Moving to New Zealand

Moving to another country is exciting, and the kind of adventure I think everyone should go on at least once. I love to relocate. However, it can also be stressful and overwhelming; there’s a lot of things to consider before you go! Here’s a list of some things to know before moving to New Zealand that’ll make the transition as smooth as possible.

visa

You Need A Visa!

I’m just going to outline the benefits of a Working Holiday Visa as it’s the only experience I have and is most common among backpackers, but there’s a list of all Visa types listed on NZ’s Immigration website.
A Working Holiday Visa will only be granted to those under 30 (or 35, for some nationalities).
There are some other requirements which are clearly outlined here, but I’ll be honest, they don’t ask for proof of half these things. ie. No one checked my bank account, and no one asked to see a ticket home (which is great ’cause I don’t have one).

Brits and Canadians are given the option between a 1 or 2 year Working Holiday Visa.
Other nationalities can apply for 1 year, and they’re all quite easy to have approved as long as you’re not a convict.
The cost of either visa is around $200 NZD.

2 years – You’ll require both a chest x-ray and medical exam (includes blood work) which will run you about $600, and you need to choose from a list of pre-approved physicians. You can find the one closest to you by searching this list.

1 year – no medical exam, but you may have to get a chest x-ray if you’ve been to a country that isn’ton this list of places with low incidents of TB. DO look it over, you’d be surprised. The x-ray can cost anywhere between $80 and $300. Strive for $80. I drove to a city 45 minutes out of my way for a cheaper radiologist, and it was the best $220 I ever saved. If you can’t find the price online, you can call up and ask.
If you don’t need the x-ray, you’re in the clear! You can just roll up and start livin’.

Brits and fellow Canadians: I would advise that you get the 1 year visa for starters. You can always extend it later! What if you spend all that money and go through the headache (and shot to the wallet) of the medical exam, just to decide you want to go home after 8 months? When you’re applying for jobs and employers ask about your visa status, a Working Holiday Visa is a Working Holiday Visa. They don’t care if it’s 1 or 2 years, and you’re often not even given the option on an application to specify.

Other Nationalities: There’s an option for you to extend your visa for another 3 months if you’re cool with farm work. 3 months of rural work will earn you 3 more months of fun in the land of the kiwis.

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You Need a Job!

Join job boards and websites like Indeed, Seek, and TradeMe. There’s always The BackpackersBoard and Facebook groups for odd jobs too.

There’s also recruitment agencies, which I never considered before I arrived. Companies like Beyond, Velocity, and Salt will help you find temp work. The upside to this is that you don’t have to commit to anything and can have some freedom to travel around between jobs. The types of employment they recruit for varies, as does the length of each contract.

I got ahead of myself and started applying for jobs way before I left Canada. Like, months in advance. That was unnecessary. Employers are going to be way less interested in you as a candidate if they can only meet over Skype, next to someone who’s ready, in the country, and able to start right away. Take it easy, touch down, travel around a little, decide where you’d like to stay, and then start your search. There’s tons of work if you’re not picky about what kind of job you’re after!

Some of the easiest work to find:
– Fruit Picking/Farm Work (hang out at a winery, anyone?)
– Barrista (Kiwis live for the flat white)
– Server/Bartender (Wellington has 40956837 cool bars and restaurants)
– Sales (lots of fundraising stuff)
– Construction (I know a guy who removes asbestos, for example)
– Au Pair (I saw one posted where half the time would be spent in Fiji…not a bad gig)
– Data Entry, Admin, Customer Service, Accounting, etc. (Contract – through recruiters)

These jobs require little to no experience and employers are familiar with hiring foreigners with Working Holiday Visas.
The minimum wage in NZ is about $16/hr.

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You Need Somewhere to Sleep!

You’ll be staying in hostels for the first little while, which is a great way to make friends when you arrive in a new place! The cost of a cheap dorm room is about $20-$30 per night.

When you’re ready to find a flat, get on the Facebook groups. Before I arrived I joined some groups in Auckland and Wellington, just to get a vibe for the rent prices and what kind of accommodation I could expect for my budget.

Be prepared to have roommates. Many, many, roommates. The cost of living in New Zealand is high, and there are no skyscraper condos with tiny individual apartments, so you’ll most likely be sharing a big house with 4 to 7 other people. Unless you’re coming over here with your recent lottery winnings, you will not be able to afford living alone.

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You Need to Pay for Stuff!

While the Euro, Canadian, American, and Australian Dollars are worth more than that of New Zealand (at the time this post was published), everything is straight up more expensive.

Some General Price Listings ($NZ)
Hostels: $20-30/night

A bottle of Coca-Cola: $4 (They have vanilla Coke here guys!)

A bottle of water: $4 (but you have no reason to be buying those, the water here is clean and plastic bottles are ridiculous #BoycottNestle)

A standard budget meal: $13-20 (You can find some good lunch specials)

Groceries: $50 for a stir-fry dinner between 3 people (fruit/veg are crazy expensive)

Flat White/Tea at a Cafe: $4

Pint: $6 cheap (Tui), $10+ craft (but Wellington is the home of craft so you gotta try some)

24-cheap bottles from the super market: $30

Decent bottle of wine: $10+

Uber Fare From Auckland CBD to Ponsonby: $10
Uber Fare from Wellington Central to Newtown: $8

Petrol/Gas: $2/litre

Car Rental: $30-40/day (depends on length of rental)

Bottle of shampoo/conditioner: $4 each

1 zone bus fare, Auckland: $3
1 zone bus fare, Wellington: $2

Airport Bus – Auckland: $18
Airport Bus – Wellington: $9

Wifi: $6/day at some hostels. I’ve found any free/included wifi is usually shit, and if you want something that works you need to pay. However, you can always count on a solid free wifi connection at places like:
⁃ The Public Library
⁃ McDonalds
⁃ Starbucks
Or, life hack – find a cute cafe, pay for a coffee, get unlimited free wifi.

Phone Plan-Per Month: $40 Vodaphone 4GB, unlimited texts, 500 minutes.

Rent in a shared house: $900/month (but rent is paid weekly)

Cost of a flight here: $1400 (depending on where you’re coming from, of course)

I suggest showing up with at LEAST $5000 NZD.
You’ll easily spend $60+ per day, which means you’ll only survive here for maybe a month and a half without a source of income. You want to be able to do all the fun things when you get here! Fun things cost money!

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to in my life.
With mountains, volcanoes, beaches, hot springs, glow worm caves, wineries, craft breweries, and so much more, you’ll have no shortage of things to do during your Working Holiday year!
Go live your best life!

Here’s my suggested itinerary, built with IQPlanner, for your first few days in Auckland!

Take me there!

Rangitoto Island

Guys. I have to tell you about how much I love this cafe. It’s my new home. There’s a “take a book, leave a book” shelf, couches, solid wifi, a decent selection of teas, a giant window I can sit in with my laptop, and a random little vintage pac-man arcade game in the corner. I’m obsessed. This is where I spend every morning.

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I’ve been operating without much of a plan each day. The only problem with this is that all the activities around Auckland require a bit of travel time and therefore a bit of planning. I decide it’s a good day for hiking, and look up ferries to Rangitoto; an island visible from the Auckland port, and home to a dormant volcano! It’s not painfully expensive at $33 return, especially when you consider that’s the same price as visiting the Sky Tower (Auckland’s imposter CN Tower – erected 20 years later, I might add).
A volcano hike seems like a pretty good bang for my buck!
The last ferry heading to the island is in an hour, so I rush back to my hostel to change into some more appropriate hiking gear and walk down to the ferry terminal.

Before boarding the boat, we’re asked to clean our shoes off on these little brush things stationed outside the entrance, and to check our bags for rats, mice, and ants. Yeah, alarming. Apparently people find them in their bags “more often than you’d think” and I am horrified to even look. Thankfully, I’m clean.
Rangitoto has a fragile and well-contained ecosystem that New Zealand is working hard to preserve while still allowing for tourism. There are no shops, hotels, cafes, or anything on the island. Not even a place to fill up a water bottle, so they advise you to bring all the water and/or snacks you might need for the day. I didn’t know this in advance, so I’m extra stoked that I thought to bring my reusable water bottle, and filled it before I left!

In half an hour, we’ve arrived on the other side, and I head straight for the trail. It’s 1:45, and the last ferry back to Auckland is at 3:30 so I want to get a move on. It’s possible to leave after the last ferry, but it’s an extra 50 bucks, and that’s a hard no from me.

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arriving on the island – I don’t know what’s in the little house!

I follow black trails lined sometimes with unfamiliar trees, and at other times with nothing but stark black volcanic rocks. The higher the trail takes me, the better the view becomes. It’s an easy walk, especially for the first half as it’s pretty flat. I’m a city walker; Toronto has no hills. I’m not used to all this stair and hill climbing, and it’s roasting hot out. If this path weren’t partially shaded, I might have died from heat stroke. I apply my weak 30SPF sun screen twice during the walk, just to be sure I don’t burn.

Once at the top there is a view point that looks out over the old volcano crater, which is now entirely covered in greenery. Without the sign post to tell me what it was, I’d never have known. The real sight though, is the 360 degree view around the island. You can see Auckland off in the distance, and epic teal blue waters all around. Pretty fantastic for a 1 hour hike.

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You can see the fake CN tower from here!

I soak up the views, finish the rest of my water, and head back down. I end up chatting with a nice elderly couple from Malaysia on my way down, who start a conversation by calling out “where are you from!?” as I pass them on the trail. We talk about Malaysia, Canada, and they tell me all their opinions about “Mr. Trump”. They’re pretty adorable.

I’m back down to the pier by 3pm and have 30 minutes to spare, so I find a shaded bench where I can lay down and take a little siesta, but set an alarm so I don’t miss the last ferry. Not that spending the night here wouldn’t be rad af.

When the boat arrives they have so much trouble docking due to the high winds, that they have to try 3 times. I’m a little concerned about the choppy waters back to the city, which weren’t this bad on our way over this afternoon.
They make an announcement on the way back that “If anything should happen, life vests can be found in the lockers”…which I notice are secured and tied up with ropes, so if this ship starts goin’ down, I’m pretty sure I’m done for. R.I.P.

After more trouble docking back in Auckland, we make it safely off the boat and I head back to the hostel. I have to double take when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like a god damn tomato. Noooooooooooo! I applied my sunscreen! I tried to be responsible! I am heavily regretting leaving the 100SPF in my drawer back in Canada. I brought that Nicaragua a couple years ago, and came back just as pasty white as when I left, so I didn’t wanna go totally tan-less again. Huge mistake. I knew about the absence of ozone layer down here but… I thought double sunscreen would do it. Nope. How embarrassing. Now I gotta walk around like this for the next few days. So much regret.

Aside from the burn – solid day.

I go out at night and try to get a look at this blue moon/super moon/eclipse thing, but it’s too cloudy, which is tragic.

Costs for the Day

$16 breakfast at Remedy Coffee

$33 return trip to Rangitoto

$16 for 2 pints at a pub in the viaduct area

$8 fast food wrap for dinner

$20 hostel

Take me there!

Piha Beach

Wandering around Auckland has been fun, but I’m dying to see some of what New Zealand is most famous for – it’s beautiful wilderness and beaches! I’ve found that getting around is almost impossible without a car, and while I made sure to get my international driving permit before I left Canada…I’m still not sure I’m ready to drive on the other side of the road. I still haven’t even gotten used to walking on the opposite side, much less driving.  Continue reading “Piha Beach”

What to Pack for a Move Across the World

What does one pack to move across the world for a year? How can you possibly cram your whole life into a single backpack? Well firstly, for such a journey, I suggest bringing 2 backpacks.
1 large (check in) and 1 medium (carry on)! Continue reading “What to Pack for a Move Across the World”