Working Holidays New Zealand: Valuable information for the first days of your stay.
You have successfully gone through the visa application process, you got your travel insurance and flight tickets, you have signed out of the Czech health insurance, you have saved some money, you have quit your job and terminated the contract from the apartment, you have boarded the plane and, after an unbelievable 18,000 km, you have entered the promised land of New Zealand.
For most of you, the gateway to New Zealand will be the city of Auckland on the North Island or Christchurch on the South Island. Below I will describe our experience in Auckland.
We arrived a few minutes past 5 AM. We passed through immigration and customs without any problems. Nobody asked anything. We did not have to explain anything to anyone. There was no need to prove available funds, travel insurance, nor anything else. Mind that it is forbidden to import any animal and plant products to New Zealand. Tourist equipment (hiking boots) is also being checked and disinfected. The only thing they asked us was whether we brought used tourist or camping equipment. We didn't have to unpack our new trekking boots. At the luggage X-ray machine, a corpulent Maori woman (officer) said to me in Czech that she was "a Sexy Mama." After that, we continued to the arrival hall.
On our second trip from Asia to Auckland, the procedure was equally seamless. The only thing they did not like on the X-ray was our soap bar. They took us aside, opened the backpack, checked the soap, and we were free to go.
If you arrive in Auckland in the evening or night, I recommend sleeping in the airport. On the first floor, in the restaurant area, you can easily find a spot to sleep (on the floor). The airport is quiet overnight, and no one will harass you. Right there, you can get a combo at McDonald's (2x BigMac, french fries, Coke for 13.10 NZD, fruit pie for 1 NZD). Fountains with drinking water you can find in the arrival hall.
The transfer from the airport to the city center
There are three options available to get from the airport to the center. The most expensive is taking a taxi for 50-60 NZD (early morning we managed to get a taxi from Queen Street to the airport for 30 NZD). A cheaper and equally convenient option is to use Skybus services at NZD 16 per person (). Skybus runs regularly and takes you to the center near Queen Street (60 min).
Of course, I have a local alternative for you as well. Probably the easiest way is to take the bus line 380 from 4 Leonard Isitt Drive. Look for a bus stop near junction 4 Leonard Isitt Drive and John Goulter Drive (Warehouse and Countdown are nearby), a few-minute walk away from the airport. Get off at Onehunga Mall, Onehunga (41 min, 4.5 NZD). From Onehunga Mall catch one of these - bus 305, 312, 324 (50 min, 5.5 NZD) towards Symonds Street, Auckland Central. Symonds street is only a few steps away from the central Queen Street.
More about public transport here:
The total cost of transport from the airport to the center reached an acceptable 10 NZD per person.
Accommodation in Auckland
Prices are greatly influenced by the season. During summer, the cost per bed in a hostel will increase by 4 - 5 NZD above the average rate per night. We rocked up at the famous Nomads Auckland Backpacker near the port and got a bed in a 12-bed dorm for NZD 25 per person per night. That was a horrible experience. There was such a rotting smell in the room that I could not even fall asleep, and when I finally did, I woke up all sweaty a while later as I had a blanket over my face. Nomads is located in the very center, so do not expect any peaceful sleep. There was always someone strolling around the room, people snoring. Due to the stink, the window was wide open throughout the night, so the cold air and noise of raving drunk punks could enter the room.
We also stayed at YHA Auckland City for 17 NZD per person. Even though we had booked a bed in a mixed dorm, in the end, we got a decent double room instead (with a shared bathroom, same cost). The standard rate for this room is 80-90 NZD. As opposed to the messy Nomads, this hostel was another league. Everything shone extremely clean, both social and common spaces. On the ground floor of the hostel, you may luxuriously cook in the spacious and fully equipped kitchen/dining room. I recommend this hostel.
Our third stay in Auckland was at Choice Plaza Backpackers, where we booked a double room for 60 NZD (price per room and night). The cheapest bed there was about 20 NZD (10-bed dorm). If you book for the entire week, you pay only for 6 nights. The hostel was full of foreigners - construction workers and Indians. The kitchen was small, and the toilets were not really spotless. However, if you need to save, this might be your budget option.
I did some research and, as an alternative to a hostel, I would suggest the following apartment option suitable especially for couples:
You can book there a double room in a private apartment, right in the center, starting at 83 NZD per night. There are many offers of this kind around Auckland. Just search them online.
During our first visit to Auckland, we actually didn't struggle much. The very first day we bought a car with an inbuilt bed, and after first two nights at Nomads, we enthusiastically camped in the car free of charge at Point Erin Park at the Auckland Harbor Bridge.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of this place among backpackers, the local authority forbade any overnight sleeping in the pool parking area. However, during the day, you can spend here a lovely afternoon - cooking and going for a walk to a nearby pier.
Where can I buy a campervan and what is good to know before purchasing?
For your journeys around New Zealand, you will, of course, need own mean of transport. There are those who do hitchhiking or travel by bus () but owning a car and experiencing the indescribable feeling of freedom is definitely worth it. Most backpackers go for a camper car - mostly a van/larger 9-seater family car with a built-in bed. You can buy either non-modified vehicle directly from the kiwi locals and adjust it to your taste or buy an already rebuilt van with camping equipment included by backpackers. The decision is up to you.
Mainly we searched for announcements as follows:
facebook groups (New Zealand Working Holiday, New Zealand Working Holiday, Backpackers New Zealand, etc.)
bulletin board with ads in every supermarket like Countdown and New World
Auckland Car Fair Ellerslie
The largest Auckland's car market, held every Sunday (9 AM - 12 PM) on the circuit in Ellerslie.
The website reports that hundreds of dealers will be present in one place. They are rather dozens instead. If you do not want to spend more than 3000 NZD per camper van, the offer will be rapidly limited to a few individuals. You can try the car on the adjoining circuit, and if you wish, you can check the car for 140 NZD () before purchasing.
At Ellerslie, we were looking for a smaller private car, but in my opinion, you have to watch out for a variety of tortuous Arab or Asian dealers (scammers). In the end, we did not pick any car. However, I have to say that the selection of cars is certainly the widest of all Auckland.
How to get there?
Right by the harbor at the end of Queen Street, find the Britomart train station. Take a train to the Greenlane stop for 4.5 NZD/one way/one person.
Auckland city car fair
Every Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM in central Auckland.
Do not expect any wide car selection at all, but what, the entrance is free, and some campervans are for sale here too.
What to look for when choosing a car?
If your level of car technical knowledge is the same as mine, you most likely hope that you won't come across any scammer who would conceal a few potential flaws and defects.
In New Zealand, it is legally required to have every 6 months a new technical check (WOF). It is therefore advisable to buy a car with a new WOF. If the WOF of the car you're interested in expires in a few weeks, it is good to negotiate with the vendor on the new WOF before the purchase. Most sellers will be looking for excuses. Beware of them. Many of them either no longer want to invest any more money in that car, or they are aware of some expensive repairs needed for the new WOF. Mind that you don't know the car and you can spare yourself a few complications with the new WOF from the beginning.
Additionally, you have to pay the road tax REGO () for gasoline cars or purchase RUC prepaid kilometers for diesel cars ( -charges / ruc-rates-and-transaction-fees).
For each 1000 km of prepaid km for diesel you will pay 67 NZD (at a petrol station), and for gasoline cars, you will pay 77 NZD per quarter (at the post office). Since July 2015, REGO has decreased - now you will pay 200 NZD for the annual REGO license for Toyota Estima.
Many backpackers tend to attach a listing of the camping equipment included in the vehicle's price, from the saucepan to the laundry clips. Stay rather focused purely on the technical state of the car, e.g. how the car starts, what is the battery and tires condition, look for exhaust leaks, when the last cambelt was changed (replacement ranges at 800 - 1500 NZD with the pump), check the automatic transmission state - replacement would usually cost like the whole car, try the brakes and ask for consumption.
In reality, many old cars are running around New Zealand (our Estima was 1994), and cheap backpackers want to drive as much as possible with the smallest possible investment. There are many gravel and field roads, hills and mountains, and cars get pretty beaten.
The price of a standard old Toyota Estima is about 2000-3000 NZD in the low season (autumn, winter), and 1000 NZD more in the summer season. We bought our Estima in November for 3600 NZD and sold it hardly for 1800 NZD in May.
For smaller private cars you pay 1500-2500 NZD. Before buying a vehicle, I recommend checking the registry with the plate number:
How do I change car ownership?
Transferring car ownership is a fast and straightforward process in New Zealand. Visit any post office branch, where you will fill out the form MR13B (the vendor will fill out the MR13A), pay the 9 NZD fee and the car is officially yours. You have to fill your address in the form. You can enter the address of the hostel you're staying at, nobody checks it.
Your car ownership certificate will be sent to you within a few days. Later on, you can use this formal document as a Proof of Address when opening a bank account and requesting an IRD number.
Open a bank account
At first, we had several complications with the opening of the bank account, - since we had only paid for two nights at the hostel and had no official proof of address. At Nomad Hostel we asked for their Proof of Address, and we received a confirmation that we are currently staying at this address. However, this is not an official document. At three Auckland banks, we were denied the request to open an account. Mostly, they required formal proof of a car ownership transfer, an energy bill, or a tenancy agreement. We did not have that.
Finally, we managed to open our account with ANZ, the Proof of Address provided by the hostel was good enough for them. We opened the account at a small branch in Paroa, south of Auckland, and we picked up the credit card a few days later there as well. With ANZ, we only have had a great experience (even later in Asia, Europe, and Canada). I recommend!
Requesting an IRD number
To legally work, you must apply for an IRD number (free of charge), that is, a social tax number. You can do it again easily and quickly at the post office. Fill in IR742 (non-resident) form and submit your passport and international driving license. If you do not have an international driving license, you will need to provide another official document with your address mentioned on it, i.e., a utility bill, proof of car ownership transfer, etc. At the time of application, my girlfriend did not have any of these documents nor an international driving license. The lady at the post office did not even blink, she called a friend, and in a few minutes, Magda had an official job confirmation that was enough to settle the IRD. Worth to mention, such an excellent customer service we've been provided at the post office in Coromandel.
Now, all you need to do is wait till you get the letter with your IRD number in your inbox (by post). If you are traveling, call the IRD office 2 weeks later, and they will tell you the number over the phone.
More about IRD:
Where to go shopping?
Go to Countdown, New World, Pack n Save, Four Square to purchase regular groceries.
I recommend visiting New World on the South Island and asking for a "tourist club card," which comes up with a numerous benefits and discounts.
At Warehouse you can purchase camping equipment, car accessories, garden equipment, cheap clothes (something like OBI).
At Warehouse, you can also get the Skinny sim card, on which you can activate one of the most affordable tariffs in New Zealand - Big Value Combo for 16 NZD with 500 MB of Internet (). Skinny regularly offers various deals like 1GB 3G internet for 10 NZD and so on.
In the beginning, you may need to make some photocopies. Find the best prices at Warehouse stationery (15c per page, Auckland on Queen Street).
If you like fast food, go to Burger King. There are different discounted deal menus in New Zealand, such as Big Feed: Classic Whopper with french fries, beverage, sundae and chicken nuggets for 12 NZD (). At McDonald's, they have an even better deal - BigMac Hunger Buster for 12.5 NZD ().