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Working and volunteering


NZ presents a swathe of active, outdoorsy volunteer opportunities for travellers to get some dirt under their fingernails and participate in conservation programs. Programs can include anything from tree-planting and weed removal to track construction, habitat conservation and fencing. Ask about local opportunities at any regional i-SITE visitor information centre, or check out www.conservationvolunteers.org.nz and www.doc.govt.nz/getting-involved, both of which allow you to browse for opportunities by region. Another resource is www.helpx.net, which lists volunteering opportunities on farms where you can work in exchange for accommodation.


If you arrive in NZ on a visitor visa, you’re not allowed to work for pay. If you’re caught breaching this (or any other) visa condition, you could be booted back to where you came from.

If you have been approved for a WHS visa, look into the possibilities for temporary employment. There’s plenty of casual work around, mainly in agriculture (fruit picking, farming, wineries), hospitality (bar work, waiting tables) or at ski resorts. Office-based work can be found in IT, banking, finance and telemarketing. Register with a local office-work agency to get started.

Seasonal fruit picking, pruning and harvesting is prime short-term work for visitors. More than 30,000 hectares of apples, kiwifruit and other fruit and veg are harvested from December to May. Rates are around $12 to $17 an hour (not much) for physically taxing toil, working in the dirt under the hot sun− turnover of workers is high. You’re usually paid by how much you pick (per bin, bucket or kilogram): if you stick with it for a while, you'll get faster and fitter and can actually make some reasonable cash. Prime North Island picking locations include the Bay of Islands (Kerikeri and Paihia), rural Auckland, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay (Napier and Hastings); on the South Island try Nelson (Tapawera and Golden Bay), Marlborough (around Blenheim) and Central Otago (Alexandra and Roxburgh).

Winter work at ski resorts and their service towns includes bartending, waiting, cleaning, ski-tow operation and, if you’re properly qualified, ski or snowboard instructing.


Backpacker publications, hostel managers and other travellers are the best sources of info on local work possibilities. Base Backpackers (www.stayatbase.com/work) runs an employment service via its website, while the Notice Boards page on Budget Backpacker Hostels (www.bbh.co.nz) lists job vacancies in BBH hostels and a few other possibilities.

Kiwi Careers (www.careers.govt.nz) lists professional opportunities in various fields (agriculture, creative, health, teaching, volunteer work and recruitment), while Seek (www.seek.co.nz) is one of the biggest NZ job-search networks, with thousands of jobs listed.

Check ski-resort websites for work opportunities in the snow; in the fruit-picking/horticultural realm, try the following websites:

Income Tax

Death and taxes – no escape! For most travellers, Kiwi dollars earned in NZ will be subject to income tax, deducted from payments by employers – a process called Pay As You Earn (PAYE). Standard NZ income tax rates are 12.2% for annual salaries up to $14,000, then 19.2% up to $48,000, 31.7% up to $70,000, then 34.7% for higher incomes. A NZ Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme levy (around 2%) will also be deducted from your pay packet. Note that these rates tend to change slightly year-to-year.

If you visit NZ and work for a short time (eg on a working-holiday scheme), you may qualify for a tax refund when you leave. Complete a Refund Application − People Leaving New Zealand IR50 form and submit it with your tax return, along with proof of departure (eg air-ticket copies) to the Inland Revenue Department (www.ird.govt.nz). For more info, see the IRD website, or contact the Inland Revenue Non-Resident Centre.

IRD Number

Travellers undertaking paid work in NZ must obtain an IRD (Inland Revenue Department) number. Download the IRD Number Application − Individual IR595 form from the Inland Revenue Department website (www.ird.govt.nz). IRD numbers normally take eight to 10 working days to be issued.

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