What Type of Job Can You Expect in New Zealand?© Unsplash
What Type of Job Can You Expect in New Zealand?

What Type of Job Can You Expect in New Zealand?

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Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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Fund Your Travels!

Potentially spending a year having the time of your life in New Zealand isn’t going to pay itself! Luckily, there’s the working holiday visa for New Zealand that allows backpackers to work in New Zealand to fund their travels. Ideal! But what type of job can you expect in New Zealand?

When it comes to job searching, it’s good to know what types of jobs are in New Zealand. This way you can expand on experience that you already have, or try a totally new industry, as there are plenty of entry-level jobs available. Of course, there are more industries than what is listed below, but these are by far the most common industries that suit both backpackers and the employers. These jobs don’t usually require long-term employees, which is perfect for travellers needing to head off to the next exciting location within a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

What Working in New Zealand Can Teach You

A working holiday is not just about adrenaline-fuelling bungy jumps and seeing the Middle-earth landscapes, the “work” part teaches you some good life lessons too!

  • See a different approach to work than what you might experience back home.
  • Try a variety of jobs to see what you really enjoy. Maybe you’ll find your dream career!
  • Work with both New Zealanders and backpackers from all over the world.
  • Learn new skills for life!
  • Expand on the skills you already have.
  • Make your CV/resume look awesome for future employers.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Hospitality Jobs

Hospitality, or “hospo” as some New Zealanders say, is a huge industry incorporating work in accommodation, such as hostels, hostels, holiday parks and motels, as well as work in food and beverage (see the section below).

The benefits of working in a hostel or hotel, for instance, is you might get accommodation provided. Many backpackers in New Zealand will stay long-term in hostels in exchange for 3-4 hours of cleaning per day. Otherwise, there are plenty of waged jobs available in accommodation-providers from receptionists to night-porters to housekeeping.

Hostels and hotels also work closely with the tourism industry, so you could be in luck to try out some local activities for free, in order to tell your guests all about it!

Pexels© Pexels

Food and Beverage Jobs

Something New Zealand certainly doesn’t have a lack of is cafes, bars and restaurants. You don’t just have to be in the touristy locations to find a good Kiwi cafe there is a huge coffee culture over here! So wherever you want to base yourself in New Zealand, you’re sure to find a nice eatery to work in nearby.

Food and beverage is a section of the hospitality industry that includes positions, such as waiter/waitress, chef, kitchen hand, barista, bartender, dishwasher and cleaner. While most of these are entry-level jobs, you may be required to have experience in being a chef or as a barista if you are applying for these positions.

The great thing about working in food and beverage is working as a team and meeting a whole variety of customers. However, these jobs can be quite competitive at peak job-searching times. Be prepared to find a job in the summer touristy locations in October/November to land a job before there is a rush of applications. Likewise, in the busy winter towns near ski fields, be prepared to job search in April/May.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

Picking Jobs

This is New Zealand’s most stereotypical backpacker job, but only because it is so convenient! Working in fruit orchards and vineyards is a great way for backpackers to make money quickly before moving onto their next destination. This seasonal job only requires workers for a few weeks, so there’s no need to worry about making any long-term commitments!Although there’s a higher demand for pickers during the summer months, between December and April, there can be fruit orchard and vineyard work found all year round in New Zealand. Just look at our guide to the picking seasons.

Some picking work is paid-by-the-piece, meaning you are paid by how much you pick, which can turn out to be a lot more than the minimum wage here in New Zealand. Plus, picking gives you a taste of New Zealand’s great outdoors while working and chatting with other backpackers from all over the world. Be aware that this work can be quite laborious.

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Another backpacker favourite, WWOOFing is a term coined for “working for food and accommodation” in New Zealand. Although it is most commonly done on farms, it can be in Kiwi households in any setting! The job part of it may involve helping out on the farm, building, gardening, cleaning, walking the dogs, and looking after the children. Then free time can be used exploring, as most WWOOF hosts will let you borrow their car, or they will most likely live in a stunning area.

Work is commonly 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week or you can work more hours in a day to negotiate more days off. Backpackers tend to stay with the hosts from as little as a week to three months! It really depends on what’s best for both you and your host. Either way, you’ll get to experience how real New Zealanders live while saving some money for your travels.

The official WWOOF.co.nz website requires a membership fee, which is worth it to browse WWOOFing hosts’ profiles and find the best fit for you.

What Type of Job Can You Expect in New Zealand?© NZPocketGuide.com

Farming Jobs

As New Zealand’s biggest industry, you won’t be stuck for farming jobs in New Zealand. Typical farm jobs that backpackers help out with tie in with what’s found in WWOOFing and picking (see above). However, farmers look for helping hands for other seasonal work, such as lambing, shearing, milking, feeding, mucking out, herding, and building paddocks.

Travellers who have worked on New Zealand farms learn a lot about different methods of farming that they can take home and use themselves! Expand your knowledge on New Zealand’s most common farming: dairy, beef and lamb.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Au Pair and Nanny Jobs

If you like looking after children, free accommodation, free food, and earning money, then being an au pair is your ideal job in New Zealand! You’ll become part of a Kiwi family in no time while gaining valuable experience in childcare.

Kiwi families are known to be very friendly and welcoming, so the environment tends to be like a home away from home. The length of time you spend living as an au pair varies from family to family.Some families will require you to drive the kids around. Which also means you get to borrow the car yourself to do your own exploring!

Finding an au pair host family usually requires joining one of the New Zealand au pair agencies who can match you with a family. Otherwise, keep an eye out in local bulletins, papers and job listing websites like ours.

Pexels© Pexels

Construction and Landscaping Jobs

There’s a fantastic opportunity to build on any experience in construction and landscaping in New Zealand, especially in ever-growing cities. In particular, there is plenty of work in Christchurch and the Canterbury region in the South Island following the earthquakes of 2010/2011.

If you have any skills, experience or relevant qualifications in construction then finding a job will be a breeze, as there is a skill shortage in construction in New Zealand. Make sure you have your qualifications officially translated.

As for landscaping, experience is not usually required, just a can-do attitude and the willingness to do some laborious work.

Be sure to register with Tradestaff when looking for this type of job as they are the leading recruitment agency in this industry.

Christof© Christof

Ski Field Jobs

A skier or snowboarder’s dream! Work in New Zealand’s stunning mountains, while getting to ski or board for free on your days off. There are heaps of different roles on a ski field: instructors, groomers, ski patrol, drivers, lift operators, cafe workers, chefs, cleaners, customer relations, retail and road workers.

There are endless benefits to working of a ski field, which of course are different for each ski field so make sure you check these out before applying. There could be a free season lift pass, free or discounted lessons, free or discounted meals, discounted equipment hire, accommodation provided, and discounts in the ski field stores. Whether you know how to ski/snowboard or not, you’ll have a good chance to mingle with like-minded co-workers and customers. Some ski fields will put on social events for its staff too, so you’ll be in for a cracking winter!

Of course, working on a ski field is a desirable position, so expect it to be highly competitive! Keep an eye out for jobs as early as January/February. Also, be aware that many positions on the ski field are weather dependent.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Retail Jobs

City dwellers might want to look into working in New Zealand’s stores! Not only does working in retail give you the transferable skills of cash-handling and customer service, but you’ll carry the social skills gained for the rest of your life. What’s more, you might benefit from free or discounted items that your store sells.

Naturally, you’ll find the widest variety of stores to apply for jobs in the larger cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, from high-end boutiques to the local supermarket! Nonetheless, retail opportunities exist all over New Zealand, so locate the local shopping areas and start handing out CVs!

And Don’t Forget Volunteering!

The Priceless Act of Doing Good Deeds

Remember, charities in New Zealand can always use a helping hand. In particular, conservation is important work in New Zealand, which is not surprising to protect the beautiful landscape and wildlife this country holds. Look out for work on the local region’s noticeboards and websites, as well as volunteering with the Department of Conservation. This is also a great way to get out into the New Zealand wilderness.


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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