As soon as I knew about the New Zealand Working Holiday, I decided instantly that this is for me! However, I did not just throw away all my commitments, pack my bags the next day and fly. I went through many considerations and preparations too before embarking on this 6-months journey.

Read on to find out what are the considerations I had during my preparation process. It may be a good starting point for your planning before you embark on your working holiday too!

1. What do you want to achieve through this working holiday in New Zealand?

Before doing anything, I always think it’s good to think about:

  • WHY you are doing it, and
  • WHAT do you want to achieve eventually?

This is something I’ve learnt from my business mentor and have applied across almost every decision I’ve made since then. The main reason for asking yourself that is because you want to use your time meaningfully. You should spend your time on things that can help you attain your bigger goals in future. I’m sure the working holiday would be no less of leisure and fun, but there must be something more to it!

My experience

For me, I had these things in mind that I wanted to achieve through my Working Holiday in New Zealand:

  • Time for myself – I started off with the intention to give myself a break from corporate life. My occupation as an auditor then did not give me a breather at all to think about myself. Hence, after three years of working intensively, I think it was finally time to prioritise myself. I wanted to use this break to think through where I wanted to go in life.
  • Growth – I wanted to have the opportunity to grow and learn to live independently too. I’ve been living with my parents for as long as I was born. However, this opportunity allowed me to do many things for myself for the first time. I learnt how to manage my own earnings and expenses, find and pay for my own accommodation, cook for myself, buy and maintain a vehicle, deal with emergencies alone etc. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that no amount of money can buy! I believe I have also grown and matured in many ways through this experience.

Eventually, I came back home feeling refreshed. I had many ideas of things I could do to start designing my life instead of it getting designed for me by my bosses at work. That’s also one of the main reasons I started OneWayTicketz too. I want to share my experiences with like-minded people and help them learn to design their own life too. Even if what I shared is helpful to just one other person, that would mean so much to me already.

2. Are you mentally prepared for a Working Holiday in New Zealand?

Embarking on this 6-month journey to New Zealand means you have to prepare yourself mentally for the many uncertainties ahead. Are you mentally ready for this?

If you just graduated from school, you may be worried about not being able to find a job when you return. Basically because you’re technically not a fresh graduate by then and you may not be on the same starting point as your peers.

If you’re already a working adult, then it would take courage to quit your 4-figure full-time job that’s probably already giving you a stable lifestyle then. It’s literally trading stability for uncertainty. When you transition back home, you also face the uncertainty of being unemployed for some time. Job hunting do take time and I’m sure you would not want to settle for any job just because you’re in need of one.

Hence, are you mentally prepared for these uncertainties in your career and/or life?

I was fortunate to be able to return back to my previous job after the 6-month break. However, many acquaintances I met during my time in New Zealand had to restart their job search when they return. As I got to know them better, I realised everyone had the same worry. We were all worried about not being able to get a job when we return home. However, the worry appeared to be futile as everyone did not let this worry bring them down. We were all still in New Zealand living the best lives we can, nobody let this fear or worry get to them. So I’d say, do not let fear overcome you, rather it’s really all in the mind.

3. Are you financially ready for your New Zealand Working Holiday?

Continuing on the previous point on being mentally ready, you also need to be financially ready. Here I’ll split it into working adults and for students since I believe the financial power and responsibilites of both do differ.

(A) Working Adults

Going on the New Zealand Working holiday would mean having to quit your job back at home. That means no fixed income for the next six months. Hence, you need to have planned your finances well enough to last you at least for the next 6 months, both in New Zealand and for any commitments you have back at home.

Of course, you will also be planning to work and earn some money in New Zealand. However, I wouldn’t recommend relying on that income for your holiday. The purpose of working in New Zealand should be primarily for the experience, and secondarily for the money. You wouldn’t want to start panicking in the midst of your working holiday because you have run out of cash.

Even so, I don’t know about you but as a working adult myself, I wanted to factor in time for rest considering how hard I worked back at home. Hence, having enough funds so I have the option to work when I want to actually felt good. I didn’t feel obliged to work because I had no choice. I wanted to work because of the experience I could gather from the unique horticulture work that was only available in New Zealand.

Hence, I would recommend you to:

  • Have enough savings that you’re comfortable with spending for the entire 6 months
  • Set aside an amount for an emergency fund that you can tap on when necessary
  • Save an additional two to three months’ worth of expenses so as to prepare for the buffer time to finding your next job after returning home

(B) Students

For students, I’m assuming that you do not have as much commitments as a working adult. Your monthly expenses are most likely also much lower because of that. Also, as this might be your first experience at earning your first pot of gold through your own physical effort, you may be filled with energy and drive to clock in as much paid hours as possible.

new zealand

With these assumptions in mind, what I recommend is:

  • Have enough savings that you’re comfortable with spending for at least half to two-thirds of the working holiday
  • Also set aside an amount as emergency fund for any unexpected expenditure. This should be good enough to enable you to have a comfortable working holiday.

In conclusion, irregardless of whether you’re a student or a working adult, it’s important to learn how to manage your finances appropriately so as to have a comfortable Working Holiday experience.

How much did I spend?

To put it in perspective, I spent a total of ~$16k over my 6 months of working holiday in New Zealand. I worked for half the time there and effectively earned back nearly half of what I’ve spent. Further, I did not live a frugal life like a backpacker, but I also did not splurge on everything possible. I had my fair share of travels nearly every other weekend, and also checked off many big ticket experiences like Bungy Jumping, Nevis Swing, Heli-hike etc. So, this should be a good gauge for an average amount to budget for if you’re seeking the kind of working holiday I’ve had.

Tip: You do not need to bring all your cash there on Day 1. Just bring over enough to fuel you through at least the first month of the working holiday. Ensure you have an ATM card enabled for overseas use so you have access to your savings anytime. It makes me anxious to be having too much cash on myself too at any point in time.

4. Is your family supportive of you going on a Working Holiday in New Zealand?

Family is very important to me and so, I would love to get their support in everything I do. I’m sure you do too! My family was half supportive and half unsupportive then when I told them of my decision to go on the New Zealand Working Holiday. The main reason is because they were worried that I was travelling alone to a foreign land. On top of it being my first time in New Zealand, I think being a female solo traveller added on a layer of worry too.

I bought them over eventually though after sharing a lot of what I felt inside with them. Basically, it was around my thoughts and ideas of why I wanted to do it and how it will help me achieve what I want to. I helped them to see things from my point of view.

I went during a state when I was feeling very lost in life and had absolutely no time for myself. To my parents, and maybe even all parents, I believe they wish for their children to be happy in all that they do. Surely, there are practical concerns such as safety and monetary concerns, but ultimately, it boils down to whether we are happy doing whatever we are doing. My parents understood after our conversations that this was something I needed and could feel real happiness from. That’s when they supported my decision.

It is our responsibility.

However, it is also our responsibility to give our family that assurance and confidence to maintain a peace of mind while we are away. Make sure you keep them updated while overseas, be mindful of your finances and take extra care of yourself while travelling. I’m quite positive they will be supportive of you at this point already.

So even if your family is not supportive initially, have a chat with them. Help them understand your point of view and why you want to do it. Share with them your plans as already thought out in Point 1 above. I’m positive that after hearing your thoughts, your family would no doubt, support you in it.

5. When is the best time to start your New Zealand Working Holiday?

This was a question that I pondered on slowly as I drew out my timeline for the next year. You typically get one year from the day your visa is approved to fly into New Zealand for your working holiday before it expires. I made use of that one year to plan and found the best time for myself to begin the working holiday with a peace of mind.

As my job was project-based, I timed it such that I left after completing one of my biggest project then. I always aim to be a reliable person and I didn’t want my selfishness to cause disruption to others. Hence, planning ahead allowed me enough time to plan for handovers at my job and at the same time, have time to shop for necessities that I would pack over to New Zealand too! I did a lot of research on what’s good to have for the working holiday and bought things like hiking equipment, winter wear and coats. This research also helped me to learn what to pack in my luggage for this six-month journey.

If you are a student, it might be clearer to fly during the break between ending your final school semester and before finding a job. You should start eyeing for flights during your last school semester so you don’t end up buying it last minute.


So that’s the end of my list of considerations! I’m all pumped up and ready for you to start your working holiday already, hope you are too!! Feel free to reach out anytime if you need help with any thoughts that are holding you back from embarking on your own working holiday. I might be able to help you out 🙂

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