Complete Guide to the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand (2024)

Working Holiday Visas offer the best of both worlds - work or play.
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Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer


The Working Holiday Visa program in New Zealand allows young people between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 35) to combine travel and work experiences. This program enables participants to explore New Zealand's natural beauty and cultural diversity while simultaneously gaining international work experience. Through this initiative, the New Zealand government aims to promote global exchange and facilitate participants' professional skill development and personal growth through temporary employment and educational opportunities.

This comprehensive guide provides essential, practical information about the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand to assist in the visa application process.

What is a Working Holiday Visa?

A Working Holiday Visa allows young people, typically between the age limit of 18 to 35 (and up to 30 in some countries), to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months. This type of visa is available only between countries that have bilateral agreements with New Zealand specifically for working holidays.


The specifics of the visa, such as age requirements, the length of stay permitted, necessary funds, and any particular working criteria, are determined by the agreements between New Zealand and the applicant's home country. For example, Canadians can stay for up to 23 months, while UK citizens may be eligible for up to 36 months.


The visa provides a unique opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in New Zealand’s culture from a resident’s perspective, work to support themselves financially during their stay, and gain valuable experiences and skills to take back home

What Can You Do with a Working Holiday Visa? 

Working Holiday Visa holders can engage in temporary employment and educational activities, though there are specific conditions for both:


Employment Conditions

  • You are not permitted to accept a permanent job offer.
  • The type of work you can do may vary depending on the specific agreements New Zealand has with your home country.
  • It's important to check the details of your country's working holiday visa scheme to understand the allowed types of employment.

Studying and Training Courses

  • The visa allows you to study or participate in training courses for up to six months.
  • This could include taking an English language course, enrolling in a Study Abroad programme, or completing a short training course.
  • These educational activities can provide personal and professional development during your stay in New Zealand.


What are the Eligibility Requirements to Apply for a Working Holiday Scheme?

To be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand, applicants must meet specific requirements:

  • Age: Applicants must be aged between 18 to 30 or 35, depending on their nationality.
  • Country Agreement: Applicants must be from a country that has a Working Holiday Visa agreement with New Zealand.
  • Intent: Applicants should not intend to take up permanent employment.
  • Character and Health: Applicants must meet the expected character and health requirements.
  • Previous Visits: Applicants should not have previously visited New Zealand using the Working Holiday Scheme or have been approved for one.
  • Medical Insurance: Applicants must have medical insurance for the entire duration of their stay.
  • Passport Validity: Applicants must have a valid passport for at least 15 months after their arrival in New Zealand. All applicants must also ensure their passport is valid for at least three months beyond their planned departure from New Zealand.
  • Primary Purpose: The main reason for the visit should be tourism, with work or study being secondary activities.
  • No Dependents: Applicants must not have any dependent children with them during their working holiday in New Zealand.

Which Countries Have a Working Holiday Programme with New Zealand?


Working holiday visas are available only to the citizens of certain countries which have a working holiday program with New Zealand. Different countries with working holiday agreements include the following:

Argentina Hong Kong Philippines
Austria Ireland Poland
Belgium Israel Portugal
Brazil Italy Singapore
Canada Japan Slovakia
Chile Korea (South) Slovenia
China Latvia Spain
Croatia Lithuania Sweden
Czech Republic Luxembourg Taiwan
Denmark Malaysia Thailand
Estonia Malta Turkey
Finland Mexico United Kingdom
France Netherlands USA
Germany Norway Uruguay
Hungary Peru Vietnam


What are Your Obligations After Obtaining a Working Holiday Visa?

When your New Zealand Working Holiday Visa is approved, it is crucial to adhere to all the stipulated conditions to maintain your visa status. Failure to comply can lead to the cancellation of your visa and the requirement to leave the country. Below are the obligations that must be met:

Work Limitations You must not have any intention of seeking permanent employment in New Zealand.
Dependents You are not allowed to have dependents accompanying you during your stay.
Character and Health Standards You must continue to meet the expected character and health requirements.
Medical Requirements Depends on the duration of stay allowed by your country's working holiday scheme, presence in NZ at the time of applying, past stays in high tuberculosis (TB) incidence countries, and past medical exams. Health checks typically include chest x-rays to screen for TB and general medical examinations.
Upon Arrival in New Zealand Proof of a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase one. You must also have adequate funds for your stay, typically at least NZ$4,200.
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What are the Differences Between the NZ Working Holiday Visa and Other Visa Options?

The following table summarises the key differences between the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa and other visa options:

Feature Working Holiday Visa Other Work Visas
Eligibility Available only to citizens from countries with an agreement. May be available to a broader range of nationalities.
Documentation Requirements Typically exempt from proving English proficiency, possessing certain educational qualifications, or undergoing comprehensive medical exams. Often requires proof of English proficiency, specific qualifications, and comprehensive medical exams.
Duration of Stay 12 months, extendable to 23 months for U.K. or Canada citizens. Duration may vary, often longer, depending on job or conditions.
Employment Restrictions Does not permit permanent employment. May allow permanent employment.
Healthcare Access No subsidised access to healthcare facilities. May have subsidised healthcare benefits.
Intent of Stay Primarily for travel, with work as a secondary intention. Designed for longer-term employment and residency.


Check out our comprehensive guides on your other visa options here.

Can You Delay a Working Holiday Visa?

If you have been granted a working holiday visa, you are required to activate it by arriving in New Zealand within the timeframe specified (usually within one year from the date it is granted). It is important to note that once a working holiday visa has been granted, you cannot delay or cancel it. If you do not activate the visa within the allotted time, it will lapse and no longer be valid.

Can Working Holiday Visa Holders Stay Longer?

Extension options for a working holiday visa vary depending on your nationality and activities during your stay:

  • For UK and Canadian Citizens: If you are a Canadian citizen on a 12-month working holiday visa, you may be able to extend your stay for up to another 11 months with a Working Holiday Scheme Subsequent Work Visa. Similarly, UK citizens on a 12-month or longer visa may extend their working holiday to cover up to the maximum of 36 months allowed under this scheme.
  • After Completing Seasonal Work: If you have completed 3 months of seasonal work in the horticulture or viticulture industries during your initial working holiday visa, you might qualify for a 3-month extension. This extension does not require continuous employment or employment with the same employer, nor do you need to have a job offer to apply.
  • Limitations: You can only be granted one Working Holiday Extension Visa, and if approved, the extended visa will retain the same conditions as your initial Working Holiday Visa.

Applying for the Working Holiday in New Zealand? We’re Here to Help

A working holiday in New Zealand can be a valuable experience, providing an opportunity to explore the country and enhance your resume with international work experience. If you are interested in this opportunity, it is important to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements and understand the obligations involved. If you require assistance or legal advice regarding the visa process, consider contacting Immigration Lawyer NZ. Our team of experts can help guide you through the application process and provide support for your New Zealand working holiday experience.

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Last modified on 11 July 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.

Remember, New Zealand immigration laws and policies change constantly, without warning.

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