If you have a good level of fitness and like the idea of working outdoors, the horticulture industry is always looking for temporary staff — especially during the summer-autumn season (December–May). This is one of the most popular options among travellers on a working holiday, namely because it grants them firsthand access to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. Tasks like fruit picking, pruning and planting in orchards and vineyards don’t require prior experience, as full training is provided on the job. More technical roles like forklift driving and packing shed supervision, on the other hand, may call for specialised qualifications.
Ski field staff
If you’re looking for a job to fill those chilly winter months (i.e. June–October), there’s always work up for grabs at the local ski fields. You’ll find various opportunities that don’t require any ski/snowboarding experience, like manning the equipment rentals, reception work, ski lift monitoring or simply helping out in the kitchen. Qualified skiers could also try their luck at scoring an instructor gig. Ski field work typically calls for a four-month commitment, and in some cases, you may need to arrange accommodation outside the resort.
If you like taking care of kids and want to get a firsthand glimpse of life in a Kiwi household, an au pairing job might be the right choice for you. Childcare experience is expected for these roles, as are great communication skills, flexibility and of course, a whole lot of patience. Work is usually available through local agencies like Dream Au Pair and Au Pair Link. Opportunities can be found year-round, especially during the school holidays, and placements often last between 3–6 months.
New Zealand’s dairy and sheep farms often rely on the help of seasonal workers during the calving and lambing seasons. The former tends to be more abundant during the spring months (October–December), while the latter often starts in winter so that the young lambs can enjoy the plentiful feeds of the following season. Sheep shearing is another opportunity you might want to consider — work is mainly centred around the peak months of November–March and July–September.
Whether you have experience as a barista, waiter, bartender or simply know a thing or two about customer service, you’ll find hospitality work opportunities throughout New Zealand. Areas that get a large number of visitors, like Queenstown, Auckland and Wellington, will often be on the lookout for seasonal staff during the high summer season. Just keep in mind that barista roles often require an extensive amount of experience, and you won’t get a bar manager job without first attaining a duty manager certificate.
Many backpacking hostels will have work available for travellers. The positions available, however, will differ slightly from one place to the next: while some might offer paid positions in reception and customer service, others will favour a ‘work for accommodation’ approach, offering a free bed in exchange for a backpacker’s labour. Cleaning and general housekeeping are some of the common tasks you’ll likely get to do in the latter.
Tourism job opportunities are abundant in all corners of New Zealand. These roles tend to be quite competitive, though: they often require previous industry experience, a strong CV and solid interviewing skills that will help you stand out from all other candidates. But if you do score yourself a post with a tourist operator, you will get to see the country in a whole different perspective — all the while learning about the local culture and customs too.
It’s not uncommon for New Zealand shops to offer temporary work contracts during the busiest shopping seasons, particularly before Christmas and throughout the summer months. Naturally, larger cities like Auckland and Wellington are where you’ll find the most opportunities. Temporary retail roles normally require previous customer service experience and tend to be highly sought after by local high school and university students as well as passing travellers.
Trades and labour
The earthquakes in Christchurch and Kaikoura brought an increased demand for construction workers. Labour industry trades like building, plumbing and electrical work do require specialist certifications, but general assistance positions only call for reliability, a good work ethic and the ability to do physically demanding work. Local recruitment agencies tend to be the best sources for temporary labour roles.
WWOOFing and volunteer conservation work
If you’re unfamiliar with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (aka WWOOFing), it is an arrangement where you work on a farm for 4–6 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. Hosts often train their guests to undertake various duties like fruit planting, pruning and compost-making. If you have an affinity for nature and wildlife preservation, you could also consider applying to become a Department of Conservation volunteer; it’s another good way to familiarise yourself with the nature at large while mingling with like-minded locals.