Working Holidays in New Zealand: basic information to hit the ground running
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 guidebooks, 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:
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 campervan, 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:
- TranzAlpine: Christchurch – Greymouth
- TranzCoastal: Picton – Christchurch
- The Overlander: Auckland – Wellington
- additional information at Rail New Zealand
Ferry (Cook Strait, Picton – Wellington):
Long distance buses 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 inquire 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)
- Kathmandu: clothing, footwear, gear
- Outside Sports: clothing, gear
- Macpac: clothing, gear, footwear
- Bivouac: clothing, gear
- R&R Sport: footwear, clothing, gear
- The Warehouse: any camping/leisure equipment
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;
- SEEK: Australia and New Zealand’s biggest job site
- New Zealand Herald
- Best Jobs NZ
- Indeed New Zealand
- Seasonal work NZ
- Backpackerboard jobs
- Hawke’s Bay fruit picking
- Horticulture New Zealand
- Pick NZ fruit picking jobs
- WWOOFing: volunteer work on organic farms. If this concept is new to you, read my articles on WWOOFing.
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!