Our New Zealand Story: Episode 3: The Rental Rat Race – GET OUT

“Get out!!” Is what I keep thinking to myself the deeper we get into this housing supply shortage problem. Auckland is very much like Toronto. They both have towers (although Toronto’s is bigger), they are both by a large body of water (You win this one Auckland) and both are experiencing the wonderful woes of inflated housing prices.

But this entry isn’t about housing prices. It’s about the next challenge Nicole and I encountered after solidifying a job in New Zealand.

*Enter Auckland’s Renters Market*


For the record I’ve never had to take care of renting my own property or paying rent for that matter. In Korea that was all taken care of the EPIK program we worked for (thank god). Luckily Nicole was all up in this game. She made sure we had copies of our previous land lord reference letters, knew where to look for properties and what to look out for when viewing a property.

1) “Shit. Rent is high.”

There are several ways to look for rental properties but the most common is going on a site called TradeMe. Which is kind of NZ’s answer to Amazon. It’s more of an auction house really. Rent is also paid weekly and is presented as such (as opposed to monthly). My guess is to make it seem less expensive or maybe its because people are paid weekly? Anyways, as of 2017 I believe the rental market is averaging NZD $450-500 a week for a 1 bdrm apartment in Auckland CBD. That translates to ~NZD $1800-2000 per month. This is without parking (a whole ‘nother issue). That’s a bit insane.


To make matters worse rent is forecasted to increase in the coming years to offset the cost of owning a house and the inflated prices home owners have subjected themselves to. More on that at a later date.

2) “Real Estate Agents are arrogant as F%$#”

Ok so maybe this isn’t something uniquely kiwi but it is annoying. Plenty of real estate agents don’t engage with you (or get  back to you), don’t provide alternative rental solutions and are really just unimpressive in this country and they don’t need to be it seems. I found that dealing with the actual landlord provided a significantly better experience.

We went looking for a rental property in March right after I signed on to my new job. Big mistake. As with most things, demand for rental properties are cyclical and it just so happened to be high season.


Visiting our first couple of properties really opened our eyes into how much of a supplier market it really was. At one point we were competing against 10 rental property viewers for one of our picks. I dressed up in my best suit (my only suit) to make myself look professional and responsible and talk up the real estate agent like I was at a UofT Commerce Networking Event. The struggle was real and the BS was through the roof. Yet, alas, we lost to a kiwi renter. Fair enough.

3) “Rentals are old and grungy in Auckland”

This carried on for a couple more viewings, getting a bit desperate we set our sights a little lower for a higher price. I ended up going to another viewing near the University of Auckland. It was a good location for a decent price, the shower was a bit broken but we were assured it would get fixed. It looked good to me. I just wanted to point out that I went to this viewing alone cause Nicole was at school that day. Another big mistake on my part. Especially since this became the first apartment we rented in Auckland.

I will never forget the horror that was our Mount Street apt. There were a series signals that something was not right but I proceeded anyways. Being quite desperate at the time I immediately made a statement of interest to the real estate agent who via email after the viewing, surprisingly, replied saying that I was “chosen” to rent the property (the arrogance!! *Shakes fist*)

Delighted that our luck had finally turned for the better I emailed Nicole for a quick approval. Bringing her through the photos I took and indicated what things I saw. Nicole agreed so we moved forward with all the documentation.

4) “Night of the living Dead”

First night I woke up and couldn’t breath. I didn’t know it at the time but I was having an asthma attack. Being the dumbass that I was, I had thrown out my old puffers when I was back in Korea because I had thought I didn’t have asthma anymore. To be fair to me I hadn’t had a serious asthma attack since I was really young and carried around my puffers as a precautionary measure for decades before I self diagnosed that I was asthma free. Luckily it wasn’t a serious attack so I just stayed awake the rest of the night.

As the weeks went on my symptoms had gotten worse. Not only did I wake up breathless but I started to develop hives all over my body. It was at this point we realised that I was allergic to something in the apartment. Dun dun dunnnnnn.


We had a carpet cleaner come in to blast the crap out of the carpeting and he noted that there was a large build up of dust mites behind the big closet he couldn’t get to that was left for us. Apparently dust mites are a big thing here (Auckland) and so was asthma.

I needed to get out and fast. Luckily there was an option to break the rental agreement subject to a fee and a good reason. This amounted to one week of rent which we paid and told them the apartment was affecting my health. They seemed uncharacteristically concerned about my health and agreed that I should definitely break the rental agreement (subject to a weeks worth of rent as the breakage fee and contingent they could find a new tenant). We were homeless within a couple of weeks. Out of the oven and into the frying pan.

5) “It’s always darkest before the dawn”

I never truly appreciated this proverb until I lived it. I had asthma attacks, hives and now had no home. It had been an uphill battle since we landed in New Zealand and we were tired. Oh so very tired. It was a very dark time for the both of us. But just like Muhammad Ali we got right back up.


My team leader at the time had mentioned that a new building had just been completed and was hardly occupied so I searched the property on TradeMe and we were in luck! We set up a meeting and I set out in my best suit, yes that again, and I schmoozed the guy pretty hard.

Luckily by the time we went out looking for a place to rent the market had lulled and there were significantly less people competing against us. This coupled with my god given ability to suck up hard-core we were given the “privilege” to rent the place we are currently living in. It’s a modern 1 bdrm with a great view of the harbour bridge and we’re on the top floor. PENTHOUSEEEEE. (Not really). We are also the first people to live in the apartment which meant everything was brand new!!!


This was probably the best apartment out of all the apartments we saw. It took subpar real estate agents, hives, asthma attacks and challenge after challenge to get here but we were better for it. I guess its true, good things come to those who wait…and suffer a bit. First world problems though.

Well folks that it for the New Zealand Story series. Thanks for sticking around. If you want to know more about how to rent a property in Auckland (or NZ) shoot me a note below. Have you ever rented an apartment in another country before?  What shocked you most about the differences between your country and the one your were renting in? Share your story below!

For those that want to relive the series you can find them here:

Our New Zealand Story: Prologue: Beer and Wine

Our New Zealand Story: Episode 1: Student VISA Woes

Our New Zealand Story: Episode 2:Bring home the Bacon





Our New Zealand Story: Episode 2:Bring home the Bacon

Right. So now you’ve heard a bit about Working Holiday Visas, a bit about our story, a bit about why NZ is one of the coolest places ever, and how students can navigate the minefield of student visa options and how to properly prepare your application.

Hurray we’re done! Not quite my young Padawan. We had about 10 grand between the two of us when we landed in March 2015. Armed with a WHV and a student visa we set off on our new adventure into panic.

Where are we going to stay?! how long will it take me to find a job?! Will we have enough money? Will we ever find a permanent accommodation? Will Mike ever get out of Jail? (Suits Reference)

6ac81c1f-3f4e-4e44-a34b-73dd666fcd19Calm down Bro-ham. Let’s tackle this one at a time.

Where to stay in NZ if you’re thinking of immigrating

So we had a myriad of options; Airbnb, hostelworld and couchsurfing  were your standard but we also came across another great site; bookabach which is a kiwi website that allows you to book entire holiday homes. Which to choose tho?

At the time we needed something secure, had wide reach and also allowed us to pivot out once we secured a more permanent accommodation. AirBnb presented us with these options so we went with that.

The place we found was called “Home away from home” a quaint little house with a big personality. Max and Jane were fantastic hosts and were very much into wood. Well Max was, and not like sexual wood but actual wood. Ok he’s into carpentry, stop riding me.

His house was filled with creative wooden tables, chairs and wood art. He made his own beer in the wood shed in his garden (his man cave) where he held guitar jam sessions with his mates. When night time came so did his fairy lights which lit up his entire garden area. He made his own compost, had a lemon tree and an adorable and incredibly loud 2 year old girl. It was a pretty sweet deal (except for the loud part – thank god for ear plugs).

The accommodation was already pretty cheap but we took advantage of the refer a friend initiative as well as a promotion AirBnb was having at a time for Canadians (I think it was 30% off your bookings) to make it even cheaper. Don’t judge me.

We gave ourselves 6 months to find something more permanent. My cash forecast indicated that if I didn’t have a job by that time and thus could not secure a permanent accommodation, we would be forced to leave the country. All eyes on me! AHHHH!


How long and how to find a job in New Zealand if you’re immigrating?

There are many ways to do this but recruiting agencies have always been a must for me. If you think about how many junk CVs (Resumes) companies get via their careers websites, recruiting websites etc. you can imagine how a glowing, well laid out CV like yours could get lost in the shuffle. Recruiters are direct, they work with you and they usually only work with a couple of candidates per job posting so your chances are higher.  It’s a good idea to work with a couple of recruiters to hedge your bets. Some might even be competing for the same job posting!

A good recruiting agency I found for the accounting inclined individuals was Consult Recruitment. They really were all sorts of refreshing, having a cool ass bicycle as a decoration as opposed to a tool for transportation is really what got me thinking, hey, these guys have what it takes to find me a really good job in New Zealand. Jokes aside they are pretty good.

img_20150309_130100After a couple of meetings to see what I wanted they provided a couple of options for me to choose from. One of them was what I wanted and the second (which they were pushing me on) was what they wanted me to fill. At the end of the day if you’re new to the country and you’ve been out of the industry for a bit you’re kind of at the mercy of the recruiters. I took the less appealing position as a reconciliation officer at the insurance company I currently work for. They helped me through some of my frustrations and the limitations of my WHV and eventually negotiated my pay raise when I was later promoted to a proper financial analyst after a year of suffering as a reconciliation officer. Since then I’ve moved up again to a more senior role helping to advise the company on customer retention programs and customer data best practices.

Career takeaways

  1. Expect to take a step back in your career. In my case, a lot of my friends had already become managers and directors in their respective careers. I had to start out at the bottom of the barrel coming to NZ
  2. Be ready to roll up your sleeves and “git er done” because there’s nothing worse than a lazy immigrant and you wont be given the same opportunities without kiwi experience
  3. Once you have obtained enough experience and clout within an organisation look to move up quickly. The fastest way to get back to where you used to be is to impress the crap out of your superiors and volunteer for any opportunity that arises. Never stay in one place for long or you’ll chisel your own career tombstone.
  4. Enthusiasm and work ethic is the key to being noticed. If you have great ideas, voice them if there is work no one wants to do, do it (as long as it furthers your career). The great thing about NZ is that they notice and promote people with passion and people that work hard.
  5. Help to improve things. Nothing impresses people more than successful process improvements. Utilise that education you have attained from another country to help kiwis make their lives easier and you will both be better off for it. Don’t be shy.

This one hits home for me as it was probably one of the most difficult things I had to do. There were moments when I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore and wanted to give up. Moments when I questioned my abilities. Moments when I questioned my resolve and who I was doing this for. Thank god for Nicole – she always put things in perspective for me and reminded me why and what I was trying to build.

Next post I’ll give you guys a bit of insight into the weird world of the rental market in New Zealand and how we practically had to worship the ground realtors stepped on to be given the opportunity (yes I said “given the opportunity”) to rent their property.  

Have any career advice or love for new immigrants? Comments below!

Our New Zealand Story: Episode 1: Student VISA Woes

In my previous post I explained a bit about the high level goals we set out to get us to New Zealand. You can see that here.

In this post, I’m going to explain how it all went to shit and what you can do avoid the mess.

If you don’t have time to read the actual story click here to get the Cole’s note version.

Financial Folly

First cab off the rank was money. Nicole’s tuition was going to cost NZD $23,634 plus student services fees of NZD $738 and mandatory health insurance of NZD $589 amounting to a total of NZD $24,961. On top of all that we needed to show that she could financially sustain herself in New Zealand for her time of study. The requirement was to show at least NZD $15,000 per year of study after paying for tuition. That’s a grand total of NZD $39,961!!!


I, of course, wasn’t made aware of this total sum until a couple of months into our savings plan. I had to readjust forecast. As more and more of these hidden costs came to light it became apparent that we needed to reassess our ability to get to NZ after this year. It was depressing.

To make matters worse, we were feeling the drag of Korean life in Daegu and sought to alleviate it by going up to Seoul on special occasions. We loved Seoul, it was a thriving metropolis that reminded me of Toronto and reminded Nicole of some of the comforts of home she so desperately missed. I remember talking about readjusting our expectations for the coming year and that we may not have enough money to get us to New Zealand.

After a brief silence and a bit of tears and sobs we set ourselves 3 options

  1. Increase contributions to savings (therefore reeling back our special trips to Seoul and Busan)
  2. Push back the timeline by staying another year in Daegu (where we were currently living in South Korea). This would make it easier to save as Daegu is significantly cheaper than Seoul.
  3. Push back the timeline and move to Seoul. Which would make it a little harder to save but at least a bit more bearable.

What would you have done? 

We ended up choosing to stick to our guns and reel back spending substantially, bury all Christmas, birthday and red pocket money into savings and cut off travelling until further notice. It was a complete expense freeze and it was necessary based on my forecast. It was more my style anyways…frugal accounting.

Granny Gratification

As the sands of time began to pile against us we started looking into other ways to realise our ultimate goal. What we found was a caveat in the financial maintenance section of the Student Visa application saying that a sponsor can be used to support the student. Initially, I thought I could do it but at the time even I was struggling to meet my dollar threshold for my own VISA. Luckily, Nicole’s granny offered to sign the form stating that she would be able to financially support her. If you’re wondering what form you need its INZ 1014. Now we only had to save ~ NZD $25,000! Success!


Details, Details, Details!

T-minus 4 months and counting. It was time to apply for the VISA. A large part of our financial plan was reliant on the huge lump sums in bonuses and pension pay backs that was promised by the EPIK program after we had left the country. This was promised to us in writing and was only transferred 1 month AFTER we had left the country which was factored into my calculations. My strategy was to send our bank account information  as well as the bonus/ pension letter from EPIK that made up the shortfall to convince INZ of our financial viability.

Unfortunately, we found out while filling out the paper based form, in order to obtain the student visa, we needed proof that we had ALREADY paid the years tuition. Yes, we needed to pay the full years tuition TODAY.


Finessing the Fees

We scoured the net trying to find a way around this problem.

Was this the end? Would we need to give up on our hopes and dreams!? Would I have to sell my body!?! 


I promise I don’t have a thing for monkeys.

We came across a very interesting site called Stoked for Saturdays which we used to navigate the VISA nuances before. Unfortunately, they didn’t have experience in dealing with the student VISAs however the Auckland University provided some insight.

They said that a 6 mth student VISA was available for students that can’t pay the entire tuition up front. What we could do is pay for semester 1 fees and use that proof of payment to apply for the 6 mth student VISA. We would then apply for the remaining year after we had paid for semester 2. The catch was that we would need to pay the full student visa application fee twice. A small price to pay, in my opinion, to get out of jail and pass go.



Crisis Concluded

This was probably the most satisfying moment of my life when the student visa came through for Nicole. We were in tears of joy that we were able to navigate this challenge of our lives together and set ourselves on a course that would change our lives forever.

I still remember that plane ride like it was yesterday… Oh yeah. Don’t fly Air Asia long haul EVER. Worst airline on this planet.


The fun ain’t over yet. Nicole was all set with her study year in NZ but the real work for me had just begun. Time to find a job!

Have you ever forgotten to read the fine print? What happened? Comments, love, hate and confessions below!

Experience NZ: New Zealand’s Best Kept Secret

I know what you’re thinking. Aaron…what kind of pathetic self enclosed hermit crab are you? Right up to this point you’ve focused on how to get a Working Holiday Visa and what has actually led you to New Zealand but nothing actually about New Zealand itself. What a newb!

Well, I’m about to rock your boat mes ami. I’m going to drop one of New Zealand best kept secrets and guess what? Its on the North Island.


I know right? You look at any travel brochure about New Zealand and you get tons of enthusiasm about places like beautiful Milford Sound, Queenstown and the Bluffs in the South but not a peep about the North. Well I’m about to give the North some loving. Keep your pants on Kim Jong Un.

Hokianga – Opononi/Omapere

Just to give you a visual the place I’m talking about is here:


Yeah, just a 3.21 hour drive no biggie. We were based in a little village called Kaihu where we stayed at a fancy “glamping” site called Highfield Forest Retreat. You can read about my glamping escapade here.

Opononi/Omapere are twin coastal cities that boasts one of New Zealand’s finest Sand Dunes, fishing sites, white sandy beaches and some pretty decent fish and chips this side of Auckland. In the surrounding areas you can find some perfectly rounded boulders at Koutu at low tide as well as a crap ton of oysters you can harvest. Remember to bring a chisel, hammer and a bucket! God knows the Chinese and locals do.

Let’s start with our trip! We were lucky enough to be going on a spectacular day. There are various marked vantage points along the way to stop your car and take pictures of the sand dunes and beaches of Opononi (be sure to keep a look out!). Here are a couple of my pictures.

Stunning. Even more so in person. Follow me on Instagram @thefrugalaccountant for more.

After stopping every 2 seconds for photographs we finally made it to Opononi with the intention of trying some sand dune body boarding. It sounds as cool as it actually is.


There was a bit of a problem, however, the sand dunes were actually separated from the coast by a fairly large body of water and are actually quite secluded as there are no roads or paths that lead there, even on the northern side of the dunes.


How do we get across?

Being the super organised adventurist I am (not really), I set out to find information at the local information centre. They said that a local company takes people across for $27 p.p round trip… which included the body board rental. Both my inner accountant and Chinese heritage started frothing at the gash.

The boat leaves every 30 min on the hour and we have to be at the docks 5 minutes before departure. They don’t wait so DONT BE LATE! They usually run from 10am – 3pm and is very weather/popularity dependent on that day so I’d advise checking with the information site first to see if they are running before running over to the docks to wait for them.

So there are a few payment options. You can be super prepared and buy your ticket in advance from the information centre like a good little accountant or you could be super irresponsible and make everyone wait for you while you make your payment by either EFTPOS (debit card) or cash while you board the boat.

IMG_20161230_105332 (1).jpg

You can stay on the dunes as long as the last ferry ride (they will tell you when you ride over as its weather and popularity dependent). Having a really small bladder and possibly early stages of prostate cancer (self diagnosed), I always make sure I know where my washrooms are at at all times. Unfortunately, I was so elated at the prospect of sliding down copious amounts of sand I forgot to ask. Womp Womp… no washrooms on the sand dunes, as can be expected but there is a bit of foliage at the top of the hill? mountain of sand? for you to do your business, number 1 only of course. Girls… sorry.

When we arrived at the sand dunes the main hill was already quite busy with a crap ton of people. We like going to path less travelled so we started out trip upwards into the mountain of sand.

The sand was vast. Largest sand dunes I’ve ever seen (no I’ve never been to the middle east and yes I know its bigger – but this is New Zealand bitch).

I had a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the way up after watching how unbelievably awesome sliding down a huge hill of sand into the ocean was but I was a bit of a chicken shit, so I wanted to start small. I am reluctantly putting up a vid of Nicole and myself sliding down a small hill. Please don’t judge us.

I just realised that I cant upload videos on here cause I have a free subscription. So please click Nicole and Aaron to see our pansy ass video of both of us sliding down a baby hill via my make shift YouTube channel. I’ll put some music on to make the video more palatable.

God, look at that I even used my feet to slow myself down. Not even funky porno music could save my video, I’m pathetic. Anyways, here’s a couple more pictures of sand because you haven’t seen enough!

img_20161230_113114Top of the sand dune mountain/hillimg_20161230_120412img_20161230_112552



We spent about an hour and a half on the dunes. You could honestly spend the entire day as we only covered a fraction of it. We wanted to make more time for the other activities we wanted to do like go to Bayly’s/Ripiro Beach which is the longest beach in New Zealand which I cover it in my next blog

I know what you’re about to ask …”Did your pansy ass ever make it to the big kid slope?”. The answer is yes I did haters! But we were in such a hurry that I only got to go once and then had to hurry on to the ferry as it had just arrived on shore. Unfortunately, Nicole wasn’t able to capture the epicness that ensued while I slid down that magical hill of sand and into the glistening blue ocean water but believe you me it was awesome. Here are some pictures of other people sliding down that magical hill while I scoot away on the boat, tears gushing down my face with arms flung out in desperation to cling on to that magical sandy hill of magic and delight.


Luckily, we got ice cream afterwards otherwise I would have been crying and moaning like a teething 2 year old with chicken pox. New mothers know where I’m at.fist-bump-it.pngAnyways, insert cheesy line about travelling and niceties about New Zealand here. Insert question to invoke discussion here and thanks for reading.

No but seriously tell me about experiences you’ve had in New Zealand or anywhere in this beautiful blue … green… yellow? planet of ours. Let’s compare notes.

The adventure ain’t over yet. My next blog will dive into the glamping portion of my trip as well as Bayly’s/Riporo Beach and the most protected and the largest Kauri trees in New Zealand.



Our New Zealand Story: Prologue: Beer and Wine

*Cue Traditional Korean Drum beats and Traditional Korean Vocals*

The year was 2013 and we had been in Korea for a little over a year at this point. Nicole and I had been going out for about 3 months.

We were in a heated debate about where our lives would take us after Korea. Nicole was fed up with living pay cheque to pay cheque and the sporadic lifestyle of a sole proprietor of her own dance and creative movement company in Scotland. She enjoyed the “9-5 hours” that her current EPIK (English Program in Korea) job offered and the mundane freedom it provided but something was missing. Something so important that it defined her very existence… a good pinot. It was at that moment she hatched a plan so provocative that it would change our lives forever.


“I’m going to New Zealand to study to become a Secondary School Dance Teacher!”, she proclaimed as she took another sip of her cheap house red.

I was attempting to balance a penny (10 won coin) on my pint glass at this point which ended up falling the wrong way into my very expensive “IPA” (an overly hoppy and bitter rendition).

She had, of course, been thinking about this for a while now and had done a bit of preliminary research into the matter. So I was impressed when she fully explained herself proper. The plan was to save up enough money to pay not only for her tuition but to sustain herself in New Zealand indefinitely.

“A bold move”, I blurted, quoting Admiral Dugalle from Starcraft, a computer game I used to play.


It was at that moment I knew I had a choice to make: I could follow this maniac to the middle of nowhere and work as an accountant or go back to living out my pitiful existence in Toronto working as an accountant. The choice was clear… I needed more beer.

The planning conversations later laid the groundwork that allowed us to finally reach the land of milk and honey.

Our high level plan was simple:

  1. Nicole would save enough money to evidence that she could
    • Sustain herself for the full 12 months required for the student visa and;
    • have enough money to pay for her full years tuition without a hitch
  2. Aaron would apply much later for the Silver Fern VISA which would be accepted immediately because he is an amazing accountant with a lot of badass skills that New Zealand would be lucky to have. Aaron would also save a shit ton of money to support not only himself but Nicole as well.

The execution of this plan wasn’t as simple…

In my next post I’ll explain the huge learning curve we were exposed to in trying to migrate over to New Zealand and why this 2 step high level plan needed to be a lot more detailed by the time we needed to apply for our VISAs.

Have you ever set a goal that you had no idea how to achieve? Was the outcome what you expected?

Questions, Comments, Hate and Love below!

Our New Zealand Story Part 1: Student VISA Woes and Working Holiday Shortcuts

(Coming Soon)

“Our New Zealand Story” is a series I’m starting in conjunction with my “Immigration NZ” series to give a more detailed narrative into what exactly we had to go through to get into New Zealand. My hopes are to outline the requirements of each VISA we encountered in the Immigration NZ series and provide some context into our experiences in the Our New Zealand Story series. 

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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