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A Guide to Working Abroad in New Zealand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in New Zealand there is a scene worthy of a postcard awaiting you just about everywhere you look. Widely accepted as one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth, New Zealand is a prime destination for resume builders alike. Jobs in New Zealand are readily available if you know where to look. Round up your passport and a solid work ethic (the two most necessary things for finding work abroad in New Zealand) and head down under for the work and leisure experience of a lifetime! Haere mai! (Welcome!)


Auckland. If you’re keen for the big city experience while working in New Zealand, then look no further than the city you’ll land in. Auckland is the financial and business hub of the nation, and home to nearly 1.5 million people. The city features all of the amenities of modern, urban living as well as easy access to public trails, parks, and beaches. The climate of Auckland is considerably warmer than the rest of New Zealand too.

Wellington. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, both culturally and politically. The city boasts the second largest population in the country and is home to the New Zealand Parliament as well as some of the finest art and science museums in the southern hemisphere, including the Wellington City Art Gallery and the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Wellington sits at the southern tip of the North Island, so the weather there is colder and windier. For individuals interested in jobs in New Zealand in a more intimate and connected setting, look no further than “Windy Welly”.

Queenstown. If its an adventure you’re after, then head south and make a beeline for the town “fit for a Queen.” Situated in the heart of the beautiful South Island, Queenstown is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Countless opportunities for adventure are available in this tourism-centered town, including skydiving, paragliding, world class ski resorts, and the oldest established bungee jump location on Earth, as well as a range of jobs which mostly revolve around the tourism industry. If your goal is to work abroad in New Zealand on a short term basis, you would be hard pressed to find a better spot to spend six months to a year than Queenstown.

Jobs in New Zealand

While there are certainly permanent jobs available, these are considerably harder for a foreigner to obtain than short-term jobs in New Zealand. The best chance an expat may have for finding long-term employment in New Zealand would be in the fields of finance, accounting, or medicine, as these are all areas that see a high demand and low supply among the Kiwi workforce.

Finance & Accounting. New Zealand is a first-world nation with successful global and domestic economies. This means that jobs in New Zealand in both finance and accounting will naturally be present almost everywhere in the country, and likely even more plentiful in large cities. The availability of these jobs will likely be another story, as the Kiwi education system is more than capable of producing such professionals, but this shouldn’t discourage foreigners from simply applying and hoping for the best!

Medicine. News flash: New Zealand has people and people get sick. This simple fact means that the demand for workers in the medical field will continue to be high. Doctors, nurses, and medical technicians are needed everywhere in New Zealand. The largest hospitals are generally associated with the country’s major universities, in the cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, where most jobs in medicine are located.

Agriculture & Tourism. If your aim is to work in New Zealand on a short term basis then have no fear! By far the easiest method of finding employment in New Zealand is to arrive as a temporary worker. The country is one of the most popular places on Earth for working holidays and working abroad, especially for 18 to 30 year olds. Finding a job in New Zealand in either the tourism or agricultural industries for up to a year is more than possible in the two largest industries in the country.

The South Island city of Queenstown is a fantastic place for young travelers to find work, given the booming tourism industry in the area. Jobs in hospitality, food service, and adventure tours. are abundant and many positions are vacated with the end of each tourist season.

Salary & Affordability

Short term workers in New Zealand have a higher earning potential than permanent workers. The overall cost of living in New Zealand is noticeably lower than in other modern nations around the world, and this is reflected in the salaries that workers are paid. In fact, many new college graduates in New Zealand often choose to work abroad. Salaries tend to be substantially higher for Kiwi citizens on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

If earning potential is not the most important item on your list, working abroad in New Zealand can earn you a more than acceptable wage, especially in skilled positions. For temporary workers and younger people in general, the outlook for earning money while working in New Zealand is often a little brighter. Even the lowest paying jobs will earn the country’s minimum wage of around $14.25 NZD ($11.37 USD) per hour, which is more than enough for most young workers to live on, and then some. Depending on the types of extracurricular activities one may want to participate in, it is more than possible to save a bit of money while also experiencing the fantastic outdoor activities and natural beauty that brings millions of tourists to New Zealand each year.

Accommodation & Visas

Housing in New Zealand will depend on the area of the country you work in, as well as your budget. Unless you are absolutely positive that you will be working in New Zealand long-term, renting will be the best possible option for you regardless of whether you are looking for a house or an apartment.

But, other options, such as couch surfing, exist as well. It is also not unheard of for foreign workers to work abroad in New Zealand for periods of six months or less and spend the entirety of their stay in one of the many hostels around the country, especially if working in a popular tourist area. Finally, it is possible that a job in New Zealand will supply workers with housing, something that is even more likely in the tourism/hospitality and agricultural industries.

Visas. Short-term work visas are common and relatively easy to get, especially for U.S. citizens. These visas will be valid for up to six months (or 12 months if the applicant is part of an official working holiday program) and require that the applicant be between 18 and 30 years old and have evidence of sufficient funds to complete their stay. These visas do not require a firm offer of employment before arriving and holders are free to accept any general labor position once they land in New Zealand.

For someone pursuing a more permanent job in New Zealand, the visa process is a bit more complicated. Essentially, employees seeking a long-term position with an employer in New Zealand will be treated as if they are attempting to immigrate. This means that they will be required to complete all the necessary steps for residency. Typically, the employer will take the lead with this process and it can present quite a bit of hassle, meaning that employers will often try their hardest to avoid hiring foreigners. So if you are offered a job in New Zealand with a local company, then feel proud as you must be highly qualified!

Benefits & Challenges

  • Red Tape. Due to its popularity, immigrating to New Zealand permanently can present challenges in several ways, from securing an offer, to visa requirements, to finding a place to live.
  • Working Holidays. New Zealand provides excellent opportunities for short-term working holidays in an amazingly beautiful nation, an opportunity that has already been taken advantage of by tens of thousands of young travelers. If an extended working vacation seems like something you might be interested in, there may be no better place on Earth than New Zealand.
  • Budgeting & Proof of Finances. The biggest hurdle for short-term workers will almost certainly be maintaining finances, but with a little self-control and budgeting it is more than possible to experience the incredible opportunities that New Zealand has to offer without breaking the bank.

Working abroad in New Zealand will be an experience that you will never forget, so pack your bags, get your visa, and say Kia ora! to the adventure of a lifetime in New Zealand!

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