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7 of the Best Places in New Zealand to live in on a Working Holiday Visa

7 of the Best Places in New Zealand to live in on a Working Holiday Visa

The best way for you to see New Zealand is to work and travel throughout the country with a Working Holiday visa. This type of visa is great because it allows you to legally work and travel in New Zealand for one year, so you can make money as you travel, instead of having to save up tens of thousands of dollars beforehand.

In fact, a Working Holiday Visa was how I was able to travel the majority of New Zealand. However, I did it without much of a plan. When I arrived I didn't have any idea where I was going to stay. My lack of planning lead me to some pretty great adventures, but it also caused me to have to look for work in some places where it wasn't worth my time to do so.

Of course, if you travel to New Zealand you should try to see all of it, but you should only live in places where it's likely you'll be able to find a job. Then you can afford to see everything.

To help you out when you go to New Zealand, below is a list of the seven best places to live and work while traveling New Zealand on a Working Holiday visa. When creating the list, I took into account the number of traditional backpacker jobs available, how much there is to do and see in a given town or city, and how close the town or city is to other popular New Zealand destinations.


With a population of over one million people, Auckland is by far New Zealand's largest city. Located on the North Island, it's a hub for activity, so there are plenty of jobs there.

Many of my friends who lived in Auckland worked in hospitality or in a bar/restaurant. There are several large and reputable hostels in Auckland such as Base, Nomads, and YHA where you can also and work for pay or WWOOF for accommodation. If you WWOOF there are several other ways for you to make money without having to look for a job.

In addition to hospitality, there are several wineries and farms located in or near Auckland. In the summer, farm jobs can be a great way to make a good amount of money, while you enjoy working outside in one the most beautiful countries in the world.


Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the country's second largest city. It's located on the south-end of the North Island and features a ferry that transports people to and from the South Island.

Since Wellington is the nation's capital, there's a lot of political figures constantly traveling to and from Wellington. Because of this, Wellington a lot of nice hotels and restaurants.

I had several friends that worked in the restaurants there as chefs, managers, bartenders, dishwashers, and waitstaff. They usually did pretty well financially and were able to enjoy Wellington's nightlife thanks to their schedule and the relationships they developed with the staff of other bars and restaurants.


Queenstown, also know as the adventure capital of the world, is one of the most popular places for backpackers to live and work. Not only does it have stunning views of the surrounding lakes and mountains, but it also has a vibrant nightlife and plenty of work.

By far the most popular time to be in Queenstown is during the summer, when the town is packed with tourists looking to enjoy hiking, bungee jumping, great restaurants, and much more. During this time period, it is incredibly easy to find a job in Queenstown. Currently, there is a significant amount of construction going on in Queenstown, which has also created a surplus of both skilled and unskilled labor jobs. This worked out well for me because, without any labor experience, I was able to get a job making more money than most of my friends as a plasterer and gib fixer.

Queenstown is also a popular place in the winter because it's one of the premier ski towns in the Southern Hemisphere. This makes it a perfect place for people who want to ski or snowboard during June, July, and August. I had several friends who got a job with one of the ski resorts, which came with a paycheck as well as a ski pass.

Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui isn't as well-known as Queenstown, but it is another popular backpacker destination. Located on a peninsula, so you'll practically be surrounded by beaches when you visit. Additionally, there are several hostels located on the strip. Between the beach, the bars, and the restaurants those on a Working Holiday visa have plenty of options for both work and fun.

There's also plenty of labor jobs in Mount Maunganui, especially on the docks. It can be pretty easy to find work making $20 per hour or so, even through an agency, just as long as you say that you are a hammer hand and not a basic laborer.

Lastly, Mount Maunganui provides beautiful views, fun hikes, quality surfing, while not being too far from several other top New Zealand destinations such as the Coromandel and several hot pools.

Waiheke Island

One of the most popular tourist and vacation destinations in New Zealand is Waiheke Island, located just outside of Auckland. It's popularity largely stems from the fact that it has one of the best beaches in all of New Zealand.

Given the strong tourist/vacation economy on Waiheke Island, it is pretty easy to find a job in hospitality while there, especially during the summer.

It can also be a pretty great place to save money. My friend Nick worked and lived on Waiheke Island for a summer and lived in a tent near the beach. That way he didn't have to spend anything on accommodation. Because the weather is generally pretty nice there during the summer, this worked out really well for Nick.


The city of Christchurch often gets a bad wrap. It doesn't have the awe-inspiring beauty that many of the other cities in New Zealand have, but, it's a close drive to the ocean, mountains, and several waterfalls. Most importantly, there are plenty of jobs there.

With a population of over 300,000, Christchurch is the third largest city in New Zealand and the largest on the South Island. Because of the large population of people, there are plenty of jobs available in hospitality and in bar/restaurants. Additionally, because of Christchurch's' string of bad earthquakes, there's still an overwhelming number of construction jobs available there.

Hawkes Bay

Hawke's Bay is lesser known destinations in New Zealand. It's a small beach town located in the west part of the North Island Island. It doesn't necessarily have a crazy nightlife like some of the other towns on this list have, but there is still plenty to there, including some awesome cliff diving.

In Hawke's Bay, backpackers usually work in hospitality or in agriculture, and by far the best time for a backpacker to find a job there is during the summer.

In the winter, not only is a limited number of jobs available, but the town also turns pretty dull. So if you do decide to pick grapes or work in a hotel in Hawke's Bay, be prepared to move on once the weather starts to chill.

Each destination mentioned in this article is a great place to work and live in New Zealand. They all provide beautiful scenery and plenty of work. However, there are several other great places to work and live in New Zealand that haven't been mentioned, so feel free to explore this beautiful country to find some of the others.

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25 May 2024

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