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From rolling hills to ancient glaciers, surfer-friendly waves to epic hiking trails, New Zealand is an adventure lover’s paradise. And luckily, you can stay there for up to a year — if you know how to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand.
If you’re between 18 and 30 years old, you could qualify for a New Zealand working holiday visa, which allows you to live in the country for up to 12 months while working part-time, studying, or training.
The best part? U.S. citizens can apply for free. Here’s what you need to know about how to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand, step by step.
New Zealand holiday visa requirements
- Age: You must be between 18 and 30 years old.
- Citizenship: You must come from a qualifying country, such as the U.S.
- Passport validity: Your passport must be valid for at least three months after you plan to leave New Zealand.
- Proof of onward travel: You need a ticket showing you’ll be leaving New Zealand before your visa expires. In some cases, showing evidence of sufficient money to buy a travel ticket (in addition to paying for living costs) will be enough.
- Medical insurance: You must have insurance that will cover you during your whole stay. (Here are the best medical insurance plans for travelers.)
- Good health and good character: You must be in good health and not have a criminal record.
- No dependents: The working holiday visa is only for you; you can’t bring kids with you.
- Sufficient funds: You’ll need to show you have enough money to support yourself for a few months, usually about $2,750 USD.
- No previous visa: You can’t have already been granted a New Zealand working holiday visa.
No New Zealand visa fees in the U.S.
While citizens of most countries have to pay a visa fee of NZ $245 (about $160 USD), U.S. citizens don’t have to pay any application fee if applying within the U.S.! That’s right, if you apply within the U.S., your application fee is $0.
Check here for more details on visa fees and processing times if you’re applying from another country. And remember that even though the visa application is free for U.S. citizens, you’ll still need to show you have sufficient savings.
Most countries require $4,200 NZ (about $2,7450 USD) in funds, but the requirements are a little different for citizens of the UK, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. You can find all the info here.
How to get a working holiday visa for New Zealand in 6 easy steps
So you’ve checked your eligibility requirements, funneled some money into savings, and are ready to apply for your New Zealand working holiday visa. Here’s what to do next.
1. Head to the New Zealand immigration website
First, head to the online services section of the New Zealand immigration website. You’ll need to register an account with your first and last name, email, user name, password, and a secret question and answer.
Once you’ve registered, head back to the main page to log in and select “Working Holiday Schemes.”
2. Select your country
After you log in, you’ll be prompted to select your country. Here’s what you’ll see if you choose the U.S.
3. Fill in your personal details
In the first section, you’ll provide personal information, such as your name, date of birth, address, and phone number.
4. Provide information on your health
Next up, you’ll answer questions on your health history, such as any serious pre-existing medical conditions or issues that might require hospitalization during your stay in New Zealand.
5. Answer questions about your character
The next section asks whether you’ve been charged or convicted with any crimes at home or ever been asked to leave another country.
6. Finish the “working holiday specific” section
Finally, you’ll indicate whether you have sufficient funds. Make sure to print out a copy of your bank statement in case anyone asks to look at it upon departure or arrival.
How long does it take to get your working holiday visa?
While New Zealand visitor visa processing times vary, 90% of applications are processed within 22 days for U.S. citizens who apply within the U.S.
Jobs you can do on your working holiday in New Zealand
Not only does a New Zealand working holiday visa let you stay in the country for up to a year, but it also lets you make some money to support yourself while you’re there. You can work a temporary job for up to 12 months or study or train for up to six months.
Working holiday in New Zealand jobs could be anything as long as they’re legal and not permanent. Travelers often go for seasonal gigs, such as farm work, tour guides, ski instructors, and things like that.
You’ll probably have the most luck finding a job after you arrive; asking around at hostels is a great way to start. Plus, you can check out sites such as the ones below as you search for temporary work in New Zealand.
Outside of finding an on-site job, remember you can always work online to make money. Whether you work as a freelancer or find a remote position, you could get a location-dependent job that lets you make good money while pursuing your travel dreams. Hurray for living in the age of digital nomadism!
Plan in advance for your New Zealand work visa
New Zealand makes the working holiday visa application easy. All you need to do is fill out a basic application online; U.S. travelers don’t even need to pay an application fee.
But the process can take a few weeks, so make sure to get everything in order at least a month in advance of your planned departure.
And remember to bring evidence of funds with you, in case you get asked to provide documentation at the border.
As long as everything goes smoothly, you’ll be trekking Kauri trails and ducking into the homes of Hobbiton in no time!
Curious about how to get a working holiday visa for Australia? Head to this guide to find out!