By: Erick Widman
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. For those of us who aren’t from the southern hemisphere, it’s not the kind of place you’d want to just stop by for a weekend. Scott Clyburn was able to spend eight fantastic months working and traveling in New Zealand—and did it without breaking the bank.
Read on to learn his recommendations for how to work and travel in New Zealand!
Line Up a Working Holiday Visa
To get to New Zealand, Scott scored a Working Holiday visa through New Zealand’s immigration website, which allowed him to stay in the country for up to one year.
Scott found the process of applying for and receiving the working holiday visa extremely simple. There was no charge, and after he submitted his application, the New Zealand government emailed him the approved visa within less than two weeks. Scott printed the form out and brought it with him to the airport.
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Work on Organic Farms
So how exactly do you work and travel in New Zealand? Well, Scott lined up a few opportunities to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board with host families through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF. Created in the UK over 50 years ago, WWOOF now has a network of organic farmers based throughout the world.
Scott had a great experience with WWOOF but warns desk jockeys (which admittedly may be most of us) that the tasks can be physically demanding. For one project, he took on garden bed prep work, trimmed bushes and fruit trees, and repaired fences. On another of the larger farms, Scott herded sheep while riding an ATV accompanied by sheep dogs. Although he was completely new to farming, he encourages anyone to do it: just be prepared to be very tired at the end of the day!
Stay with Hospitable Host Families
During his working holiday, Scott spent time on both the North and South islands of New Zealand and stayed with five different host families. Sometimes his accommodations were as simple as a guest room, though occasionally he was set up with a full house. Scott and his host families had good conversations and enjoyed comparing notes on differences in their cultures. Since he was in the middle of people’s homes and lives, Scott also got to experience occasional “family drama,” which no doubt spiced things up.
Work and Travel in New Zealand—All of It!
To see the sights in New Zealand, Scott arranged his work schedule so he could travel from a week to a month between jobs. He’d stay at hostels, camp out, and sleep in his car from time to time.
Scott decided to buy a car in Auckland when he first arrived. Many foreigners living abroad for an extended time purchase a vehicle—Scott found the selection to be good for a budget-oriented traveler. Completing the paperwork and figuring out how to register it took some time but Scott was glad he got himself a car for the stay.
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Don’t Miss Out on These New Zealand Locales
Scott loved the South Island the most for the landscapes, culture and people he met–but he also highly recommends hitting the capital Wellington on the North Island. In addition to historic architecture, Scott was pleased with the art and music scene there.
His absolute favorite outdoor location was on the South Island at an inland national park called Arthur’s Pass. He did a four-day hike up in the mountains here, and loved the beautiful sights and getting immersed in New Zealand’s world class flora and fauna.
Final Recommendation: Get to Know the Locals
Scott recommends that foreigners who want to work and travel in New Zealand make an effort to really get to know Kiwis and spend quality time with them rather than exclusively with other travelers. Try to stay with host families rather than only in hostels, where you can find yourself a part of an “insular” culture rather than the actual one you traveled so far to explore.
So, fellow travelers: what other recommendations would you add?
All images in this post are courtesy of Scott Clyburn.
Featured image via Unsplash.