job.
Au pair jobs in Christchurch are widely available, just as they are in the rest of New Zealand. If you have a knack for getting along with the kiddos and don’t mind a more structured schedule, consider becoming a live-in au pair for a family in the Christchurch area.
In light of the major earthquake in 2011 and the subsequent near-demolition, construction jobs in Christchurch are always available as the city continues to rebuild. Make sure to bring your muscles!
Short term jobs and summer jobs vs. long term jobs in Christchurch. Short term jobs are both easy to find and great for expats who don’t want to be tied down to one corner of this action-packed island nation for too long. However, long term jobs in Christchurch shouldn’t be counted out! It’s a whole new experience to stay put while abroad and to find a niche in a city you really love; make friends, excel at work, and absorb all that this place has to offer. Keep in mind that summer jobs in Christchurch might mean working during the winter months up north.
Unpaid vs. paid jobs in Christchurch. It isn’t necessarily difficult to find paid work in Christchurch, but the competition may be a bit more stiff. It’s also common to be “paid” in accommodation and meals in lieu of a paycheck, particularly with agriculture and au pair work. However, if that sounds like a bad deal, it’s not at all—rent is never due, you won’t have to grocery shop, and you’ll often have availability for a part-time job that pays cash.
Sadly, benefits will almost certainly not be included in job offers (unless you snag the ever-elusive sponsorship), so make sure you have decent travel insurance, just in case!
Life in Christchurch for Expats
While Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and the third most-populous city in New Zealand, it is by no means a hustling, bustling metropolis—expats living in Christchurch can expect a somewhat low key, laid back experience!
If you decide to work in Christchurch through a program, most will not flat-out provide accommodation. However, you will be granted access to coordinators who can assist you in finding accommodation, whether that be in a hostel, flat, or house. In the case of au pairing, expats will almost always enjoy a homestay.
Unlike most cities in New Zealand, Christchurch is relatively flat. Walking or biking to work will be easy as pavlova, but the city has a bus network if you prefer it.
Christchurch has earned the moniker the “Garden City” thanks to beauties like Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens—here you’ll find dozens of acres of winding paths and lush foliage to explore. Also check out Container Mall, a shopping center made from repurposed shipping containers, and Quake City, a museum dedicated to telling the human experience of the earthquakes. If you’re around in the summer months, cruise on over to Sumner Beach, not too far from central Christchurch; it’s arguably one of the best beaches in New Zealand.
Christchurch is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from other South Island stunners like Queenstown and Kaikoura, convenient for weekends away.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Expats in Christchurch
You may have heard already about the high cost of living in New Zealand, but have you heard about the equally high minimum wage? It’s one of the highest in the world, and increases each year (currently $15.75), so no worries, mate—buy the second jar of vegemite! As long as you budget properly, it will all be smooth sailing.
We would be remiss to not mention TranzAlpine, which departs from Christchurch and terminates in Greymouth. Although on the pricier side, it is considered one of the best train journeys in the world, so after finishing up work in Christchurch, we say treat yo’ self!
Whether you’re there to build a city or just build your resume, you can’t go wrong with working in sweet as Christchurch, New Zealand!
Want to learn more? Read our comprehensive guide on working abroad in New Zealand.