Tuesday, 28 October 2014

My Memories From Working Holiday In New Zealand

Fulfilling a Dream

Many people asked me what my motivation was when I decided to embark on that fateful New Zealand working trip, and frankly, it is a question that I can't really answer. I remember getting the visa approval, making the necessary travel arrangement, then flying off when everyone around me was still thinking I'd never do it. Deep inside, I think the trip was probably just an avenue for me to fulfil my life-long dream of living abroad. Whatever it is, it was a decision I have yet to and probably would never regret making.

Going with the Flow in an "Unplanned” Journey

Most travellers believe planning is key when you travel abroad. For a working holiday trip, however, all I can say is that no amount of research would help you prepare for what is to come. In fact, it is this element of "unknown" that makes a working holiday such a wonderful experience.

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I spent most of my time walking the streets... waiting for surprises to find me. Some of my most memorable experiences include spotting a convoy of bikers who were all naked from the waist up, with seemingly no special agenda for doing so other than to prove they could. On another occasion, I accidentally stumbled upon a Christmas festive parade that literally popped out from nowhere. These events may not be significant to anyone in a meaningful way, but to me, they would forever remain my happy thoughts.

I came to New Zealand with nothing but a return ticket, two weeks worth of clothing and a grand total of 2,250 New Zealand Dollars. To speak the truth, I never thought I would last as long as I did. In fact, I was ready right from the start to return home as soon as I burned my living expenses! That state of mind meant I was able to tour New Zealand under no pressure whatsoever, which made my trip indefinitely more enjoyable.

Luck may have it, after just a few days of bungling around; I found support from a fellow traveller from Brazil who eventually became my roommate. We stayed in a village for a short while, then moved to Auckland where I immediately secured a job at a sushi restaurant... hence beginning an unexpected eight-month stay.

My stay in New Zealand mostly revolved around Auckland. It was the hub where I worked, mingled with new friends and learned how to play New Zealand's national sport - rugby. I even had a few men asking me out from the city too! Unlike most backpackers I know, I was contented with just staying in a single base and enjoying the simplicity of living the Kiwi way. But most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of all the new friends I met during my working holiday.

Working at a Vineyard

Somewhere along the line, I found myself working in a vineyard, in a job that mainly involved bending down and trimming excessive leaves from the grapevines all day long. Now, working in a vineyard may seem to be easy but I can attest to the fact that it is only deceptively so. My time there was a test of strength, stamina and height... and nothing like the peachy job I envisaged it to be! Nonetheless, I willed myself to survive all three months in the vineyard - which was integral to my securing of an extension visa. When I left, it was with a real sense of pride.

My Memorable Visit of Tongariro National Park

Remember Mordor, the ash-laden volcanic plateau where Frodo eventually destroyed the one ring? The setting of that all-important location from "The Lord of the Rings" is actually New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. During my stay, I made it a point to trek across that impressive and very scenic landscape.

To be perfectly frank, climbing to the top of Tongariro National Park was tough. Really tough. Though the sign states it takes a mere 90 minute to get to the pinnacle, our journey to reach the top took us no less than five hours, traversing on some of the sandiest and most difficult trails I have ever come across. And when we finally reached the top, it was time to head down again because the sun sets really early here, at around 5pm in early winter.

A word of warning: at the Tongariro National Park, it does not pay to act the tough guy. During my trip, two of our fellow team members opted to trek back on foot to the starting point while the rest of us chose the easy way out on a motor transport. The team ended up waiting an extra three hours for them, all the time worrying about their safety and wondering if there was a need to call the authorities. When they finally arrived with barely a hint of remaining sunlight, I would never forget the look of sheer terror on their faces. To put it simply, Tongariro is not a place you'd want to "tough it out”,especially if you dont know the place well!

The Ending

In total, my working holiday trip of New Zealand lasted one full year, where I found myself employed in a vineyard, an oyster farm, a mutton factory and a kiwifruit processing plant, just to name a few.

The New Zealanders comply fully with authorized working hours. Generally, I started work in 6:00am and knocked off at around 2:30pm. Because had so much spare time in the afternoon, I ended up learning how to bake!

Every weekend (or during the intervals where I was unemployed), I would seize the chance to go sightseeing. I'm proud to say that in 12 months, I managed to make my way to both the southern tip of the South Island and the northern tip of the North Island - quite an achievement, I must add.
In New Zealand. I learned and did tons of things I would never do back home, such as collecting abalones, catching crabs the Kiwi way (using wooden sticks) and fishing for salmons. I had, in one particularly adventurous expedition, tried to hitchhike my way to another town, and was reprimanded quite severely by the lady driver who picked me up. On an unrelated note: my landlady did try to match me up with her son, which of course did not succeed.

Did New Zealand change me or affect me in ways on a subconscious level? Frankly, I don't know. What I do know is that I will never forget about my one-year stay in that beautiful country ever.

New Zealand Visa Application Process For Malaysian

1              Go to  https://www.immigration.govt.nz/secure/default.htm to register a login ID.
2              upon successful login choose Online Services > Working Holiday. Follow the online instructions then choose Malaysia.
3              Complete the online form, then pay 120 New Zealand Dollars (Visa or MasterCard only) using the online payment system.
4              Application commences and will take between one and 80 days to complete. Certain applicants may be asked to provide additional information on your financial capabilities and travel plans, depending on independent circumstances.

Note: All successful applicants must arrive in New Zealand within one year of your approvals. For example: if your application is approved on 1 January 2014, you must arrive in New Zealand before 1 January 2015 using the Working Holiday visa.

Definition of a Working Holiday

Based on existing policy, a Working Holiday visa holder may work no more than three months for one single employer in New Zealand. Some of the potential work places that require such short-term or seasonal help include farms, vegetable packaging plants, motels and restaurants.

The good news is: short-term jobs in New Zealand are relatively easy to find if you aren't too picky. The local dailies, notice boards in supermarkets and motels as well as job search websites and companies are all good places to start. Take note, however, that jobs can be scarce in winter, between July and September.

Generally, people on Working Holiday visas can be separated into two main categories, namely: (i) those seeking work to earn and save money; and (ii) those seeking work to finance their holidays in New Zealand. Depending on which category you fall under, you my wish to adopt a different approach.

For people seeking work to earn and save money, consider:
             Indoor work, so your work hours are not affected by the weather.
            Jobs in smaller townships, which tend to offer more stability compared to the big cities as labour can be hard to find.

             Jobs in cafes, restaurants and supermarkets, which compromise lower pay with long, stable hours.

Holiday The Ultimate Work Motivation

As a travel destination, New Zealand is indeed one of a kind. Be it the majestic view of the ocean, the lush pristine fields of grazing farm animals, the colourful cities and townships or just the embrace of Mother Nature at its dazzling best; New Zealand has the best of every world to satisfy just about any kind of travellers. This makes it one of the best places on Earth for working holiday travellers because you’ll always have a balance of work and leisure, and be properly motivated to work (so you can save enough to see more of this beautiful country).

North Island


Nestled in between two harbours, Auckland is New Zealand's most populous urban area and a paradise for sailing enthusiasts. Nicknamed "the Capital of Sails”,Aucklands namesake is derived from the Maori name, Tamaki Makaurau, which can be loosely translated as "the girl with a thousand lovers". Auckland is home to a number of aboriginal settlements and is blessed with stunning nature. Be it for luxury travellers or backpackers, Auckland is definitely a good place to start your New Zealand adventure.


New Zealand's capital, Wellington, is a city of fine arts and culture. It boasts beautiful historical buildings, museums and art galleries, which are complemented by a bustling entertainment scene and delicious cuisines. Located between Cook Strait and Rimutaka Range, Wellington is also within reach of many pristine islands, traditional fishing villages, beaches and wildlife protection zones. In 2011, Lonely Planet nominated Wellington as one of the World's Top 10 Cities, describing it as being "Cool with a Capital C. If you love nature and theatrical performance in one package, Wellington is the place to go.


There is a common saying in New Zealand, "If you haven’t been to Rotorua, you haven’t been to New Zealand at all". Possibly one of the most filmed places of the country, Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal activities, notably its geysers and hot mud pools. Here, the air is permanently filled with steam and permeated with a lingering aroma of sulphur - which explains why Rotorua is nicknamed "Sulphur City". For the record, Rotorua is also the area most populous with Maori, so there is no place better to see the famous Maori "battle dance" and immerse in it charming culture and traditions.

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake, which has a surface equivalent to the size of Singapore! But sheer size aside, Lake Taupo is also home to the exquisite Huka Falls and is a year-round fishing ground for trout - making it a wonderful destination to work and travel. When here, do not miss out on the opportunity to go skydiving. Reportedly, Lake Taupo is one of the cheapest places on Earth to skydive.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves, located about one- hour south of Hamilton, is known for its vast population of glow worms and intricate limestone formations. A typical guided tour here takes you on a boat ride through the underground Waitomo River, lit only by the stardust-like illuminations of the glow worms all around. For the more adventurous, you could also abseil down the tricky rock face or put on a wetsuit and float around the gushing river. One thing's for sure, you will be bowled over by the amazingly complex cave interiors.

South Island


New Zealand’s third largest city, Christchurch, is famously referred to as the "Garden Capital" due to its structured, large-scale flower arrangements seen all over the city. Unlike many other thriving metropolitans, Christchurch is surprisingly devoid of traffic and commercialization, and is instead littered with historical buildings from the 19th Century submerged in a sea of riverside gardens. Needless to say, the best way to tour Christchurch is on foot, and you will find no lack of pedestrians walking its streets and soaking up the quietly elegant atmosphere all year round. If you're thinking of making your way to the South Island, you won't go wrong with Christchurch as your base.

West Coast

A sparsely populated district heavily protected by the New Zealand government, West Coast is most famous as home of the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier, two of the most accessible glaciers of the world. Once a gold mining district, West Coast today is a thriving tourism district benefiting from the huge influx of glacier watchers and trekkers. For those who make it here, partaking in a glacier tour is not so much an option as it is a must.


An important tourist destination of the South Island, Queenstown prides itself as being the “Capital of Adventure” due the numerous rapids, mountains and other extreme terrains it is inherently blessed with. But the challenging activities you can partake here aside, Queenstown is indefinitely more well-known as a major setting in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. If you're an adventure seeker and a movie buff, Queenstown is in every sense of the word the ultimate working holiday paradise for you.


Dunedin is a city that glitters with Victorian and Edwardian architectures. It was at the height of its powers during the Gold Rush some two hundred years ago, though its influence as an economic hub had since dwindled. Today, Dunedin is more well known as home of Baldwin Street (claimed to be the world's steepest street) and the Taieri Gorge Railway, which runs along the banks of the Taieri River and features numerous tunnels and steep climbs. Just 40 minutes away from the city centre, wild penguins can be spotted every night when they return to shore to rest. For those who love a close encounter with the cute wobbly kind, consider Dunedin seriously.

About New Zealand


New Zealand is an island country facing Australia to the northwest and Fiji to the north. The country is made up of two main landmasses, the North Island and the South Island, which are separated by the Cook Strait in between. New Zealand's capital, Wellington, is found on the southern tip of the North Island. Due to its unique geographic position, New Zealand is officially recognized as one of the first counties in the world to see the Sun.


New Zealand's first settlers were Polynesians who arrived around 1250 - 1300 and subsequently developed the country's unique Maori culture. In 1624, the country was sighted by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who named it Staten Landt. British explorer James Cook later anglicised the name to "New Zealand".

In 1769, Cook mapped almost the entire coastline of New Zealand, paving the way for frequent visits from European and North American trading ships. In 1840, the British Crown and the Maori signed the famous Treaty of Waitangi, officially making New Zealand a British colony. It is said that two versions of the treaty existed, one in English, and one in Maori. Discrepancy of the treaty clauses due to mistranslation would eventually lead to misunderstanding between the Maori community and the government for some time.

In 1907 New Zealand was proclaimed a self-governing dominion within the British Empire. In 1947, New Zealand took a major step in its road to independence when its parliament was granted full legislative powers. By 1949, New Zealanders officially became known as "New Zealand citizens".


The Capital of New Zealand is Wellington, the second most populous urban area of the country.


Over the past two decades, New Zealand has successfully transcended from an agriculture-based economy to an industry-based economy dictated by free market. However, agricultural products such as dairy products and wool continue to be the country's main exports.


New Zealand annual temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius in the South Island and 16 degrees Celsius in the North Island. The warmest months are January and February, while the coldest is July. Though New Zealand generally does not experience drastic temperature change, there are days when temperature could rise or fall sharply. An important thing to take note is that UV levels can be high especially in the North Island, due mainly to extended daytime and lack of air pollutants.


New Zealand has a population of around 4 million people, compared to well over 20 million in Malaysia. Most of its population are settled in the North Island.

Currency Exchange

One New Zealand Dollar = -3.15 Malaysian Ringgit (for reference only)

Time Zone

New Zealand’s standard time is four hours faster than Malaysia’s. During the summer (October - March), daylight saving is observed, and time difference between New Zealand and Malaysia becomes five hours.

Standard Opening Hours

For Banks: 8:30am - 4:30pm
For Offices: 9:00am - 5:00pm (Mon to Fri)
For Shops: 9:00am - 5:00pm (Mon to Fri). most shops are opened during the weekends


220 - 240 V, Type 1 electric socket with two or three flat pins.

Significant National Public Holiday

On 6 February, New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day, which commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document.

Iconic Floral Symbol

The Koru, a spiral shape based on the silver fern frond, is one of New Zealand's most famous icons. In the lush tropical rainforest region of New Zealand, silver ferns used to serve as landmark markers for Maori hunters making their way home.

National Bird

Kiwi, a species of flightless bird that reportedly sleeps around 20 hours a day, is a national symbol of New Zealand. The term "Kiwi" is so closely associated with the country that it has become a colloquial nickname for New Zealanders as a whole.

Working Holiday In New Zealand

As part of a global agreement with 34 countries, New Zealand’s Working Holiday visas are opened to people aged 18 - 30 on an annual basis, with Malaysia getting an allocation of around 1,150 visas per year. Successful applicants are allowed to work while holidaying in New Zealand for six months.

Visa Qualifiers

Application for New Zealand's Working Holiday visa is available online aH-year- round on a first come, first served basis. Every participating country is allocated a fixed quota per year. When the quote is exceeded, application is suspended until the following year. In 2013, Malaysia's quota was exceeded on the first day of the year!

To qualify as an applicant, these are what you need:-

             A Malaysian passport that is valid for at least three months after you leave New Zealand (e.g. say you decide to return from your working holiday trip on 1 January, your passport must be valid until 1 April)
             To be between 19 - 30 (before your 31st birthday)
             To hold a return ticket or have enough money to afford a return ticket
             To have at least 2,250 New Zealand Dollars to afford the expenses of staying in New Zealand (i.e. you may be checked at the New Zealand immigration)
             To pass all health qualifications and hold no criminal records
             To understand that your purpose of holding the visa is mainly to travel and not to work fulltime in New Zealand
             To have never held a Working Holiday visa before
             If you are currently already in New Zealand, you’ll still need to produce evidence of a valid visa to stay in New Zealand (in addition to the Working Holiday visa)
             Take note children are not allowed to accompany the successful visa holder to New Zealand

More information cartie found at: