12 Most Popular Backpacking Jobs in New Zealand

backpacking jobs in New Zealand

🎒 Introduction to the Most Popular Backpacking Jobs in New Zealand

Starting a backpacking journey across New Zealand is not just about exploring its stunning landscapes; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Kiwi way of life, sustain your travels, and create lasting memories while you work.

In this guide, we will explore the 12 most popular backpacking jobs in New Zealand, offering insights into the experiences, challenges, and rewards each role presents.

1. Fruit Picking and Harvesting

Known as “kiwi fruit” in many parts of the world, New Zealand is a significant producer of this delectable green fruit.

Backpackers often find seasonal employment in fruit orchards, vineyards, and farms, participating in harvesting kiwifruit, apples, grapes, and other crops.

It’s a physically demanding job but offers a hands-on experience of rural life and a chance to work amidst the country’s picturesque landscapes.

  • Wage range: NZD 23 – NZD 25  per hour.

🗾 Popular regions:

  • Hawke’s Bay: Known for its orchards producing apples, pears, and stone fruits.
  • Bay of Plenty: A region famous for kiwifruit orchards and avocado and citrus farms.
  • Marlborough and Nelson: These regions are known for vineyards and wine production, offering grape harvesting opportunities.
  • Central Otago: Known for orchards producing cherries, apples, and stone fruits.

🌦 Seasons:

  • Apples and Pears: Harvesting usually takes place from February to May.
  • Kiwifruit: Harvesting occurs from March to June.
  • Cherries: Harvesting season is generally from late November to December.

fruit picking job

2. Hospitality and Tourism

With its thriving tourism industry, New Zealand provides ample opportunities for backpackers in the hospitality sector.

Jobs range from working in hostels, hotels, and restaurants to becoming a tour guide or participating in seasonal events and festivals.

This sector sustains your travels and allows you to interact with fellow travellers and locals, fostering a dynamic cultural exchange.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Waitstaff/Server: NZD 23 – NZD 28 per hour, or higher with experience.
  • Barista: NZD 23 – NZD 28 per hour, with potential tips.
  • Housekeeping/Hotel Cleaner: NZD 23 – NZD 27 per hour.
  • Hotel Receptionist: NZD 23 – NZD 28 per hour.
  • Tour Guide: NZD 25 – NZD 35 per hour, depending on experience and the nature of the tours.

🗾 Key Regions

  • Auckland: As the largest city, Auckland has numerous hotels, restaurants, and attractions, creating opportunities in hospitality and tourism.
  • Queenstown: Known for its picturesque landscapes and adventure tourism, Queenstown offers jobs in hotels, restaurants, and outdoor activities.
  • Rotorua: A popular tourist destination with geothermal attractions, Rotorua has a thriving hospitality industry.
  • Wellington: The capital city has a vibrant culinary scene, hotels, and cultural attractions, providing opportunities in the hospitality sector.

tourism job

3. Au Pair and Childcare

For those with a fondness for children and a desire to experience Kiwi family life, working as an au pair is a popular choice. This type of job often involves helping with childcare, light housework, and participating in family activities.

It provides a unique opportunity to integrate into local communities, develop meaningful connections, and gain insights into New Zealand’s family culture.

  • The typical weekly stipend for Au Pairs ranged from NZD 250 to NZD 350
  • Expect to find this type of opportunity within the biggest cities.

au pair job

4. Construction and Trades

The construction industry in New Zealand has been steadily growing, presenting backpackers with opportunities to engage in various trades. Jobs may include carpentry, painting, landscaping, and general construction work.

While prior experience is beneficial, some entry-level positions welcome those willing to learn on the job, making it an excellent option for those seeking hands-on work.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Carpenter: NZD 28 – NZD 35 per hour, or higher for more experienced carpenters.
  • Electrician: NZD 30 – NZD 40 per hour, depending on experience and qualifications.
  • Plumber: NZD 30 – NZD 40 per hour, with variations based on experience and demand.
  • Welder: NZD 28 – NZD 35 per hour, depending on the type of welding and expertise.
  • Construction Laborer: NZD 25 – NZD 30 per hour, or higher for specialized roles.

construction jobs

5. Retail and Sales

Urban centres and tourist hubs offer numerous opportunities for backpackers in retail and sales roles. 

Working in shops, markets, or as brand ambassadors allows travellers to hone their interpersonal skills, engage with customers, and experience the vibrant commercial culture of New Zealand.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Retail Sales Assistant: NZD 23 – NZD 28 per hour, depending on experience and the type of retail establishment.
  • Store Manager: NZD 28 – NZD 35 per hour or a salary range from NZD 50,000 to NZD 80,000 annually, depending on the size and type of the store.
  • Sales Representative: NZD 25 – NZD 40 per hour, with the potential for commissions based on sales performance.
  • Customer Service Representative: NZD 23 – NZD 30 per hour, depending on the industry and level of expertise.

retail jobs

6. Office and Administrative Jobs

Leveraging administrative skills can open doors to office-based jobs for backpackers.

Opportunities may include data entry, customer service, and administrative support roles.

These positions often provide a stable work environment and an opportunity to experience the professional side of Kiwi life.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Administrative Assistant/Secretary: NZD 23 – NZD 30 per hour, depending on experience and the complexity of tasks.
  • Office Manager: NZD 28 – NZD 35 per hour.
  • Data Entry Clerk: NZD 23 – NZD 25 per hour, depending on accuracy and speed.
  • Receptionist: NZD 23 – NZD 25 per hour, with variations based on the industry and location.

office jobs

7. Teaching and Tutoring

For those passionate about education, opportunities exist for teaching and tutoring roles.

Backpackers may find work in language schools, offering English language assistance to non-native speakers.

Teaching roles may require specific qualifications, but tutoring opportunities are frequently more accessible and provide a chance to share knowledge while earning a living.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Primary/Elementary School Teacher: NZD 28 – NZD 41 per hour.
  • High School Teacher: NZD 31 – NZD 46 per hour.
  • Private Tutor: NZD 20 – NZD 60 per hour (varies based on subject and expertise).
  • English Language Teacher: NZD 25 – NZD 36 per hour.

teaching jobs

8. Adventure and Outdoor Jobs

Given New Zealand’s reputation as the world’s adventure capital, backpackers can find employment in the outdoor industry. 

Jobs range from guiding outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and bungee jumping to working in adventure tourism companies.

These roles allow you to immerse yourself in New Zealand’s natural wonders and share your passion for adventure with fellow travellers.

💰 Approximate wage ranges for some typical roles:

  • Tour Guide (Outdoor Adventures): NZD 25 – NZD 30 per hour (may vary based on the nature and location of the adventure activities).
  • Outdoor Instructor (e.g., kayaking, rock climbing): NZD 28 – NZD 40 per hour, depending on expertise and certifications.
  • Adventure Tourism Staff (e.g., ziplining, bungee jumping): NZD 25 – NZD 35 per hour, with some positions offering performance-based bonuses.
  • Wilderness Guide: NZD 28 – NZD 35 per hour, depending on the type of wilderness experience and qualifications.
  • Ski or Snowboard Instructor: NZD 28 – NZD 40 per hour, depending on experience and certifications.

⭐ Popular destinations:

  • Queenstown: Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown offers various outdoor job opportunities, especially in adventure tourism and winter sports.
  • Rotorua: With its geothermal attractions, Rotorua provides opportunities for adventure tourism and outdoor activities.
  • Taupo: Positioned near the lake and mountains, Taupo is a hub for water and land-based adventure activities.
  • Wanaka: Located in the Southern Alps, Wanaka is known for its outdoor recreation and adventure sports opportunities.

adventure jobs

9. Farm Stays and WWOOFing

Farm stays and WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) are popular among backpackers seeking a rural experience.

These opportunities involve working on farms in exchange for accommodation and meals.

Tasks may include gardening, animal care, and general farm maintenance, providing a hands-on, sustainable living experience.

⭐ Popular regions:

  • North Island: Regions like Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Hawke’s Bay are known for agriculture and may have farm stay and WWOOFing opportunities.
  • South Island: Areas such as Canterbury, Otago, and Southland also have farms participating in WWOOFing and offering farm stays.

📅 Average time of contracting:

  • WWOOFing: The duration of WWOOFing stays can vary widely. Some participants may stay for a few weeks, while others may stay for several months. The arrangement is flexible and depends on the agreement between the WWOOFer and the host.
  • Farm Stays: The duration of farm stays can also vary. Some may offer short-term stays, while others might host individuals for an entire season or longer. It depends on the specific arrangement made with the farm.


10. Freelancing and Remote Work

With the rise of remote work, many backpackers turn to freelancing opportunities to sustain their travels.

Jobs in graphic design, writing, digital marketing, and programming can be done from virtually anywhere with an internet connection.

remote work

11. Bar and Restaurant Work

From bustling cities to quaint villages, bars, and restaurants in New Zealand offer backpackers opportunities to work as bartenders, waitstaff, or kitchen assistants.

The hospitality industry is a social hub, providing a chance to meet people from all walks of life and experience the dynamic culinary scene of the country.

💰 Wage ranges:

  • Waitstaff/Server: NZD 23 – NZD 25 per hour, with potential for tips.
  • Bartender: NZD 23 – NZD 30 per hour, plus tips.
  • Barista: NZD 23 – NZD 27 per hour, with potential tips.
  • Kitchen Staff: NZD 23 – NZD 28 per hour, depending on experience and role.

bar jobs

12. Film and Television Industry

New Zealand has gained global recognition for its stunning landscapes, attracting filmmakers worldwide.

Backpackers interested in film and television may find opportunities as extras, production assistants, or in behind-the-scenes roles. It’s a unique chance to be part of the magic of filmmaking in a country renowned for its cinematic contributions.

  • Wage range: Depending on the role, but expect the minimum wage in most cases (NZD 23 as of February 2024)

⭐ Popular regions:

  • Wellington: Known as “Wellywood,” Wellington is a hub for the film industry in New Zealand. It hosts production companies, studios, and post-production facilities.
  • Auckland: New Zealand’s largest city also has a thriving film and television industry, with production companies and studios.

film industry

🧐 Where to Find Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand?

Discover many opportunities for backpackers through various portals such as Backpackerboard, Trademe, Seek, and our exclusive platform.

👩‍🌾 Explore an array of backpacker job listings at Kiwilanders Job Listings.

👨‍💻 Frequently Asked Questions about Backpacker Jobs in New Zealand

1. What types of jobs are available for backpackers in New Zealand?

Backpackers in New Zealand can find diverse job opportunities, including fruit picking, farm work, hospitality roles, tourism-related positions, and various seasonal jobs. The job market caters to a wide range of skills and preferences.

2. How can I find backpacker jobs in New Zealand?

Job hunting in New Zealand involves:

  • Utilizing online resources such as Kiwilanders Jobs Board and Backpacker Board.
  • Checking local newspapers.
  • Exploring hostel bulletin boards.
  • Networking within the backpacker community.

3. Do I need a work visa to get a job in New Zealand?

Yes, most backpackers require a valid work visa to work legally in New Zealand. The Working Holiday Visa is famous for allowing individuals to work and travel for up to 12 months. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and complete the visa application process before seeking employment.

4. How do I find affordable accommodation while backpacking in New Zealand?

Affordable accommodation options for backpackers in New Zealand include hostels, holiday parks, budget motels, and shared housing. Some employers may even provide accommodation as part of a job package. Budgeting and planning can help keep accommodation costs in check.

5. What are the best regions for backpacker jobs in New Zealand?

Job opportunities vary by region and season. The Bay of Plenty is known for fruit picking, Central Otago for vineyard work, and Queenstown for tourism and hospitality. Wellington and Auckland also offer a range of job opportunities, making them popular among backpackers.

6. Do I need a New Zealand bank account? How do I open one?

Opening a bank account in New Zealand is advisable for managing finances. Major banks such as ANZ, BNZ, and Westpac allow non-residents to open accounts with a passport, proof of address, and an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number.

7. Is public transportation a viable option for getting around New Zealand?

New Zealand has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and trains that connect major cities and towns. Intercity buses and the KiwiRail network are popular choices. However, renting a car or camper van may be preferable for more remote or scenic areas.

8. What outdoor activities and attractions should I explore in New Zealand?

New Zealand offers many outdoor adventures, including hiking in Fiordland National Park, exploring the glowworm caves in Waitomo, and experiencing Maori culture. The diverse landscapes provide opportunities for water activities in the Bay of Islands and much more.

9. How can I stay safe while backpacking in New Zealand?

While New Zealand is generally safe, it’s essential to stay vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings, secure your belongings, and follow local advice, particularly when engaging in outdoor activities. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared for unexpected changes.

10. What is the cost of living for backpackers in New Zealand?

Living costs in New Zealand vary depending on accommodation, transportation, and food preferences. Cooking your meals and staying in budget accommodations can help manage costs. Planning and budgeting ahead will contribute to a more financially sustainable backpacking experience.


Embarking on a backpacking adventure in New Zealand offers more than just a tour of its natural wonders; it provides an opportunity to participate actively in the Kiwi way of life.

From the hands-on experiences of fruit picking to the dynamic roles in the hospitality and adventure industries, backpacking jobs in New Zealand encompass diverse opportunities.

Whether immersing yourself in rural farm life, engaging in outdoor adventures, or contributing to the thriving tourism sector, each job presents its own challenges and rewards. 

As you navigate the Kiwi Works cape, you sustain your travels and create a tapestry of experiences that enrich your journey and leave an indelible mark on your backpacking adventure in Aotearoa.

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