Situated on the shores of Lake Wakitipu and surrounded by harrowing mountain peaks, Queenstown, New Zealand straddles the line between comfortable resort town and adventure travel destination. Choosing to work abroad in Queenstown gives you the opportunity to both join a thriving tourism industry and pretend you are a Hobbit journeying across Middle-Earth, since the Lord of the Rings movies were actually filmed in New Zealand! Your own journey and the career you are waiting for meet in this year-round resort paradise.
What you need to know to work in Queenstown
Queenstown is a rather small town, with only 15,000 year round residents, but the population swells during peak tourism times. While it is wise to come to town with a job offer in hand, it is also possible to come into town seeking temporary jobs in Queenstown, seasonal work that often requires more labor than expected.
Popular jobs in Queenstown. In tourism, you’ll find everything from adventure guide positions to more traditional work giving tours around Queenstown. The local flora and fauna make Queenstown a great place for jobs in ecology, especially in the nearby lake and mountains. Lastly, Queenstown is a great place to seek employment in education, be it as a ski instructor or as an au pair.
Short term jobs and summer jobs vs. long-term jobs in Queenstown. Short term and summer jobs can be great options if you are working with a particular tourist industry that needs extra work during the most popular months. However, if you are coming from the Northern hemisphere, be aware that winter and summer are swapped compared to your previous experience, so December-March jobs are actually the summer time. These jobs let you get a great taste while working a temporary job in Queenstown. At the same time, more long-term employment can help you decide whether you are ready to put down roots in New Zealand. Queenstown is the kind of small town where you can really get to know people even in only a year or two of working there.
Unpaid vs. paid jobs in Queenstown. It is wise to know ahead of time whether you will be able to secure paid employment in Queenstown, since many of the best features of the area will require some spending money. You also will want a working holiday visa, so aiming for something that pays at least something is important. For very low paid jobs, consider how to stretch your money by inquiring about subsidized housing or whether meals are covered in any case. You can also supplement part-time temporary jobs in Queenstown with other work opportunities, which can make life more affordable and introduce you to a whole different sector of the local economy.
Whether you have a paid or unpaid job, Queenstown’s general atmosphere is aimed toward tourists, so keep your ear to the ground for local haunts to avoid higher prices.
Life in Queenstown for Expats
Finding housing may be a challenge in a town that has so few permanent residents, but Queenstown has a few options that can work for you. Some hostels allow for one guest at a time to live long-term at the hostel in exchange for some work around the place and general upkeep, so inquiring about this opportunity before you head for New Zealand may yield results. More likely is the opportunity to share an apartment or rent a spare room; since these kinds of accommodations won’t usually be billed toward tourists, the rates will be more in line with the kind of income you can expect to earn from jobs in Queenstown.
While your best bet for getting to Queenstown is a bus from one of the larger population centers in New Zealand, access in town is usually possible mostly with walking and biking. There are no trains that come to Queenstown, but given the influx of tourists year round, there are plenty of ways to get a bus to another city or town if you want to continue your New Zealand exploration when you aren’t busy at work in Queenstown.
GoAbroad Inside Scoop for Expats in Queenstown
Queenstown features festivals throughout the year, everything from a bike festival to a jazz festival to a winter festival. Volunteering to help with a community gathering can be a great way to get access to festivals while also meeting new people and getting to know local businesses and organizations. Queenstown is also accessible for a lot of fairly unusual sports: want to try canyon-swing, aerobatics, or paragliding? All are available in the environs around the town. Be aware that some of these activities can be a bit pricey, but if you like them enough, sport instruction could be your next job in Queenstown!
If you aren’t in for the big events, simply hiking the local trails or walking around the Lake can be some of the most impressive activities in the local area. Taking in a meal at a burger or pizza place, possibly with a glass of craft brewed beer, can also help you get an understanding of the simple pleasures that make Queenstown’s locals enjoy their hometown.
Queenstown may be central to your career goals or it may be just one stop on a larger adventure, but make sure that you don’t let it be your only stop in New Zealand; for a totally different Kiwi experience, try big-city Auckland or Wellington!
Still have peaks to scale? Read our comprehensive guide on working abroad in New Zealand.