Kia ora! What’s so great about doing an internship in New Zealand? The country is known to be safe for travelers and staggeringly beautiful — with remarkable vistas, welcoming people (who proudly call themselves Kiwis), a fascinating culture, and unique opportunities for those who want to add international experience to their resume. Since the Lord of the Rings craze took off, more and more attention has turned to this picturesque island country, where the movies were filmed. New Zealand is full of postcard pictures to take, and with moderate temperatures year-round, it is always the right time to intern in New Zealand.
The landscapes of New Zealand change dramatically from one side of the islands to the other, giving the country a striking, varied geography. Your camera will be flooded with amazing views of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and livestock, depending on where you decide to intern abroad in New Zealand.
Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city (but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the capital). It enjoys access to golden beaches, vineyard covered islands off the coast, lush forest just outside the city limits, and lively entertainment districts in the city center. New Zealand’s most diverse city, roughly half of the people living in Auckland were born overseas, so interns will enjoy an international vibe.
Christchurch is mostly famous for the earthquake that shook it to the ground a few years ago. Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, the town has forged on, showing true Kiwi spirit as it has slowly rebuilt. This is a great place for internships in the trade industries; anyone who wants to work in construction or civil engineering will gain abundant experience through internships in Christchurch.
Queenstown is the ultimate destination for adventure-loving interns. The modestly-sized town has the most spectacular location in the whole country. On the edge of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown enjoy views of the snowy Remarkables mountain range and access to water, snow, and mountain sports all year round. If you have ever had the urge to go glacier hiking, nab yourself an internship in Queenstown.
Wellington is one of the coolest little capital cities you will ever have the chance to intern abroad in. The town is built all over steep hills, which drop dramatically into the harbour. As well as being beautiful, the city has a young, hip heart, with countless cafes, bars, and restaurants to explore. Its quirky, bohemian vibe is best summed up on the infamous Cuba Street, while the harborfront reflects the city’s stylish, modern edge.
Internships in New Zealand
New Zealand is a small country, which has its pros and cons. On the downside, it cannot offer as many available internship placements as one would find in more populous countries. On the up side, internships in New Zealand are generally with companies that really want interns, which tends to provide more real-world experience than one can find in other locations.
Certain industries are easier to get an internship in, such as environmental science and hospitality. Animal science, visual and performing arts, journalism, public relations, and social work are also very popular fields for internships in New Zealand.
Kiwis are very welcoming and accepting of foreign visitors, and companies in New Zealand appreciate international interns. Just as many employers prefer job candidates who have international work experience, Kiwi companies value interns from abroad.
A typical work week for those who intern in New Zealand will entail full-time work, following a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule daily. However, there’s always time after the work day to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings or head to the nearest pub for a pint of Tui.
Salaries & Costs
Since the cost of living is high in New Zealand, interns will most likely earn a stipend to help offset their daily living costs. Although, stipends for internship in New Zealand probably won’t cover more than the basic necessities. Also, keep in mind that some cities are more expensive than others (we’re looking at you, Auckland).
Some internships in New Zealand will include accommodation, which takes care of the largest living expense for international interns, but it is unusual for food to be included. Restaurants can get pricey, but there are many affordable options too, such as buying foods at a grocer or market. To make sure you’re spending your money wisely, make friends with locals and ask them where they spend their money — and what tourist traps you should avoid.
It is possible to live and intern in New Zealand on a budget. Cheap meals, such as sushi or a takeaway burger, will cost around $5. A bus from one city to another is around $20 for five hours, if you book ahead. A flight from Auckland to Wellington is around $40, if you book a little in advance, and a night in a hostel will rarely be more than $25.
Accommodation & Visas
So you’ve picked a location, found the perfect internship, and now you need to think about finding a whare (house). As mentioned above, some internships in New Zealand will include pre-arranged housing in program fees, which most often means living in shared accommodation with other international interns. If accommodation isn’t included, finding a place to live is straightforward in New Zealand. Most Kiwis leave home at the age of 18 to go flatting, so young people living in bigger cities usually share houses or apartments to keep living costs down. You can simply search online for rooms that are available, and often just move into a fully-furnished room without needing to sign a contract. The best part about this is that Kiwis love a social household (roommate ads often specify “no room hermits”), so you will be quickly inducted into a group of Kiwi friends.
While it is possible to intern abroad in New Zealand on a three-month visitor’s permit, foreign interns can also apply for a Student and Trainee Work Visa. This visa will last up to 12 months, giving interns a little flexibility if they want to stick around for a little longer once their internship concludes. Obtaining this visa usually necessitates a confirmed internship in New Zealand, or job offer. You will also need proof of some savings (to show you can support yourself while in the country), and you will be limited to working only for the employer whose job offer originally secured you the visa. It can seem a little tricky, so for more detailed information, your best resource is GoAbroad’s Kiwi Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
They speak English in New Zealand! You may have trouble understanding the Kiwi accent every now and then though. Most place names are in the indigenous Maori language, which also causes a bit of confusion over pronunciation for newcomers. The Maori language does have a logical structure and consistent pronunciation rules, so it shouldn’t be that hard to follow! Picking up a few key Maori phrases is also a great way to earn points with locals during your internship in New Zealand.
New Zealand is a little country with lots to offer. Its compact size makes it very easy to travel; in fact, you can visit the entire country in a week! Anyone who loves the great outdoors will love living and interning in New Zealand. Adrenaline junkies will equally be happy with the variety of adventure sports available throughout the country to get their hearts racing, while peaceful nature seekers are constantly in awe of the scenic environment the islands have to offer. Scenic drives throughout the country provide some amazing sightseeing.
There are many student-discounted bus trips so you will be able to explore both islands on a budget. New Zealand is also generally a very safe country for foreign visitors, due to its relatively low crime rate. More adventurous travelers can even visit other nearby countries too, including Australia or Fiji.
Internships in New Zealand will be rewarding, unique, and unforgettable. so much so that you may find yourself searching for reasons to stay beyond your internship. Ka kite ano!