Ahh the power of hindsight. I’m a few months into my working holiday in New Zealand and, even though I’ve been enjoying it, I won’t pretend it’s been easy.
Looking back, I could’ve been slightly more organised to make things easier for myself. And organisation is kind of my thing, sooo probably should’ve seen this coming.
Anyway, thought I’d share a few things for all you future NZ travellers, so you might have an easier transition than I did. Let me know what you think.
Get a sim only deal for your phone
You can continue to use your own sim but you’ll be living WiFi to WiFi connection. When you use up your hotel allowance, or the café WiFi is slow, it’s the worst.
Plus, you’ll want data when you’re out and about to use maps. If you’re planning on doing the working part of the working holiday. a lot of employers will want you to have a local number, too.
The main carriers here are Spark, 2 Degrees, Vodafone, and Skinny, so you can check them out ahead of time. We each paid a couple of dollars for a sim and we’re doing the old school pay as you go! Remember having to top up?!
You may have the issue that your phone is locked to your UK network so make sure you check this before you go. Or, you could just buy a cheap phone once you get to NZ and have two on the go.
Get a bank account
Transfer fees and card usage fees are ridiculous. You could pay something like £15 per international transfer. Not to mention the fees each time you use your UK card abroad.
If you’re doing a full years’ working holiday, it’s far easier to get a local bank account.
Something else to note is that NZ charge you to use another bank’s ATM. They’re changing this rule, but not yet. So, if you’re travelling soon, remember to use your own NZ bank’s ATM! Before we found this out, we were charged $1 just to check our balance on screen.
You could shop around at home to find a card that doesn’t charge overseas fees, or one that is pre-loaded with a decent amount before you go, but not everywhere will accept these.
Your best bet is to get a NZ current account and transfer a fair bit of money at once. Then, use your card as you would in the at home.
EFTPOS is what they call chip & pin, and Paywave is what they call contactless.
To get a bank account, you’ll need to show your passport, visa, and proof of NZ address. As a working holiday-er, you probably won’t have proof of address to hand but, don’t worry, you can ask your hotel or hostel to provide this for you.
People here are always surprised when you pay with cash because it’s so common to use contactless (which you can use for any transaction up to $80).
Get an IRD number
Even if you’re not looking for a job straight away, if you’ve got one sorted you can apply for any job you see. An IRD is like your National Insurance number in the UK, or social security if you’re in the USA.
I loved the look of a job I saw about 3 weeks in but couldn’t apply because I didn’t have an IRD. You can apply online and ours only took a couple of days to come through. You’ll need a bank account first, as they ask for evidence of an in-use account. You’ll also need to provide your passport and visa details.
As thrilling as it can be to live spontaneously, it can be really stressful not knowing where you’ll be sleeping the next week. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to search out good deals for hotels and things to do.
I would recommend having at least your first month planned out in terms of hotels and activities. It wouldn’t hurt to research places to eat, especially if you have dietary needs. I really struggled to find places to eat, sometimes! Book as much as you can in advance. Planning ahead can also save you masses of money, effort, and you can just focus on enjoying your time.
Print copies of your CV
As with anywhere in the world, it isn’t likely a job will just land in your lap. We’d heard that it was relatively easy to find work in NZ, but that’s not necessarily the case. It depends what kind of work you’re looking for.
There are generally ‘designated’ jobs for working holiday visitors and they tend to be things like agricultural work and hospitality. There’s a fair amount of admin temp work, too. You’re legally not allowed to accept a permanent job while on a working holiday visa, and your contract must have an end date.
Unemployment is not as much of an issue in NZ as it is in the UK. However, it can be very difficult to find work.
You’ll need to search online, network with people you meet, and actually go into places and drop off a copy of your CV and contact information. If you have a CV in the UK, it’s transferable to NZ. They write them in the same format as we do. Tips on how to write a great one here!
Nearly all of the travellers I’ve met got their first jobs by handing out their CV like this. You could print some over here, but it’ll cost you. Even in the library, expect to pay $0.20 per page.