Not sure when the best time is to travel and work in New Zealand? You might be used to a "new year" beginning in August or September because that's when the school year starts here in the U.S., bringing along shorter days and cooler weather. But in New Zealand, temperatures are starting to rise, flowers start blooming and many new job opportunities sprout up throughout the country.
If you've just finished college or high school, you can enjoy a summer in the U.S. after graduation before embarking on your work and travel gap year! If you're just taking a break from your career, you'll arrive in time for sunny days and outdoor activities.
What types of jobs open up around August?
Since spring is a cool and sweet prelude to the beauty of summer, tourists will start pouring in, meaning there are tons of working holiday jobs in travel related industries. You might find a job at a hostel, in a retail shop or serving drinks seaside. Lots of tourist attractions and hotels start hiring in the spring. Some examples include Hobbiton, Wild on Waiheke (vineyard), and The Scenic Group (hotels). As more and more people flood into New Zealand's hottest tourist spots, you have a better chance of landing a great job. One Work & Travel New Zealand participant landed a job leading tours in the Waitomo glow worm caves! Many people are also applying for jobs around the same time, so you'll want to get your name and CV out there early.
What about outdoor work?
You may or may not know about all the amazing opportunities to work in an orchard or on a farm in New Zealand. Employers hire working holiday makers throughout the year, but in particular, lambing/calving (help with birthing and caring for sheep and lambs) season is in the spring. So there are great opportunities in that sector, especially if you like being around fuzzy animals. The season runs through the New Zealand spring, between July - September on the North Island, and August - October on the South Island.
Jobs beyond August
Since most working holiday jobs are seasonal, you can also start looking ahead to what you'll do next. Outdoor work is great to start in the New Zealand summer because of the warm weather – you can look into being a tour guide, renting out bikes by the beach, or working as a lifeguard, for example. Even more horticulture jobs open up throughout summer as fruits and veggies come into season. Many farm jobs also offer office positions, so don't be afraid of the heat! Even a little further into the future, many Kiwi families start looking for au pairs at the beginning of the year (January - February).
New Zealand has four seasons, so if you stay the full year, you will get to experience all of them. You'll also have a huge head start on ski jobs when the cold weather comes around again. Arriving in New Zealand in August means you can get first crack at jobs opening in New Zealand's spring and get fully settled before some of the more competitive industries open up. Spring in New Zealand is a perfect time to kick off your working holiday!
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.