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A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning a Working Holiday in New Zealand

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Planning a Working Holiday in New Zealand: Timeframes and Step-by-step Guide

A working holiday in New Zealand needs a bit of planning. It’s true. Between booking flights, applying for a working holiday visa and getting the right gear, there are certain time frames you will need to be aware of when planning a New Zealand working holiday. So for this step-by-step guide, we have added some reasonable time frames of how far in advance you should plan your working holiday in New Zealand. This way, you’ll get an idea of how long it takes to plan a working holiday in New Zealand.

This step-by-step guide to planning a working holiday in New Zealand will help make your dream trip a reality. It all starts with seeing if New Zealand is the right country for you and applying for the working holiday visa. By the way, for more things to know for moving to New Zealand, check out the 20 Essential Must-Dos BEFORE Moving to New Zealand.

6 Quick Steps to Planning a Working Holiday in New Zealand

In a nutshell, here are six steps to planning a working holiday. (We’ll go into more details in the article below).

  • Do some research on New Zealand and the working holiday visa
  • Apply for the working holiday visa
  • Book your flights
  • Book either a working holiday program or your first few nights in a hostel
  • Choose a good backpack and pack it
  • Fly to New Zealand and start your working holiday!

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Step 1: Get Informed

4-5 Months Before Your Trip

The first thing you need to do when planning a working holiday in New Zealand is to make sure a working holiday in New Zealand is right for you. It’s no use spending the time and money on the visa application processes and booking your flights only to find out that New Zealand is not the right working holiday destination for you. Luckily, we’re here to give you all the information you need and more to help you decide whether you should do a working holiday in New Zealand.

To find out if a New Zealand working holiday is right for you, start by answering these questions:

Are you eligible for a working holiday visa? – Find this out in our How to Get a Working Holiday Visa?

Can you afford to live, work and travel in New Zealand? – Before you get to New Zealand, you will need some money behind you to help get you started before getting to work. Get more information in What is the Cost of a Working Holiday in New Zealand? If you can’t afford it just yet, start making a plan of how you are going to get the money. Start by following our tips in 15 Ways to Cut Down Your Expenses So You Can Afford to Travel.

Are the jobs in New Zealand right for you? – A significant part of your working holiday is likely to be working in New Zealand. Are there the sort of jobs you can see yourself doing? Are you prepared to try something different or can you get a job in your field? You’ll get an idea in our Work in NZ section.

What do you want to see and do in New Zealand? – Are their the type of travel experiences in New Zealand that excite you? This is the fun part: dreaming about all the activities and locations to visit in New Zealand. Take a look at our Activities section to see if there is anything that inspires you. Or if you prefer video, take a look at New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year on YouTube for travel inspiration.

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Step 2: Apply and Book

3-4 Months Before Your Trip

Getting a working holiday visa and booking your flight to New Zealand is when shit gets real! Once you have decided that a working holiday in New Zealand is right for you, get applying for that visa and book that flight!

Apply for the working holiday visa – Follow our Step-By-Step application guide for the working holiday visa at Working Holiday Visa Online Application Guide: Part 1.

Book your flight – Once you have received your working holiday, it’s time to book your flight! Follow our advice in How to Book a Cheap Flight to New Zealand and Flight to New Zealand: Return Vs. Open Return Vs. One Way.

Book a Working Holiday Program – If you want to use a working holiday program or arrival pack for when you arrive in New Zealand, then after you have received your visa and you have booked our flight would be the time to book it. Find out more in New Zealand Gap Year: Use a Working Holiday Program or Do It Yourself? If you are going it alone, remember to book your first few days of accommodation and any transport you may need to get to your first destination.

Get some travel insurance – As one of the conditions for your working holiday visa, you need to get some travel insurance. Pick the right one by following our tips in Medical and Travel Insurance for New Zealand.

Get an International Driving Permit (IDP) – If you have a driving license that is not in English, then you will need to get an International Driving Permit to bring to New Zealand along with your original driving license in order to drive in New Zealand. Find out more in Why You Need an International Driving Permit for New Zealand.

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Step 3: Gear Up and Pack Your Bags!

1 Month to 2 Weeks Before Your Trip

Now it’s time to make sure you have all you need for your working holiday in New Zealand, from picking the right luggage for you to packing said luggage.

Choose your luggage – Some people prefer backpacks, others prefer wheel suitcases. Whatever is your bag, choose the right one for your working holiday as it will be the thing you spend the most time with. Follow our advice in Backpack Vs Suitcase: Which Should You Take to New Zealand, as well as How to Choose a Good Backpack.

Pack your bags – It’s good to do this early so you know what’s missing and what you need to get. Check out What to Pack for a Gap Year in New Zealand: Pre-departure Checklist and What to Pack in Your Carry-On for New Zealand.

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Step 4: Fly to New Zealand

The Day Your Working Holiday in New Zealand Starts!

This is it! Your New Zealand working holiday begins! Here’s what to expect during the day you fly out to New Zealand.

Arriving in a New Zealand Airport – There are some immigration and biosecurity measures you will have to go through on arrival to New Zealand. Find out more in Arrival Advice: Passport Control and Immigration and Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in New Zealand.

Set up your working holiday in New Zealand – Once you have made it into the country, take the time to enjoy this new and exciting time while also opening a New Zealand bank account, getting an IRD number, sorting out how you are going to get around, getting a New Zealand SIM card and more. Once you have all that sorted, you’ll be able to find a job with ease. Check out our advice in How to Quickly Find a Job 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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