Seasonal Work in New Zealand

Posted on 18 December 2014

medium seasonal worker

New Zealand is a country renowned for its agriculture, and the vibrant rural community provides a wealth of options for visitors looking for seasonal or short-term work.

Picking up temporary work in the horticulture or viticulture sectors can be a great way to earn a bit of spending money and explore New Zealand at the same time. The Kiwi countryside is an idyllic place to work; the fresh air and pristine natural environment is invigorating, while the absence of poisonous snakes and other ‘creepy crawlies’ makes it a safe place to spend time.

Every year New Zealand’s fruit, vegetable and wine industries employ thousands of seasonal workers to plant, prune, pick and pack crops. Whether you’re skilled or unskilled, young or old, there’s a huge range of work available, and being fit, enthusiastic and reliable are the most important attributes.

While seasonal work is available year-round the peak requirements occur during December and May (remember, the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, with harvesting generally occurring between February and April and pruning between June and August). In Northland and the Bay of Plenty there are employment opportunities twelve months of the year, while in Auckland and the Waikato the peak time is between January and May. Gisborne and the Hawke’s Bay enjoy a longer season stretching from November to May, and down in the South Island the season runs between December and May.

The Harvest Trail is an easy way to travel from region to region, gaining an overview of the entire country while following the seasonal work. Pick NZ’s interactive map will help you plan that journey, providing you with information about the weather, the produce and the availability of work in each of the eight horticultural regions. 

New Zealand’s a relatively small country, and there are a variety of ways to get around. Many travellers decide to purchase a cheap car, which can often be on-sold to other visitors once you’ve finished with them. TradeMe is essentially New Zealand’s version of Ebay, and is a great place to look for an affordable vehicle. Alternatively, all the major cities have weekly car auctions, where a bargain can often be found.

If you do decide to buy a car, there are a few things to remember. Kiwis drive on the left side of the road, travel clockwise around roundabouts, use kilometres to measure distance and speed, and have strict drink/driving laws. If you’re on a full license in your own country you’ll be eligible for a 12-month temporary license, although there may be additional requirements if English isn’t your first language. You can learn about the rules and regulations surrounding driving in New Zealand here at NZTA.

To work legally in New Zealand you’ll need to ensure you have an appropriate working holiday visa as well as Travel Insurance to cover you in New Zealand, a  bank account, an IRD number (the Inland Revenue Department is New Zealand’s tax agency), and a tax code declaration (or IR330 form) from your employer. You can learn more about the IRD and your responsibilities on their website, .

If you do decide to travel and work your way around New Zealand you’re sure to have plenty of laughs, make some great friends, and earn a little extra spending money. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience, so why not give it a go?

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