Guide to Money on a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Posted on August 30, 2017 

Money, money, money. It makes the world go round, apparently. Not that I would know as I’ve never really had lots of it in my life. But hey, that’s what being young is about isn’t it?! It’s about saving up and deserving those trips away because, well, you’ve earned it…literally.

But when you decide to make that move and do your working holiday in New Zealand, how do you work it all out financially, what are the most important things to know? Well, stick around because I’m about to tell you all that I know.

Firstly, how do you get your hard earned cash into New Zealand Dollars?

Well, there are a number of ways to do this. You might choose to put it on a cashcard and bring it over with you that way, or you might decide to wire it through your current bank to your NZ one. Both are OK options, however, for me, there’s only one winner, and that is the magic of TransferWise. If you don’t know who they are, they’re a money transfer service that gives you the real and current exchange rates. They’re up to 8x cheaper than if you were to do it through your bank. I’ll give you an example:


As you can see here, I am looking to transfer 1000GBP into New Zealand Dollars. If you look at the exchange rate, it’s at 1.77973 at the time of exchange. I looked it up on XE Currency and the rate was EXACTLY the same. So that’s the first bonus. Secondly, you can see that I am being charged a mere 6.95GBP. I’ve put a little comparison chart below so you can see how other UK transfer companies (including banks) do against this.


TransferWise is an absolute no brainer. They’re also looking to bring out a borderless debit card for you to use worldwide. Not sure when this will happen but it’ll be a cashcard killer! I’ve even managed to get you a free transfer on your first 500GBP if you click here. You can thank me later!

Next, who do you bank with and how do you get an account?

Much like in your home country, banking is a bit complicated and pretty boring. I’m not going to make out that getting a bank account on your WHV is easy, because it’s not. It’s a dull and often time consuming process that is a little like a dog jumping through 50 hoops. But, some banks make it easier than others, and the good news is, there are people out there that can do it for you. PHEW!

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In terms of which bank to go with, well, that’s up to you. Again, like your home country, they’re all much the same, it’s mostly just preference or who your mate banks with. I use BNZ simply because their migrant team were so helpful and friendly when I was asking them lots of questions. But I’m sure ANZ, Westpac, ASB, Kiwibank etc, are all just as good. Just do a bit of shopping around and find some comparisons to help you out.

In terms of the account itself, the toughest part for me was actually getting an appointment with someone. I had to get someone on the ground in NZ to give me a hand with this. The issue was being passed around different departments and not being able to just call the banks, what with being in the UK. Always speak to the migrant team at any bank you choose to go with. They will explain the steps of what to do and what you need to bring along with you. I’m probably making it sound worse than it was, and I may have just been unlucky, but if you’re someone like me who is happy to pay a little fee for someone else to set you up, I would do it. 

What’s this I hear about a tax refund on a working holiday?

The word on the street is that working holiday-ers often pay way too much tax than they need to. Well, word on the street is right. It’s mostly down to not understanding the tax codes, or your employer not knowing the tax codes for people on working holidays. Sometimes you may not earn enough to pay tax at all. It can all get a little complicated. The result is that you have less money than you deserve!

You’re in luck reading this because I’ve set up a little tax refund calculator for those people who have worked, or are working in New Zealand. In the words of Justin Marshall…..BOOMFA! Click here to see it what you might be owed. Apparently, the average is about $550, but obviously, don’t get your hopes up because you might only get $10.

You can apply for a tax refund at any point throughout the year, not just at the end of a tax year or when you finish working. Please don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight, but a little bit back might just get you a beer or two this weekend.

I hope that helps clear up a few little things for you. It might just get you thinking a bit more anyway. At the end of the day, don’t focus too much on the work or the money when you’re away on your overseas experience. Don’t forget that you’re there to experience an amazing new country and see what working life is like in New Zealand. Have fun!

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