The key question that most people have while planning for a working holiday is “How much to bring?”. Throughout my 6 months journey, I’ve met people who traveled on tight budgets, and people who were willing to be more generous to themselves and really treat themselves to a good holiday after slogging hard back in their home country. This article serves to give you a general idea of how you can budget for your New Zealand working holiday.

I am somewhere in between this spectrum, and my main goal of this working holiday is to at least earn enough to cover half of my expenses in this 6 months. I’m proud to say I’ve done it, so hopefully this article will give you some direction.

Below are a few questions that can kick start your plans:

1. Vehicle

  • Do you intend to buy a vehicle as a pure mode of transport or as a mobile house? If so, are you looking to buy a normal sedan/ station wagon that costs around $1,500 to $3,500, or a caravan that typically costs around $4,000 and above, and at the same time, help you save on spending on accommodation? Of course, going with a mate or two would help you save on the initial output for the car, and you guys can pool together more money to get a better car.
  • When do you intend to buy a vehicle? If you want to buy a vehicle early in your Working Holiday, be sure to bring enough for your car, plus expenses for at least 2 weeks in NZ. I went with the intention to buy a car but was unsure when I wanted to buy. Everything happened so fast for me that I realised I did not have enough when I wanted to buy a car. I ended up withdrawing cash from the ATMs in NZ and incurred some bank charges doing that. These are costs you can avoid if you planned ahead!

2. Travel

  • How long do you want to travel for and what activities are you looking at doing while in NZ? In a nutshell, you can split your expenses into 4 main categories, excluding your flight (Activities, Accommodation, Petrol and Food). If you are planning to do most of the crazy stuff and scenic activities that NZ has to offer, then be prepared to spend at least half of your budget on it! I definitely did spend > 50% of my budget on activities booked through BookMe, i.e. Bungy, Nevis swing, Sky diving, Scenic flights, Heli-hike, Cruise, Tranz-alpine train, 4WD tour etc. The remaining budget was 25% – 30% on accommodation (I stayed mostly in Airbnb), 15% – 20% on food (cooked most of my meals and had cheat days when we indulged in restaurants), and 10 – 15 % on petrol (best if you have travel buddies that you can share petrol costs with).
  • When do you intend to travel, before or after the working part of the holiday? If you intend to travel before working, then definitely, you should bring enough to sustain you for at least the period of travel that you have planned for, plus 2 weeks after to transition from being a tourist to officially settling down/ living in NZ. Otherwise, just bring enough to sustain you for the first month or so, as you should be able to find a job within the first 2 – 3 weeks if you are diligent in your search. It’s always good to have enough cash on yourself in case of emergencies.

3. Work

  • How long do you want/ are willing to work? The longer you work, the more income you have to support yourself. I traveled for a total of 2.5 – 3 months across my time there and worked the remaining. My travels were spread across the period, hence, I had enough time to work/ save before spending on the next trip and did not need to prepare a huge sum beforehand to begin my travels.
  • Are you looking to work at seasonal jobs or indoor/office jobs that are independent of the weather? All my jobs were seasonal and weather dependent. So, as the saying goes and what I literally mean, save enough to prepare for a rainy day. Otherwise, you are most likely to be earning a more stable income if you are working at indoor/ office jobs.

So that’s about the amount of advice I have right now on how you can budget for your New Zealand working holiday! Hope it helps and feel free to ask me any questions you may have!

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