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What are the best backpacker jobs to get?

Quite what rates as 'best' will depend largely on your own personal working condition preferences, whether you want to be city- or countryside-based and quite what is your major motivation for wanting to take on some kind of working role during your New Zealand adventure.

While you might luck into just about any kind of work – from painting boats to cataloguing museum collections - the most common job roles fall broadly into eight categories:

  • The food and beverage industry – these include waiting tables, bar staff, baristas, kitchen assistants, chefs, dishwashers and cleaners. The majority of roles here are city-based.
  • Hospitality – these include jobs based in hotels, camp-sites or other guest accommodations and encompass receptionists, cleaners and porters.
  • Au pairs / Nannies – live-in posts with child care as the principle role.
  • Construction – the majority of roles require previous experience.
  • Fruit picking industry – indoor and outdoor roles both manual and administrative on crop-growing farms and vineyards.
  • Farming – most notably dairy farming with roles including farm maintenance, milking, calf-rearing and general farm-hand.
  • Ski-field – roles include ski-lift operator, snow-groomers, ski instructor and cafe staff. Usually comes with great skiing perks.
  • Administrative roles and office work – IT industry roles to customer services.

With such an incredible variety of roles available you really can potentially land just about any job which piques your interest or looks like fun. There are however some stand-out winners if you are looking for a specific kind of experience.

Best for outdoor work – fruit picking, farming, construction, certain ski-field roles.

Best for living as part of a Kiwi family – au pair.

Best for earning money fast – dairy farm, fruit picking (if you choose your season and farm well).

Best for skilled workers – hospitality industry chefs, construction, ski instructor.

Best for regular hours – office work.

Best for party-lovers and social animals – ski-field work (especially based in Queenstown or Wanaka), bar work, hospitality roles in a hostel.

Best for those who want to be out of the city – farm work, food and beverage and hospitality (although it is easier to land these jobs in the city every corner of the country has cafes, restaurants and holiday accommodations).

The most plentiful and easy to find – fruit picking, dairy farm.