How to Find “Sweet As” Jobs in New Zealand

by Suzanne Bhagan

Were you floored when you watched Lord of the Rings for the first time? Did you think, “That place is incredible! I really need to go there!”? Middle Earth may be a fantasy, but New Zealand certainly isn’t; it does exist and it is stunning.

People flock to New Zealand (sheep pun unintended) because of its drop-dead-gorgeous landscapes, but did you know it’s also a very popular destination to find work abroad? Thanks to its laid back pace and awesome approach to the whole work-life balance, New Zealand is a great option for anyone looking for internships abroad or a working holiday.

Flock of sheep in a green meadow
People are flocking to New Zealand for amazing opportunities (sheep pun intended).

If you’re thinking of making the move to the land of the long, white cloud, here are some great tips for finding work abroad in New Zealand:

North Island vs. South Island - Where should you work?

New Zealand is devastatingly beautiful, whether you’re on the North Island or the South Island. However, the weather and natural environment can vary widely. In general, the North Island is warmer and wetter and known for its beautiful white, black, and golden sand beaches. The South Island, in contrast, gets a bit chillier than the North because of its closeness to Antarctica (Note: If you’re really into sheep and wild penguins, then a trip to Otago Peninsula has to be on your bucket list).

The North is home to Matamata (Hobbiton for you LOTR fans) and Rotorua, which is famous for its Maori culture, hot springs, and out-of-this-world geothermal landscapes. The North Island is also great for commuting and using public transport to get around is a cinch. On the other hand, the South Island’s a dream for those who love to get behind the wheel. Get ready for sprawling road trips, complete with impressive mountains, fjords, and glaciers.

Big City Lights vs. Small Town Living - What kind of lifestyle do you prefer?

If you’re after the bright lights, Auckland and Wellington in the North and Christchurch in the South have a more metropolitan feel, although they’re not as mental as Tokyo, Seoul, or New York. In fact, Auckland has consistently ranked as one of the world’s best cities for work-life balance by both locals and expats. However, Auckland can get quite expensive, so if you choose to settle there, you should get a job that pays enough for you to live comfortably. If you can’t afford to rent an apartment, consider cheaper accommodation options like hostels or couchsurfing.

On the other hand, if smaller towns with lots of character are more your style, then head down South to the adventure-mecca of Queenstown or uber-college town, Dunedin.

Countryside in Hobbiton, New Zealand
If you’ve dreamed of living and working in Middle Earth, here’s your chance.

Job Opportunities - What kind of job are you looking for?

Before you even consider moving to New Zealand, ask yourself this very important question: what kind of job do I want once I get there? New Zealand is, by far, one of the most popular countries for foreigners to spend a working holiday, especially for folks just out of high school or university, so there are A LOT of different kinds of job opportunities to choose from. Ask yourself the questions below, and whichever you say yes to, go for it!

Do you just want to work and travel around the islands?

If you’re not too fussy about your career plans, short-term visas are great for getting odd jobs in New Zealand in agriculture and tourism. These types of jobs are generally easy to get and last up to six months, provided you’re between 18 and 30 and can show that you have enough funds to support your expenses during your stay.

If you’d like to stay longer on a short-term visa, why not consider a working holiday program? If you apply for a working holiday visa through a legit program provider, you can legally work in New Zealand for up to one year. Although you will have to pay fees upfront, these programs are super convenient, especially if it’s your first time abroad. They even offer great support like airport pickup, orientation sessions, and job referral services, helping you settle in more quickly.

More specifically, Queenstown offers tons of short-term jobs in tourism that last six months to a year. Maybe, you’d like to spend the winter teaching noobs to slide down the Remarkables in style or maybe you’d like to help run a youth hostel. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Queenstown is mad-perfect, offering plenty of options for your free time, too; skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, paragliding, hiking, white water rafting, or just hitting the luge are all possible in Queenstown.

Valley in North Island, New Zealand
Live and work in the green valleys of the North Island.

Do you want to make a big career move?

New Zealand’s work culture is perfect for those who like to work hard and play hard. Although long-term jobs in New Zealand are a bit more difficult to come by for foreigners, if you play your cards right, you can certainly end up working in sectors that tend to need more workers, like construction, agriculture, forestry, medicine, finance, and business. If these fields sound right up your alley, then you’ll be better off hunting for more long-term job opportunities in the big cities like Auckland and Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch and Dunedin on the South Island.

Applying & Interviewing - are you ready to impress?

If you’re thinking about making a long-term career move to New Zealand, then you’d better dust off that resume or curriculum vitae (CV). You may be asking, what's the difference between a CV and resume? CVs are generally more accepted in New Zealand, but it all depends on your employer and the kind of job you’re looking for. That being said, CVs in New Zealand look a little different than they do in other parts of the world. For example, on a CV in New Zealand, you don’t usually include every single job or course you’ve completed. Also, instead of just listing your skills on your CV, you should give examples of how you’ve used them in real life.

What happens after the CV? The interview, of course! Since you are seeking a job abroad, it’s highly likely that the company will want to interview you using video-conferencing apps, like Skype. If you’ve never done them before, video interviews can sound terrifying, but there are ways you can ace them.

First, prep your space before the interview; make sure you’re in a quiet place with no distractions, that means kicking Fido out of your room. Tell Mom and Pop about it so they don’t barge into your room mid-interview, and then make sure your internet connection and microphone work. Also don’t forget to check the lighting so your face doesn’t look like something from American Horror Story. Before the interview, you can even call a friend on Skype and ask them to run through a few typical questions to get you warmed up.

Insider tips: Practice looking at the webcam instead of the screen. This will make you appear as though you’re looking directly at your interviewer. Lean forward and try to relax, but don’t get sloppy. Dress as you would for any other interview and sorry, that doesn’t mean business on top, pajamas on the bottom.

During the interview, speak slowly and clearly as there may be time lags. Don’t freeze up, but treat the interview like a dialogue. Show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework about the position and the company. Ask questions. Sparkle on screen. Show them that you can do a stellar job, even better than locals.

View of a meadow in Queenstown, New Zealand
Work hard and play hard in the mountains of the South Island

The Red Tape - is it legal for you to work in New Zealand?

Be warned, however, that there’s a lot of red tape involved if you’re planning to make that major career move to New Zealand. To avoid any unnecessary snafus, double-check the country’s most recent immigration laws and policies to find out whether you need a job offer before you can get your hands on the appropriate work visa. In most cases, you do. So, if you do have an offer, check whether your employer will be able to sponsor you.

Working abroad in New Zealand may be one of the best decisions you ever make. As always, remember to do your research to ensure that you get the job that’s just right for you.

Kia ora, and happy job hunting!