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Travellers Backpacker

Visa Information

Citizens of all visiting nations with the exception of Australian citizens who can enter, work and live in New Zealand need a visa to enter New Zealand. For most backpackers there are two main options; the Visitor Visa and the Working Holiday Scheme Visa.

Visitor Visa

This is the most common type of visa and applies to all those who wish to come for the purpose of tourism and pleasure and who have no intention of working in either a paid or voluntary capacity or studying while in the country. If you intend to work you must apply for a Working Holiday Scheme Visa.

It is worth mentioning here that many visitors come unstuck with the whole voluntary work issue assuming they can do such activities with just a visitor visa. Voluntary work which is deemed to be rewarded by benefits of any kind, no matter how small, requires you to have a Working Holiday Scheme Visa including WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms in New Zealand). This is considered to be paid work because participants receive food and accommodation as payment in kind. If in doubt what constitutes a 'benefit' check out

A visa on arrival, which typically runs for 3 months, is granted to citizens of many nationalities including most of Europe and some of Eastern Asia and the Americas, due to New Zealand's visa waiver programme. UK citizens are given an automatic 6 months on entry if they ask for an extension at the immigration point. Your application for your visa on arrival is simply the completion of the 'New Zealand Passenger Arrival Card' which takes basic details only. If your country's name doesn't appear on the New Zealand visa waiver eligible list you must apply for a visa before leaving your home country or you will be refused entry.

Although it isn't always checked, one of the provisions of entry under the Visitor Visa is that you can show proof of onward travel or, in other words, that you will be leaving the country before your visa expires. A paid for plane ticket is the most typical form of proof needed. You may also be asked to prove you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay to support yourself.

In most cases visitor visas can be extended beyond the initial period of time given on arrival, while you are in the country and up to a maximum of usually 9 months in any 18 month period – Brits can get up to a year. Typically you will be required to pay for any extensions AND prove you have the funds to continue supporting your travels without working.

Working Holiday Visa

Many backpackers and gap year travellers to New Zealand choose to intersperse their playtime with some work which is a great way to top up depleting funds as well as giving yourself a whole different experience and unusual perspective on the country you are visiting.

New Zealand has a working visa scheme in place with citizens of various nations to enable them to work in the country for anything up to a year. If you come from the UK or Canada you can extend this to 23 months. The visa – known as the Working Holiday Scheme – is open to anyone aged 18 – 30 but there are various conditions you must meet to be granted it. You must show you have sufficient funds to support yourself should you be unable to gain work and you must fulfil a variety

of health requirements. It is important to understand that the scheme is intended for those who are here primarily for tourism purposes with any work intention being a secondary purpose.

Unlike Australia, Working Holiday Scheme visas can be applied for after arrival in the country although most who intend to work while on holiday in New Zealand apply before they arrive.

Check out to see exactly who is eligible and how to apply.

And a word of warning just in case you're hoping to go under the radar and grab yourself some paid work without going through the work visa process; people do it and there may even be those who get away with it but should you be caught – and there are frequent checks at some of the fruit picking places and farms – you will definitely be deported and you may be unable to gain entry into the country at a later time.

Other Visa Types

Although most visitors will enter the country under either the visitor visa or work visa scheme there are also Internship Visas and Student Visas. The former is aimed at university students who wish to undertake a work placement or internship related to their studies, in New Zealand. The latter is for all those who want to study at any of the country's educational institutions, including the language schools, for a period which is greater than 3 months (or 6 months for some nationalities including UK citizens). As with the working holiday scheme, there is various criteria which must be met such as showing proof of an offered place, sufficient funds to pay any fees involved and have accommodation provided.

For more in depth information regarding any of the visas listed here see

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