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The basics
New Zealand: Once you arrive

Working While Studying in New Zealand

Not sure how to go about getting a job while abroad? Let us help you get started working in New Zealand...

new zealand

As an international student, in some cases you’ll be able to undertake part-time work whilst you study abroad in New Zealand. Many students use this work allowance to offset some of their living costs, or complete certain types of work experience in their field. Either way, your income will not be enough for you to support yourself whilst you study, so you’ll need sufficient funds to last the duration of your study programme. It’s important you’re clear on the conditions under which you’re able to work so that you can maintain your visa status.


Let our breakdown of your working options as an international student in New Zealand, help start you off...


Can I work?

The visa in your passport should state if and when you may work. You may also have a letter from Immigration New Zealand stating that your visa allows you to work.


To work for up to 20 hours per week, you must meet one of seven requirements. The most common requirements are:

  • Your study programme is for at least two years
  • The course of study leads to a New Zealand qualification that gains points under the Skilled Migrant Category
  • You are taking an English language course that meets conditions approved by Immigration New Zealand


In special cases, some students may be allowed to work for more than 20 hours a week.


Work may be part of your qualification. For example, if your programme includes a set number of hours of required work experience, this can be additional to the 20 hours per week.


Students of a master’s by research or doctoral degree at a New Zealand institution may work full-time while they are studying.


Working during scheduled breaks

During scheduled breaks, eligible students may work full-time.


You may be eligible to work full-time during all scheduled breaks if your programme is for one academic year, AND is worth 120 credits or more.


If your programme is full-time for one academic year but worth less than 120 credits, you may be able to work full-time during the Christmas and New Year holiday break.


What kind of work can I do?

New Zealand's summer runs from November through to March. This is the busiest time of year for tourism related jobs, and of course in New Zealand the Christmas holidays are in the summer as well. All the usual summer jobs are attainable in shops, bars, hotels, restaurants and lodges. The bigger hotels and restaurants advertise their jobs on sites like Season Workers but it is suggested to take the direct approach for this kind of vacancy and introduce yourself to the companies by phone or email initially to determine whether they have any jobs.


New Zealand has a huge agricultural industry and needs lots of temporary workers for harvest time and sheep-shearing. Fruit-picking is a popular choice with backpackers; it’s harder work and you won’t get much time off but you can earn some money to make travelling between work periods go smoothly. Plus you usually get the benefit of free food! The soft fruit picking season lasts pretty much all summer (December to May).



Sometimes, big companies pay selected students to represent their brand at their university. This usually means you’ll need to put up posters advertising the company, run events to promote their services and find other ways to endorse them to other students. You might either be paid a fixed fee or receive an hourly salary, depending on the kind of work you’ll be asked to do.


Private Tutor

Students can also offer private tutoring services to other students, or students at a local school or community. This is often a popular choice for students that are speakers of a foreign language, who can provide English speakers with conversation and tutelage in their native tongue.


Work Experience

Students will also often complete unpaid work experience programmes, internships or volunteer work that may or may not count as unpaid employment. Many students will complete internships and placements during the summer break between semesters. You should always check with the organisation offering you the employment whether it will count towards your work allowance or not: in some cases it may not, and you’ll be able to complete additional work with another employer. If these programmes are offered as part of your Degree or Foundation studies then they will NOT be counted as employment, and will NOT detract from your maximum weekly work allowance.


Make sure you’re not being exploited when participating in an internship abroad, read our guide to internships and your rights.


How can I find work?

You can search for jobs online using any number of job websites, or look to your university’s career centre to point you in the right direction. Some of the top job-searching sites in New Zealand are WorkHere and WorkingIn. These sites make the search much easier since you can tailor your search to fit what you are looking for in terms of location and skills.


What happens if I breach the conditions of my visa?

If you are found to be in breach of your visa conditions, the penalties may include deportation. If you have questions about your rights, talk to an Immigration New Zealand branch officer or a licensed immigration adviser.