Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand: An Overview


If you’re going to New Zealand for a longer trip, and want to find a job while you’re there, you may be considering a working holiday visa.

Working holiday visas for New Zealand are available for citizens and residents of over 40 different countries. However, if you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you probably won’t need one to visit, study or work in New Zealand. You can apply for an Australian Resident Visa when you arrive in New Zealand, instead.

This handy guide offers an overview to working holiday visas for New Zealand, as well as the Australian Resident Visa option for those who are eligible. And to help make sure your trip doesn’t cost more than it needs to, we will also cover a great way to save on currency conversion and international payments while you’re away - the multi-currency borderless account from Wise.

Types of Visa in New Zealand

New Zealand has a wide range of visas and work permits available for people considering visiting, living and working there. Depending on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and how long you want to stay, you might apply for any of the following¹:

  • Transit visa
  • Visitor’s visa, or a visa waiver
  • Study visa
  • Retirement visa
  • Resident visa
  • Working visa, or working holiday visa for those eligible
  • Entrepreneur or investor visa

There’s a helpful tool on the New Zealand government website, which allows you to explore the visa types available to you, based on your personal circumstances. This is a good way to check what visa you might require - or whether you need a visa at all for your visit.

If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident you can visit, study, or work in New Zealand without needing to arrange a visa in advance. You’ll just need to apply for an Australian Resident Visa when you arrive in New Zealand. However, if you’re planning on travelling to New Zealand on a working holiday with friends from another country, or if you’re not an Australian citizen yourself, you may need a working holiday visa.

This article will cover the main points you need to know about getting a working holiday visa if you’re not an Australian citizen or permanent resident - and also touch on the requirements for an Australian Resident Visa.

Why is a working holiday visa different from a work visa?

A working holiday visa is not the same as a work visa. The eligibility criteria, application process and fees are different - and a working holiday visa will not necessarily allow you to do the same things as a full work visa would. It’s important to check out the visa options available before you decide which will suit you - in most cases, your application fees won’t be refunded if it turns out you’ve applied for the wrong visa type.

To be eligible for a working holiday visa you’ll need to fit certain requirements. Usually you must be aged between 18 and 30, have enough money to support your stay and pay for a return ticket home, and intend to stay for no more than 1 year. The main focus of your trip must be to travel and explore, with work a secondary activity, to help you fund your visit¹.

In what situations are working holiday visas ideal?

Working holiday visas are offered by many different countries, to encourage young people to visit for a longer period of time, mixing some work with their travel.

These visas tend to be arranged on a reciprocal basis, so they’re not offered to all nationalities, nor are they available in all countries. However, if you’re eligible for a working holiday visa, it can be a great choice if you want to travel but know you’ll need to apply for work to cover some of your costs. Usually you have to prove you have a certain amount of money to be eligible for a working holiday visa, but having the option to earn as you go is appealing for many travellers. Classic examples are people who take up seasonal work as they travel - picking fruit, instructing a sport such as skiing or sailing, working in a hostel, or bar, for example.

Who can apply for a Working Holiday Visa, and who should apply for an Australian Resident Visa?

Make sure you get the correct visa type for your travel. Here’s a beginner's guide to choosing the right one for you - there’s much more information available on the New Zealand government website.

Australian Resident Visas

Australian citizens and permanent residents don’t need to apply in advance for a visa to live, study or work in New Zealand. You can arrive in the country, and apply for an Australian Resident Visa instead, which is typically issued on an indefinite basis. You can leave New Zealand as often as you like, but each time you leave your visa will be cancelled and you’ll need to get a new one when you return. If you don’t want this to happen you have to apply for a variation of travel conditions before leaving.

To get an Australian Resident Visa, you’ll need to have a valid passport and be able to show you are of good character. This requirement means you may not be offered this visa option if you have a criminal record, or have previously been deported from another country.

Working Holiday Visas

You can apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand if you’re from any of the following countries²:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Uruguay
  • Vietnam

If you’re from the UK or Canada you can apply for a 23 month working holiday visa, and for citizens of all other countries your visa will be valid for 12 months. In most cases you’ll need to be in the age range 18 to 30, although citizens of a few countries can still get a working holiday visa up to the age of 35. You can check the full details for your nationality, on the New Zealand government website¹.

It’s important to understand that the number of working holiday visas for some countries is capped. This means that, even if you are a citizen of one of the countries listed above, you may not be eligible to apply if the quota for your country for that period is already full. Checking using the tools available online is essential, to make sure you’re not disappointed².

How to apply for a working holiday visa

Full details of how to apply for a working holiday visa may vary depending on your nationality, and are available online³.

In most cases you’ll need to apply online, and pay your fee. You’ll then receive a notification confirming what evidence you are required to provide, if any - or a decision, if no supporting documents are needed.

How much does it cost?

You’ll be able to get the costs for your application from the New Zealand government website. The price you’ll pay can vary depending on the nationality on your passport, and where you are when you're applying.

You may be able to get a fee free working holiday visa if you have a US passport and are applying before you travel to New Zealand, for example. But if you apply with a French passport, you’ll have a fee of NZD245 to pay¹.

How long does it take?

There is an estimate of the length of time it’ll take to get your working holiday visa available online, based on your nationality and where you’re applying from. You’ll be notified of this when you start your application online.

Planning a working holiday in New Zealand? Manage your money easily, and save on bank fees, with Wise

Although you’ll be able to earn some money as you travel in New Zealand, you don't want to spend more than you need to on bank fees and currency conversion costs. A great way to save - and make it easier to manage your money across currencies, is to get a multi-currency borderless account from Wise.

The borderless account lets you hold your money in dozens of different currencies, and switch between them using the google exchange rate whenever you need to. You just pay a transparent upfront fee for the service, with no exchange rate markups or hidden costs to worry about. Send payments wherever you need to using the Wise app, to cover your costs as you travel. You’ll also get your own local bank details for both Australian and New Zealand dollars, so you can receive funds for free. See if you can save money with Wise, today. You’ll also get the Wise debit Mastercard and your own local bank details for both Australian and New Zealand dollars, so you can receive funds for free.





Sources accurate as of 2 May 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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