15 Best Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand

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What Jobs Can Backpackers Get in New Zealand?

Armed with a Working Holiday Visa and a desire to fund your travels, you are ready to find a job! Backpackers are able to choose from a variety of jobs in New Zealand. Some land their dream job on the slopes or sailing the seas. Others can experience New Zealand culture through WWOOFing, farm work and au pair. Build on skills you learned at home (and of course learn new skills) in retail and hospitality. Every job has its perks, so check out our list of the best backpacker jobs in New Zealand to see which one suits you.

And remember, we have heaps of advice on how to get a job in How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand and we have hundreds of live job listings for backpackers on our Job Listings Page.

1. Food Manufacturing

In high demand from Auckland to Hokitika and many more amazing locations across the North and South Islands, food manufacturing roles such as packers, baggers, trimmers, cleaners and product handlers are easy jobs to get in New Zealand. These seasonal jobs give working holidaymakers and backpackers the opportunity to make some quick money for a minimum of one month (and with pay above minimum wage), so it’s easy to fund the next NZ adventure. Work with a team of like-minded individuals. Plus, if you want to stay on, global food marketing businesses like Silver Fern Farms strive to continuously upskill their staff and provide an excellent opportunity for long-term work with a progressive company.

Check out jobs with Silver Fern Farms today over at

16 Best Backpacker Jobs© Silver Fern Farms

2. Hospitality

Get socialising by being a waiter/waitress, barista or bartender. There are plenty of hospitality jobs available around New Zealand ideal for backpackers. Hospitality covers the work of serving in restaurants/bars/cafes and bartending, for instance. Although this work exists pretty much anywhere in New Zealand where there is some sort of urban area, tourist areas especially need staff during the busy summer season (December to February). Think Queenstown, Wanaka, Auckland, Kaikoura, Te Anau, Wellington and Picton, for example.

Be aware, that barista jobs require a lot of experience and bar manager positions require duty manager qualifications. Get qualified to be a barista or bartender in New Zealand with Barista Academy in Auckland.

Find hospitality positions on our Job Listings page.

15 Excellent Backpacker Jobs© Barista Academy

3. Ski Field Staff

It’s the dream, right? Get a lift pass for free so you can ski or snowboard all season! What’s more, you only need to work from the end of autumn to the beginning of spring, then you are free to move on to your next New Zealand adventure. Working on a ski field comes with many perks from free lift passes to free ski lessons. While there are lots of entry jobs on a New Zealand ski field, like hospitality, lift operators and parking wardens, many other jobs do require qualifications, such as ski instructors and ski patrol. Find out more in What it is Like to Work on a New Zealand Ski Field and What’s the Right New Zealand Ski Field Job for You.

Plus, find ski field positions on our Job Listings page.

16 Best Backpacker Jobs©

4. Construction Worker

With a huge amount of building development across the country, as well as the rebuild from the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, helping hands on construction sites are badly needed. Therefore, construction work is one of the easiest backpacker jobs to get in New Zealand. The easiest way to find construction work is through recruitment agencies, which you can find out more about in What You Need to Know About Recruitment Agencies in New Zealand.

Find construction positions on our Job Listings page.

15 Best Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand©

5. Au Pair

Be part of the family and gain valuable experience in childcare. Au pair, or childcare, is a popular job for backpackers in New Zealand. This is a great opportunity to experience Kiwi family life and have food, accommodation and a wage provided usually for about six months to a year. Past childcare experience is usually required. Check out Being an Au Pair in New Zealand for a complete guide.

Find au pair positions on our Job Listings page.

Pixabay© Pixabay

6. Fruit and Veggie Picking

Work as a team and make loads of cash, especially if you are paid per piece. Plus, this work may help you extend your Working Holiday Visa! Horticulture, otherwise known as working with crops, is a huge industry in New Zealand with a wealth of fruit orchards and vineyards covering the country. Horticulture offers many entry-level jobs, especially during the picking season. See Working a Fruit Picking Job in New Zealand for more details.

Find fruit-picking positions on our Job Listings page.©

7. Yacht Crew

New Zealand is one of the top sailing destinations in the Pacific and yachties are often looking for flexible workers to join their crew; sometimes for pay and sometimes just for onboard accommodation. Needless to say, being part of a boat crew is an awesome way to explore New Zealand’s waters. Whether you can bring your hospitality skills to the deck or you’re a fully qualified chef, there are some unique opportunities on the yachts sailing New Zealand and the South Pacific. Find out more ways to work for accommodation in How to Find Work for Accommodation in New Zealand.

Find yacht crew positions on our Job Listings page.©

8. Farm Work

Be part of a true New Zealand lifestyle. While we’ve talked about New Zealand’s horticulture industry, it has a bigger agricultural industry, especially in dairy farming. Although the jobs in dairy and sheep farming are not as abundant as in horticulture, farmers still require more sets of hands during the calving and lambing seasons. These jobs also cater to those who want to further a career in farming. Find out more about finding a job in this “field” in our guide to Seasonal Work in New Zealand’s Dairy Industry.

Find farming positions on our Job Listings page.

15 Excellent Backpacker Jobs©

9. Hostel Worker

Be the one in charge of your fellow backpackers! The great thing about hostels is that the best people to employ are often the backpackers who use them. While some hostels offer paid positions to work at reception, others offer “work for accommodation”, which usually requires housekeeping for a couple of hours a day in exchange for a free bed in the hostel. Find out more at How to Find Work for Accommodation in New Zealand, as well as Working for Accommodation in New Zealand: What are Your Rights? to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Find hostel positions on our Job Listings page.

15 Best Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand©

10. Tourism Industry Jobs

Be the one pushing people from bridges… (in bungy jumping, obviously). Also, enjoy perks such as free activities and trips! No doubt, you have come to New Zealand to experience the awesome activities and the great outdoors. Working in tourism, i.e. with a tour company, is a great way to make the most of backpacking in New Zealand. However, you will need a solid CV, to kick ass in your interview, and you may be required to have some past experience. Tourism job opportunities exist all around New Zealand!

Find tourism positions on our Job Listings page.©

11. Conservation Volunteer

Not exactly a job but you give back to New Zealand’s conservation effort while often staying in beautiful locations as a conservation volunteer. Many conservation opportunities are available with the “DOC” which stands for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Check out how you can work or volunteer for the DOC in How to Volunteer for the Department of Conservation of New Zealand.

Find conservation positions on our Job Listings page.©

12. Retail

Learn and develop skills to bring back home with you through retail work. Working at a shop is usually an easy job to get when backpacking in New Zealand, especially if you are good at working with customers and have a little bit of past experience. Shops in New Zealand often experience a high turnover, while they also often require more staff in the busy seasons, such as Christmas. Therefore, working for only three months, for instance, is not usually an issue for the employer. Your best shot at finding retail work is in New Zealand’s cities, such as The 10 Biggest Cities in New Zealand.

Find retail positions on our Job Listings page.

15 Best Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand©

13. WWOOFing

An exchange, rather than working for a wage, WWOOFing stands for “Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms” but is a term commonly used in New Zealand to describe working for accommodation. Work 3-6 hours a day for food and accommodation while experiencing an authentic New Zealand lifestyle, most often on a farm. More information can be found in our guide to Everything You Need to Know About WWOOFing in New Zealand.

Find WWOOFing positions on our Job Listings page.©

14. Movie Extra

Be an extra in New Zealand’s next big blockbuster! Just like in The Lord of the Rings, you could be an “orc” in the next inevitable step in the series. New Zealand has a thriving movie-making industry where being an extra is often the “entry-level” option to get your foot in the door. Check out New Zealand’s movie history in the 20 Movies Filmed in New Zealand.

Find movie extra positions on our Job Listings page.©

15. Fundraising

If your English is top-notch, the commission will help you get back on the road in no time. You have to be a certain kind of bubbly charmer to walk up to random people on the street and ask for money but it can really be a rewarding job for the right person. Although fundraising jobs are limited to New Zealand’s largest cities, charities mostly hire 18-31-year-olds (backpacker age) to help raise funds for their charity. Make sure you pick a charity you trust and give it a go for a base salary plus commission! Find out more in the 10 Reasons Why Charity Fundraising is an Awesome Backpacker Job.

Find fundraising positions on our Job Listings page.

Unicef New Zealand© Unicef

More About Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand

That’s it for our list of the best backpacker jobs in New Zealand. For more resources to help you land the perfect gig, check out the following:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in 30 Tips for Backpacking in New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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