Getting a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

You might remember my original post about why we moved to New Zealand, and in it I briefly mentioned that we’re here on Working Holiday Visas.  I had a lot of people express interest in the visa process, so let’s talk a bit about getting a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand.  I’m writing this specifically for citizens of the US, as I have no experience with what the process is like for citizens of 34 other selected countries, but I’d imagine it’s not much different.

How to get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

What is a Working Holiday Visa?  

The Working Holiday Visa (also formally called Working Holiday Scheme) is literally what it sounds like. Its a visa that allows you to work, travel, and play in one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. For most countries you’re only allotted a 12 month period, but if you’re from the UK you hit the jackpot and are given 23 months! You’re also allowed to leave the country as many times as you wish within this 12 month period and not have to fill out any extra paperwork with the country of New Zealand.

The whole concept behind this visa is to be able to experience New Zealand and all it has to offer, but be allowed to work to fund these experiences. So, there really isn’t a need to save an ungodly amount of money before heading over.

Who is qualified for a Working Holiday Visa? 

Only 34 countries are currently in partnership with the New Zealand government for the Work Holiday program, and those are:

Argentina Austria Belgium Brazil Canada Chile China
Croatia Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France
Germany Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Hungary Ireland Israel Italy Japan Korea Latvia Malaysia
Malta Mexico Netherlands Norway Peru Philippines Poland
Singapore (work exchange programme) Slovakia Slovenia
Spain Sweden Taiwan Thailand Turkey United Kingdom
United States of America Uruguay Vietnam

Click on the links to learn more about a specific countries’ holiday scheme.

On the same note, unfortunately the Working Holiday Visa is only available for those ages 18-30. If you do not meet the age quota, know there is quite a few other visas you can get to work and live in New Zealand, so don’t be discouraged.

Some other facts to consider:
Your passport needs to be valid for at least 3 months after you plan on arriving to NZ
You cannot bring children with you or be pregnant
You can only do the Working Holiday Program once
You cannot be a convicted felon or have records of bankruptcy

How to get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

So you want to apply…how do you do it? 

The links above should give you the information on how to apply, but for United States citizens, the application process is online and only takes about 30 minutes. Yes, 30 minutes. There’s a good chance you won’t have to send any extra documents through snail mail unless you have lived abroad in the last 3 years.

For Derik and I, we had to go get general health exam and chest x-rays for Tuberculosis since we had been living in Korea for a long period of time, and Korea is on the hazard list for  Tuberculosis. *insert raised eyebrows here* The pain about getting the exams and X-rays is you can only go to specific clinics…country wide. For example, there is only one clinic in Korea to get your tests done and that’s in Busan. Thankfully we lived only about 1:30 minutes from Busan, so it wasn’t that bad of a trip. For others though? It could be a 4-6 hour trip just to get a 10 minute test done. You do not get your results right away either, you have to wait a few days for those.

The tricky part is the NZ Immigration only gives you 15 days to get your health exam, have the results sent via courier to your house, and then rushing the results to New Zealand via priority mail. Even though we got our health exams done the day after we were told we needed to from NZ Immigration, our results didn’t arrive in New Zealand on the requested date. I had to ask for an extension. Thankfully the Immigration officer working with us was super nice and understanding. I also had everything documented (even down to keeping all the receipts) to show him that we did everything in our power to get them to their final destination as fast as possible.

How long does the application/approval process take? 

After we sent off our medical test results, I kept a tracking number on the package to see when it arrived at the Immigration Office in Auckland. Although it took longer than it should (especially since I paid $40 to send 3 pieces of paper), the day after they received the papers my electronic visa appeared online. I was continuously checking my account on to see if the status had changed, and lo and behold it did faster than I thought it would! I didn’t receive my approval email until two days later strangely enough.

Once you are approved, all you need to do is print off your electronic visa (available for download from your member log-in on the immigration website), and bring it with you on your New Zealand flight! No visiting embassies, sending passports in, or anything. Can’t get much simpler!

What do I do once I arrive in New Zealand? 

This is the part that’s filled with adventure. :) Do whatever you want to! Some people dive straight into getting a job, and some take a month or two to travel and enjoy. Derik and I took the second route, spending 3 weeks in a campervan, trying to find our ideal place to live and work. Cars, housing, and jobs are readily available and not super difficult to find. I will be writing more on each of these categories soon, just to help you get a general gist as to how we did things and see if it would work for you. As in everything, there will always be trial and error, and maybe you can learn from our mistakes!

It is important to note that before you start looking for a job, you need to apply for a tax ID (you can apply at a local post office), and get a bank account. Future employers will ask right away if you have those things.

Getting a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

What if I want to stay longer than 12 months? 

Working on this. You can go to the NZ immigration website and answer a questionnaire to see what you qualify for. Derik and I currently qualify for a skilled migrant visa (you get points for having a degree, certain trade skills, years spent working, etc and if you have over 100 you can qualify), but another good option is to apply for a residential visa, or a work visa (basically your place of employment sponsors your visa). I’ll be revisiting this question as our 12 months draws closer.

Getting a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

So that’s the Working Holiday Visa in a nutshell. Ready to come join me?

Please let me know if you have any questions pertaining to the visa in the comments below!



How to Survive Long-Distance Flights

“You’re like a five-year-old child.” Says my sleep-deprived, frustrated husband who sits in the airplane seat next to me.

Yes, it’s true, I don’t handle flights well. It’s not that I have flight anxiety, it’s the fact that I get bored so fast. Once the plane wheels leave the ground, I go a little bit stir crazy. I spend the first 30 minutes combing the in-fight magazines to check out the food and drink service, and see what sorts of tacky things the airline has for sale. Does anyone ever buy the airline souvenirs?  After that, the fun begins.

How to Survive Long Distance Flights

I’m not sure why, but airplane seats seem to be the least comfortable seats in the whole world. It would be great if you only had to fly an hour or two, but living overseas guarantees you at least a few 8+ hour flights a year. Also, I’m not one of those lucky people who get upgraded every time they fly; In fact,  I’ve never  been upgraded to business class or first class, so I have no idea how things work up there. Back in economy class, after the initial 30 minutes of flying I start fidgeting, trying to find the most comfortable way to sit. Usually this entails draping my legs over poor sleeping Derik’s lap, crossing them a million different ways, or shoving them as far under the seat in front of me as possible. All the while trying not to bump the seat in front of me. We all know that’s annoying.

My husband on the other hand has fallen asleep even before the safety demonstration has begun, and is throwing major z’s into the stale airplane air, so forget having someone to talk to (unless I’m willing to face the fury of a man who has not had enough sleep-we all know how horrid that can be). I then have to figure out a way to occupy my time for the remaining several hours of the flight. No, sleeping is not an option-never has, never will be unless it’s drug induced.

Anyway. The remaining post is filled with ideas to occupy your time aboard a plane. These ideas have been tested, tried, and true for the long haul fights I’ve already had this year (Korea-Hawaii, Hawaii-Thailand, Korea-New Zealand). Here’s to hoping they’ll help me out on my way back to the US next Monday for my brother’s wedding!

How to Survive Long Distance Flights

1. Candy Crush- Yes. I crush it, but only when I’m on flights. Also, how annoying is it when you run out of lives? The plus side of being on a plane for 13+ hours is that you have plenty of time to stomp some candy crush levels, as well as wait for your lives to regenerate. Candy crush is an easy game to occupy your mind and fingers. Also it’s not super distracting for the person next to you. Just make sure your sound is off and the screen isn’t annoyingly bright! I also make sure to bring a portable charger to recharge my phone/ipad once my battery starts dying.

2. Read a book/magazine- I’ve never been much of a book reader, but once I start flying, I love filling my mind with new stories and adventures. I try to download a book or two on Derik’s iPad before we leave on a trip. I also have a couple subscription magazines on the iPad that I keep up-to-date for travel only. Since we travel every few months, I have at least 3 new issues  of each subscription to read!

3. Write blog posts- One of my favorite things to do is bring pen and paper with me on a flight. I love writing down thoughts, ideas, and dreams. Sometimes these turn into blog posts, sometimes I just keep them for myself. There’s nothing more awesome than having the time to pre-write two weeks worth of blog posts, and feeling inspired to do so! Sitting in a boring airplane cabin may just do that for you.

4. Drink free alcohol - Best part about international fights? The free booze. Derik’s a whiskey and coke kind of guy, but I always go for the wine. I’m not huge on getting tipsy while flying, but 2-3 servings calms me right down.

5. Explore the plane - I actually don’t like walking around the cabin. I just feel like everyone’s watching me, and I’m disturbing them by walking past. I know, sometimes I’m super weird about stuff like this, and Derik makes fun of me for it. Feel free to laugh!

That being said, after 6+ hours of flying, it’s actually really good for you to get up and stretch your legs. Just try to be quiet and keep from bumping into people as you walk past them in the aisle.

6. Catch up on current TV shows - Although we usually get the planes that are like 100 years old that barely have overhead TV monitors, once in a blue moon we’ll get one that has personal entertainment consoles. When that happens, both Derik and I know  the flight will be awesome. Mostly because the entertainment section can keep me entertained for hours (Yes, remember the 5-year-old child reference).

In the very likely chance that we aren’t graced with personal consoles, I bring my own TV entertainment. I like to keep tabs on shows people are watching, and write them down periodically. When we leave for a long trip, I buy a season or two via iTunes to watch on my computer, iPad, or phone. We all know it’s so easy to waste a day with a TV show marathon, so why not waste those long hours on a flight?

Speaking of…does anyone have any good shows they’re addicted to? I need to buy a season or two for my trip!

7. Play a game of cards - Getting old school on you here, but I actually enjoy playing a game of solitaire in flight. I can’t ever get Derik to join me in a card game (remember he’s sleeping), so solitaire is the perfect one-person card game. It’s quiet, can last a long time, and is relaxing on the mind. I used to have a smaller 1/2 size deck of cards, and it was perfect for tray tables. Now after moving to New Zealand, I have no idea where they went.

8. Photo-editing  - On return flights, I love going through all the pictures I took over the trip,  and enjoy getting them ready to post online. It can be super time-consuming sorting, cropping, editing, and resizing photos, so if you have extra time on your hands to get it done all at once, take advantage of it!

Clearly photo-editing is  done on a computer, so if you’re on a red-eye flight, I wouldn’t suggest starting up your gigantic laptop (why is that startup noise always so loud), and blinding everyone in the rows to the left and right of you as you sit for hours going through your pictures. Be considerate.

9. Watch the sunrise/sunset/storm outside your window - One of the coolest experiences of my life was watching a gigantic lightning storm outside the airplane window. We were directly over the storm, and I’ve never seen lightning dance around and flash so much. The storm went on for a good 30 minutes before we passed. It was so beautiful, I’ll never forget.

If you want to see something equally amazing, be sure you’re awake for the sunrise or sunset. Watching the sun meet the horizon is breathtaking from an airplane!

10. Take sleeping pills - Last resort? Take sleeping pills. I wouldn’t suggest this if you’re flying alone, as they can be seriously disorientating. There’s nothing worse than waking up confused and groggy after a long flight, and then have to race through the terminals by yourself trying to catch your next flight. If you have to take sleeping pills and you’re traveling alone, give herbal supplements a try. They’ll naturally increase melatonin levels (meaning they’ll help you sleep), but leave you less dazed than regular sleeping pills when it’s time to wake up.

I’ll be traveling over 36 hours alone both ways from here to Texas, so I’m hoping the 10 tips above will help me survive the trip on Monday. What are your suggestions on passing the time on a long flight?! I’m open to anything and everything!

7 Tips to Help You Grow Your Instagram

Instagram is a social networking powerhouse. Created in October of 2010, it’s become one of the most popular social networking companies today. If you haven’t started an Instagram account and you’re wanting to get serious about building your brand as a travel blogger (or any other kind of blogger), I’d suggest getting on it now. Not only will Instagram bring traffic to your blog, but businesses have been known scout Instagram users to offer opportunities and free stuff ! I know a couple travel bloggers that had media trip opportunities (aka your job is to take pictures and review all aspects of your trip) just because of their Instagram following.

My Instagram feed is a constant work in progress, but using these tips below has allowed me to grow my Instagram following a modest amount in the last 6 months.

7 Tips to help you grow your Instagram

1. Know your brand
I’ve had an Instagram account since 2010. Up until this year I really didn’t have a brand, vision, or niche for my Instagram account. I was posting anything and everything, and 90% of it was random. What’s my Instagram ‘brand?’ Well, travel of course. I use it as an outlet to display all our travel adventures! Followers can find pictures on Instagram that I don’t post on my blog. It’s an opportunity for followers to stay up-to-date with what’s going on and where we are instead of having to wait a month or two for the posts to publish.

I’ve been working hard on establishing my brand, and am considering deleting all the random photos that don’t exactly line up with that travel ‘niche.’ We’ll see how that goes.

Instagram Instagram Instagram

2. Take captivating pictures
Yeah sure pictures of your shopping cart at Target or your brand new coffee table can be cool, but people (outside of your personal friends and stalkers) might not be interested in that. Find something that draws people in. Something different, something unique, something people haven’t seen a thousand pictures of already. As a travel blogger I strive to take pictures that inspire others to get outside and  go on their own adventures.

It’s ok to take ten thousand pictures of something and only choose one or two for Instagram. Use the best of the best. It’ll make people want to come back for more!

3. Go easy on the editing
It’s real life, make your photos look like it.

Also a past flaw of mine, over-editing can be a huge turnoff for potential followers. Who wants to ‘like’ photos that don’t even look real? Check out what the official Instagram account is featuring; it’ll help you get a sense of what people are looking for  style-wise in an Instagram account.

My favorite photo-editing apps are: Afterlight, VSCOcam, and Snapseed. Go easy on the filters (or maybe just don’t use them), straighten your horizon lines, and make sure the photo exposure isn’t too bright or dark.

Instagram Instagram Instagram
4. Hashtags are o.k.
There are a lot of different opinions on hashtag usage. Some people find them annoying, others find them essential. I fall in the second category. I’ve been tagging my pictures since 2011, and have been featured on the official Instagram feed twice for my photos from South Korea. Tagging your photos gets you noticed. There are some accounts out there with a bazillion followers that are interested in photos you take tagged with a certain phrase. They then feature selected pictures from that tagged category on their site (hello tons of new Instagram traffic).

5. Post often
Just like blogging, to gain Instagram momentum, you need to post often. People can forget who you are and what you offer if you only post once a month. Posting  5-6 times a week seems to be what works best for me.

That being said, don’t post a thousand pictures at one time. This can be overwhelming for your followers, and maybe even annoying if you do it often. Space out your posts, using optimum user engagement times to get the best results. Most people check out their Instagram first thing in the morning as well as at night. Being on the opposite side of the world, it’s hard for me to figure out when the best time is for me to post photos. In Korea if I posted at 7am and 8pm I had the best success. Here in New Zealand? More like 11pm, 6am, and 12pm.

Instagram Instagram Instagram
6. Stay ‘in the loop’
Just like any other social networking outlet, Instagram is constantly evolving. What started out as highly filtered, framed, personal shots has turned into established art and photography exhibits for the whole world to see.  It’s exciting! Keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the Instagram world by checking out the Instagram Blog!

7. Interact with your followers
There’s nothing worse than leaving a really nice comment on someone’s Instagram post,  and not get so much as a ‘Thank-you” back.  When people invest in you, give it back!

On that note, please do not be one of those people who turns into a ‘follow4follow’ monster. No one likes comments of that sort on their feeds.

Instagram Instagram Instagram
8. Participate in projects
Instagram has amazing Weekend Hashtag projects for the whole world to participate in! It’s fun, challenging, and gives you something to do over the weekend. Thousands (if not millions) of people participate, so to get your picture featured is a feat in itself. I suppose 90% of the challenge is coming up with something no one else will think of!

There are so many other Instagram accounts that offer photography projects, it’s just a matter of searching for them and taking photos of what they’re looking for! Happy hunting. :)