Experience New Zealand and Germany
Work and explore the country: Anne-Sophie, Marius and Daniel have travelled to New Zealand and Germany on a working holiday visa.
Germany and New Zealand have maintained a bilateral working holiday programme since 2000. Young people under the age of 30 can take up holiday jobs on the other side of the world for a year and get to know the host country. We spoke to three of them.
Travel bloggers Anne-Sophie Luck and her husband Marius from Germany returned from a year-long trip around the world at the end of April 2023. New Zealand was the last stop. The two of them offer advice on their website.
“We saw a lot of great countries on our world trip, but New Zealand was the absolute highlight! We were actually going to travel from Australia to South America. But another traveller told us about New Zealand in such an inspirational way that we spontaneously changed our plans. We were able to apply for the working holiday visa for New Zealand online in Australia and received it within a week. During this time we started looking for jobs via internet platforms and exchanging information with potential employers. Finding work on a farm was very easy. It’s also quite straightforward to open an account and apply for a tax number.
In January and February we picked strawberries on North Island – six days a week, ten to twelve hours a day. That was one of our toughest experiences ever! Out in the fields you’re exposed to all kinds of weather, ranging from intense heat to heavy rain. The pay was just about appropriate to cover that. What was really fun was the sense of camaraderie with the other harvest helpers, including many from South America and Asia. In the evenings we cooked, partied and had game nights together in our accommodation. But after seven weeks working in the strawberry fields, we were physically and psychologically exhausted so we quit.
After taking a break, we then set off on our tour of the North Island. We did the most popular day hike in New Zealand of course, which passes through the crater and lake landscape at Mount Ngauruhoe – Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings film series. We also visited the Spellbound Cave with thousands of blue shimmering fireflies on the ceiling. And we spent three days in the Rotorua geothermal area, where there’s a smell of sulphur everywhere, and the mud fumes and bubbles all over the place. We also did a round trip on the South Island with its spectacular fjords, glaciers and lakes and did a lot of hiking. You can see the most beautiful places in New Zealand within a few weeks.
Our world tour enabled us to make travelling our profession. At the moment we’re living in Leiden where we’re house-sitting for a Dutch family. We want to explore more of Europe in the next few years – there are still lots more destinations on our wishlist! There’s a lot for travellers to explore in Germany, too: Berlin, of course, but also landscapes such as the Great Bend in the Saar, the Harz mountains, Upper Bavaria and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. In summer especially there are lots of casual jobs available, for example in the tourism industry or on farms.”
Daniel Glover is a New Zealander who has been living in Germany for three years. He managed to make it over to Europe thanks to a working holiday visa. He now has a regular work visa and has become a fan of the country and its people.
“It was love that sparked my interest in Germany: my girlfriend is German. We met in New Zealand and then visited each other for a while before I decided to go for the working holiday visa. The job market was very good in Germany at the time and I was keen to gain experience abroad. Germany seemed stable and safe to me – a state that takes good care of you and has a good healthcare system. Applying for the working holiday visa was easy. I was able to do most of it online.
I actually wanted to do something completely different during my time in Europe – like working in a bar or something. In New Zealand I worked in IT. But then I found a job in a bigger company via LinkedIn and later another one with a marketing agency in the pharmaceutical sector. I just approached people and everything worked out: The Germans seem to like the fact that the Kiwis are open-minded people. I was very flexible, too. My first job was in Frankfurt, although my girlfriend and I lived in Lüneburg at the time – a distance of almost 500 kilometres. But I travelled with Deutsche Bahn – I simply took the six o’clock train to Frankfurt on Monday morning and returned on Friday afternoon. Generally speaking, everything is within very easy reach by train. I’ve travelled around Europe a lot this way. Once we went to Belgium for lunch.
In Germany my favourite cities are Cologne, Hamburg – where I live now – and Bremen, where my girlfriend’s family is from. Frankfurt is better than its reputation, too.
All in all, I get along very well with Germans. You don’t meet new people as quickly as in New Zealand, but ultimately friendships tend to be closer. Apart from that, I love the fact that so many of the towns and cities are steeped in history, and I now have several preferences when it comes to food, too: I particularly like the bread, I love marzipan cake – and you can’t go wrong with a schnitzel or knuckle of pork. I also like the fact that there are so many vegetarian options here now. All in all, the food in Germany is of good quality and much cheaper than in New Zealand. I like to try out my German when I go shopping, too. You can get by with English everywhere, but I’d like to be more proficient in German and not just be able to say ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’.”