What I’ve Learnt From Working with a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

I landed in Auckland under working holiday VISA on 20th January 2017 at 1am, got picked up by a local kiwi (I made her wait 2 hours due to flight delay omggg) and basically was jobless for 2 weeks. The first thing that I really learnt is that you can’t make plans when you’re in a working holiday. My initial plan was to work 3 months in advertising (LOL) and then travel 3 months, and go home. But well that didn’t work out and I ended up doing what everybody does, agriculture.

Found my first agriculture job as a mandarin orange thinner, where I need to just remove excessive fruits that were growing. My second job was in a vineyard where I clipped nets to prevent animals from eating the growing grapes, and my last job was working in an apple pack house, well packing apples. The traveling part was a different story altogether, that’s for the next posts. (Ain’t gonna waste my 75gb(s) of photos haha)

1. Don’t be picky


If you’re picky, you’re gonna be jobless for life. No joke. Haha. I didn’t wanna do agriculture at all before arriving, hence I got into unnecessary stress, but in the end, all my jobs were in agriculture.

2. Jobs are available all year long

For example, apples are from March to June, blueberries from February to May, hoki fishes from June to September, you don’t have to worry of being jobless as long as you’re not picky. You can even work in hostels, farms, hotels, construction sites and many more.

3. ‘Smoko’

“You will have 2 smokos and 1 lunch break.”
“Eh what’s smoko?”

I learnt about the term ‘smoko’ at this job, which meant smoking + coffee break. Usually it’s a paid 15 minute break, and the number of smokos depend on the hours. During my first job I only had 2 smokos cause I only work 8 hours a day, but I had 3 smokos at the apple packing job.

4. I Really Had It Easy Back Home

I am lucky as I’ve been blessed with a cushy advertising job (Not exactly easy when I first started) and working outdoors in agriculture is seriously not easy. From battling the sun, to moving non stop for few hours, meeting your supervisor’s expectation just for that minimum pay, it made me realize that I had it easy.

5. New Zealand is beautiful, even in orchards.

I see this every morning when I worked outdoors, and in Roxburgh, we are blessed with gorgeous sunrise now and then. It made working, better. 🙂

6. You’ll make a lot of friends (And from different countries too!)


I think because we are all in the same boat, working hard everyday. It’s also because we see each other almost every day too. Now if I go to Europe, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan or even Vanuatu, you’ll have friends there who can be your guide (Hopefully HAHA).

7. Agriculture is a big business


Every year, in different orchards be it mandarins, or vineyards, work is available whole year, not only the picking season. Your colleagues range from backpackers like yourself, locals, and also imported workers from nearby countries, and they return here every year.

8. It’s actually pretty stress free


Although the job is hard, it’s pretty stress free as you do not have to worry about work when you’re done for the day. Back home, I still think about work, or finishing up some work even after I left office, but here, once you’re done, you go home, cook, watch some movies, and restart again tomorrow.

9. You’ll probably see vegetables / fruits in a different way


I didn’t get sick of mandarin oranges and apples (Although I said I did) but I actually harboured more interest in it. I was excited when I saw NZ apples in a local supermarket back home hahaha, and I am proud to say that I know the different types of apples out there.

10. Once in a lifetime experience


Although the job is hard, I think everyone should at least try this once. You’ll learn to appreciate the smaller things in life, understand that it is hard to make money and if you are always desk bound, it’s a good experience to have and remember for the rest of your life. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness the best of nature for free. 🙂 The picture above was the best night of my life in New Zealand where I got to see the Southern Lights. 🙌 🙌

Will I do this again? Probably, when I get bored again heh. For now, I’m just gonna learn how to swim, earn more moneh and see what comes next year.

6 Comments

  • OH! It was the yearly working holiday signup on their NZ website right? I’ve heard about it. but not too sure how to land a spot. I heard you need to have super duper fast internet. This sounds really fun! I went for work & travel similar to this at USA. would love to try NZ if I could!

    • cheechingy says:

      Oh how did you apply for US? Was it hard? Yes I was quite lucky, but I got it after 4 hours haha.

      • Sophia says:

        I went for USA working holiday as well! I went through an agent (theres 3 in malaysia) since I couldnt self apply like what you did for NZ. & there is a condition whereby you have to be a student to participate. Not too sure if they have other programs for USA. As far as I know, Canada & Australia working holiday is the same as NZ 🙂 Will try applying for NZ maybe few years later (I heard its really hard to get a spot though, some of my friends tried for years @@)!

        • cheechingy says:

          Ah! I didn’t know we can apply for Canada ourselves too! How much did you pay for US? Yes only 1000+ spots per year.

  • Michelle says:

    I went on the NZ working holiday in 2016. Your point 1. is so true. I was planning on trying out all sorts of jobs but in the end I ended up doing apple thinning and apple packing and lots of other agricultural jobs there. ^^ if you don’t be picky then you’ll earn enough to go travelling around. And yes indeed, very stress free. The only thing worth stressing was the 1st month when I couldn’t find a job. After that it was more like stressing where I want to go travel next or what I wanted to eat hah. And I still get excited seeing NZ apples in our local supermarkets. I miss those other type of apples that we don’t get to even see here. Indeed a great experience. How I miss it. 🙂

    • cheechingy says:

      Yessss I think all of most experienced similar things haha. NZ really made us wanna travel more eh. I really liked Jazz and Braeburn apples hahaha.

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