My Working Holiday experience in New Zealand
As my time is coming to an end in New Zealand on my Working Holiday Visa, I thought it might be a good idea to share my experiences with everyone! I will have been here 23 months in October and have had the best time in my life so far! I’ve experienced new things, learned a lot about myself and met so many great people. Although my visa was 23 months, I did explore Thailand, Australia and Fiji for a little while each. I definitely don’t regret leaving the country to explore others because I totally got to see all that New Zealand has to offer regardless.
My favourite thing about the Working Holiday Visa is that it gives you the ability to stay in a country for a long period of time. Of course able to fuel your stay by working every now and again. I think it’s actually the coolest thing ever, and I plan to do it in many more countries! If you’re interested in doing a Working Holiday Visa, check out my post about Working Abroad
The cost of living
I literally feel like I’ve been here ages because I almost can’t remember what the cost of living was in Canada. I’ve asked my parents to send me the local supermarket prices so I could get an idea. Keep in mind, I have been in Queenstown 95% of the time, which is the most expensive town in New Zealand. The prices are high, for 1kg of tomatoes in Canada ($3.37) and in New Zealand ($9.99), green beans are currently $16.99 per KG and I’m definitely not stocking up on those! Avocados get extremely pricy in the off season, maybe $8 each and cucumbers are $4 each. As I said, I’m mainly commenting on Queenstown prices as I’ve lived here, but don’t expect to pay for cheap groceries down here.
The price of gas is approx. $2.00/L and diesel is $1.45/L. Comparing it to Canada, it’s $1.03/L for gas. So it’s definitely a higher cost of living, and it makes sense because New Zealand is just a tiny island in the middle of no where! The prices of the NZD is a tad lower than the CAD, but even comparing prices NZ is still more expensive!
Coming to New Zealand, I thought it would make sense to do some local jobs. I’ve worked at a vineyard, picked cherries, hippie stores and at bars. My experience with vineyards and cherry picking are interesting to say the least. I’m not a fan of tedious jobs where my mind is constantly wandering, so these jobs were really not for me – I went insane! I worked at a vineyard for about a month and then picked cherries for a total of 2.5 days. By the 3rd day I literally was running down the fields because I needed to exert my energy somehow.
Plus, the owner of the cherry farm was a nudist and rode his quad bike around naked, it was really random.
There’s loads of jobs around the entire country, either in farm stuff, or hospitality. Minimum wage in NZ is $15.75/hr, and when your living in Queenstown, you won’t have much left. I’ll explain that a little further in the next point below. If you’re coming to Queenstown, be sure to apply for jobs before summer/winter begins. Seriously, or else you’ll have the hardest time. So many people want to live in this town it’s insane, they will work any jobs just to stay In this beautiful place.
My tip of course is to buy a van so you can live in it and not have to deal with rent, but let’s dive into the rent prices of NZ. Literally everywhere else in the country the rent prices will be acceptable, but in Queenstown, you’ll be looking at an average of $250 per week. Yes, $1000 per month, and all you get is a room in a house. It’s actually quite insane. Luckily I lived in my van most of the time, but when the winters came around I needed a place because my van wasn’t insulated. Sometimes people are sharing a room and sleeping on the same bed just to cut the costs, or better yet sleeping in their cars. You know a town is special when people are going extremely out of their way to stay there, Queenstown is a very special place.
If you’re In Queenstown, good luck! Let’s say you make $600 a week, your rent is $250, your food is $100, your gym/phone is $40 and since you’re in Queenstown, your extremely likely to get into the party scene, or spend your money on many attractions. Let’s just say you won’t stand a chance saving money. I mean if you did, great, I’m real proud of you!
Pretty much anywhere else in the country your likely to be able to save some money, but who wants to live somewhere mediocre when the best place on earth is a drive away right?
My favourite places in New Zealand
During my Working Holiday Visa, I’ve been able to see so many amazing places! Honestly this country is stunning and everyone needs to visit! Here are a few that I fell in love with. Cathedral Cove, Hobbiton, Cape Reigna, Piha, Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, Moeraki Boulders and Tunnel Beach, to name a few. Be sure to check out the entire country, it’s barely a drive away and the vastness of the landscapes are insane!
How to get from place to place
There are a couple companies that do an entire NZ bus tour that’s decently cheap and you get to meet loads of people. I haven’t personally done any of them, but they’re called Stray Bus and Kiwi Experience. Or just booking a random bus to the next location is always a good idea. Surprisingly, hitch-hiking is actually okay in New Zealand. I’ve done it, and I’ve picked up many people, it always makes for a fun drive that’s for sure.
As soon as I got to NZ, I thought of it as Canada, but 30 years earlier. You know, where most things were safe, and not as crazy as they are today. Like 13 year old girls actually looking like they are 13. Where you can hitch-hike and not be terrified, and where everything just moved at a slower pace. It’s actually cool to have a beaten up car and wear chilled out clothes to town. Barely any of the girls are wearing high heels and mini skirts, and if they are, it’s because they just arrived to town. It’s the coolest vibe, and I seriously can’t explain it enough.
Wrapping up the whole experience
Well, that’s a wrap on my 23 months in New Zealand. Seriously a life-changing experience deciding to do my Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. When I was back in Canada, everyone told me I should be going to school, getting a career and getting married etc. The idea of any of those things didn’t make me happy, and I almost wondered what the hell I was doing with myself if I didn’t enjoy my life at all. Deciding to stray from the norm, away from family and friends has allowed me to grow completely on my own and mould myself into the person I strive to become. I find travelling alone such a beautiful thing, because you’re always moving, and therefore never truly judged – just accepted for who you are. Right now, I have no idea what the future holds, but that’s okay. The thought of knowing exactly what the future holds, by routine, marriage, jobs we hate, this scares me a lot more than the uncertainty of life. I can’t wait to grow on my next Working Holiday Visa somewhere else in the world!