There’s a real purity in New Zealand that doesn’t exist in the States. It’s actually not an easy thing to find in our world anymore. It’s a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world. There is a sense of isolation and also being protected.” – Elijah Wood
After traveling for more than three months through South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and India, it’s time to settle down again. After dreaming about it for years, I finally decided to do my working holiday in New Zealand. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was very young — before I ever saw The Lord of the Rings movies, before I even saw Black Sheep (…a Kiwi movie about zombie sheep. You really must watch it!). It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since I saw pictures of its epic scenery. But before I start exploring the country, I’ve been working on getting settled in New Zealand.
Getting settled in New Zealand involves a number of steps. Here are some tips to help you get through them!
GETTING A NEW ZEALAND PHONE NUMBER
This is the easiest step, and it should be one of the first things you do. Having an active New Zealand number will save you a lot of time and hassle for the rest of these steps, so take care of it as soon as possible.
There are several large mobile service providers in New Zealand. Those are: Spark, Vodafone, Skinny Mobile, and 2degrees. Spark and Vodafone each have their own networks, and Skinny and 2degrees piggy-back on theirs. Vodafone seems to be the largest and to have the best coverage, so I went with them. Do your own research to find the company which works best for you.
PRO TIP: Bring your own unlocked phone from home. A SIM will only cost around $5 NZ (it might even be free) and having the device already makes the startup process a cinch!
GETTING A NEW ZEALAND BANK ACCOUNT
There are four main banks in New Zealand, though there are smaller options. If you plan on traveling around the country, it’s best to go with one of the bigger banks, as their coverage is more extensive. Those are: Westpac, ANZ, BNZ, and ASB.
I went with ANZ after talking to a number of people. ANZ has good ATM coverage country-wide, no monthly fees on their basic account, and I heard good feedback from everyone I talked to. One word of warning, multiple people cautioned me against going with ASB, as they are known for making it hard on people with working holiday visas.
As always, do your own research to figure out which bank is best for you!
BEFORE YOU GO: Call whichever bank you choose to tell them that you’re on your working holiday, and you want to make an appointment to open up an account. If you just show up at the bank, chances are you’ll walk out with nothing but an appointment for the next day, so save yourself the trip!
When you go to open your account, make sure you bring the following:
- Proof of Address letter (you can usually get this from your guesthouse for a small fee)
- Copy of work visa
- Small deposit ($100 is plenty)
PRO TIP: The Internal Revenue Department recently changed the requirements for getting your IRD number (see below). Not only do you need a bank account, but you need proof that it’s active. To get this, tell your banker you need verified proof of both a deposit and a withdrawal from your account. The letter will have your account number, both transactions, and a stamp from the bank. Get this done when you open the account, so you don’t have to go back later!
REGISTERING FOR YOUR IRD NUMBER
This is the big one, what we’ve been building to with the previous two steps and what will affect the rest of your time in the country. An IRD number is required to be legally employed in New Zealand, since it registers you with the Internal Revenue department.
The policies for getting an IRD number recently changed for non-NZ residents, so it’s very important to use the right form, which I’ll link below.
To get registered, you’ll need the following information:
- Form IR742 (new form as of November 2015)
- Copy of photographic ID (passport)
- Copy of residential address or most recent previous address (ID card or drivers’ license)
- Proof of NZ bank account number (also proof of active account, see PRO TIP under Bank Account section above)
- Copy of proof of overseas taxpayer ID (social security, national insurance, etc.)
- Proof of intended activity in New Zealand (work visa)
FINDING A JOB
Most people who come to New Zealand on a working holiday visa will end up looking for employment at some point. Luckily, there are lots of resources available for job seekers. A great place to educate yourself on the New Zealand job market is the New Zealand Now site put together by the Department of Immigration.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what to expect, then it’s time to hit the job boards. Here are some places to start:
- Seek – Think Monster, but for New Zealand. You can find a wide variety of jobs in a wide range of fields here.
- TradeMe – This is the Kiwi equivalent of Craigslist, if Craigslist had any semblance of site design whatsoever. Not only is it good for buying things, but you can also find job openings posted at the link on the left.
- Farm Source – Farm Source is a bit more focused, but if you’re looking for a job on one of New Zealand’s 11,400 dairy farms, it’s the best place to start.
- WWOOF – If receiving a paycheck isn’t high on your list, give WWOOFing a shot. WWOOFers usually work for room and board, and it can be a great alternative to traditional employment.
- The job board at your hostel or guesthouse – Some employers notify local hostels of current openings, since they know there will be a steady stream of potential applicants passing through. Also, don’t forget to check with the hostel itself! Chances are at least some of the staff are on their working holiday visas as well.
- If you’re starting in Auckland, Bamber House is a great place to kick things off. Lots of good info, nice staff, and quiet nights!
PRO TIP: Don’t just look for posted jobs. Be proactive and approach businesses directly. After all, there will be less competition if no one knows about the position, and it also makes a better impression on the decision makers within the company. Be bold… give it a shot!
It worked for me 😉
GETTING SETTLED IN NEW ZEALAND
Finally, and this really is the most important thing, HAVE FUN! Get out and see some of the sights nearby. New Zealand is one of those places where beauty is never far away. After a week of constant busyness, it was so nice to take a day off and enjoy the sea breeze, the brilliant blue sky, and the relative peacefulness of the little suburb of Devonport, just outside of Auckland. After all, this is what I came for…
There you have it! Some tips for getting settled in New Zealand. Do you have anything to add? Any info I need to update or change? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, it’s my birthday! 28 good years!