Working Holiday New Zealand by travelswithsun

Getting a working holiday in New Zealand can be a complex thing if you’re not prepared.

This guide is based on a Malaysian’s perspective of applying for the New Zealand working holiday visa.

But even if you’re not Malaysian:

You might still find the information below helpful for your own migration plans.

Topics covered in this post

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

What Is The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?

This little slip of paper allows you to stay in New Zealand for 6 months. You can extend this to 9 months if you meet the required criteria (more on this later).

Stirling point in South Island, New Zealand - We got to visit this place only because we managed to extend our working holiday visa in New Zealand. Find out how you can do the same on www.travelswithsun.com
Stirling point in South Island, New Zealand – We got to visit this place only because we managed to extend our working holiday visa in New Zealand. Find out how you can do the same on www.travelswithsun.com

During these 6 months, you can work or study. Or just travel!

Mind that the jobs you can apply with this visa cannot be of a permanent nature.

Read up on the different types of jobs available further down this post!

Another restriction:

You can’t bring your children along with this visa. If you have a partner, they need to have their own visa!

Depending on which country you come from, there may be a yearly quota to the number of people who can apply for the New Zealand working holiday visa:

Notes:

  • The number of VISA allocations for Malaysians is only 1150 per year.
  • Applications for this VISA is currently temporarily suspended due to Covid-19 (when we last checked on Nov 23, 2020)

Common Questions For The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Can you travel in and out of the country once you arrive in New Zealand with your working holiday visa?

Yes, for unlimited times before and until your visa expires.

Alternatives To The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

As you can see from the table:

There are a couple of other options you can consider in case you cannot get the New Zealand working holiday visa:

Types of New Zealand Visa
Types of New Zealand Visa

All of them require you to be:

  • in good health
  • not be pregnant
  • not have committed an criminal offences
  • financially capable to support yourself during your stay
  • have the means to leave New Zealand (i.e. pay for the return ticket), etc etc.
Parking in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo in South Island, New Zealand
Parking in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo in South Island, New Zealand

So if you’re considering moving to New Zealand for good and you have a degree, then the Silver Fern visa might be of interest to you. It lets you stay in New Zealand for up to 2 years.

If you don’t intend to live in New Zealand permanently though, then the Working Holiday Visa or Visitor Visa are more appropriate.

Notes:

  • Malaysia used to be in the list of waiver-countries which means no visa fee required
  • But effective 1 October, 2019 – you will now have to pay for an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) to enter the country if your country is in the previous list of 60 waiver countries. And that applies to Malaysia! More details in our bonafide and NZ visitor visa post.

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Age Limit

When you apply for the New Zealand working holiday visa, you must be 18 years old up to 30 years old.

Note: It’s okay if you got your working holiday visa when you were 30 but go to New Zealand later after you’ve turned 31. Within a year of successfully obtaining your visa, of course.

If you miss out on the New Zealand working holiday visa the first time you applied:

Then, you can apply again as long as you’re not older than 30 years old.

But if you already have a successful application before, then you cannot apply again.

The rule is one successful application per person.

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Cost

1. Application Fee

Upfront, t’s $245 NZD (per person) to apply for the New Zealand working holiday visa.

Note: Now $280 as of Nov 23, 2020

And if you fail:

You don’t get the money back (i.e. no refund). Or get to try again without having to pay another round.

So make sure you fill all those details accurately!

Other indirect costs:

2. Living Expenses

The immigration department also recommends that you have at least $2,250 NZD set aside for living expenses when you are in New Zealand (for 6 months). We found this number to be more or less true! And you need even more if you’re going to buy a van (like we did)!

And you may during arrival, be required to produce evidence (e.g. bank statement) of such funds.

3. Air tickets

By the way, the previous number ($2,250 NZD) doesn’t include the flight tickets!

Hence, you will need to prove that you have enough money to buy a return ticket (or ticket out of New Zealand).

Or show that you have already bought a ticket out of New Zealand before your visa expiry date.

Here’s the official website link to the New Zealand immigration website.

What do you need to get the working holiday visa for New Zealand?

New Zealand Working Visa Application Form

You need to fill up the application form which is online on the New Zealand immigration site. This form is only open for submissions once a year (typically late January)!

Notice that you do not to have a job offer or job waiting for you in New Zealand before you apply for the visa.

This is the gist of the form for the New Zealand working holiday visa:

  1. Your personal and contact details – name, date of birth, current address and phone number, email, etc
  2. State whether you have an immigration advisor
  3. You must state whether you have a VISA or Mastercard to use for payment
  4. Passport details – passport number, citizenship and the expiry date for the passport
  5. Driving license details (we used this as the second form of identification) – start and end date
  6. For all the health questions, we put “No” except for the last one, where we put “Yes” because Malaysia is considered (in their list) to be a country at risk of TB or tuberculosis.
  7. For all the character questions, we put “No” as well
  8. If you have sufficient funds to stay in New Zealand during your working holiday and if you have money to fly back – answer accordingly 😉
  9. They will also ask you if you meet all the requirements for the Visa – if there’s no concern, your answer should be “Yes”
  10. The last section before payment is Terms and Conditions – try to read through these before the actual Visa application date so you don’t panic
  11. Payment – you will need the card number, the expiry date, the card owner, the CSV code at the back and whether or not your card is a VISA or Mastercard
Note: We didn’t have to take an X-ray before applying.

Limited spaces getting you stressed out?

Here’s how you can get ahead of the competition:

Applying For The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Especially for Malaysians since the quota is only limited to 1150 Malaysians per year.

Before the day of application:

  1. Gather all the information you need (as stated in the section above).
  2. Go online (before the opening date) and apply for the working holiday Visa under another country (any country). Because these are open all-year round.
  3. Make sure your auto-fill is on so that when you fill in your details on the day the Malaysian form is open, Google will remember them for you.
  4. Double-check (or triple) that all your details are correct.
Note: The next time (e.g. January 23 for Malaysia) you apply, it will be for the real deal. Select your country (in our case, Malaysia) and use auto-fill to fill up the form.

On the day of application:

  1. Set an alarm or multiple (For Malaysians, application is only open once a year and very early in the morning)
  2. Fast and reliable internet will certainly be an advantage
  3. Have all your information and credit card at hand too.

What’s The Exact Date That The Applications Open For Malaysians To Apply For The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?

It was 23 Jan for both 2018 and 2019. But do check the official site frequently to be on the safe side anyways.

The VISA openings are usually really early in the morning (Malaysia time) as it follows New Zealand time.

And the window of opportunity is very short (i.e. slots fill up fast!).

How Do You Know You’ve Successfully Applied For The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?

When we applied, the site froze within the first 5 minutes and we were only able to apply during the last desperate 15 minutes.

Alas, I wasn’t able to make it to the payment page.

Once you’ve paid, it’s quite certain that you will get the VISA (Assuming all your details were correct).

Snowy peaks visible from Mavora Lakes - more places to visit for free in Fiordland, New Zealand on www.travelswithsun.com
Snowy peaks visible from Mavora Lakes

So How Long Does It Take To Get The Confirmation Letter?

Provided you successfully paid and that all your details were accurately filled;

And that you don’t have an outstanding criminal or medical record, etc:

It might take less than or close to a week (~5 working days) based on our experience. We applied on 23 Jan, 2018 and got the confirmation email on 31 Jan, 2018.

Some people get it sooner than that!

What If You Fail To Get The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?

If you don’t manage to get the visa, you can try again before you are 31 years old.

Or, you can consider the other visa options listed above.

How Soon Do You Have To Go To New Zealand After Getting The Working Holiday Visa?

You don’t necessarily have to go to New Zealand the same year you get the VISA. You can go the next year if you’re waiting for your friends to get their VISA too so that you can all go together.

Lupin Flowers In Lake Tekapo New Zealand
Lupin Flowers In Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

6 months in New Zealand goes faster than you can imagine!

You can prolong your stay:

Working Holiday Visa New Zealand Extension

Extend the duration of your Working Holiday Visa from 6 to 9 months:

By doing agricultural work (not necessarily the same employer or consecutively) for a total of 3 out of the 6 months that you are in New Zealand.

The same criteria (like good health, character, sufficient funds, etc)  will still apply as per the Working Holiday Visa.

You will need to:

  1. Print out the extension forms from the official site under “Working Holiday Extension Work Visa” before you fly to New Zealand. There is no online submission.
  2. Ensure that you keep all your payslips from said agricultural jobs that you do in New Zealand.
  3. Pay – The total cost can come up to NZD $264 or even NZD $434 if you need to pay for courier service in the event that  you cannot go to the center and collect your documents back by yourself.  Check where your nearest center is online. It may not be in New Zealand.
  4. Get a chest x-ray – If your overall stay in New Zealand is going to be less than 12 months, you might just need a chest x-ray. Otherwise, you will need to get a medical report.

Notes:

  • When you apply for this extension, it’s okay if you are unemployed during the time of your application (with or without a job offer – it doesn’t matter).
  • New Zealand immigration officers recommended us to start applying for our extension at least 2 weeks before our current visa expired.
  • Be aware that you can only granted one extension (3 months) if your application is successful. If you try to extend another 3 months after the 9 months, you will not be able to use this method anymore.

If you want further details, you can check out our separate post on getting an extension for your New Zealand Working holiday visa.

New Zealand Visitor Visa

There are two types depending on which country you are from.

You can read more on this in our other post on New Zealand visitor visas here.

IRD New Zealand

This is a tax number you need before you can successfully apply for a job (legally anyways) in New Zealand.

Don’t worry, you can get this tax money back before you leave New Zealand if you keep all your payslips in order!

Like most official things in New Zealand, application is online.

But first (besides getting a sim card):

You have to set up a bank account in New Zealand. Try Kiwibank or ANZ.

Note: We took ANZ and never had any issues. We recommended these two banks cause their ATM machines seem to be all over the country.

The next step is to buy some stuff or withdraw/deposit money.

Why?

You need at least 3 transactions to prove that your account works when you apply for an IRD number.

Apply for your IRD number online here under “Get an IRD number”.

One more thing:

When you apply for your IRD number, you have to physically be in New Zealand. 

Other information they require:

  • Passport details
  • Most recent overseas tax number
  • Immigration New Zealand Application Number (from your visa letter)
  • New Zealand bank account (showing your name/account number) or customer due diligence (CDD).

The other information that they ask for is pretty standard:

Your name, email, address (we used our Malaysian one), contact number – we used our Spark mobile number.

And this was the reason we selected:

Employment in New Zealand – I am not a non-resident contractor or non-resident seasonal worker

We attached the proof (a photo will do) of transactions done with our new New Zealand bank account too.

The IRD number was ready within 3 working days with no questions asked.

We simply topped up our resume with the IRD number and our New Zealand mobile number and started applying for jobs after that.

What To Pack For New Zealand

Whether you come here for a few weeks or almost a year:

You will probably need to pack the following (including all your important documents, phone, money and passport):

Clothing

Here’s what we packed as far as clothing goes:

Must-have items include:

  1. A rainproof and windproof jacket or parka. We recommend the Uniqlo Blocktech Parka – see our full review.
  2. Waterproof pants too. Even better if they can convert to shorts. We brought a pair of jeans and hiking pants each.
  3. Quick-drying undies are a life-saver. Bring enough for a week.
  4. Micro-fiber towel
  5. Long sleeved shirts and regular shirts that dry fast.
  6. Light knits to be layered on top of your dry-fast inner wear
  7. Cap – if you plan to do farm work, you might need the golf caps that can protect your neck too
  8. Woolen sweater or thick hoodie – Extra insulation
  9. Swim wear
  10. Flip-flops
  11. Casual street shoes – Sneakers will do
  12. Hiking shoes – Make sure they can stand water cause a lot of forest trails involve crossing streams. Oh, and it rains quite a bit here.

Winter stuff (Applicable for all seasons except summer)

  1. Winter jacket – The puffy kind.
  2. Woolen socks – The cotton ones absorb water (or rather, sweat). Not a good idea for your feet after a whole day of hiking!
  3. Thermal leggings – You can still find affordable ones in Auckland so don’t stress too much on this one.
  4. Beanie and or earmuffs
  5. Gloves – bring one woolen pair and one leather (or fake leather) pair for varying degrees of cold

Don’t bring:

  • Cotton clothes – they take forever to dry.
  • Formal wear – Ladies, forget the heels too. Dressy flats and maybe 2 versatile dresses will do.
  • Jewelry and excessive makeup

Read more: The must-have app for vanlife in New Zealand, CamperMate – here’s a guide on how to make the most of it

Electronics

Make sure you pack these where you can easily access them to reduce the hassle at the inspection gates.

  • Phone and charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Tripod for camera
  • Laptop/ tablet – for movies and researching places to go
  • Hard disk drive for backups for all those photos
  • USB drive (with your passport photos in too)
  • Power bank
  • Cables (goes without saying)
  • Adapter – these kinds are useful
Korjo adapter works in Australia and New Zealand - more on what to pack for a New Zealand working holiday on www.travelswithsun.com
Korjo adapter works in Australia and New Zealand.
A dual USB adapter to maximize electrical plug usage while travelling - see more on what to pack for New Zealand on www.travelswithsun.com
A dual USB adapter to maximize electrical plug usage while travelling.

Toiletries

Just in case you like a particular brand, you can bring your own:

  • Shampoo and soap – I just use the same soap bar for everything actually
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Grooming kit (e.g. clippers, shaver, etc)
  • Lip balm
  • Dental kit

Medicine & Vitamins

You know what you need but the basics are:

  • Diarrhea pills
  • Antihistamines (for allergies)
  • Panadol (basic painkillers)
  • Ointment for cuts and blisters)
  • UTI (urinary tract infection sachets) – you can actually buy these here at a comparable price
  • Multivitamins
Note: For antibiotics and similar strong medication, bring the prescription along.

Other Items That May Be Useful

  • Twine – An emergency clothing line
  • Extension plug – So you will only need one adapter then 😉
  • Flashlight
  • Reusable bag and some Tupperware
  • For ladies, cloth pads and menstrual cup – see Turning over a new pad (Eco-friendly menstrual products)
  • Collapsible, waterproof daypacks
  • TSA certified locks
  • Bandages/ plasters
  • Tiny scissors

    Our packing essentials to New Zealand include a small stainless steel scissors and Zambuk ointment - more on what to pack to New Zealand on www.travelswithsun.com
    Our packing essentials to New Zealand include a small stainless steel scissors and Zambuk ointment

Getting Through New Zealand Customs

For hiking shoes:

We just packed them and wore our street shoes instead.

Don’t quote us on it but at the customs, we got the impression that it depends who’s checking you:

One guy got stopped for bringing a big straw hat.

While the person inspecting us just let us go after we verbally declared we had brand new hiking shoes and some herbal medicine in tablet form.

He never asked to see either.

Better safe than sorry, right? If they do catch you, it’s a $200 fine.

Paperwork

Bring a few hard-copies of these for a job or even a PR application, if needed.

You never know when you need them:

  1. Working Holiday Visa
  2. Flight booking number (and return flight if applicable)
  3. Scanned passport
  4. Scanned driver’s license
  5. Passport photos (recent) – Check the immigration website for  the acceptable photograph criteria. Have the softcopy saved somewhere you can access offline too.
  6. Your resume – you might want to rewrite this to suit the New Zealand jobs that you wish to apply for (e.g. farmwork, planting, manual labor, construction work, clerical work, packaging, etc). Look for “activity-based” CV formats
  7. The Working Holiday Visa extension forms.
  8. Booking invoice for whatever accommodation you booked

Conclusion

From this post alone, you can learn how to apply for the Working Holiday Visa, what to pack (including those pesky documents) and how get your IRD number in New Zealand.

And even how to extend the Working Holiday Visa once you’ve got it.

If you want to read a first-hand account (from a Malaysian perspective) on preparing for and arriving in New Zealand for a working holiday:

Then check out fellow Malaysian, Anna’s post here. I like her sense of humor and photos very much!

Pin this post on Pinterest!

Everything you need to know about the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand - travelswithsun
Everything you need to know about the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand – travelswithsun

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4 Comments

  1. Hi! Thanks for such detailed sharing about your experience. May I know is there like seasonal application for the New Zealand working holiday experience? (like Summer/winter for USA WAT).

    You mentioned that application starts jn January. That means later than that it would not be possible to apply? I’m thinking of going for NZ WAT in 2021. Does that mean i must apply in January 2020?

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Sorry for the late reply. For Malaysians, it’s not seasonal. It’s only annual. Usually towards the end of January. If you want to go in 2021, then prepare to apply in Jan 2021. There is a very slim possibility that NZ gov may ask for more applicants in February 2020 so keep a look out on the site for any announcement. Hope that helps. And good luck!

  2. Hi. Thanks for the insightful write-up! The part where you suggested to go online (before the opening date) and apply for the working holiday Visa under another country (any country), I tried using Canada’s application form initially just to tryout and then tried applying under Japan’s, the citizenship of passport remembered by Google is Canada & it’s not changeable unless I delete & refill an entire new form. I’m sort of worried that this might happened when I apply for Malaysia on the real day 😕

    1. Hi. That’s interesting, Erica. Thanks for sharing this. Maybe you can fill up a Word doc with your answers (including payment details so you don’t have to scramble around for your credit card or anything). Then on the day, you can copy and paste them in?

      I don’t know of any faster ways, sorry. Wish you lots of luck on the day! Make sure you have a very strong internet connection! That will help a lot!

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