February 2015 we realized we finally had saved enough money to begin our journey across the world to New Zealand. We wanted to see every inch of the country and what better way than to live there? We could also work and earn money to support our travels and save what we already had for other destinations after the year we had planned in NZ. So we applied for a working holiday visa and got our approval three days later. We booked our flights and landed on Kiwi soil in July 2015. This is how and why we left our New Zealand working holiday early.
We had planned a year, which would turn into five and a half months.
New Zealand seemed like the perfect destination, it had everything we loved in half the size of our home province Alberta (Yes, Canada is that big). We couldn’t be more excited to begin our next adventure.
Finding Work in New Zealand
In NZ almost any job will allow you to work on a working holiday visa but it’s all about timing. We were going to live in Queenstown and we didn’t care where we worked, we were open to anything. Typically, at the beginning of winter it’s not too hard to find work but after talking to a few people in our hostel we discovered that even if we could find work an apartment would be the next challenge. There were multiple people living in the hostel because places to rent were so scarce. Living in a hostel wasn’t our idea of living in New Zealand.
Due to this less than ideal way of life we decided to travel first instead, we had the money for it so why not, we could work after we traveled. We didn’t want to work while travelling because of how difficult it is to get time off. So we took a bus to Christchurch and volunteered at a hostel for a month (karma amiright?) while we searched for the perfect travelling home in the form of a campervan.
Pfftttt…Just Travel First
Once we found a van we seemed to forget about the idea of ever working again and travelled for four months worry-free. Those four months flew by and our money with it (thanks to our love of food). We fell in love with Wellington and decided to settle down there once we were done travelling. It had to be easier to find work and an apartment in the Country’s Capital right?
It was a month before Christmas and we thought there would be an abundance of work available, so we applied like crazy everywhere we could. We got one reply. It seemed like we were only a week or two too late and all the Christmas associates were already hired. Our timing also meant that all the University students were let out for their summer break and let’s face it employers are going to take residents over foreigners. We found ourselves in the opposite situation as when we started, we could find a place to live but we couldn’t find work.
We sold our van and found ourselves living on about $5000 NZD between the two of us while we attempt to look for work. Five thousand might sound like a lot to live on, but when you’re buying groceries and paying rent without an income it gets spent quickly. New Zealand isn’t cheap either, it seemed like all the prices were close to double what we were used to in Canada. Our shortage of funds and lack of work led to two questions:
Do we cut it short with a little bit of money and visit one less expensive country and head home afterwards? Or do we spend every penny we have holding on to hope for work?
These two questions made us realize how much we missed Canada and how truly wonderful the Great White North is. Not to mention how lucky we are to call ourselves Canadian.
Yes, we can admit it, we missed home.
Home Sweet Home
Ultimately our love for Canada and our bad timing in New Zealand led to the decision to head home early. We didn’t feel disappointed about our choice because how many people can say they travelled all of New Zealand for four months straight without working even once while still paying for activities and eating out more than they should have. That’s an accomplishment in itself! We loved NZ and consider ourselves extremely lucky for spending so much time there.
Our one-year plan turned into five months, the best five months we could have asked for!
Did we mention we used the leftover money to head to Fiji for a ten days, not a bad way to end a few months of travelling.
In November 2015 we landed back in Canada and were welcomed by some pretty awesome snow storms.
Great White North indeed!
Have you ever planned on visiting somewhere longer and ended up having to cut it short?
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