New Zealand is a breathtaking country packed with adventure sport and travel opportunities. If you love children and are looking to get some international travel in, Au Pair New Zealand could be right for you! To make the most out of your experience, consider the following five points.
1. Know your host family options
There are a lot of Kiwi families looking for au pairs from English speaking countries for 6-12 month programs. But where will you be located? You can make location requests in your application, but most InterExchange host families tend to be in the outskirts of the major cities. When selecting families, you should put more emphasis on the dynamic between you and them, rather than the location.
Host families can vary in size, as well. You should be as flexible as possible during the matching process. You'll be able to speak with any potential host families before committing, so make sure you ask the right questions and make an informed decision. For example, if you feel uncomfortable taking care of children under five, let us know and we will try to find another family for you.
2. Know the Au Pair New Zealand visa requirements
To legally work in New Zealand, you'll need to obtain a Working Holiday Visa. The application is done online and usually has a quick turnaround time. You must be a U.S. citizen between 18 and 30 years old to be eligible.
The visa lets you stay for one year so if your au pair placement is for eight months (for example), you can stay another four or return home if you prefer. During the extra months you can continue your year as a typical working holiday participant, working seasonal jobs if you want. The Working Holiday Visa allows this, in addition to the au pair work you'll be doing.
If you'd like a break from working after your au pair placement, you can also use that time to travel around before you return to the United States. Australia and Fiji are nearby, so they may be worth a quick trip!
3. Put thought into your au pair application
Host families want to be sure they are welcoming the right au pair into their family, and you, no doubt, want to make sure you're moving in with the right people. Dedicate some time to writing your "Dear Host Family" letter and include some friendly photos of yourself. Photos of you working with children are great! Be sure to check your spelling and grammar for any mistakes, as that can help demonstrate that you are serious and willing to put time and thought into your responsibilities.
To give your application a personal touch, consider submitting a 20-second selfie video introducing yourself to potential families. This will also help instill confidence for your host family that you will be a good addition to their home.
4. Allow time for host family matching
Hosts don't just provide housing and meals, they are also your family away from home. When matching, you should make sure that they are a family you feel you can thrive with. During the matching process, you could be presented with a few families at a time, with whom you should reach out to and have a video chat before making a decision.
While we are always here to help, you and the families are pivotal in the matching process. Don't rush into anything and be sure to ask as many questions as you need before making a decision. Once you're accepted to the program, you can refer to our set of questions to ask your potential family.
5. Learn more about New Zealand's culture
Kiwis speak English, so that's an immediate advantage, right there. Even though you'll be able to communicate with your host family clearly, there are still some adjustments you'll need to make. Your host family will be welcoming you into their family and home, but you may encounter some surprises. They may use some lingo or different pronunciation that you're not used to, or serve foods you haven't seen before, but it's a cultural exchange so make sure you make the most of it. You'll have ample opportunity to learn from them at mealtimes and family activities, so don't be afraid to ask questions!
Think you'd like to try your hand at the Au Pair New Zealand program? Just let us know! We're available for personal support leading up to your program and look forward to hearing from you.
Melissa worked with InterExchange between 2016 and 2019, helping U.S. citizens planning to travel abroad. She traveled to Spain and Ghana before moving to Japan for three years. She now lives in the almost-foreign country of New York City.