I just came back from New Zealand and there were people asked me how, what and why I did it. So, for you who asked and anyone interested to know, I write everything I know about Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. Hopefully, this at least give you insight of what it is all about. Maybe you are the next to experience your ‘Overseas Experience’ or ‘OE’ as Kiwi say it.
What is that?
Well, it’s a VISA. A permit that allows you to stay in New Zealand for 6 months. What to do is up to you BUT you can’t work at the same company for more than 3 months.
What is so great about it?
Personally for me, it’s great because it’s easy to apply and cheaper than other visas such as Work Visa or Student Visa. It allows you to stay for 6 months (up to 9 months if you get extension), travelling and working at the same time. This visa is basically for young people to travel and experience New Zealand. With international passport, we are allowed to stay in New Zealand (and most countries) for 3 months only. We can’t work either. So, with this visa, it’s just perfect way to explore a country. Many countries offer working holiday visa to young people around the world, but unfortunately for Malaysian, it is only offered by New Zealand and Australia’s government.
Is it easy to apply?
Yes. First, the application process can be done online. Second, it only took less than a week to get approved. You have to register at the New Zealand immigration website and just follow the instructions step by step.
When is the best time to apply?
FYI, there’s only 1150 visas to be granted for Malaysian every year, starting from January. Previously, you can apply it anytime until the quota exceeded. Like me, I applied around June/July 2010. For year 2011, it was all gone in March. So, as this visa is a hot stuff now, it’s wiser for you to apply it just after you finish your New Year’s celebration.
Does anyone can apply?
Nope. Only those between 18 – 30 years old eligible to apply.
Is there any similar visa for people above 30?
I have no idea. So far, I couldn’t find any 🙁
What to do after my application approved?
- Decide when to go
- Decide your first destination
- Buy one-way flight ticket
- Search for jobs and get employers contact number
- Plan your travel/work for 6 months – you don’t have to necessarily follow all your planning, but you should have one so that you have a rough idea on what are you going to do. Revise your plan from time to time.
How about work?
Well, it’s not compulsory for you to work if you can finance yourself during your stay there. But, I recommend that you get some jobs. It was fun. Well, literally 🙂
I planned to work before I went there and I prefered outdoor jobs. I worked in apple orchard, pumpkin packhouse, blueberry orchard and some other places. It was a great experience that I won’t trade for anything. But that’s my personal experience based on my expectation and what I planned to do. Plus, 3 months working in agriculture/horticulture industry allows me to apply for extension for another 3 months.
*Agriculture/horticulture is basically working in farm/orchards/packhouses.
Is it easy to get a job?
Most accurate answer, it depends. It depends on how hard you try; it depends on how many contacts you have, it depends on how lucky you are.
Any recommendation where to work?
From my experience, the best time to go is around end of the year to January. That’s when most of the fruit harvest season almost started. This is when packhouses start its operation, especially in Hastings (North Island) and Motueka (South Island). Both are apple packhouses. January – April is the busiest time. Most jobs can be found in North Island especially in Hawkes Bay [Hastings] and Bay of Plenty [Tauranga/Te Puke], but there’s still job in South Island, especially at Marlborough/Nelson and Otago region. You can plan to stay/work anywhere you want, anytime you want and ignoring the harvesting activities. Although you might get lucky and get a good job, it’s not a smart move. Simple tip is, follow the season flow. You can refer to websites that I provided below to get more information on the harvest season.
How to apply for job? Should I apply before I arrive in New Zealand?
You can apply from Malaysia, but, it’s hard to get response by employer via email. In my case, none of them replied to my emails. But a friend of mine got a job before arrived New Zealand. She was lucky. The best way to get job is by phone calls and walk in. I got most of my jobs via phone calls. Be prepared to get ready to start work as soon as possible. But for packhouse job, they usually open for application/registration about a month before the season start. For apple season, they start asking working holidayer to fill in application form in January and for Kiwi fruit, the application process starts in Feb/March. You can always walk in to packhouse as people always coming and leaving. ‘Luck’ plays a great role if you use this method.
What to do if I don’t get any job?
Well, don’t go home just yet. You still have several options to save money until you finally get a real job to top up your money.
Work for accommodation – Many hostels offer working holidayer to work with them in exchange for accommodation. You have to work for 2-3 hours per day and get free bed. Some even provide free meals, but that’s rare.
WWOOF – stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms where you can volunteer at the host farm and get free accommodation and free meal. You have to volunteer about 4-5 hours per day. It is a great way to learn about organic farm and live with local people.
HomeExchange – quite similar to WWOOF but different organization.
I’m interested but I am a little bit scared. Generally, what can I expect to happen?
Well, obviously, you will meet people around the world. I met many people from Germany, France, Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Taiwan and also, Malaysia. Germans and French were everywhere in NZ and some of them just finish high school. Most of the people I met, also doing working holiday.
Most of them will be nice to you, if you being nice to them. Different cultures have different values. We are Asian. Be proud of ourselves. We have many things to be proud of, such as Food! And one thing that I always brag about was ‘My country has summer all year long!’ 🙂
Be yourself. Don’t imitate others. Respect others.
Most of the time, you have to share accommodation with others. Learn to compromise but at the same time, know your right.
You have to be flexible with jobs. You may hate your job and you might find it hard. My first job was the hardest. I felt like fainted after the second day. But, that gave me one of the best lessons of my life.
Bottom line, it depends on your reason to do it at the first place. For me, I want to explore, the place, and myself. And that’s what I got. Every people have their own reasons, but all people I met, love to travel.
How you do it and why you do it, is up to you. If you don’t like to travel, don’t like the idea of backpacking, don’t do it. If you are not confidence going alone, go with friends. Take things positively. It’s like a journey of survival. I take everything as a learning process.
My personal recommendation:
- Buy a car – it make it easier to travel and easier to get job. You can get a good used car for less than NZD2000.
- Buy a BBH Hostel card (NZD45) – so you can get discount at least NZD3 per night at about 300 BBH hostels around New Zealand
- Apply for Youth Hostel International (YHA) card in Malaysia because it is second largest hostel chain after BBH- also at least NZD3 discount per bed – I applied at MSL Travel agency near Chow Kit road, KL. This card could be used around the world.
- Work first, travel later. Autumn and spring is a good time, less crowded too. But summer has longer hours and more activities available. But most work available during summer season.
- Try WWOOFing/ Home Exchange. Try to hitch hike and Couchsurfing too. I haven’t got the chance to do it myself. Maybe I will try somewhere else.
- Don’t travel in a same group for a long time. It makes you comfortable in the group and that sometimes draws you back from talking to strangers. Travel alone gives you more time to think and to absorb things around you, and meet new friends. Don’t worry, there are a lot of people traveling alone out there.
- Don’t forget to make a daily log. It is fun to know how you spend your limited time in that foreign land.
- Take note during your travel. Write about what you feel, new things you did, people you met, things that fascinate you. It will be the best souvenirs for yourself when you come back home.
- Have fun all the way.
Ok, now that you are interested, you might want to visit these sites to get more info:
Working holiday info: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday/malaysiaworkingholidayscheme.htm
Register here before you can apply visa online:
All info above is all based on my experience and my knowledge.
I always believe in St. Augustine’s words “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
So, take this chance to travel. I would love to hear your story when you came back. You might experience different things and hopefully better than mine.
Best of luck!
*Originally posted on my personal Facebook page notes on June 13th 2011.