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WHV New Zealand: Guide to planning your Working Holiday in New Zealand in 8 steps

You are planning to go to New Zealand with a WHV (Working Holiday Visa). But you don’t know where to start to prepare for it? This article is for you!

Leaving for a year on the other side of the world is exciting. But it can also be stressful to forget about something during the pre-departure preparations. Indeed, New Zealand is not right next door and a one-year trip is not something you can improvise. 

I have listed below the 8 steps that I think are essential for the good preparation of your future WHV in New Zealand.

Check the eligibility requirements for WHV New Zealand

The first step is to make sure you are eligible for this type of visa. 

Indeed, WHV, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere (Australia, Canada, etc.), is not a visa open to everyone and it is important to check that you can leave on this program.

What is WHV? 

Working Holiday Visa is a program created to encourage young people to travel abroad. It is aimed at anyone aged between 18 and 30 (35 for a few selected countries) who wants to live abroad for a few months up to 2 years (only for a few selected countries as well i.e United Kingdom, Canada). The common length of stay is 12 months.

This visa is very popular with young people because it allows you to travel in the country BUT ALSO to work to finance your trip. And perhaps acquire your first professional experience abroad.

Eligibilty requirements for WHV New Zealand

New Zealand government define the requirements and you can find details on their official website.

The conditions are relatively easy to meet:

– Have a valid passport that is valid after you return

This may seem obvious, but the subtlety is that your passport must also be valid for 6 months after your return date. Yes, this may seem surprising but it is in fact a general rule for many countries and therefore not specific to the WHV program.

Be careful to check the expiry date of your passport. If you only have a few months left, it may be good to redo it. And who knows, you might be spending more than a year abroad. 

The proof is that I left for Australia in 2016, thinking I would go for a year and here I am almost 4 years later, still on the other side of the world, in New Zealand.

– Age range

To be eligible for a WHV New Zealand, you must be between 18 and 30 years old (French nationality). This can be up to 35 years for a select few countries.

– Be in good health and have a good travel insurance

Travel insurance is essential and compulsory for obtaining the visa. I’ll talk about it in more detail below. 

They may ask you for proof of your travel insurance on arrival.

– Proof of sufficient funds to live in New Zealand

The government requires you to have a minimum of NZ $4,200, or approximately 2,400 euros to live on during your trip.

However, this does not mean that you need to carry it with you when you arrive in NZ. You only need to be able to show proof that you can access this amount in case of a problem. 

On arrival, they may ask you for provide proof of this, so don’t forget to print out a statement of account a few days before you leave to prove this amount. 

However, I strongly recommend that you leave with a minimum amount of money set aside. You never know if you won’t find a job right away or if you want to go on a road trip directly, it’s always good to plan ahead. 

– Not bringing a dependent child with you

Indeed, this visa is individual and therefore you cannot bring your family on the same visa. If you wish to come here with your partner, he/she will have to apply on a separate application.

– You must be outside New Zealand to apply for the visa

You cannot apply for WHV on New Zealand soil. This means that, if you are currently in New Zealand on a tourist visa, you will have to leave New Zealand (why not a short trip to the pacific islands or Australia) in order to apply for your WHV. Then, you can only return when your application is granted.

Apply for the visa

You just found out you were eligible for a WHV New Zealand, everything is ok. Now you have to apply for your visa. 

Nothing could be simpler! The one and only way to apply is on the official NZ immigration website.

Go to immigration.govt.nz website in the ‘Working Holiday Visa’ section

Immigration NZ website WHV New Zealand
Screenshot from the official NZ immigration website

You will have to choose your nationality and where you are applying from. The conditions will be reminded of you, make sure you are eligible! Then you can proceed with payment. 

The WHV New Zealand costs NZD $280, or 160 euros. And your application can take up to 4 months to process. 

Quite often the application is accepted within a few days if you meet all the criteria.

Updated Alert Covid: Since August 10, 2020, the government has temporarily suspended applications for working holiday visas from outside New Zealand. Stay informed of the situation via the official NZ immigration website in case of changes or reopening for applications.

Subscribe travel insurance specialized in Working Holiday

As explained in the WHV eligibility conditions, being in good health and having adequate travel insurance is MANDATORY.

You would not wish to go to the other side of the world without a medical check-up before departure. At least just to make sure that everything is fine and that you leave with a peace of mind. Especially when you realise the cost of health care here. So, I strongly recommend that you make an appointment with your GP before departure.

Having said that, checking that you are in good health is not enough. You never know what can happen when you travel so it’s better to be covered. Choosing a good travel insurance that corresponds to your trip (in this case, WHV) and your needs, is extremely important. There are many travel insurances that offer special WHV insurance. This would be perfect for your project. 

I have written a complete article about good health reflexes before departure and especially how to choose your travel insurance. 

chapka insurance

I give you some feedback on my experience with Chapka Insurance and their Cap Working Holiday insurance, which I took out for my WHV Australia and my WHV New Zealand. 

Choose your arrival city for your WHV New Zealand

Before you can book your plane ticket, it is important to choose which city you want to arrive in. And also to think of your departure city! Paris or London is the cheapest way to travel to New Zealand from France or the UK. But, you can also find cheaper offers from other European cities, which may be worth it. 

New Zealand has 5 international airports. Two on the North Island: Auckland and Wellington. And three on the South Island: Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin

This way you can choose which island you want to arrive on. If you are flying from France or the UK, there is a good chance that you will arrive in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. 

However, depending on the city you choose, the price of your flight ticket may change more or less. As Auckland is the largest and best served international airport, flights will generally be cheaper. 

In order to choose your arrival city for your WHV in New Zealand, it is important that you define what you plan to do after your arrival. Do you want to visit and travel directly? Or do you plan to work a few months beforehand? All these questions will help you make your choice. 

It would also be a good idea to look at the season you will be arriving.

Winter in Auckland is not the same as in Christchurch. Temperatures can be very different from island to island.

Auckland CBD
Auckland CBD

I personally chose to arrive in Auckland. Having travelled to Bali for 2 months after our WHV in Australia, we needed to find a job quickly. So, there is nothing better than the economic capital, and the largest city in the country, to do it. Just as much as our plan for this WHV was to mostly work (and therefore remain sedentary in a city) with the aim of getting a long-term work visa. Which we obtained not even 6 months after our arrival ;D

I am planning to write a special blog post on the different visas and how to stay in New Zealand for the long term. If you are interested, let me know in a comment.

In addition, we also wanted to buy a van so that we could continue to travel on weekends; and nothing better than a big city to have a wider choice. If you want to buy a car when you arrive, I recommend Auckland on the North or Christchurch in the South. Since Wellington is not a very popular arrival city, there are fewer car offers. Indeed, this city is right in the middle of the two islands. And therefore, it is not really ideal if you want to make a road trip on both islands.

Book your plane ticket

You’re almost there! The big departure is approaching and the excitement is building! 

THE big step in booking your plane ticket has arrived. 

Your project is becoming more and more concrete: you have your visa in your pocket, you’ve chosen your arrival city, now all you have to do is choose how you are going to get to the other side of the world. Well, the choice of made rather quickly on the plane, isn’t it?

With a minumum 23 hours flight, it’s important to choose the right airline to make the most of your journey. 

Should you book your flight via online comparators or directly with the airlines? 

As you probably already know, there is nothing better than online flight comparators to find the cheapest flights. Skyscanner being one of the most reliable platforms. On this one, you can do a monthly search to see which days are the cheapest (very handy if you are flexible on your departure date).

However, is it wise to book your flight on flight comparators?

Under normal circumstances, and if you don’t care about quality and long transit times, it can pay off. You may find low prices, defying all competition. But pay attention to the conditions. Usually these are not available before you buy, or are not very detailed. These types of low cost tickets are almost cost effective and cannot be cancelled/changeable. So before booking a ticket on the comparators, you should be sure that you will not need to change your ticket in the future.

If this is your first trip/fist long-haul flight, and considering the current situation (Hello Covid19), it would be better to play it safe by booking directly on the airline’s website or through a reputable travel agency.

By going through an airline, you will have access to the terms and conditions of your ticket (additional fees in case of change/cancellation, etc.) BEFORE purchase. This allow you to check that these conditions are suitable for you before you book. 

The best airlines serving New Zealand
  • Emirates (My favorite so far. You’ll be flying an A380, the stopover is rather short and the service is exceptional)
  • Qatar
  • Etihad
  • Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific (These 2 Asian airlines are very well rated in terms of comfort. Part of the flight is also on A380. This can be a good option if you want to make a long transit or stopover in Asia).

To finish on the reservation of your ticket, be flexible on your date of departure! Shifting your date by a few days can sometimes save you a significant amount of money. 

And finally, I would advise you, first of all, to compare the offers on a flight comparator to find the cheapest day available. And then to finalise your booking directly on the website of the airline you have chosen. 

One-way or return ticket? 

Choosing a one-way or return ticket can be difficult. This is up to you and also depends on your future plans. I would tend to recommend a one-way ticket; so you don’t limit yourself in time.

Indeed, at the moment, you only want to go for a year, but will it be the same after spending 2-3 months in the country? 

At my first WHV in Australia, I had taken a return ticket because I was convinced that I would only stay there for a year. Less than 2 months in Australia were enough to make me change my mind 😉

Documents to keep or terminate before your departure

– Applying for an international driving license

If you have a driving license in your home country, and you are going to New Zealand for a road trip (why not in a van? Very common way to travel across NZ), I strongly advise you to apply for an international driving license. 

You will not be able to drive, or indeed buy a vehicle, in New Zealand without it. It is therefore a must-have with you. This does not apply to the UK (or any English country) where your current driver’s licence will suffice.

Keep in mind that this request can take time so try to make it as soon as possible. Once issued, the international permit is valid for 1 years in New Zealand. If you stay longer, then you might need to apply for a local NZ driver license.

Save important documents on Email/Cloud

You will have a small packet of official documents (passport, visa, insurance certificate) to keep on hand for your arrival in New Zealand, and even afterwards if necessary. I advise you to scan them to have them in digital format (keep them by email or on the cloud). 

The idea being that in case of loss or emergency, you always have a copy on you (in your phone) and it will be easier while waiting t have them redone.

Notify the official organisations of your departure

If you receive aid from certain organizations, you must inform them of your new situation so that they stop or freeze your rights until you come back. 

Contact your bank

It may be a good idea to contact your bank to let them know you are leaving. It would be a shame to end up with your card blocked for fraudulent use on your first day in New Zealand because you forgot to tell them you were leaving.

Also, it can help you find out the cost of using your card abroad and see if you need to change it or change your limits. 

You may also decide to apply for a power of attorney if you want someone of your choice to manage your account for you if necessary while you are away.

Cancel your phone plan, accommodation, etc.

Don’t forget to cancel your phone, internet and any other subscriptions you may have (gym, etc.). 

And if you are a tenant, give your notice to leave your accommodation in time for the big adventure coming!

Backpack or suitcase for a WHV New Zealand? 

Another big question that comes in our head when we decide to leave for a year (or more) with a WHV: backpack or suitcase? 

I personally chose a backpack for my WHV New Zealand; especially as I already had it from my WHV in Australia. And that I find it very handy when you plan to move around a lot.

If your want to stay only in one place for the entire time, a suitcase might be just the thing you need.

As explained above, I have opted for a backpack. The famous Forclaz from Decathlon. I took a 60L and Ben took a 70L. Four years later – and the tour of Australia and Bali completed, they are still in perfect condition. These models are super resistant. I can only recommend if you also opt for the backpack. 

We also took with us a small backpack each; that you can take in the cabin along with the essentials (passport, visa, international driver’s license, laptop, camera equipments, etc.)

The important thing when travelling is to travel light, one can quickly fall into the trap of taking too much when preparing your bag. Just take only the essentials for the type of trip you are planning (road trip, living in the city, etc.). 

And don’t forget that New Zealand is a developed country where you can find everything you need on the spot. 

Essentials steps on arrival

All the pre-departure preparations have been completed and it’s a good thing done. But it can be a good idea to find out quickly about the few essential steps you will have to go through, once you arrive in New Zealand. 

If you’re going to New Zealand with a WHV, it is also because you are planning to work. However, you will, at the very least, need to follow these 3 small steps:

  • Open a bank account
  • Ask for your IRD number (mandatory for work)
  • Have a New Zealand mobile number

These 3 steps will be the first ones you will have to take if you want to find a job. This should be done in just a few days (the NZ administration is quite efficient, it should be pointed out ;))

I am detailing ALL the steps to take on arrival in the blog post WHV New Zealand: Steps on arrival

Ready for your WHV New Zealand

There you go! If you have followed this article, you should be readyfor the great adventure in Kiwis land. 😉

Going overseas thanks to a WHV is an incredible opportunity to have your first long-term experience abroad. And New Zealand has everything to make your stay a success. 

I hope this 8-step guide to preparing your WHV in New Zealand has helped you in your preparations. And will have given you the desire to create your own escape on the other side of the world.

If you found this blog post useful, please feel free to share it with a friend who may also need it. And leave a short comment if you have any questions or if you just want to leave a nice little note!

Thank you for reading me.  


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