Tag Archives: work and travel

Month 1 in New Zealand

After traveling on and off for a few years, I finally took the leap to “live” and work in a foreign country – New Zealand. I began the journey by staying in Auckland for three weeks. A welcoming place for young people, New Zealand ranks high regarding shares of foreign-born residents, especially in the largest city, which is at 40%. Auckland in particular is a great gateway for those setting up a (temporary) new life. A strong community of foreign students and residents, and temporary workers flourishes in the city – we live together, work together and assist one another in navigating our new home – even my banker said she started her life in New Zealand on a Working Holiday.

Every place has an atmosphere that feels different to a visitor, however Auckland has familiar vibe, as if it’s some American coastal town (minus the accent). Like every major city there’s a business center and tourist hub situated in the heart with a few distinct neighborhoods clustered around it, each with their own flair. Outside of this urban core are a network of suburbs complete with green athletic fields, Crossfit gyms and little malls. Driving a personal vehicle is very popular and there are plenty of big trucks and vans. Things look like home but sound differently. A bit like Minneapolis, there are many green spaces for people to just be outside while in the city. I enjoy people watching and these little areas make it so easy to enjoy an ice cream or coffee and see what’s going on in the neighborhood. It’s also great to just be able to get me-time (a backpackers dream) and relax while still being in a public space.


A sunny weekend on Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride from Auckland. I cycled the hilly roads, sipped local wine and read a book on beach.

Yes, some things are different here, but it’s been easy to adapt. One of the first things I did after arriving was buy a bicycle in order to get around quickly and get acquainted with the layout of Auckland. I must say the cycling here is horrible – poor infrastructure and dangerous drivers put the city, in my experience, as the worst Westernized urban area I have biked. This broke my heart a bit since it’s my favorite way to travel but hopefully I’ll stay safe when I do go riding.

So what am I doing in New Zealand? Working in tourism- absolutely unrelated to my professional background. Not on a long term work arrangement, I have a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) which qualifies foreigners age 18 – 31 for non-permanent jobs all over the country. This visa is normally used by travelers to fund their time exploring more deeply than a simple holiday and provides cheap labor to the New Zealand economy. The experience can be just for fun and personal growth or be thoughtfully blended into, or begin, a career path. Occasionally a WHV-holder is offered a normal working visa through a sponsor employer but the vast majority are here to try new things and meet people. So far I have meet WHV’ers from sixteen countries and have been brushing up on my foreign language skills, and even learning new vocabulary (and I don’t mean Kiwi English, which is it’s own thing)!

Bethells Beach, a gorgeous day trip from Auckland.

After staying three weeks in West Auckland volunteering with a hostel, I will soon begin work near Paparoa National Park. I will bake bread and treats and do whatever other help is needed at a retreat (basically a nice lodge with many cabins set in a rain forest). A low stress, part-time job perfectly situated for outdoor recreation was exactly what I had in mind when I sought a New Zealand WHV. There will be enough time and energy in the week to socialize with and get to know local people and live the “kiwi lifestyle” and I will walk away with enough cash to go camping and hiking for a few weeks when the position wraps up. Although it’s been fun, I am ready to step away from the backpacking community for a bit and immerse myself in a routine more typical to a New Zealander and be in a setting more Kiwi than foreigner. I came to experience how life is here and hope to learn a lot about New Zealand culture, work-life balance and all the little things that make it unique.

Mount Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom and part of Mordor, is the crown of the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Before starting my job, I have been making my way down the North Island, enjoying hikes and the outdoors. New Zealand’s wealth of varied landscapes is impressive. Native bird songs, the strong breeze and occasional rains set a relaxing mood and outside of Auckland weather has been great. I especially liked the glistening blue waters of Lake Taupo and milky-white, thermally active Lake Rotorua. My absolute favorite place has been Tongariro National Park where I completed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19 km hike through three volcanic peaks, across wide craters and around jewel-colored lakes. The hike is extremely popular with nature-lovers and the Lord of the Rings fandom, as the park was used as a set and inspiration for many scenes in the films. The South Island nature is also impressive and I’m really excited to see it for myself. Spotting a penguin in the wild is one of my dreams and with some luck it could come true in the next few weeks.

Thermally active Lake Rotorua.

I invite you to follow my journey in New Zealand. I will be living and working near Paparoa National Park in the South Island for several weeks. If you’ve been to New Zealand yourself, I would absolutely love to hear what you did and about the overall experience. As always, thank you for reading.



Work Holiday Visas for U.S. Citizens

Whether an experienced traveler or a newbie, obtaining a Working Holiday Visa, sometimes known as a Work and Travel Visa, can be the key to making a long-term travel opportunity affordable. Visa holders are legally allowed to work in jobs (under certain conditions) while they make their way through a country. The obvious benefits are having income while traveling, the opportunity to network and gain new skills, more intimate access to the local community through co-workers and other relationships built while working, and more time to immerse yourself in the culture of your country of choice.

Basic requirements vary but generally include: a U.S. Passport valid for at least 6 – 12 months past your exit date, a return ticket, be in overall good health and proof of health insurance, not have minor dependents and be able to prove a basic level of savings you can dip into during your stay. Unfortunately, US Citizens get the short stick in the developed world when looking at Working Holiday Visa opportunities; we have established programs with just five nations. We are eligible for Working Holiday Visas in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.


Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Australia? This huge country requires a lot of time to properly explore and a Working Holiday visa is a great way to make a visit budget-friendly. This visa will allow a holder to work for up to six months with each company.

Main industries: Tourism, agriculture, construction, skilled trades and healthcare.
Application fee: Free
Length: 12 months
Age Restriction: Age 18 – 30*
*Applying at age 30 and entering at age 31 after a visa is granted is acceptable

Visit the Australia immigration page for complete information and to start the process.


Current and recent students can spend a year working in the gorgeous Emerald Isle, the only European destination on this list.

Main industries: Tourism, some engineering fields, healthcare, IT, finance/business.
Application fee: About $350
Length: 12 months
Age Restriction: Age 18+ Must be currently a post-secondary student or have graduated university in the past year.

Visit the Ireland immigration page for complete information and to start the process.

New Zealand

A beautiful country! A work and travel set up is ideal for the adventurer looking to maximize their stay while on a sporty holiday in The Land of the Long White Cloud.  I personally applied and was granted a visa. I felt the process was fast and no-nonsense. It’s completely uneccessary to pay an agency to do this for you.

Main industries:Tourism, hospitality, agriculture, skilled trades and healthcare.
Application fee: Free
Length: 12 months
Age Restriction: Age 18 – 30*
*Applying at age 30 and entering at age 31 after a visa is granted is acceptable.

Visit the New Zealand immigration page for complete information and to start the process.

South Korea

Forested mountains, beaches, castles and metropoles – Korea has everything.

Application fee: Free
Length: 12 months
Age Restriction: Age 18 + Must be currently a post-secondary student or have graduated university in the past year.

Visit the South Korea immigration page for complete information and to start the process.


Singapore is the most competitive Working Holiday Visa open to U.S. Citizens – only 2,000 are granted each year. Be prepared and do your research beforehand to improve your chances of getting accepted.

Length: 6 months
Age Restriction: Age 18 – 25 Must be currently a post-secondary student from a recognized institution.

Visit the Singapore immigration page for complete information and to start the process.

A word of warning: Work and travel visas are best for someone comfortable with change, casual employment and open to doing work in a field that may be unfamiliar.  Although technically most of the visas listed here make one eligible to work a contract or “regular” job on non-permanent basis, these are tough to get. Keep and open mind and be aware your realistic opportunities are in tourism, hospitality or jobs that are seasonal in nature.