Travel Spotlight: Lesly On Working Holidays

If you love nature and don’t mind working to fund your travels, then why not consider New Zealand with its’ mesmerizing landscape. A few of my friends seem to think that it’s a good idea especially when you get to spend the weekends visiting those amazing places that you often see in books or travel photos. For the month of July, I spoke to Lesly, a friend of mine who is currently taking a break from his 9 to 5 job to work in an orchard in New Zealand. Here he answer questions about the application process and tips for those who seek the same path.

How long were you in New Zealand and which parts of the country are you currently based in? 

I’m first arrived in New Zealand on the last day of 2013 and it is almost 6 months that I’ve spent my precious time here. I just moved to South Island and currently staying in a small town at Tasman region called Motueka but I’ll be moving to Christchurch this weekend for a better job opportunities.

Were you there for traveling purposes or working?

I’m currently holding the NZ Working Holiday Visa which allows me to earn sufficient funds in agricultural related jobs for me to travel around and enjoy all the fabulous experiences here.

What are the things that you need to do when applying for a working holiday there?

Before you plan to apply New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, make sure that you are prepared to handle all the challenges that you might face when you’re here. Most of the people will think that working holiday means coming here for HOLIDAY (or FUN) and they often forget about the WORKING part. Working Holiday Visa is a residence permit which allows travelers to undertake temporary employment for the purpose of supplementing their travel funds.

If you think that you’ve enough money to travel around New Zealand and do not have the need to get any jobs here, I would suggest that you can just go to travel agencies and look for the available New Zealand travel packages. This is because every year there are only 1,150 slots opened to Malaysian aged 18-30 to apply and it would be good to not  waste the opportunities for those who really want or are ready for it.

When you’re prepared, just regularly check on the NZ immigration website on the opening date for the visa application (normally end of Jan on each year). Tips: Make sure prepare all the necessaries details as the 1,150 slots goes in less than half an hour last year.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Have a Malaysian passport that’s valid for at least 3 months after your planned departure from New Zealand
  • Be at least 18 and not more than 30 years old
  • Not bring children with you
  • Hold a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket
  • Have a minimum of NZ$2,250 available funds to meet your living costs while you are here
  • Meet their health and character requirements
  • Be coming to New Zealand to holiday, with work or study being secondary intentions for your visit
  • Not have been approved a visa under a working holiday scheme before
In Kerikeri (North Island) doing the Mandarin Thinning job.

In Kerikeri (North Island) doing the Mandarin Thinning job.

What did you love most about the job?

The jobs that I’ve been on were at Mandarin Orange Thinning, Blueberries Picking and Kiwifruits Packing. Orchard jobs was my favorite one as I’m working in a green environment which is good for us because we don’t don’t need to face the computer whole day like our office jobs back in Malaysia. Besides that, those jobs require physical strength more than just using your brain which means less stress for the mind.

Did you manage to see the country and where were your favorite places to visit?

So far I’ve covered North Island only and I’m really excited for the next few months as many people said South Island is a better place to explore in New Zealand due to its beautiful sceneries. Based on North Island, my favorite places would most probably be Cape Reinga (the northern end of New Zealand) and Wellington (the capital city of New Zealand). The reason why I love these two locations is because Cape Reinga is the northern part of the country which was a good accomplishment for the trip and Wellington is a beautiful city with all the street arts. Besides that, I’ve also visited Kaikoura (part of South Island) which I really love due to its unreal sceneries with snow mountains and beautiful beaches as background (accompany with those lovely seals), it was AWESOME! I’ve promised myself that I will come back again and join their whale watching trip.

Was it a challenge to adjust to the weather as it is different from Malaysia?

In New Zealand, we are able to experience all the 4 seasons which do not happen in a country that having whole year of summer and rainy days like Malaysia. It is difficult for us to adapt the weather here especially when we need to sleep on cold beds during the autumn / winter time, even their summer is not as hot as Malaysia’s weather. Sometime we just take baths once a day because it is too cold for us to move around. Haha!

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the northest part of New Zealand

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the northest part of New Zealand

Hanging out in Black Beach, Auckland

Hanging out in Black Beach, Auckland

The mountain is at Kaikoura (South Island), one of the most beautiful place in New Zealand.

The mountain is at Kaikoura (South Island), one of the most beautiful place in New Zealand.Trai

Which Malaysian food did you miss the most?

While I’m was in New Zealand, I miss a lot of our delicious Malaysian food especially my mom’s cooking. The only thing that I miss the most (beside my mom’s dishes) would be Sarawak Laksa which it is pretty hard to get here. However, I’ve tried to cook some Malaysian foods by myself like Nasi Lemak, curry, egg tarts and others to justify the sudden craving.

Which local foods or restaurants did you like?

For me, I didn’t really fancy any of the local foods here (maybe because I’m used to the food back home in Malaysia). However, I do like the dessert that originated from New Zealand called Pavlova and tried to bake it few times which tastes pretty good. In New Zealand, I’ve done more cooking and baking compared to eating outside. This made me improved a lot on my cooking and baking skills.

Cooking Nasi Lemak in New Zealand when you miss Malaysian food.

Cooking Nasi Lemak in New Zealand when you miss Malaysian food.

What are your tips to people who wish to go there for a working holiday?

Make sure you have adjusted your mindset and ready to be independent by knowing how to take care of yourself, live with others, do all the tough jobs and able to accept all the sudden changes. You will never know what kind of situation you will have to face and the type of people you will live with. But for sure you will learn and improve a lot if you’ve managed to survive for that few months.

Where do you plan to go to next?

I would like to complete my ASEAN locations (Laos, Myanmar and Philippines) first then probably start to explore Europe and exotic countries (India, Nepal and others) within these few years.


PicMonkey Collage


6 Responses to Travel Spotlight: Lesly On Working Holidays

  1. jardness says:

    too bad working visa in New Zealand are for people under 30 years. 🙁

    • fienuts says:

      Yes that’s right too bad for that but you can still apply for a permanent job there before you pension age.
      This is more for short term working holidays.

  2. Sameeha says:

    Ive always wanted to know the process of applying for a working holiday….Sad that it’s too late for me to apply now (exceed age limit and I have kids) but this is definitely useful to my nieces and nephews and friends who’d really like to travel the world. Thanks Fie !!

    • fienuts says:

      Hi Meeha,

      Yes I wanted to apply too before I came to Cambodia and when I saw the age limit, that canceled the whole thing. We could still apply to work there (permanent staff) and take it as a working holiday too! I’m glad you found this story useful for your family. 🙂

  3. Georgina Popovacki says:

    An eye opener for those who aspires to travel & do sightseeing whilst on a working holiday visa. It’s very true what one has to go through & survive through different cultures, seasons (climate), foods, work environment & other conditions that effect their every day lives plus the ability to build a rapport is essential knowing that you’ll definitely meet people from all walks of life. Bravo to Lesly for his perseverence & ability to adapt to changes.

    • fienuts says:

      When there is a will there’s always a way and indeed this is one of the best opportunities to see the world. It’s so nice to see Lesly taking a break for the 9-5 routine and just go!

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