6 Types of New Zealand Backpacker Jobs

Considering working while you travel around New Zealand? We asked our friends, the experts at IEP Work New Zealand, to come up with a list of the types of jobs available for backpackers and those on a Working Holiday Visa:

1) Hospitality

Hospitality copy

Kiwis are a social bunch and love going out to restaurants, pubs and cafes around the country. Hospitality work is a great way to meet people and learn new skills. It is suited to people who enjoy talking to people and have great communication and customer service skills. Hospitality roles all expect different qualifications/experience depending on the job. For example, if you are a chef applying for a head chef role you will be expected to have the required experience. If you have little or no experience in hospitality, there are still great opportunities for you, such as being a kitchen hand. For the most part a great attitude and hard work is all which is required for entry level jobs.

  • When: Busiest over summer (December-February), employers start hiring October/November. Ski resorts offer hospitality jobs in winter (June-September).
  • Where: Bigger cities like Auckland and Wellington or tourist towns like Paihia (Bay of Islands), Tauranga and Mount Maunganui (Bay of Plenty) in summer; ski towns like Queenstown and Ohakune in winter.
  • What’s expected: Usually 3 month minimum commitment. Some jobs require evening and weekend shift work.
  • Good to know: Depending on where you work, many pubs or restaurants in remote tourist areas offer staff accommodation.

2) Fruit Industry/Seasonal Work

Seasonal Work copy

If you want to travel and work around New Zealand and enjoy hard work outdoors, then seasonal work could be for you. This type of work is popular as it allows you to work in some of the most beautiful spots in the country while meeting people and working in a team. You need to be fit, enthusiastic and reliable. Training will be provided on the job so no previous experience is needed. There are more technical roles which will require some experience/qualifications, such as forklift driving and supervising in the orchard or packing shed.

  • When: Available year round. Peak season is December to May.
  • Where: Northland, Bay of Plenty, Marlborough, Nelson and Central Otago.
  • What’s expected: 3-4 weeks minimum for fruit picking/thinning/planting roles; around 4 months for pack house and production roles.
  • Good to know: Work is weather dependent. Working hostels in these areas can provide accommodation to workers and advise on seasonal work

3) Ski Fields

Ski Fields copy

Despite warmer temperatures during the winter months compared to other countries in the world, New Zealand has some world class ski fields. If you enjoy skiing/snowboarding and dealing with people, working at a ski resort offers great work experience. Work can take place indoors or outdoors depending on the role. There are a range of jobs available which don’t necessarily require ski field experience, such as receptionist, rental staff, kitchen staff and lift operators. These roles just require some general work experience, a great work ethic and customer service skills. Jobs such as ski/snowboard instructing and snow making will require specific qualifications or experience.

  • When: Start dates depend on the weather. On average the season runs from June to late October.
  • Where: Whakapapapa and Turoa (Mt. Ruapehu), Mt Hutt (Canterbury), Cadrona, Treble Cone (Wanaka) and Coronet Peak and The Remarkables (Queenstown).
  • What’s expected: Ski resorts have strict time commitments, usually around 4 months.
  • Good to know: Staff accommodation is not always available at ski resorts and most of the accommodation in the nearby towns can be expensive.

4) Au Pair
Au Pair

If you enjoy looking after children, becoming an Au Pair for a family in New Zealand is a great way to work and get to know the locals. Your day will be filled with different responsibilities and ever changing situations! You will need to have childcare experience, patience and great communication skills to work as an Au Pair.

  • When: Available all year with peak seasons occurring over school holidays; July, September/October and December to January.
  • Where: Auckland and Wellington and rural areas such as Waikato and Taranaki.
  • What’s expected: Flexibility and being able to commit to work hours as outlined by the family. Placements with families are generally between 3-6 months.
  • Good to know: For the most part accommodation is provided with the job as a live-in option with the family.

5) Work for Accommodation

If you have no work experience or want to try something different, working for accommodation is a great option to look into as it offers you more flexibility. You will work for a few hours a day in exchange for a bed and sometimes food and internet access depending on the job. Work is available around New Zealand and you can pick up some new skills in interesting industries. Work is not limited to cleaning a hostel and also includes working in areas such as horse trekking, café work, gardening or labour work. With this in mind, work can be anywhere, inside a restaurant or outside in the sun! Most of the Work for Accommodation options will not require any previous experience unless specified.

  • When: Year round with peak seasons in summer (December to February) During July and September farm work is available when calving takes place.
  • Where: Bay of Islands, Bay of Plenty, Nelson, Marlborough and Central Otago.
  • What’s expected: Minimum 2-4 hours per day in exchange for your accommodation. On average a minimum time commitment from around 1-2 weeks.
  • Good to know: Extras such as food and internet can also be included, although sometimes more work hours will be required.

6) Labour Work

Labour Work copy

New Zealand offers trades people the opportunity to gain more industry experience by working on some great projects. Labour work is available around city centres and other areas in the country where development or refurbishing is taking place. It is a great way to gain international experience within a team environment. Jobs can vary from a builder, electrician or plumber. Most roles within the labour industry will require you to be qualified in your trade; for example, you will need to have the correct qualifications to be an electrician in New Zealand. General labour work normally just requires you to have a great attitude, be reliable and able to do the physical hard work.

  • When: Available year round.
  • Where: Main city centres, with places like Christchurch, Queenstown and the outskirts of Auckland.
  • What’s expected: Due to strict project deadlines you must be committed to the work hours and able to work in accordance with the agreed fixed term of employment. Evening and weekend shifts are also available.
  • Good to know: Accommodation will be found in the city centres or suburbs where you are working. Travel to different sites will be expected and normally organised by the employer.