Arriving in New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa: a few tips

Published: 09-06-2022



“Dear passengers, we have started our descent and are approaching Auckland. We invite you to return to your seats and fasten your seat belts…”.

As the flight attendant makes the announcement, your eyes wander to the horizon: the blue sky, the clouds, and below you the bright blue Pacific Ocean, then the hills and the lush green flora. You start to see the city and the buildings of Auckland.

Excitement builds in the pit of your stomach and your heart. You are only minutes away from starting the year of your dreams.

After landing, you head to the hostel you’ve booked (or not) a few days earlier. In the bus, you admire the landscapes which pass by. It feels strange to be on the left side of the road. You tell your family and friends that you’ve arrived safely. Maybe you already miss them, or maybe you want to tell them that everything is beautiful and great. When you arrive, you settle your backpack, and you slowly become aware of this new reality. This is it. You are in New Zealand.

The first few days of a WHV can be a huge mix of emotions: excitement, doubt, wonder, anxiety, pride. You already want to explore so much but you also know that you have some things to do when you arrive. So how do you manage this arrival, this excitement, this anxiety? In this article, you will find 5 tips to start your WHV with peace of mind.

1. Start with the paperwork

IRD, ANZ, BNZ, WOF…. If all these acronyms mean absolutely nothing to you today, you’ll know them very quickly when you live in New Zealand. Let’s face it, most of us are annoyed with paperwork. Now add being in a foreign country in which they speak a language you don’t quite understand yet, and you get a winning combo. So, it is very tempting to want to leave the paperwork in a corner of your head and to think about it when you have to think about it. But don’t panic, the administrative procedures in New Zealand are much easier than in France or Belgium. I advise you to open your bank account and to ask for your IRD number as soon as you arrive, even if you don’t plan to work right away. Once this step is done, you will not have to think about it anymore during your stay.

2. Take your time

It is very easy to put pressure on yourself and to want to do everything right away, too fast when you start your WHV. However, sometimes, giving yourself a little more time to adapt, to finalize the paperwork, allows you to start this year on a more serene basis. Don’t hesitate to extend your stay at the hostel by a few nights if you feel the need. New Zealanders are also helpful and can give you a hand if you need it. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for advice from other backpackers who have been or are going through the same stage as you. It can be very reassuring to start together.

3. Do not rush to buy a car

When we talk about a WHV in New Zealand, many of us think of the van life. And while it’s true that having a car gives us more freedom in a country like New Zealand, rushing to buy a car or a van is not always the best idea. Acclimating yourself to the culture, the car market and asking yourself what type of vehicle is best for you will help you make a more informed choice that will suit you better. In the meantime, you can travel with people you meet in hostels, travel buddies, or through Intercity, the local bus network.

4. Accept that surprises happen

No matter how well informed and prepared you are, arriving in a new country often comes with a lot of surprises that you will have to adapt to. Things may not go as planned. There may be difficulties with administration or money transfers. There may be misunderstandings and cultural gaps as well.
Perhaps you will decide to stay at your first stop for months when you had imagined yourself to be a nomad. The possibilities are endless. However, one thing is sure, the unexpected happens. Some days will be difficult, tiring, stressful. But the surprises also give us the best lessons and the best stories to tell.

5. Follow your intuition

There are no rules to follow to have a good WHV. A good WHV is yours. It is the one that drives you, the one that makes you live adventures, the one that challenges you, that teaches you about yourself. Whether these adventures are light or dazzling, whether this challenge is big or small, whether this lesson is life changing or a little side story. The good WHV is the one that you will experience!

So for this last tip, I’d like to tell you to follow your instincts. Follow the things that make you feel good. Get away from situations that cause you problems. Travel when you feel like it. And stay in the places that you do like.

So, are you ready for this incredible adventure?


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