Finding a Job in Wellington on a Working Holiday Visa

Hey everyone! We have an exciting post from Alana today about job hunting on the working holiday visa!

Hi everyone! I’m Alana!

As I planned the year in New Zealand on the Working Holiday visa, I thought I’d dabble in a whole range of new things, like fruit picking, beekeeping, being a server at a restaurant.

In order to come to New Zealand, I left my job where I was about to be promoted. From a professional, adult standpoint, what the heck was I thinking? I was thinking I wanted to come to New Zealand! So, as arrival became imminent, my thoughts shifted from “How can I make money?” to “How can I up my skill set for the future whilst also making money?”.

The answers to “How can I make money?” are abundant. You can do fruit picking, a common backpacker job in New Zealand. You can work on a dairy farm for a few months, a job that will enable your visa to be extended an extra few months. You can work in a restaurant or cafe, which New Zealand (Wellington, especially) has no shortage of. You can be a traffic controller, which pays beautifully down in Christchurch, $20/hour starting! The list is long for entry-level manual labor jobs.

I decided to take a look at my own interests. What’s something I’ve never done before that will offer me a new experience? Fruit picking actually fit in that category. But after a rather disastrous macadamia-picking WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms, where you volunteer on farms in exchange for food and accommodation), I (and Richard) decided that fruit picking was not going to be our money-maker.

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As fun as this is…

Also, we both decided we are just TOO OLD to work on a ski resort, partying it up every night after work, living in a crowded dorm with a bunch of 20 year olds, who are having the time (or not) of their lives being away from home for the first time.

What’s another option? Construction work! I worked for a conservation crew for a year and a half a couple of years ago and it was great times! But towards the end of those times, I realized it wasn’t for me.  On the best weather days, it was bearable, but it was winter in New Zealand when we started to look for work- and I hate being cold. So that ruled out construction/conservation/outside work. Plus, as fun as it could be (and who doesn’t love getting a workout at work?!), it wasn’t the career I wanted to pursue.

Working Holiday-ers may forget that there are job sites beyond If you’re from the USA, you may be familiar with job sites like Indeed, and Monster. New Zealand has these kinds of websites, too!

Indeed is quite active in New Zealand. You can change the search to include only contract/temporary/part-time jobs, whatever you’re looking for. I often only searched for a location with no keywords in order to bring up all the results. Another option is Seek, that may bring up slightly alternative results.

And then there’s Trade Me. It’s like Ebay and Craigslist combined! Companies will post job openings to this website and you can use any search limits you want. And…you can sell and buy things there. It’s great.

You could always get a government job!

As I searched, I began to see a pattern of temporary office work being offered through recruitment agencies. Administrative assistants, executive assistants, accounting work, data entry. In Wellington, a couple of employment agencies stood out, so I started submitting my resume.

After a dashed hope of being a zipline instructor for a season up in Rotorua, I finally settled on finding a job indoors where I could build some soft skills. I see many posts on Facebook’s backpacker boards of people not looking for skillful jobs, but just wanting to replenish the bank account. I understand the sentiment, but am also 28 years old and still haven’t figured my life out.

Coffee and pastries! Just a few of the perks of office life.

GBL Personnel graced me with a phone call and email on almost the same day I submitted my resume to them. They arranged for me to come in for an interview, and to take some skills tests (typing, Excel, Outlook). GBL was super friendly and helpful. It took me two weeks to match with a receptionist job through them, although I’ve heard of people getting jobs within a couple of days. And I also got really lucky with the job I did get, as I managed to keep it for the entire 5 months I was in Wellington. While working as a receptionist, I saw people come in to work for 1 day jobs, or one week jobs, and even met a couple of older folks who were practically doing temporary work as their career! I’m not sure I want to be a temporary employee forever, but it is tempting; that six month sweet spot of being sick of new job? Oh hey, it’s time to start a new one!

Another couple of interesting sites to check out for working holiday jobs off the beaten path are:

Big Idea for work in the Creative Industry. I found an interesting captioning job on there that I applied for but they did want someone more permanently. Drats!

StarNow for acting/dancing/musical work. I didn’t apply for anything here, but there was plenty of exciting work to be found! Be an extra in that random student’s film, or maybe you’ll get a job on an international car commercial and become suddenly famous?

Sidekicker for one off jobs and casual work. I only did one job from Sidekicker, but it was at an All Blacks game, so that was pretty great. It’s mostly hospitality and flyer handing out work right now, but I think they are still expanding into office/construction work.

There you have it! Note, my experience has been searching for jobs in Wellington (and a little bit in Auckland). So if you want a job off the beaten backpacker track, and really want to meet some Kiwis, search the Kiwi way!


One thought on “Finding a Job in Wellington on a Working Holiday Visa

  1. You look like a natural in the office! Great pictures and story. I may be up for the zip line job as long as I don’t have to actually zip. You have had some really different experiences over the last few years but what’s this too old business 😀. Looking forward to seeing you (Richard too). Till then…..


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