If you’ve some got burning questions about going on a working holiday in New Zealand, you may just find the answers here. Still got a question? Ask in the comments following the post.

How much money do I really need?

Firstly, I can’t recommend you take any less than the NZ gov requires you to….but on a practical level, it’s good to work out how much the first few months in NZ will cost you in case you don’t find a job so quickly. The average hostel bed costs around $25 in cities (budget less if in towns/country) so times this by 30, to get an average monthly cost for your accommodation. Times this by two or three and this is a good ‘buffer’ money amount to have. Food-wise, if you’re from the UK or Canada or the US, change what you usually spend per week into NZ$ to create a weekly food cost figure. Yes, food prices are a bit different here and there, but largely it’s similar and this figure will at least provide you with a estimate of living costs. Combine your accommodation and food costs, plus a decent contingency of three or four hundred NZ$ to cover travel and additional expenses and you have an idea of your absolutely basic cost to live in NZ for a few months.

Can I head out to New Zealand on a one-way ticket?

Yes, you can. The New Zealand government conditions state that you can arrive on a one-way ticket but you must have sufficient funds on entry to buy a plane ticket home. A bit non-specific since how much exactly is enough? I would say a minimum of 700 pounds, which allows room for error. I once purchased a return ticket to New Zealand for 520 pounds (including tax!) but it’s not worth getting into an argument with an immigration official about cheap flights…you’ll lose!


No-one will come to New Zealand with me and I’m worried about travelling alone. Will I be lonely?

Unless you are really anti-social and don’t stay in hostels, it is unlikely you will be lonely. For one thing, a lot of people travel solo in New Zealand, you won’t be the only one. Hostels are social places, and as long as you’re friendly and open to meeting new people then you’ll be fine. Remember, you always have at least one thing in common; a desire to travel and explore new places! It might seem intimidating, but the majority of travellers are very accepting and welcoming people. You’ll probably find that you won’t be travelling alone for long; while exploring the South Island I had so many people who just joined me on my road trip for a few days, even a week or two, and then went off to do their own thing afterwards. I gave rides to people from my hostel to the next town, picked up hitchhikers on the road, made new traveller friends in every new hostel – I really didn’t spend many days truly ‘alone.’ And of course, on my last trip to NZ I was travelling solo, but ended up meeting Jean Robert…and now I never travel on my own 😉

Isn’t it a bit scary to go and live on the other side of the world?

Maybe, but I assure you that New Zealand is one of the most welcoming and easiest countries for a first time traveller to visit or live in. Plus, if you’re from the US/Canada/UK then it’s English speaking and you have little excuse! A huge proportion of travellers currently in NZ at any one time are actually German speaking, which means you have even less to worry about than the average backpacker. The idea of going to live in a foreign country sounds scary when you’re sat at home just researching online, but as soon as you land you’ll realise it’s really not that alien. Try and ignore the evitable people who will tell you how brave you are (for going to live in another developed nation? Never understood that one) but if you can’t, have a look at New Zealand close-up using Google Earth or Google Streetview. View Queen Street in Auckland or Courtenay Place in Wellington and you’ll soon be less intimidated.

Before you go, you can plan everything down to detail should you wish, using the Internet. On arrival or at any time after, you can easily call home or a friend if you’re still concerned. If things really don’t go well for you, then you can fly home. It’s not the end of the world. I really would urge you to try and see if it’s for you, you might surprise yourself.

What if I don’t find a job?

As explained previously, there are a lot of casual work opportunities available in NZ. If you’re not picky (wanting a high paid long term job or one in a specific industry) then it won’t take you long to find a position. Keep an eye on hostel noticeboards and the Backpacker Board website and move FAST. If you’re open to working for accommodation then even better! Even temporarily, this can really help with finances and get you some NZ work experience.

How can I contact people at home?

It’s never been easier to stay in contact with people while abroad. Most hostels (excluding the very small and remote ones) will have some form of internet connection available, be it wi-fi or standard computers with a wired connection available to use for a fee. Other places to get internet in NZ include internet cafes (though are often full of teenage boys playing shooting games), libraries, tourist I-Sites (brilliant places!), and coffee houses such as Esquires.

Skype is a godsend – free video calls to anyone else who has it, and cheap voice calls to landline phones anywhere in the world. You can call mobile phones too, but it’s not nearly as good value.


One half of a Canadian/British couple currently living in Penticton, British Columbia. Gemma is happiest with a paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

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