New Zealand working holiday guide for Canadians: Live like a Kiwi

Linking to Non-Government of Canada Websites

Links to websites not under the control of the Government of Canada, including those to our social media accounts, are provided solely for the convenience of our website visitors. We are not responsible for the accuracy, currency or reliability of the content of such websites. The Government of Canada does not offer any guarantee in that regard and is not responsible for the information found through these links, nor does it endorse the sites and their content.

Visitors should also be aware that information offered by non-Government of Canada sites to which this website links is not subject to the Privacy Act or the Official Languages Act and may not be accessible to persons with disabilities. The information offered may be available only in the language(s) used by the sites in question. With respect to privacy, visitors should research the privacy policies of these non-government websites before providing personal information.

On this page

Email us to share your Working Holiday experience at

Join our mailing list to be invited to networking events, social mixers and information sessions. Receive e-newsletters, updates on jobs and tax tips, travel promotions and more! Simply email us with the subject line “I’m a Canadian Working Holiday participant in New Zealand".

Tell your friends about travelling and working abroad at

Migration Section, Consulate General of Canada
111 Harrington Street
Sydney, NSW 2000

Working holiday New Zealand

The Government of Canada’s International Experience Canada (IEC) Program facilitates arrangements with different countries around the world to make it easier for you to travel and work in another country, gain valuable international work experience in a foreign country, or simply travel the globe and work in different places along the way. Learn more about International Experience Canada.

Mike McClannaghan

After spending 5 years focusing on my career in Toronto, I decided it was time to pack my bags and go and explore the world on a Working Holiday! I decided on New Zealand because it seemed like paradise. Secluded beaches, ancient forests, vibrant cities and friendly locals make New Zealand the ultimate destination to work abroad. I managed to secure work easily and met loads of amazing people. Taking a break from my career to do a gap year was hands-down the best decision I’ve ever made! Do it; you won't regret it!

Erin Burchill

Some of my richest friendships are with people I met on my Working Holidays. When I worked in New Zealand in 2005, I had to become familiar with a lot of place names around New Zealand, and I learned how to pronounce the Maori names. I loved the blend of Maori and English culture and language in New Zealand. My experiences from my Working Holidays have led me to be more “interesting,” to be able to contribute more to conversations and to have richer conversations with new contacts. My Working Holiday in New Zealand opened my mind to cultures, languages and employment opportunities.

Briana Loughlin

My tip in preparing for a trip to New Zealand is to pack strategically. There are 2 things to note: clothing there is very expensive, and New Zealand gets cold, to-the-bone chilly! The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on is a new wardrobe. In terms of work, the time I spent at a New Zealand vineyard helped me land a professional wine sales role back in Canada, in which I was able to use both my newfound appreciation for wine and my university-based business skills. I was able to see an industry from start to finish, learn the things l love and hate about different roles, and eventually figure out what type of career I want to pursue.


Entering New Zealand

All Canadians must have a current, valid passport to enter New Zealand.

Visitors to New Zealand must have a valid visa or a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).

Learn more about visa waiver countries and territories.

Working Holiday Visa

Through New Zealand’s Working Holiday initiative, you can spend up to 23 months travelling, working and living in New Zealand. If you’re a Canadian citizen between the ages of 18 and 35 (inclusive), you may be eligible to partake in the initiative.

The Working Holiday visa allows you to work for up to 23 months during your stay in New Zealand. If you intend to work while you are in New Zealand, you must apply for your visa prior to your arrival. You will need to meet certain health, character and financial requirements. Work is not a mandatory requirement for those on a Working Holiday visa. Therefore, undertaking work is optional for a Working Holiday participant.

Work is not a mandatory requirement for those on a Working Holiday visa. Therefore, undertaking work is optional for a Working Holiday participant.

If you choose a 12-month visa and decide you want to stay longer, you can apply later for the balance of the 23-month period.

Learn more about New Zealand’s Working Holiday visa.

A New Zealand Working Holiday visa is not suitable if you plan to

  • take up permanent employment
  • study or train for a period of time exceeding 6 months in total

Customs and checklist


When arriving in New Zealand, keep in mind that the New Zealand Customs Service is very strict. There are tight restrictions on carrying drugs (including prescription medications), certain foods and plants. There is a possibility that these items may be disposed of or put under quarantine by New Zealand Customs Service. Harsh fines and penalties apply to anyone caught breaking the rules.

If you take prescription medication, be sure to obtain a letter from the prescribing doctor stating to whom and for what they are prescribed. Keep the letter easily accessible when travelling, so you can present it to authorities if required.

Learn more about New Zealand’s customs and quarantine regulations. Learn about bringing medicines into New Zealand.


Here is a list of documents to leave with family or a friend in Canada:

Preparation tips

  • Don’t book everything, as you'll most likely change your mind. Book arrival accommodation for a few nights and everything else when you arrive in New Zealand.
  • Keep an eye out for discount cards and booklets, as they will greatly save you money on all your travelling, tours and attraction visits across New Zealand.
  • Remember to add at least a 25% contingency to your budget.
  • Bring a towel and sarong (they will come in handy).
  • Research information through many different sources; don't rely on just one booking website. Judge accommodations by reviews on a variety of websites.

Source: YHA Australia

Prohibited drugs

New Zealand has strict regulations and restrictions to stop the importation of prohibited drugs. When you arrive in and leave New Zealand, it is important to remember that it is illegal to carry drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy, hallucinogens, heroin, cocaine, steroids and amphetamines. The possession, cultivation or trafficking of prohibited drugs, even in small quantities, is a very serious offence, and you could be heavily fined or face prosecution.

If you are planning on travelling outside New Zealand, to Indonesia or elsewhere, be aware that some countries have harsh penalties and even practise the death penalty for individuals convicted of possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.

Source: New Zealand Police, Illicit drugs – offences and penalties

Tips to protect yourself from prohibited drugs

  • Never carry or consume illicit drugs when travelling.
  • Avoid associating with people who use prohibited drugs while on your Working Holiday.
  • Before arriving at the airport, make sure you are aware of the contents of all of your luggage.
  • Be cautious of gifts of luggage from strangers. Prohibited drugs have been found in suitcases won as prizes online. You may not be able to see the drugs, as they are hidden in the fabric lining; however, customs officials will find them.
  • Do not carry packages for someone else while travelling.
  • Always lock your luggage and never leave your bags unattended in public.
  • Always check your luggage for signs of tampering after it's been handled by others.
  • Do not give out your address to or accept packages from strangers or acquaintances to avoid prohibited drugs being sent without your knowledge.

Learn more about the do’s and don’ts of drugs and travel.

Travel smart

Travel insurance

It is absolutely imperative that you purchase insurance before you travel. Ensure that your health insurance covers the duration of your stay and includes hospitalization and repatriation. Without the proper insurance, an accident or mishap that results in medical assistance, time in hospital or cancellations could cost you thousands of dollars.

It is ideal to shop around when choosing travel insurance. Be sure to read the fine print.

Registration of Canadians abroad

This is a free service that enables Government of Canada officials to contact and assist you in case of an emergency abroad, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or an emergency at home. Learn more about the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

Travel Smart app

Access key information, even while you are travelling, by using the Government of Canada Travel Smart app.


Generally speaking, it is not customary to tip in New Zealand. Unlike in Canada, tipping is not expected, as basic wage rates in the hospitality industry are generally well protected, and New Zealand waiters earn a fixed amount. In New Zealand, there are no obligatory gratuities or built-in charges. However, goods and services tax is included in the total on your bill.

Mobile phones

It is wise to have your phone unlocked before leaving, and then purchase a SIM card upon arrival in New Zealand. Finalize any payments on your Canadian phone contract, as you may be in New Zealand for an extended amount of time.

For more information on phone plans and mobile phone coverage (which may be useful if you are in regional areas), visit Getting Connected.

Stay safe and healthy

Safety in the water

Source: 100% Pure New Zealand, Health and safety

Canadian Clubs in New Zealand

There is a network of Canadian groups in New Zealand that can provide opportunities to socialize or network with fellow Canadians and professionals during your Working Holiday.

Emergency dial 111

Dial 111 in an emergency, (police, and ambulance and fire services).

Travel outside New Zealand

If you wish to travel in Asia or elsewhere, check the travel advice and advisories for the countries you plan on visiting.

General tips

Land adventures

Land adventures include tramping, camping, canyoning, caving, mountain cycling, hunting, 4x4 driving and much more. Use the Land Safety Code as a guide for essential preparation, and complete your Outdoor Intentions form to tell someone about your plans.

Plan your trip: Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.

Tell someone: Tell someone about your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.

Be aware of the weather: New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.

Know your limits: Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.

Take sufficient supplies: Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication.

Source: AdventureSmart, The Land Safety Code

Keep safe via text messaging

Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees offer a text messaging service for visitors. You can send updates about your location and travel movements via text to 7233 (safe).

These details are kept on a central database that can be accessed by police if necessary.

Each text message sent to 7233 is acknowledged by an automated response, which advises you to call 111 and request police assistance if you are in danger.

Police officers and the New Zealand tourism industry encourage you to use this service as another way of letting people know where you are and what you are doing while in New Zealand.

Source: 100% Pure New Zealand, Health and safety

Tell someone where you're going

Whatever your land-based activity is, make sure you tell someone about it before you go and keep yourself safe while you enjoy a whole host of activities.

Review the AdventureSmart website.

Résumé writing

Useful tips and advice

The standard format of a résumé differs from country to country. The following tips will help you write a résumé that complies with current New Zealand standards.

Learn more about creating a New Zealand CV.

Joining the workforce

Job search tips

Key industries and trends

Review information on employment trends and prospects for key industries, such as health care and social assistance; retail trade; construction; mining; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Skills shortage

Learn more about the key industries and occupations in demand in New Zealand.

Job search and recruiters

Your workplace rights

New Zealand workplace rights

There are minimum rights and entitlements set out in New Zealand law that apply to all employees, whether or not they are written in your employment agreement. Your employment agreement cannot trade off or provide for less than these minimums. Your employer must:

If you think you have been treated unfairly or exploited, or if you need assistance resolving a workplace issue, you can learn more about resolving problems in the workplace.

Learn more about your workplace rights and responsibilities.

New Zealand workplace culture

Other pages provide more tips on

Training and certification


If you are planning to sell alcohol to the public, you will need an alcohol licence. All hospitality staff must hold the correct alcohol licence. There are 4 types of licences:

  1. On-licence (serving in a pub, restaurant, cafe, bar)
  2. Off-licence (serving in a bottle shop, supermarket)
  3. Club licence (serving in a sports club)
  4. Special licence (serving at a food and wine festival, wedding in a council hall)

For information on how and where to take your alcohol licence course, visit Alcohol licensing.

Road traffic control

To work as a traffic controller in New Zealand, you will need to take the New Zealand Transport Agency Level 1 Basic Traffic Controller one-day course.

Qualifications and registration

If you plan to seek skilled work while in New Zealand, it is important to make sure the qualifications you gained in Canada are transferable and recognized by your new employer. The Government of New Zealand has a list of Canadian universities whose academic qualifications are exempt from official recognition assessment.

If your qualifications are not exempt and the employer requires confirmation that your qualifications are recognized in New Zealand, you can learn more about getting overseas qualifications recognized by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Pay rate guide

Table 1. Median annual pay and pay range by job category as of 2020
Job category Median pay (NZD) Pay range (NZD)
Accounting $65,000 $48,000 to $125,000
Agriculture, fishing and forestry $55,000 $40,000 to $95,000
Architecture $75,000 $50,000 to $125,000
Automotive $60,000 $40,000 to $85,000
Banking, finance and insurance $65,000 $45,000 to $125,000
Construction and roading $60,000 $40,000 to $135,000
Customer service $48,000 $40,000 to $65,000
Education $60,000 $42,000 to $75,000
Engineering $75,000 $48,000 to $130,000
Executive and general management $85,000 $48,000 to $195,000
Government and council $70,000 $40,000 to $145,000
Healthcare $55,000 $40,000 to $85,000
Hospitality and tourism $50,000 $40,000 to $65,000
Human resources and recruitment $65,000 $48,000 to $122,000
Information technology (IT) $105,000 $50,000 to $200,000
Legal  $65,000 $45,000 to $125,000
Manufacturing and operations $48,000 $40,000 to $75,000
Marketing, media and communications $70,000 $45,000 to $135,000
Office and administration $50,000 $42,000 to $75,000
Property $85,000 $50,000 to $150,000
Retail $48,000 $40,000 to $65,000
Sales $65,000 $42,000 to $115,000
Science and technology $65,000 $42,000 to $115,000
Trades and services $55,000 $40,000 to $85,000
Transport and logistics $50,000 $40,000 to $80,000

* Figures in NZD are median annual pay and pay ranges by job category as of 2020.

Source:, Salary guide

Money matters


The New Zealand dollar (NZD) is the official currency of New Zealand. You can exchange your Canadian money at most airports, banks and currency exchange vendors. It is important to keep cash on hand for daily expenses and emergencies.

Use prepaid travel cards or debit cards for the bulk of your funds and have access to a credit card for unexpected expenses. You can use your Canadian bank card at any ATM in New Zealand if it has the Cirrus or Maestro logo on it.

Cirrus logo of two circles overlapping. One is dark blue and the other is light blue. The word Cirrus appears in white in front of the circles.
Maestro logo of two circles overlapping. One is dark blue and the other is red. The word Maestro appears in white in front of the circles.

Setting up a New Zealand bank account

Not only do you need a New Zealand bank account to obtain your IRD number, but the majority of employers won’t pay into a foreign bank account. For further information, including what documentation you will need to set up a New Zealand bank account, here is a list of a few banks:

Inland Revenue Department (IRD) Number

If you are working in New Zealand on a Working Holiday visa, you’ll need to get an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number. An IRD number is an 8- or 9-digit number unique to you. An IRD number is important because all your tax and personal details are linked to it. If you don’t have an IRD number, your employer will deduct income tax at the highest non-declaration tax rate of 45%.

For more information, visit IRD numbers for individuals.

Cost of living guide

Table 2. Average Cost of Living Per Week (in NZD)
Expense type Cost in NZD
Food $136.50
Clothing and footwear $16.70
Housing and household utilities $202.10
Household contents and services $32.20
Transport $79.50
Communication $23.80
Recreation and culture $64.20

*Rates as of June 2020.

The New Zealand Government website has an expense calculator with sliders in each of the expense categories to help you calculate your weekly spending.

Learn more about the cost of basic goods and services by reviewing a cost of living comparison between New Zealand and Canada.

Look up the New Zealand dollar’s exchange rate.

General tips

 Long-term accommodation

If you are looking for long-term accommodation, try to scour local community notice boards, local newspapers and websites. On these websites, you will find hundreds of listings for not only housing, but second-hand household items, such as furniture, as well. Exercise caution and always read all information available on the website. Meet sellers and buyers in a public space.

When you first rent a property, you may need to pay rent in advance and a bond (deposit). This could bring your total first payment to 5 or 6 weeks’ rent.

Landlords can only ask for 1 or 2 weeks’ rent in advance, depending on whether you will pay rent weekly or fortnightly (every 2 weeks).

A bond can be up to 4 weeks’ rent. Landlords must give you a receipt for your bond money, and lodge it with Tenancy Services within 23 days. Tenancy Services will hold your bond money until your tenancy ends. You will get your bond back if you leave the property in good condition.

As renting is expensive in New Zealand, finding a shared apartment could be a more economically suitable option.

It is important to be cautious when looking for accommodation, especially when looking online. Always be sure to verify that the accommodation is legitimate before parting with any money.

Learn more about options, tenant rights, and renting property in New Zealand.

Short-term accommodation

Hostels are ideal if you are travelling on a tight budget and looking to meet other young travellers along the way.

Visit Hostelworld to see a list of hostels.

Driving and cycling

Unlike Canadians, New Zealand drivers drive on the left side of the road. You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have a current driver’s licence. If the licence is not in English, you must carry an accurate English translation. Learn more about international driving licences and permits.

Before cycling on the road, you must know the rules of the road and the rules for helmet use and expected behaviour. Learn more about New Zealand’s code for cycling.

In New Zealand, the blood alcohol concentration limits when driving are lower than you may be accustomed to in Canada. Learn more about blood alcohol limits in New Zealand.

Free advice

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a free service to help people understand their rights (consumer, tenancy, employment, etc.) and how to access services they may need (such as legal services).

 For more information, visit the Citizens Advice Bureau.

An 18+ Kiwi Access Card is for young people over the age of 18 and can be used for general identification as well as accessing bars and pubs (the legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18). Find out how to obtain an 18+ Kiwi Access Card.

If you hold an English-language driver’s licence, you may use it as proof of age. It is advised not to use your passport as proof of age. If your passport is lost or damaged, replacing it is a long and expensive process.



The Government of Canada has prepared this summary as a general overview, based on secondary sources of information. While all care has been taken in the preparation, the Government of Canada does not accept responsibility for any losses suffered by people relying on the information contained here. Readers should take note that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained in this summary, nor does it necessarily endorse the organizations listed herein. Readers should independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the information. The content in no way reflects the official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada.

Page details

Date modified: