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From working holiday visa to a resident

I first came to New Zealand on a working holiday three years ago.  As I’m the type who likes planning ahead, I started applying for jobs (mostly through the Seasonal Jobs New Zealand website) in October, hoping to start work in January.  But when I was called up the next day by two different places asking if I could start work next week, I decided to delay the search! 

In December I applied for two different cooking jobs, one at Mt. Cook Village and one in Wanaka.  They both got back to me almost at once, and after googling photos of both areas (knowing almost nothing about New Zealand at the time), I decided to go with the Wanaka job!  I had worked as a baker and breakfast cook the summer before, so I was an ideal candidate, and I was offered the job as a chef’s assistant at Kai Whakapai following a phone interview. 

Honestly, I would have been happy with a fruit-picking job—anything to get me to New Zealand.  But Kai Café was perfect. 

I started my job the day after I arrived in Wanaka.  The flat I had lined up fell through (there was a miscommunication, and the room I wanted wasn’t available), but I was able to sort out a much better (and cheaper!) place that same day.  Basically I just sat at the lakefront while the flat-owner chatted to his mate, and next thing I knew I had a place to live! 

That was my first introduction to how easy and straightforward most things are in New Zealand. 

It was simple enough setting up a bank account with Westpac and getting an IRD number (required for anyone working in New Zealand), and then all I had to worry about was work and travel. 

Working at Kai Café was wonderful.  I had never been formally trained as a chef, yet I was given many opportunities to perform as a full chef, and the team was plenty of fun to work with.  I had coworkers from Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand, and the owners were never afraid to step in and wash dishes if we were busy. 

Better still, with the high minimum wage and affordable cost of living, I was left with about $500 a week to spend on travel.  I visited Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Glenorchy, and the Catlins; did a canyoning tour, a horseback riding trip, a 4-wheeling excursion, and a whitewater sledging trip; and hiked up mountains and to backcountry huts most weekends.  It was crazy!  I started to think of my work-days as “down time” in between the hikes and adventures. 

I worked at Kai Whakapai for three months, and afterwards spent three weeks traveling around as much of the South Island as I could see.  If I had the chance to do it all again, I absolutely would.  For me, it was comforting to have a home base to return to while I traveled, and a community to become familiar with.  And I gained enough experience in my role that I was later hired as a proper chef at an upscale restaurant. 

You can probably tell how much I loved New Zealand by the fact that I’m now a resident! 

Submitted by: Rebecca Vickers
Date submitted: 24/03/2016 11:39:14 AM

Apple grading & stacking Fri Jun 8

Grape picking Fri Jun 8

Blueberry picking Fri Jun 8

Hop work in Motueka Tue May 16

Working as an apple packer in Motueka Mon May 9

Working for free accommodation in Wellington Thu Mar 24

From working holiday visa to a resident Thu Mar 24

From the big city to the field of kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

Working with Kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

The Christmas rush Mon Feb 29

Packing kiwifruit in Motueka Mon Feb 29

Asparagus picking Mon Feb 29

put on your work clothes, roll up your sleeves and get out there Tue May 27


The Gorilla Hut Sun May 26

Working in sales in NZ Mon May 13

Life as an apple picker Mon May 13

Marahau Sun May 5

hanging nets at isabel vinyard Mon Mar 25

Farm stay Tue Feb 5

Berry-Picking and Ice-Cream Making Tue Dec 18

Vineyard Work in Blenheim Sun Nov 25

Working As A "Milkman" Sat Aug 4

Being an au-pair Thu Aug 2

Grape harvesting in Central Otago Thu Aug 2

Whenever Wed Jun 6

Picking up the oil in Tauranga Mon May 21

Onion grading Sat May 12

Omarama, Place of Light Tue Apr 3

Napier or the job war Sun Apr 1

Some helpful tips Wed Feb 29

Fruit picking in Central Otago Mon Feb 27

Some useful tips Thu Feb 16

Fruit picking in Motueka Wed Jan 18

Where Do We Go From Here Tue Dec 20

Picked it, Packed it, Buggered Off! Tue Dec 20

Seasonal jobs COULD change your very life as you know it Tue Dec 20

I work to live, I don’t live to work Mon Dec 19

I only had $100 to my name Sun Nov 20

Odd Jobs In Central Otago Sun Nov 20

Peach thinning working experience Sun Nov 20

The young vines were frosted over Sun Nov 20

The work found me Sun Nov 20

Working for Watties Factory Mon Oct 24

Working New Zealand from a different perspective Mon Oct 24

I had always been dreaming about coming to New Zealand Mon Oct 24

My first job in vineyards was stripping Mon Oct 24

My happiness was indescribable Tue Oct 18

Working in a Packhouse in Auckland Tue Oct 18

Working on a vineyard in Blenheim Tue Oct 18

Cycling in New Zealand not friendly Tue Oct 18

Fruit Picking Tips for New Zealand Mon Aug 22

Whale and Dolphin Watching Sat Aug 13

Cherry Picking in Central Otago Sat Aug 13

16 Argentinian people living there, it was awesome! Tue Jul 26

No one got payslips, really crazy Sat Jul 23

picked apples at first Sat Jul 23

In 18 months I have worked with kiwi fruits, apples, two epic ski seasons and a travelling carnival Sat Jul 23

cash-in-hand odd jobs Sat Jul 23

A rugby team we’ve beaten twice at the Rugby World Cup? Let’s go teasing them! Sat Jul 23

Talking to strangers about charity Sat Jul 23

Fresh out of college Sat Jul 23

Working trees for $350 per week Sat Jul 23

German Windsurf Instructor in New Zealand Sun Jul 17

Vineyard work in South Island New Zealand Sun Jul 17

We had idea, get visa, sell everything and just go to New Zealand Sun Jul 17


Wilding Pines Sun Jul 17

boss was very nice and friendly Sun May 8

Vintage in Central Otago - Working in the Wine Industry Sun May 8

Mr Apple packhouse experience Mon May 2

North Island Notes Wed Apr 20

Fruitpicking in Napier Wed Apr 20

blueberry harvest season Thu Apr 7

bbq on the beach and if you lucky see some Dolphis too Thu Apr 7

Mate! You are on fire!! Sun Mar 20

The real vineyard work lowdown Fri Mar 11

I had pretty much run out of cash Wed Mar 9

The Land of New Zealand Mon Feb 28

Work in backpackers in exchange for accommodation Sat Feb 26

heard cattle on motorbikes Fri Feb 18

Traditional Maori hangi Thu Feb 17

Fortune Fruit and spitting cherry pits competitions Tue Feb 15

When I got to Whangamata... Sat Feb 12

I could romanticize it… Tue Dec 7

I thought it sounded interesting Tue Dec 7

My New Zealand adventure :) Wed Nov 3

Well I am from Mexico... Mon Oct 25

~New Zealand has no bandits and the relaxed lifestyle is second to none~ Fri May 14

New Zealand's got cheap banks!! Mon Apr 26

Tips from Latvia...yes not Russia ;) Tue Mar 16

First Job Thinning Apples... Mon Mar 1

Damn recession! Wed Feb 10

Loving New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

From aircrafts to vineyard work in New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

A Czech in New Zealand.. Fri Feb 5

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