Tag archive for "living abroad"

How to move to New Zealand: five steps

Destinations, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

How to move to New Zealand: five steps

4 Comments 13 June 2013

You’ve taken the plunge.

Despite all your 20-something friends getting married and having babies, plus your parents pressure to find a “real job” and settle down, you’ve decided to leave your home country for one year and move abroad on a working holiday visa.

And what a plunge it is.

New Zealand.

Land of the long white cloud. One of the most scenic and most peaceful places to live on earth. A place where there are more sheep than people and even hobbits are celebrated. For most, it’s the other side of the world. Two large islands floating out in the Pacific. Not far from Australia or Antarctica, you don’t get much more off the map than here.

That can be daunting for people planning to make a home there for the year, but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is that New Zealand is one of the friendliest nations in the world and I’ve found, one of the most accepting of foreign guests. These five steps will help those 18-30 years old move to New Zealand on a working holiday visa.

1.) Start saving

You’ll want to separate your budget into two things for New Zealand, flights and money required on arrival.

I point out flights, because no matter where you are flying from, a one-way ticket to New Zealand is not cheap. Expect to pay about $US1,500 for a one-way ticket. Add $US200 on if you are flying somewhere other than Auckland.

After putting money aside for your flight, the rest of your budget depends on what you expect to do upon arrival in the country.

New Zealand’s immigration website states that people must have a minimum of $NZ4,200 to be eligible for the US Work Holiday Scheme. I’ll be completely honest and say that they don’t verify it. I didn’t have to prove I had those funds before applying, nor at the airport upon arrival.

That said, I really recommend having at least that much. I wasn’t checked, but you might be. Plus that is a good safety net for anyone unsure of when or where they will be finding a job in their new country.

I would recommend no less than $US2,000 to feel secure from the time you arrive until the time you find a job.

People should also consider whether they will be working, soon after arrival or after traveling around a bit. New Zealand can be an expensive country to travel. It has a lot of extreme sports that you would be silly not to try, but it’ll cost you.

Milford Sound

Head to the bottom of the South Island to see Milford Sound. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

2. Apply for a working holiday visa

Just do it! I don’t know why people, and by people I mean me, put this off. Most are happily accepted and if they are not, it’s usually for a very valid reason. You’ll be asked to pay an application fee, which varies depending on where you’re from. When I did it, it was free to US citizens, at the time this post was written it cost $US140, but it can change so click here to see how much it will cost you to apply.

The process is pretty similar for all the countries eligible and it’s very straight forward. You can apply online. To do so, you must fill in all your personal information, including passport number. You must answer questions about your health and your character.

Depending on your answers, you may be asked to submit more information, such as a medical, but usually you won’t be. Just follow the process and be honest.

While on the topic of applying, NZ immigration requires visitors to have travel insurance. If you’re from a country that does not have national healthcare or something corresponding the the New Zealand healthcare system, I highly recommend getting travel insurance. It literally could be a lifesaver.

sunset mount maunganui

Another beautiful sunset in Mount Maunganui. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

3. Book a flight

I mentioned the cost of flights earlier, but there are a few more things to consider when booking a flight to New Zealand.

For starters, don’t buy a return ticket. I’ve done this twice on long term trips and both times I had to pay ridiculous fees to change my ticket. You have no idea where you will be or what you’ll be thinking at the end of your working holiday experience in New Zealand, so save yourself the money and don’t book a return flight. Plus, on a trip like this, it’s better to not have an expiration date.

Remember that with a working holiday visa people are NOT required to have a return ticket to enter New Zealand. Just keep a copy of the visa as flight attendants at the check-in counter almost always ask about this.

The easiest place to arrive is Auckland, but also look into Wellington and Christchurch. Those destinations are usually the next most affordable landing spots. Research and consider where to land seriously as flying and moving around in New Zealand is expensive.

If you are flexible about dates then do some research and find what time of year has the cheapest airfare. I would set a date early, so you have enough time to save and prepare. Some things to consider; seasons (ski season is big in Queenstown, but you’ll want to get there at the start of it), the holidays, obligations at home (housing contracts, etc.) and the amount of time it will really take for you to save up.

Queenstown Air New Zealand

I arrived in Queenstown via Auckland when I first came to New Zealand. Fly Air New Zealand if you can. They’re amazing. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. IRD number and bank account

Both an IRD number and bank account are needed to work in New Zealand.

Inland Revenue will supply you with your IRD number. For US citizens, this is similar to a social security number and important for tax purposes. To apply, you must fill out an application and present your passport as well as another form of ID, such as a driver’s license (it can be from overseas). All documents must be verified and photocopied.

This cannot be completed online. You must visit either a post office in New Zealand or Automobile Association Driver Licensing Agent. The post office should have applications available. The process is very quick. You should receive your IRD number within 8-10 days

Setting up a bank account is pretty similar everywhere. Be sure to bring your passport, another form of identification and proof of address.

Proof of address could be the letter your IRD number arrived in or it could just be a note written about by a staff member at your hostel stating that this is the address where you are living at the moment and signed. Don’t stress over how long you’ll be staying at that address. It’s not extremely important, especially if you are applying for an online banking account, which you should be.

Some banks charge a fee for people to hold certain bank accounts. Most places offer online banking accounts, which are free and the best option for temporary visitors only in need of an account to be paid into. I had accounts with both Kiwibank or Westpac. Neither of them charged for online accounts and I actually got a really good interest rate for my savings account with Westpac, earning $NZ12 some months.


Hobbiton was one of my favorite tours in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee hitchon

5. Find a job

Backpackers or temporary workers will find the most jobs available in hospitality, agriculture, raising money, telemarketing and publicity.

I’ve actually tried all these things while working abroad and suggest hospitality for the most fun, best money and most interesting experience. That said, the jobs available to you depend on where you are located and your experience.

The best source for finding jobs online in New Zealand is Trade Me. You can also find a job just walking around town. Make sure you are prepared with a CV and other things needed. Also, make sure your CV caters to the industry you’re applying for jobs. Don’t present a resume that list your IT experience when applying for a job as a cook. I know this should make sense, but it’s lost on a lot of people.

Most of the New Zealand population are located in its major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Besides a few holiday towns and some heavy farming areas, most of the country is quite rural. I only mention this because it makes finding a job in certain areas a bit more difficult.

It was really easy for me to find work in Wellington. I had about seven interviews after looking for only one day, but I struggled in Blenheim, which is a small town. The jobs offered there were mainly on farms, which usually require you have a car and I didn’t. I use this as an example of things to consider about where to live and work first. A lot of times, the best option may be in a city or a place where people can get around without private transportation. That way you can save up for a car and buy one if you want.

Most places will ask you to commit to six months or a season. So try and get to a place at the start of a season as more jobs will be available and you can fully commit.

I spent a few months working in the kiwifruit industry in Te Puke to get an extension on my working holiday visa. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I spent a few months working in the kiwifruit industry in Te Puke to get an extension on my working holiday visa. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

By the end of these steps you should be working and holidaying in New Zealand. This experience is so special, because every activity in a new country, even the mundane ones like work, is different from home. It’s a new experience, which is what makes this opportunity so special.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;) – See more at: http://www.heelsandwheelsonline.com/2013/06/going-back-in-time-at-the-blitz-party/#sthash.nylXurU4.dpuf

Ready to go? Apply for your working holiday visa here NOW! Not interested in New Zealand? Check out How to move to Australia: five steps.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about 😉

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;) – See more at: http://www.heelsandwheelsonline.com/2013/06/going-back-in-time-at-the-blitz-party/#sthash.nylXurU4.dpuf
Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;) – See more at: http://www.heelsandwheelsonline.com/2012/03/a-day-in-hobbiton/#sthash.WvPTTER6.dpuf
Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;) – See more at: http://www.heelsandwheelsonline.com/2012/03/a-day-in-hobbiton/#sthash.WvPTTER6.dpuf
I lived my dreams in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, New Zealand

I lived my dreams in New Zealand

14 Comments 24 September 2012

As I write this, half my body hangs out the sliding door in my room, being warmed by the sun. It’s Spring in New Zealand and while the grass is always green in this country, you can really feel nature come alive here as the temperature rises.

Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone is playing, something I always like to listen to when I’m about to go on a big trip. Up until this moment I’ve felt nothing but excitement about visiting Thailand and Malaysia as well as my family in the States and Ric’s in England. But at this moment, it hits me, going there, means leaving here, New Zealand.

My body stiffens up and temples start go tense.

We came, we saw, we created a home and once again it’s time to leave.

I have to say it’s much harder to leave a home made in a foreign country, not because you love the people there more than those of your real homeland or because it’s better, but because you know you might be leaving forever. Ric and I have every intention of coming back, more on that in future posts, but that’s not promised, nothing ever is when your dealing with a home in a place that’s not naturally your own.

I’ve been traveling now for almost three years and have visited and lived in a lot of places, leaving and saying goodbye to people never gets easier.

New Zealand was a completely different experience for me for a lot of reasons. For one, I arrived here with my partner. We made New Zealand our home together and I think there’s a lot of sentiment with all things involving young love. We struggled together when we first arrived and looked after one another throughout our time here. We moved to Wellington together. We played in the Coromandel together. We watched the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup together. We even put on a Thanksgiving dinner here, together.

Ric and I at the top of Mount Victoria, days before saying goodbye to our first home in New Zealand, Wellington.

I treated New Zealand as more of a home than any other place I’ve ever visited. Prior to coming here I spent a year in Australia, which I can only compare to my childhood. I had no intentions, no responsibilities. I partied and played day and night. While New Zealand had a bit of that here and there, I definitely felt myself grow up here. Maybe it’s because of that, because I treated this place as more of a life than a play date, that it hurts so much to leave.

Maybe there’s just something about this place that feels right, that feels comfortable, that feels…like home. It’s in the kindness of strangers here, the welcome of new friends and the rapture of the land.

New Zealand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. I’ve said that a few times before and I stand by the statement completely. I expected it to be pretty, but not to be in aww of every sight.

Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places I visited in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It’s one of the easiest places I’ve been able to settle into over the years and it’s a place that really gives its people the freedom to be creative, live how they want and do things a bit differently from others.

After winning an Oscar for The Muppets, Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords said this about his native New Zealand to the New York Times, “It’s a great place to grow up, you can do whatever you want there. Whereas I think in America, everyone is obsessed with their careers, New Zealand I think you just get to live your dreams.”

Living here for just over a year, I definitely feel that.

Maybe that’s why so many people do end up staying here. It’s definitely why I’m coming back.

So New Zealand, thanks for the sunshine, for sweeping me off my feet and making me feel at home. It’s not goodbye, but till next time.

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Leaving Port Douglas

Australia, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under

Leaving Port Douglas

4 Comments 21 August 2010

After three months, I’ve finally left Port Douglas.

I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of great people and places during my travels in Australia, but this was by far the hardest, because it wasn’t just a person or place.

It was home.

My time in the tropical village definitely had it’s ups and downs, but included more laughter than tears and sun than rain.

With Alex and big brother Joe at a secret beach we found on a road trip to Mossman Gorge.

With Alex and big brother Joe at a secret beach we found on a road trip to Mossman Gorge.

As with most things in my life, it was a “sign” that brought me to Port Douglas. I ran into an acquaintance on the street in Cairns who offered me work. Short on cash and at the end of my two-month blogging journey up the east coast with The Word, I took up the opportunity without hesitation.

It was extremely hard saying goodbye to my other half, Bobbi-Jo, but at that point we were both kind of clueless as to what we should do next and sitting in a desolate Cairns became more and more unappealing by the minute.

There were some opportunities for me elsewhere, but I decided to follow what seemed to be the easiest place to make quick cash. I came to the town looking to do only that. After two months of dealing with, “what’s your name” and “where are you from” on the reg, I was a bit tired of introductions and just wanted to not be new or meet anyone new for awhile.

This mentality led to a disastrous first month in my new home in regards to both work and relationships. By the end of June I was starting to doubt my belief in “signs,” which has pretty much guided me through most of my life. I regretted following my pockets instead of my heart and I was even thinking of packing my things and leaving.

An easy thought when you’re on the road, I laid in bed a few nights planning out the logistics of where would be easiest place to escape to next. Determined not to leave the town uttering the word “mistake,” I decided to stick it out until my originally planned departure date, which was August 16.

Things got better, then they got worse. I couldn’t figure out how to make everything right  again and go back to being my normal happy self.

During a conversation with a friend on the couch at Iron Bar, he said, “Bobbi, you have to simplify things.”

I started to think about everything on my shoulders at that point. The unusual dramas of my new life magnified by the fact that I was miles and miles away from the place where I feel safest and most at ease. Then I took things apart.

The major issue in my unhappiness there was the thing that led me there to begin with, a job. A job I didn’t even care about, nor was right for. Once that was out of the picture it was as if everything was right in the world again. I found new work, waitressing at restaurant on Macrossan Street and freelancing at the local newspaper.

Throughout all my struggles, it was strangers that came to my aid without hesitation or complaint. Strangers that became friends and friends that became family.

My Dorcey horey and James acting tough.

My Dorcey horsey and James acting tough.

After all the drama dissipated, I saw Port Douglas for what it was, paradise, and the people in it for what they were, perfect. It’s hard to believe that 20-somethings could manage to live in such a spectacular place, but we did. Leaving it for a big city, something I was eager to do a month in, was not easy.

In a modern art class I took in college I learned about Ernst Kirchner’s painting “Street, Dresden.” The colorful painting depicts a busy city street, full of action and people. Yet there’s something unsettling and cold about it. According to the MOMA website, Kirchner painted the people’s faces to look like masks with vacant eyes to show the alienation and loneliness of modernization in the city at that time.

When I first learned about the painting, I understood his thought behind it, but I couldn’t relate. Living only 20 minutes from Philadelphia, in the busy suburbs of also New York City and Washington D.C., I always felt at home in the city and at ease surrounded by people.

After leaving Port Douglas and arriving in Brisbane earlier this week, I finally understand Kirchner’s feelings about Dresden.

To say Port Douglas is a small town is an understatement. There is one main street (Macrossan) where I could find not everything I wanted, but everything I needed (Tim Tams, pizza and chai), I couldn’t walk down the street without bumping into someone I knew and I had a coffee shop where the owners knew me by name and drink. The town is safe enough to leave a purse on the counter and run to the toilets and clean enough to never have to wear shoes.

Brisbane isn’t the biggest city by any standards, yet I feel completely lost here. Seeing me the first day here, people would never guess I came from the northeast America. It took me three times circling the same block to find the street I’m staying on. I almost got hit by at least four cars. I even got lost in a mall, which is shocking considering I’ve spent the majority of the last 20 years of my life in various malls.

I can’t think of Port Douglas as a place anymore, but rather a time. One that is definitely in the top greatest of my life and one that I’ll never be able to recreate. Everyone in the town is so friendly and welcoming. Everyone in my hostel was so caring and open. We shared some wonderful moments together and while I know I’ll share more with those people individually, it will never be everyone and it will never be like what I just left. That’s one of the worst aspects of living abroad. The groups that form include people from all parts of the world, making it hard to reunite that same group again.

Life in Port Douglas was like a crazy camp where there were no wake up calls, booze was encouraged and people could get away with sneaking into the opposite sex’s tent.

I complained about it being too small. I complained about it being too loud. I complained about being sick of Iron Bar. But sitting in my own room, in a large city with tons of different bars filled with tons of different people, I miss home.

In fact, I’m feeling really homesick for the first time in about three years and for the first time ever about a place other than my normal home.

My love for the town and the people in it has led me to book a return flight in September. It won’t be as long a stay and it won’t be the same Port Douglas as a lot of people are scheduled to leave before then, but a lot of the reasons that made the town special to me will still be there.

And I know that will make me feel like I’m coming home for the first time in a long time.

Q&A with 20-Something Travel

Interviews, Other

Q&A with 20-Something Travel

1 Comment 10 January 2010

After all the tassels are flipped and diplomas handed out, college graduates usually return to the towns they grew up, stick around the area they attended  school or chase after job opportunities. Whether out of comfort or choice, most graduates look for jobs, relationships and housing in places familiar to them.

But 25-year-old Stephanie Yoder wasn’t looking to stay within her comfort zone when she graduated from Emory University in 2007. In fact, the creator of 20-Something Travel was planning to move over 3,000 miles away from that zone.

After falling in love with London during a semester abroad in Fall 2006, Yoder moved back to her favorite city to live and work. Traveling solo, she had to form relationships, find housing and more without family and friends at hand. But Yoder says meeting new people is one of the things she loves about travel.

In an interview, she talks about how she prepared for her move to London, the experience, traveling independently and plans for her next trip to Oceania, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Continue Reading

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