New Zealand Working Holiday First Month Updates

Kia Ora! It has been a little more than a month since I arrived in New Zealand with a working holiday visa. Time flies especially when you’re busy working at the orchard 6-7 days a week. But before I go into that at a separate post, let’s look into the beginning.

Packing

My ambitious plan was to just carry a 60L backpack that my ex-company got me as a farewell present failed tremendously as I definitely am not a minimalist…lol.

In the end, I carried an additional luggage as packing for different seasons for a 6-9 months is definitely a challenge for me! Also, I brought over some local supplies like curry powder, bak kut teh sachets etc. The Asian markets here are quite well stocked but I didn’t want to spent too much money when I first arrived.

These are the packing essentials that I would recommend to carry along:

  • Windbreaker – winds here are pretty strong and chilly! Best to get a good one that is water resistant too in case of rain it can hold up for a while.
  • Raincoat – if you have a windbreaker also functions as a raincoat, you can skip this.
  • Uniqlo’s heattech – spring’s weather turned out to be much colder than expected. It almost felt like winter during certain days. I am glad I brought along 2 sets of these! There’s no Uniqlo in NZ just so you know…
  • Down jacket – if you have one great! If not it can be purchased in NZ as well.

Transportation

I managed to find a decent priced one-way ticket from Malaysia to Auckland via Singapore Airlines. Had a 3 hour layover at Changi airport which I spent walking around the vast vicinity before the 9 hour flight.

Upon arriving at Auckland Airport, I was picked up by a backpacker shuttle that I arranged a few days prior to my arrival. The price was 20 NZD which was really decent for a door-to-door service. As much as I wanted to experience the public transport, lunging 2 bags with multiple stop changes wasn’t ideal.

While I was in Auckland, I mostly used Uber or the bus especially when it was raining heavily. The AT HOP card is really convenient as you get a discount rate at the bus / trains as compared to paying cash. You can use the AT HOP card for some of the ferries too! However, it can only be used in Auckland.

Some people choose to purchase a vehicle after their arrival in NZ to travel around North & South Island. If you are on a limited budget, you can work for a certain duration then save up for it and purchase a car later.

Accommodation

I chose to stay at TMACS Backpackers hostel for a week as it was located in the CBD area. The walk to the main street in town was about 15-20 minutes. The bed in the 6 person female dorm was really comfy as it is wooden framed with adjustable blinds for privacy, and has individual USB charger. Toilets are really clean too!

The kitchen tends to be super crowded during peak dinner hours but still sufficient to do prep work while waiting for the stoves to be available. It is a considerably spacious kitchen area. There was one day the fire alarm went off and all of us had to evacuate the building! Luckily there wasn’t any fire. Probably the alarm got triggered by too much smoke emitted during dinner time…lol.

NZ Bank & IRD

One of the main things to settle upon arriving in New Zealand for WHV holders is getting a bank account and IRD number. I was scheduled with ANZ for an appointment to activate my bank account. However, due to their recent change of policy, my proof of address was rejected even though I brought the necessary documents stated in the email while in liaison with them. I had to go back to the bank twice but it still was not settled which was really frustrating.

I tried enquiring with other banks, but some of them do not provide accounts for WHV holders / require longer term of stay / a letter of employment. Another option was Kiwibank however, I was leaving to Te Puke. Only at Te Puke I finally managed to activate my ANZ bank account and the staff there are much more friendlier too!

As for the IRD number, I consider myself quite lucky as I gotten my number during the late evening when I applied during the morning itself. So hurray to that!

Telco

When I first reached the airport, I purchased a Vodafone sim as I didn’t spot the Spark / Skinny counter until I’ve reached the nearer to the exit. Perhaps, I was still feeling sleepy and jet lagged.

However, later on when my plan was almost expiring I applied with Skinny as their data plan was much more affordable. I was able to retain previous number so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of changing the mobile number on NZ banking etc that I have registered with.

p.s: If you are using Skinny for the first time, use this code “FU3UMGC” to receive an additional one-off 4GB data 🙂

Weather

I arrived in the end of September, whereby the weather was mainly cold and rainy almost the entire week in Auckland..which was pretty depressing. It kept me out from exploring as I don’t deal with cold weather very well. So, I spent most of my time indoors or walking around Queen Street. The few days with good weather my friends took me around exploring which I will share in a separate post 🙂

Jobs

I joined tons of FB groups related to NZ backpackers and also searched around on websites like Trade Me and Seek. There were a number of options and in the end I chose to work at an orchard in the Bay of Plenty for the time being.

Most of the jobs you get while on a WHV are in the labour field such as orchard, farms, waitressing, hospo jobs etc that starts with the minimum wage. WHV workers also get an additional 8% holiday pay on top of the minimum wage.

Wages in NZ are paid in a weekly basis. For example you worked from Monday – Sunday and the salary will be in by the next week subjected to your workplace pay day.

Food & Groceries

I hardly cooked at all back in Malaysia but arriving in New Zealand has made me want to try different recipes. Usually I go for the simple and easy to make as staying in a hostel / share house means lots of people are waiting in line!

I mostly shopped in Countdown or New World while I was in Auckland CBD since it is nearer to where I was living. Pak n Save is cheaper but only if you have a car as it is away from the CBD.

Eating out is definitely pricier than cooking at home. However, personally for me the portion sizing is quite large here in NZ so usually if I eat out, I can stretch it into 2 meals and pack some back to wherever I am staying at.

Shopping

I would say that NZ is a pretty expensive country especially when you are only earning minimum wage. Kmart and The Warehouse have really affordable items which is worth exploring. Or else, you can shop at secondhand shops, thrift store or FB marketplace for secondhand / used items to be more environmental friendly!

That is all the updates for now! Until my next post, keep up with my latest updates on Instagram @lichuen 😉

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