Working Holidays in New Zealand: basic information to hit the ground running

Camping on DOC campsites
Fresh off the plane? It’s easy to get around New Zealand, but it’s even easier when you’ve got all the information you need beforehand. Here’s what you need to know about working holidays in New Zealand.

Hostels in New Zealand

New Zealand has plenty of hostels both in urban areas and even the most remote regions. The two biggest networks are

You can find unaffiliated hostels / independent hostels in guide books, accommodation directories you can pick up at iSites, or through brochures and flyers at iSites. If you want to look online, try


Camping in New Zealand

There is an abundance of options available, from fully self-sufficient camping in the middle of nowhere to established networks of fully serviced campgrounds in popular tourist destinations. Broadly speaking, there are three categories:

Networks of serviced campgrounds:

Independent campgrounds:

Read my article on Camping in New Zealand, which explains the different options in detail.



By car or camper van:

New Zealand is best explored by car or camper van. If you’re thinking of buying a car or camper van, read my series of articles on how to do so in New Zealand, starting with the introduction:

Alternatively, if you don’t plan on staying too long, renting may be a more cost effective option for you.  There are plenty of places renting cars and campers in New Zealand.

Major rental companies:

Rental companies specialising on the backpacker / budget traveller market:

By train:

Ferry (Cook Strait, Picton – Wellington):

Public transport:

Long-distance busses:

Long distance busses for backpackers and travellers, hop-on, hop-off:


Tourist information in New Zealand

This one’s easy. The official visitor information centres found all around the country are called iSites. They are indicated in AA atlases and generally really easy to find, even in remote parts of the country. These centres are extremely helpful for anything from accommodation or transport bookings to free maps and leaflets on topics such as activities, sights, events, weather and other local information. It’s also the go-to place to enquire about freedom camping.


Mobile phone sim cards in New Zealand

Here are the links to the three mobile phone networks in New Zealand. See what plans or tariffs work best for you, but the cheapest provider seems to be 2Degrees, where you get a sim card for as little as 5 NZD. You can top up your prepaid credit at numerous stores around the country, including gas stations and supermarkets.


Internet in New Zealand

There is plenty of internet access available. The paid-for options are naturally internet cafes or internet stations at your hotel / hostel / motel. You should not expect fast broadband internet connections, or internet at all, in very remote locations. As an example, Barnyard Backpackers hostel outside Te Anau, Fjordland, has a dial-up (!) internet connection that is accessible through one desktop computer. Better than nothing, though!

Free wifi is available at most local libraries, such as

To find libraries in your location, search the directory of New Zealand libraries

For more free wi-fi outlets around New Zealand, also consult these sites:


New Zealand supermarkets

Here’s a list of major supermarkets:

  • Pak’n’Save (cheapest, but not everywhere)
  • Countdown (also acceptably priced, nicer supermarket)
  • Four Square (smaller supermarket, predominantly in small towns and rural areas)
  • New World (nice supermarket, more expensive)
  • Woolworths (nice supermarket, more expensive)
  • Fresh Choice (probably the priciest one)
  • Bin Inn (wholefoods and specialty grocery items, buy as much / little as you need)




New Zealand websites you need to know

Most of the things you’d look for to purchase or rent online when starting out in a new country can be found on just a few websites:

  • TradeMe : TradeMe is New Zealand’s eBay and you’ll mainly use it for finding jobs, flats / flatshares, to buy and sell camper vans and cars, and equipment for your travels;
  • Gumtree : the Gumtree is not an online purchasing platform  -it’s more like a forum, and similar to the above, it’s good for jobs, cars and flatshares;
  • Backpackerboard : the Backpackerboard has seasonal jobs advertised and a backpacker forum that can come in handy for buying things second hand or sharing a ride;



Seasonal jobs


Major banks in New Zealand

For a list of banks in New Zealand, consult the list on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s website. The major banks are:


Ready to work? Get your tax number

It’s easy to get a tax number (IRD number) in New Zealand. You can start working without one, and as soon as you get your number, you give it to your employer. Normally it takes only 8-10 working days to receive your IRD number. All you need to do is fill in a short form and provide two identification documents. You’ll find the form and more instructions at the Inland Revenue website:


These are the basics that should get you started really easily. I’ll be adding to this list as I go along. Until then, have a happy working holiday!


If you find there’s something important missing, or if you have any suggestions or tips on working holidays in New Zealand, please share your opinion in the comments section below!

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  5 comments for “Working Holidays in New Zealand: basic information to hit the ground running

  1. 21 September, 2011 at 02:35

    Christina, I found this article via your FB page. It’s an instant bookmark, filed under ‘NZ resources’ as part of my RTW trip. 🙂 Thank you for your post!

    • Christina
      21 September, 2011 at 09:05

      Thank you, Henry! I’m so glad it’s helpful for your RTW trip.

  2. 27 November, 2011 at 14:35

    This has to be one of the most comprehensive NZ travel resource I’ve found online! Definitely useful for my upcoming NZ backpacking trip. Thank you, Christina!

    • Christina
      27 November, 2011 at 18:04

      Thanks Aaron! I’m really glad you find it useful for your trip. If you have any questions on NZ or need some advice just shout! 😉

  3. 14 September, 2012 at 02:46

    Amazingly useful, thank you!

    May be worth popping the Jetstar website up as well though; it’s a pretty good, quick and cheap option for getting from city to city.

    There is also for people wanting to relocate hire cars. Worth noting that although the relocation is free, petrol cost and insurance can bump the price up a fair amount however.

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