Careers advice

6 backpacker jobs to boost your travel fund

Earn to explore!

Last updated: 19 December 2023

Kia ora – nau mai, haere mai – welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand! We’re delighted, but not surprised, that you’ve decided to pay our wonderful country a visit.

If you’re new to New Zealand, you might also be new to us. We’re Trade Me Jobs, NZ’s job site, where you'll find plenty of vacancies that can help you boost your travel fund and continue your travels. We’ve tailored the suggestions in this article to roles that are most suited to backpackers, but, if none of these appeal, there are heaps more on our main job portal.

Great backpacking jobs in Aotearoa New Zealand

1. Fruit picking

Imagine spending your days surrounded by lush orchards, soaking in the sun, and plucking ripe fruits straight from the trees. Fruit picking is a quintessential backpacker job in Aotearoa New Zealand, and for good reason:

  • Scenic work environments: Orchards are often located in picturesque regions, offering you the chance to work in the heart of Aotearoa New Zealand's natural beauty. Whether it's the apple orchards of Hawke's Bay or the kiwi vineyards in Bay of Plenty, you'll be treated to stunning views.
  • Seasonal work: Fruit picking jobs are usually seasonal, allowing you the flexibility to travel and explore the sights of Aotearoa during the off-season. This aligns perfectly with the backpacker lifestyle, letting you work hard when needed and play harder when the season winds down.
  • Physical activity: If you enjoy staying active and getting your hands dirty, fruit picking is a fantastic way to stay fit while earning some extra cash. It's a hands-on experience that connects you with the land.
  • Community vibes: Many orchards foster a sense of community among workers. You'll meet fellow travellers from around the world, making it a social and enriching experience and they may well give you ideas for your itinerary while you’re in the motu.

Fruit picking jobs are the perfect place to find travel buddies.

2. Hospitality and tourism

Aotearoa New Zealand's thriving hospitality and tourism industry provides a plethora of opportunities for backpackers seeking vibrant and social job environments:

  • Meet people from everywhere: Working in cafes, restaurants, or hotels means you'll interact with locals and tourists alike. It's a fantastic chance to make friends from different corners of the globe and exchange travel stories.
  • Flexible hours: Many hospitality jobs offer flexible hours, giving you the freedom to explore Aotearoa New Zealand's attractions during your days off or before/after your shifts. It's an ideal setup for those who want to balance work and play.
  • Learn valuable skills: Whether you're serving flat whites in a café or working in a backpacker hostel, you'll gain valuable customer service and communication skills that will serve you well in your future adventures.
  • Access to discounts: Some hospitality jobs provide perks like discounted meals or accommodation, helping you stretch your budget further and make the most of your New Zealand adventure.

3. Tour guide

If you have a passion for storytelling and love sharing your knowledge about Aotearoa’s 's wonders, being a tour guide could be your calling:

  • Immerse yourself in nature: As a tour guide, you'll have the chance to explore Aotearoa New Zealand's most breathtaking spots while guiding others. It's a fantastic way to deepen your connection with the country.
  • Share your passion: Whether it's leading hikes in Fiordland National Park or guiding cultural tours in Rotorua, being a tour guide allows you to share your love for New Zealand with fellow travellers.
  • Varied opportunities: From walking tours to adventure excursions, there are diverse opportunities to guide groups of all sizes and interests. Choose the type of guiding that aligns with your passions.
  • Learn local lore: Becoming a tour guide means delving into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of New Zealand. You'll become a walking encyclopaedia of fascinating stories and facts.

4. Construction and trade

If you have a knack for the hands-on and an interest in contributing to Aotearoa’s infrastructure, construction and trade jobs can be both lucrative and rewarding:

  • High earning potential: Construction and trade jobs often pay well and have a strict deadline, providing you with a steady income over a concentrated period, to fund your travels and experiences.
  • Learn practical skills: Working on construction sites gives you the opportunity to learn practical skills that might come in handy during your backpacking journey or in the future.
  • Contribute to local projects: Being part of construction projects allows you to contribute to the development of Aotearoa New Zealand's infrastructure. It's a tangible way to leave your mark on the country.
  • Job security: With ongoing construction projects, there's a steady demand for skilled workers. This can provide you with job security and the flexibility to choose the duration of your work.

Construction and trade jobs in NZ can be well paid.

5. Au Pair/nannying/childcare

For those who love kids and seek a more immersive cultural experience, being an au pair or a nanny offers a unique opportunity to live with a Kiwi family:

  • Cultural exchange: Living with a local family allows you to experience Kiwi culture on a deeper level. You'll be part of everyday life, participating in family traditions and events.
  • Free accommodation and meals: Many au pair positions include room and board, helping you save on accommodation and food expenses. It's a budget-friendly way to extend your stay.
  • Build lifelong connections: Forming bonds with the family you work for can lead to lasting friendships. You might even get the chance to be a part of family outings, trips to other parts of the country, and gatherings.
  • Flexible schedule: While there are responsibilities associated with being an au pair, the schedule is often flexible, giving you ample time to explore Aotearoa New Zealand and plan your own adventures.

6. Wine industry

New Zealand's renowned wine industry presents an exciting opportunity for those who appreciate the finer things in life:

  • Vineyard scenery: Working in vineyards means spending your days surrounded by rolling hills and grapevines. It's a picturesque setting that adds to the charm of your backpacker experience.
  • Wine education: If you have an interest in wine, working in the local wine industry allows you to expand your knowledge and add to your CV. You might even get the chance to participate in wine tastings and events.
  • Seasonal work: Just like fruit picking, many roles in the wine industry are seasonal, offering you the flexibility to work during busy periods and take time off to explore the country in the slower times.
  • Networking opportunities: The wine industry often hosts events and gatherings, providing excellent networking opportunities. You might make connections that lead to future wine-related adventures.

Looking for work while you enjoy NZ?
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Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.