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What is the Cost of a Working Holiday in New Zealand?


How much will your New Zealand gap year cost?

Dreaming of travelling to New Zealand a.k.a. Middle-earth? Working and living abroad on a gap year is an amazing opportunity and one you shouldn’t have to miss because of money. That’s the great thing about doing the working holiday scheme in New Zealand: you can work to fund your travels! Thousands of young people do it every year showing it is possible to do a gap year on a budget.

To get an idea of the costs involved in a working holiday, we have put together this guide of the typical costs of a working holiday in New Zealand. Bear in mind that a lot of this trip is funded by the money you earn along the way, as well as getting added extras like getting your tax back. Of course, you will have to arrive in New Zealand with something so that you have a bit of travel money to get you started. We usually suggest NZ$5500 plus enough for a return travel ticket. You will not likely spend all that straight away, but that is certainly a good cushion to have to get you started.

For more of the “holiday” side of your working holiday, we have also put together these typical costs for backpacking in New Zealand.

The costs of a working holiday before you leave home

Remember to consider these costs that you pay for before you leave home. They can vary greatly depending on which country you come from.

  • Flight: check out our tips for booking a cheap flight.
  • Working Holiday program and support service. (See details below).
  • Travel and medical insurance: the most cost-effective we have found is OrbitProtect, based in New Zealand.
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The working holiday visa

This is your key to being able to work and travel in New Zealand! It costs NZ$165 to apply for the working holiday visa to New Zealand and usually allows the holder to stay for one year. However, there are some slightly different conditions between countries so, be sure to check, first, whether you are eligible for the working holiday visa in New Zealand and, second, what your conditions are for your visa. A quick way of doing that is with a Free Eligibility Test on workingholidaynewzealand.com.

Once you are ready to apply, we have a nifty step-by-step Online Application Guide for the Working Holiday Visa.

  • New Zealand Working Holiday Visa – NZ$165


Working Holiday program and support service

Travelling across the world to work, live and travel in a foreign country is a pretty big deal. There’s all the paperwork to sort out, a bank account to set up, and not to mention creating a CV/resume that is going to be successful in New Zealand. You can be forgiven for wanting some peace of mind and ongoing support when living and working in New Zealand.

By all means, you can achieve all this without a support service, and many do. In that case, you don’t have to pay for a support service and that’s another dollar saved! On the other hand, it is a much lengthier process figuring it all out for yourself and making sure you brought all the right paperwork to New Zealand with you, for example. By the time you are all done and dusted, you might have just spent the same as what you would have spent on a working holiday program through more hostel nights as you wait for an appointment at the bank, for example. And that’s all before you have even started exploring New Zealand.

Browse the working holiday company market to see what sort of services are on offer and if they provide services that will meet your needs. After comparing the service-to-price ratio, we found the New Zealand-based company Working Holiday Starter was the best value for money. (Even some of the BackpackerGuide.NZ team used it when they first arrived in New Zealand).

Whether you decide to use a working holiday company or not, remember to consider the cost and time it takes to set up your new life in New Zealand!

  • New Zealand Working Holiday Program – NZ$499-750


Cost of Finding a job

That moment when you decide to settle somewhere for a while and find a job means you will need to invest a bit of time and a little bit of money on a few expenses like printing off your CV, using the WiFi to apply for jobs online, and using transport to get from one job interview to the next (see below). As you can see, they are not huge expenses, especially if you are prepared for finding a job quickly.

Additionally, many people on working holidays in New Zealand include WWOOFing in their itinerary. Working on a farm for a social exchange, food and accommodation is a real Kiwi experience! To see a detailed database of WWOOF hosts, then you need to sign up to WWOOF New Zealand for a fee.

  • WWOOFing membership/year – NZ$40
  • Printing/page – NZc50
  • Use of computer and internet/hour – NZ$2-4


The cost of commuter travel

In our Cost of Backpacking in New Zealand article, we go through the cost of travelling nationally in New Zealand. But there may be times during your working holiday when you just need to use transport services to commute to a job, for example, or go to your nearest Pakn’Save supermarket. Here are typical prices for transport in New Zealand:


The cost of phone networks

There are four phone networks in New Zealand: Spark, 2 Degrees, Skinny and Vodafone. As working holidaymakers are only in New Zealand for up to a year, it’s more cost-effective to use a prepay phone option rather than committing to a contract you cannot get out of when you leave the country.

When you use prepay or pay-as-you-go, it is usually much cheaper to get a weekly or monthly plan rather than paying standard rates. (Unless you really do not use your phone all that much). Skinny Mobile NZ is known for being the cheapest of the networks with the most coverage. (They use the same coverage as Spark). However, some of the other networks have added extras that suit individual needs. As always, it’s best to browse the market.

  • Plan of 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 500mb/month – NZ$16-19
  • Standard call/minute – NZc20-49
  • Standard text – NZc9-20
  • Standard data/mb – NZc20-$1

More information on pricing can be found in our article on the best phone network in New Zealand.


Once you have landed an awesome job and living the Kiwi life to its fullest, you will need to find some long-term accommodation. Whether it’s a flatshare or you’re spending some time working for accommodation, this will be your cheapest option when staying somewhere for more than a couple of weeks. We have a list of long-term accommodation options in this article.

The cost of renting a room varies depending on what part of New Zealand you are living. Living in the centre of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, will be a lot more expensive than a renting a room in one of New Zealand’s small towns.

  • Room to rent/week – NZ$100-250
  • Work for accommodation options/day – 4 hours of work

Siru Jylhankangas

The Cost of Travelling and Activities around New Zealand

So, in this article we have focussed more on the “working” part of the working holiday in New Zealand. But, hell, you want to experience the “holiday” part of it too! We have a whole other article dedicated to just that, so you can see what prices to expect for:

  • National travel via bus, car, flights, etc.
  • Accommodation in hostels and campsites
  • Food and drink when doing grocery shopping
  • Activities.

Take a look at What is the Cost of Backpacking in New Zealand.

BUDGETING ADVICE for a working holiday in New Zealand

As we have been on working holidays in New Zealand ourselves, we’ve learnt a few tricks for saving money along the way. Make sure you give these articles a read!

Working Holiday Insurance
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