Complete Guide: First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday© Paul Abbitt - Tourism NZ
Complete Guide: First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday

Complete Guide: First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday

© Paul Abbitt – Tourism NZ

What to Do in Your First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday

Getting ready for the biggest trip of your life is an exciting albeit stressful time. Sure, you want to start hiking in those amazing New Zealand landscapes or bungy jump of a bridge, but the first week of a New Zealand working holiday is the perfect time to take care of some business first. On a working holiday visa in New Zealand, you will need to start setting up your life during the first week in New Zealand to make things easier for you later into your trip. This might mean staying in your arrival city for a week or two but don’t worry, there are plenty of awesome things to do in New Zealand’s arrival cities. So what should you do during your first week of a New Zealand working holiday?

The list includes getting over your jet lag, getting the groceries for your first week, setting up your phone, opening a bank account, applying for an IRD Number and 18+ Card, planning your transport around New Zealand and the list goes on. So follow our day-by-day guide on what to do during your first week of a working holiday in New Zealand below!

How to Prepare Before Arriving in New Zealand

So you have a working holiday visa for New Zealand, booked your flight, have done some research into what you want to do or get out of your working holiday experience, and what type of jobs you want to do. Here are a few other ways you can prepare for a working holiday before arriving in New Zealand.

Bonus: Set up a bank account before arriving in New Zealand. Some New Zealand banks allow you to open an account before arriving in New Zealand so you can transfer funds and have access to them earlier. You will still need to book an appointment with the bank once you arrive in New Zealand to gain access to the account.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Day 1 of a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Get Over the Jet Lag

Welcome to New Zealand! First things first, you need to get over your jet lag. Before you jump into doing any of the important stuff, use your first day in New Zealand to get your head in the game. We have a ton of advice in How to Beat Jet Lag in Just Three Days and 10 Simple Ways to Get Over Jet Lag.

Once it hits daytime in New Zealand, it’s important to stay awake and active to help get over the jet lag. Use a free trial at a gym, explore your arrival city or go for a walk. Staying active helps to keep you awake when it’s important, then tires you out for the evening when you are supposed to be sleeping.

Do Some Grocery Shopping

You’ll also need to do some grocery shopping for your first week in the hostel. Cooking for yourself really helps your budget, rather than eating out. Start out on the right track by grocery shopping and cooking for yourself from day one. See what to expect from New Zealand supermarkets in Food Shopping in New Zealand. If you need inspiration on what to cook, take a look at our Hostel Recipes category.

Find a Proof of Address

One nitty-gritty thing you will have to do today is to ask your hostel whether you can use their address as a “New Zealand address” for opening a bank account. This is a common question hostels get in arrival cities and it’s likely that they will be able to help you. If they can’t, then find a hostel that can.

Contact Home

Finally, let your friends and family know that you have arrived in New Zealand safely. If your hostel doesn’t provide Wi-Fi, then take a look at 10 Free Wi-Fi Spots in New Zealand Where You’ll Actually Have a Good Connection.

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Day 2 of a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Set Up Your Phone

For the next few steps of setting up your working holiday in New Zealand, you will need to make some phone calls. Choose your New Zealand network provider, which we have loads of advice on in What are the Best Phone Networks in New Zealand, and start setting up your phone for New Zealand. You will need a New Zealand SIM card which you can pick up in any of the phone network’s stores or even sometimes free in your hostel. If you have checked your phone from home works in New Zealand following the steps in Will Your Phone Work in New Zealand? then just follow the onscreen instructions when you pop your NZ SIM card into your phone to set up your phone for New Zealand. If your phone from home doesn’t work with a New Zealand SIM then you will need to buy a new phone.

Book an Appointment With the Bank

Now that your phone is set up, time to make your first phone call: an appointment with the bank. Choose your bank and give them a call to book an appointment to open a New Zealand bank account. Of course, the earlier your appointment the better so try to book it for the next day if you can. For more information on opening a bank account, check How to Open a New Zealand Bank Account.

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Day 3 of a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Open a New Zealand Bank Account

Go to your bank appointment with a proof of New Zealand address (which you will have asked for on day one), your passport and a copy of your visa. The latter is not always required but take it just in case. You can find a copy of your working holiday visa by following the steps in What Does a Working Holiday Visa Look Like?

Order your New Zealand debit card (or “EFTPOS card” as it is called in New Zealand) with the bank, which you will quite possibly get given to you at your appointment. If you want a MasterCard or Visa, this may take a few days to be available to pick up in the branch.

Get the Proof You Need for Your IRD Number Application

For your IRD Number application that you will do tomorrow, get a letter from your bank stating your name, bank account number, and clearly stating that your bank account is fully functional, or it is an active bank account, or the bank account has had due diligence completed in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009. This is because you have just opened your bank account so there is not likely to be much activity on it to provide as evidence to IRD. Alternatively, if you do have activity on your account, get a bank statement with your name, bank account number, and showing at least one deposit and one withdrawal of different amounts. For more information on what evidence to get from your bank, see How to Get an IRD Number for Backpackers.

Bonus: also get a copy of a bank statement with your New Zealand address as a proof of address for your Hospitality New Zealand 18+ Card application (see below).

Transfer Money to Your New Zealand Bank Account

Congratulations on opening a New Zealand bank account! Now you can start transferring your funds from home into your NZ bank account. This may take a few days to go through, so it’s best to transfer funds as soon as you open your account. There are a number of ways to do this, which we detail in How to Transfer Money to Your New Zealand Bank Account, but the cheapest way we have found to do this is through a foreign exchange broker, like XE Money or Wise, which is free to use for your first transfer.

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Day 4 of a New Zealand Working Holiday

Apply for an IRD Number

Now that you have a New Zealand bank account, you can apply for an IRD Number. An IRD Number is a unique tax number in New Zealand given by the Inland Revenue Department to ensure you are paying the right amount of taxes as you work. You can either apply for the IRD Number online or at a Post Shop. Follow the instructions and provide the evidence requested in How to Get an IRD Number for Backpackers.

Apply for a Hospitality New Zealand 18+ Card

There are only three forms of ID that you can use to prove your age in New Zealand: a New Zealand driver license, passport or the Hospitality New Zealand 18+ Card. To reduce the risk of losing your passport, apply for the Hospitality 18+ Card by filling out an application form at a Post Shop and provide the appropriate evidence and fee. Find out how to do all that in How to Get an ID Card in New Zealand.

Do Some Shopping

By this point, you’ll probably have released what you have forgotten to pack or what you might need for the rest of your trip. It is much easier to pick up supplies in big cities than once you are on the road so consider doing some shopping in the next few days. Find some cheap deals and know what to expect from shopping in New Zealand with Outlet Shopping in New Zealand: Grab a Bargain! and Tax System in New Zealand: What is GST?

Complete Guide: First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday©

Day 5 of a New Zealand Working Holiday

Start Planning How You are Going to Get Around New Zealand

Wait a minute, why wait until day five of being in New Zealand to start planning transport? Why not book this way in advance? Well, if you are looking at buses, then you will get a much better deal in New Zealand than booking from overseas. If you’re buying a car or campervan, then you need to be able to inspect the car you are looking to buy, which you can only do once you are in New Zealand. Day five is also a good time to do this while you are waiting for your bank card, bank transfer, IRD Number and 18+ Card.

Picking a type of transport to get around New Zealand is extremely important and really determines the enjoyment of your trip. Think about your budget, what type of experience you want, and which destinations you want to visit. Start comparing the bus companies, start looking for cars/campervans, and finally follow our advice in the following articles:

You might also find The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand helpful.

Complete Guide: First Week of a New Zealand Working Holiday©

Day 6 of a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Explore and Have Fun in Your Arrival City

The last few days have been a bit stressful, but you’re in New Zealand to have fun right? Now is a good time to explore your arrival city and all it has to offer while you wait for the many applications and bank transfers to come through. Don’t know what to do? We have a few awesome suggestions for the four main arrival cities: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown!





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Day 7 of a New Zealand Working Holiday

Book Transport

Now that you have had time to ponder over transport start making things happen. Get yourself a bus ticket out of Auckland or buy a full bus pass and use our handy tips in What’s the Difference Between InterCity Backpacker Bus Passes? and 5 Tips to Get a Better Deal on a Backpacker Bus Pass in New Zealand. Alternatively, start looking at cars or campervans to buy and remember to inspect them before buying. We have heaps of advice in Buying a Car in New Zealand Step by Step.

If You Want to Travel Early…

Want to hit the road and start exploring this amazing country as soon as possible? Start planning your first couple of weeks of travel.

If You Want to Work Early…

Start getting your New Zealand CV ready to hand out by following the tips in How to Create a New Zealand CV. Think about where you want to find a job, what accommodation will you stay in while working, etc. Start searching for jobs using the advice from How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand and browse our job listings.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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