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Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand: How to Make the Most of Your Experience as a Canadian

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Have you ever dreamed of living in the country where they filmed The Lord of the Rings? Or maybe you’re super sleepy and need a place to count a lot of fluffy sheep? Whether you go to explore or relax, New Zealand is waiting for you, only a day away!

Originally from a small town in Ontario, Josh Henry shares his experience doing a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. He’s since travelled to 20 countries and started a travel app that allows travellers to plan group trips. He’s currently living in Phuket, Thailand.

What drove you to apply for a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand?

“I had a friend come on exchange to my hometown when I was in grade 10, and, as soon as I graduated high school, I felt like I had to go get out of my small town and see the world.

© Josh Henry / Nomad Junkies

I ended up doing a Working Holiday Visa in Australia when I was 18. Basically, that kicked off a massive obsession with travelling. It was so cool to move to another country and instantly get a job, legally, while getting real-world experience and seeing another culture.

I caught the travel bug for sure. After I was able to make money, travel and meet great friends from around the world, I was addicted. I signed up for another Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand and stayed there for six months.”

You may also like: Working & Travelling in Australia: Stories from a Canadian on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)

How did you find a job in New Zealand?

Nouvelle-Zélande
© Nomad Junkies

“I spent a lot of the money that I had saved up to get to New Zealand on trips, so I searched online ahead of time for a program to help me find work. Most of the job opportunities were in hospitality, like on ranches, lodges and farms. HelpX and Work Away are great starting points. You can also volunteer your time in exchange for accommodation.

But the best job search tool I found was to walk straight into a restaurant and ask if they were hiring. That’s how I got my serving job. So the old methods are still alive and well. At least they were in 2014. My advice is to talk to as many people as possible. There’s a big network of travellers and work holidayers, especially in Queenstown, that can get you a job through word-of-mouth or a referral. It can happen quite naturally.

I recommend getting a social job, one that allows you to immerse yourself with the locals. Sure, maybe you could get an online job if you’re a designer or if you write copy, but you don’t just want to be stuck on your laptop.”

What were your job experiences in New Zealand?

© Josh Henry / Nomad Junkies

“When I first arrived, I stayed at a quaint bed & breakfast hostel in the cruise ship port town of Akaroa. I worked the reception and handled bookings. And then I was able to get a job as a server there, so my accommodation was free.

Was the money you earned during your Working Holiday Visa enough to cover your cost of living there?

© Josh Henry / Nomad Junkies

“Yeah, absolutely. I was able to have a comfortable life. Here’s a little hack that no one tells you about: Take advantage of your work perks. Since I worked at the same place I slept, work paid for my accommodation, and my meals were free during my shifts. Most of my outside expenses and activities were free because I was part of the hostel network… I was able to do things like dolphin cruises for free. So I was banking everything I made.”

What are the main differences between living in Australia and living in New Zealand?

Australia is fun, sunny and hot and gives off more beachy party vibes, and New Zealand is a lot quieter, but in a good way. If you’re into city life and you want to party, go to Australia. If you’re somebody who enjoys a slower pace or if you’re an outdoorsy person, New Zealand all the way. Whatever country you choose, make sure to visit both. It’s only a three-hour flight in between the two.

What were your favourite places to visit in New Zealand?

© Josh Henry / Nomad Junkies

“In New Zealand, the scenery is just like bam in your face everywhere you go. It’s like living in a postcard: beaches and volcanoes and mountains and glaciers and everything.

It’s so difficult to pinpoint my favourite places. I travelled up most of the Southern Island, except for the French side, over to the glacier side and then did pretty much all the North Island. I love the versatility of both islands. This might be a bit cliché, but the people I met made for the most memorable experiences. I did a lot of hitchhiking in New Zealand. I had a very free go-with-the-flow itinerary, and that made for some incredible times.”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand?

© Josh Henry / Nomad Junkies

“You just gotta go. If you’re on the fence about it, know that you’ll never, ever think it’s the wrong choice. My experience in New Zealand set me on a 10-year trajectory of travelling long-term while making money. Before, I thought I had to keep coming back to Canada to save up for my next trip. Why am I not immersing myself in a job that allows me to do this for my whole life?

You can learn so much from other cultures and work experience.

And the most invaluable lesson is what you learn about yourself and what you’re capable of. I strongly recommend that everyone does something like this.”

You can follow Josh on Instagram and check out his company at What’s The Plan.

If you are a Canadian between the ages of 18 and 35 and you want to travel and work abroad after the pandemic, you’ll find all the details on how to apply for every country, including New Zealand, on the International Experience Canada website.

The NomadTALKS are proudly presented by International Experience Canada (a Government of Canada program). 

▶ ️ For even more inspiration, listen to our #NomadTALKS series on YouTube, where we talk with other Canadians who have travelled and worked abroad.

The original interview was conducted by Safia Dodard and compiled by Britney Claveau. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Safia Dodard
Safia Dodardhttps://www.nomadjunkies.com
Je voyage parce que je suis accro au mode de vie nomade . J'ai quitté mon emploi en agence de pub pour explorer le monde, d'abord en backpack solo et maintenant avec ma petite famille. Rejoins notre communauté de nomades sur Facebook, Twitter et Instagram.
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