On making friends, finding your feet and how to make the most of your working holiday in New Zealand.
I’ve been living in New Zealand for two months now, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Like most twenty-somethings, I had no clue what my next steps were going to be after graduating from school – but I did know I wanted to explore and get out in the world. The reason why I settled on moving to New Zealand came up after a chance conversation with a friend one day last year. We were chatting about my vague plans to leave Canada for a while and he immediately mentioned the working holiday visa program in NZ, where for up to two years you can live and work down under. This idea piqued my interest and after some research of my own I was set on pursuing it. Beyond what I knew about the obvious beauty of the country, I found out New Zealand had a large variety of jobs available (especially after recently re-opening from COVID), that it’s safe for women, and lacks the many critters of its big brother Australia.
Impulsively, I applied for a working holiday visa online within ten minutes, and two days later, my visa came through. This was last May, at the start of summer back home. Then I gave myself four months to prep for the move – figuring out a job, a flat, a car – and to break the news to my friends and family. My parents luckily took it very well, and it didn’t take long for them to realize I was serious when I couldn’t stop talking about NZ. My friends were also thrilled for me and vowed to head down for a visit or two.
The first decision I made to help me with, what felt like a bit of a minefield of a to-do list, was to reach out to a travel agency - JENZA. They helped me prepare all of the documents and items I needed to bring with me to NZ, and they also offered a four-day orientation in Auckland on arrival where I could meet other working holidayers and set up my bank account. I mainly signed with JENZA for peace of mind since I knew they could help me find a job and make some connections right at the start of my travels.
Although you do not need to plan these out in advance, I ended up sorting my job, flat, and camper van on my own before arriving. I just knew from the start that I wanted a job in my field of engineering – many other people I know opted instead for casual or seasonal work in order to focus on backpacking the country. I just happened to find my job through a family friend who had relatives living in NZ. By chatting with them, and then with their relatives, I was eventually put in touch with my current employer who offered me a job after a quick interview process. I’ve been working in Tauranga for almost two months now and I absolutely love it, I spend most days outdoors in the field and my coworkers are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I also get weekends off and make the most of my camper van by taking frequent trips to other cities.
Since moving to Tauranga, I’ve made so many amazing friends. I met many of them through work, i.e. via coworkers and work events, but I’ve also met people by joining the local rock climbing gym, and by using a platform called ‘Meetup’. Meetup is essentially a platform that posts events put on by other members that anybody can attend. I’ve gone to a couple of pub quizzes through it and it’s been the most fun.
Something I heard a lot before coming to NZ was that it could be very expensive. From my experience living here, I actually find it is on par with the cost of living in Canada. Although some things are more expensive, I’ve found many things are less. Ultimately, living here is completely achievable, and you should be able to support yourself easily on whichever lifestyle it is you want to pursue. Whether that’s backpacking and picking up work here or there, or settling down in a city with a full-time job, given the right planning there is a way to make it work.
Sometimes I get asked if I miss home, and my answer is always that I miss my friends and family, but the novelty of living in such a bright and interesting country brings me peace and joy every single morning. I’ll never get tired of being surrounded by mountains and living a 10-minute drive away from the beach, seeing my friends after work for a drink or a hike, or exploring somewhere or something new every weekend.
“During orientation in Auckland, I met so many amazing people from different countries around the world, including Germany, the UK, Japan, Argentina, the USA, and more."
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