How to Immigrate to New Zealand Part 1: Working Holiday Visa


So you’ve finally done it.

You’ve been pondering it for months whether or not to take the plunge. It was damn hard to convince yourself and it’s going to be even harder to convince your parents, friends and family but you know this is better, you know it’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime and you know it’s going to change your life for the better … or perhaps not? Who cares? It’s going to be different and the travelling is the spice of life.

Hi, I’m Aaron also known as the Frugal Accountant. You’ll know why soon enough. I’m a Chinese Canadian currently a resident in Auckland NZ with my beautiful fiancé and an accounting certification from Canada and Australia. I’ve been around the world. From the world’s greatest metropolises like NYC, Shanghai and Paris to the remote jungles of the Amazon to the stunning landscapes of New Zealand. I’ve travelled, touched and done many inappropriate things and have met fantastic people along the way. My goal is to leverage these experiences, my education and advice from others to help you understand the world, immigration, money, fitness, cooking/eating and much more. But without further ado, I present to you …

THE IMMIGRATION NZ SERIES: How to be an Immigrant in New Zealand, Eh?

Let me tell you a few things. Being an immigrant is hard. It requires time, a crap ton of money and even more patience. Going through the process myself, albeit an easier process than my parents, I can safely say that I can now appreciate what my parents had to go through to get us to Canada. THANKS Ma! Ba! Kudos aside let’s get to the crux of it.

Part1: The New Zealand Working Holiday VISA


Things to consider: There are several VISA categories; Visit, Work, Study, Join Family (partnerships), business & investment as well as the hardest to get… the residency visa. Each category has several subsets of visa types that you can apply for depending on your circumstances. I will cover the Working Holiday Visa (WHV) subset of the Work category first. I will explain the restrictions, what I had to do to prove that I met the criteria and, in later posts, my story on how I used it to get me a residency visa. Obviously, being Canadian, this will have more of a Canadian flare but I’ll try to keep it as neutral as possible.

Firstly, I’d invite you check out the INZ website here before reading my post as it will give you some insight into what I’m talking about. The website has been redone and is easier to understand. It also gives you the costs on the VISAs depending on where you’re from and how you are applying.

Age: Depending on your country – usually 18-30 with a few exceptions coming up to 35 with Canada being one of the select few.

Travel: “You must come to New Zealand within 12 months of the date your visa is granted.” So for those of you early planners out there – be careful. If you let this expire your chance for this VISA is gone forever. You can only apply once for this VISA. I literally had to hold myself back and set a reminder in my calendar to apply because I wanted to apply too early. Damn you excitement!

Onward Travel: Before you step foot in NZ with a WHV you must have proof that you:

  1. A travel ticket out of New Zealand or;
  2. You have the money to purchase an outbound ticket

In my experience, they hardly ever ask for this at the gate but if you’re super paranoid take a snap shot of your bank account with enough money for a return ticket and stick it in your passport.

Funds: Have > NZ $4,200 to live in NZ. Again, they hardly ask for this at the gate. See above for the paranoid solution.

Work: This is where things get interesting.

  1. “You don’t get a permanent job”
  2. “The work you do is legal”
  3. “You don’t provide commercial sexual services”
  4. “You don’t run or invest in a business that provides commercial sexual services.”


Now if you’re like me who had an ulterior motive and want to use the WHV to get your foot in the door to try your luck at a residency application then I would suggest looking out for my next post, the skilled migrant visa, for you to transition into. From a work perspective, you will eventually need to secure a permanent job to apply to any of the more permanent visas.

Fun fact of the day: The prostitution business is legal in New Zealand which is why they needed to distinguish 1 from 2, 3 and 4. Not that I looked into it or anything…

So then what jobs can you get? Part time or contractual. Most people usually go for hospitality but if you’ve come from a certified profession or trades i.e. accounting, construction, engineering, IT, physiotherapy, CFAs, teaching or the like I’d suggest finding part time or contracting jobs relating to that as it will pay more and make your CV look that much better if you decide to stay long term in NZ. I managed to find myself a nice contracting job through Consult Recruitment who hires both full time part time and contractual workers in accounting related jobs. I had to apply when I landed though. More on that here.

Study: Can’t study for more than 6 mths on this visa.

VISA Expiry: Obviously you need to leave when it expires but if you are planning on trying for a more permanent visa later on, this section becomes very important for you as it will hurt your chances if you stay past your visa expiry date.

Aside from my introduction, I wanted to keep this section quite short as the WHV is pretty straight forward and the new INZ site is A LOT easier to understand now then it was when I first applied. Keep in mind that you have the ability to extend your VISA for 3 more months past expiry if you do farm work. Again, the INZ site can tell you more on that if you want more time in this beautiful country. If you want to hear my struggles on what I’ve had to overcome to get my residency status you can find that here.

I’ll aim to post at least once a week! Stay tuned!

Are you a prospective immigrant? How have you dealt with the complexity of immigration thus far? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Would love to hear from you. Leave your comments or questions below!

Up next: The full time Student VISA

“Immigration NZ” is a series I’m starting in conjunction with my “Our New Zealand Story” series to give the Coles notes version of what we had to go through to attain each of the VISAs we applied for. For those of you that want to read about the actual experience please tune in to my “Our New Zealand Story” series.


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