New Zealand Working Holiday Visa: Complete Guide 2020 (UPDATED)

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You must have heard of the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa before coming here. Maybe you heard it from your friends, aunties in the market or Facebook feeds. It doesn’t matter. I’ll go through an introduction about New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, but if you think you know it already, just skip to the next part.

Disclaimer: All the photos below are obtained from the New Zealand Immigration official website. 

For Malaysians, the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa application will be opened on 23rd January 2020, 5 am Malaysian time.

What is a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa is a visa issued by the government that allows youngsters from 42 different countries to travel and work in New Zealand. The visa is valid for 6, 12 or 23 months depending on your country of origin.

Some of the involved countries have limited quota for the visa while some do not. For Malaysians, the quota is 1150 successful applicants. Some European countries have unlimited quota.

You can work or study during your stay in New Zealand.

For Malaysians, here’s an exclusive guide (updated for 2020) for you.

Am I Eligible?

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa is not open for everyone from all age levels. Here are the criteria you need to meet in order to apply for the visa successfully.

  • Between 18-30 years old
  • Have NZ$2,250 for use during your stay in New Zealand (You need to bring this amount to New Zealand upon arrival in the country)
  • Need to have a return ticket or enough money to buy one. This explains the second criterion above.
  • Apply mainly for holiday, not for work. It’s working HOLIDAY after all.
  • And of course, passion to explore the world!

Which Nationalities Can Apply?

42 countries, with a different visa validity period. The countries are as follows.

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Let me show you these New Zealand South Island Attractions to get you pumped up for experience in New Zealand!

Step-by-step Guide: Apply For New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Now let’s dive into the main topic. How do you apply for the visa?

Before that, you should know that the New Zealand Immigration website has made a major update on their website layout and design. Most of the options are not the same as before. Following an UPDATED guide will definitely serve you better.

And good news! You’re reading it now, an updated version of the application guide.


For every step, I will have an image to show you exactly what to do. Note that this is the new layout of the website. Therefore it will differ from the older versions you found on the internet elsewhere.

Step 1 – Register Your Account

First thing first, register your account.

Visit the New Zealand Immigration official website.

At the header, press on the “Login” button.

new zealand working holiday visa

Scroll down until the last option, which is “Working Holidays Visas”. Click on that.

new zealand working holiday visa

Select the “LOGIN OR CREATE ACCOUNT” button. You will then be brought to a login page.

new zealand working holiday visa

In the Apply Online page (Login page), select “Working Holiday Schemes“. This should be done automatically so you don’t have to do anything.

Then, under the “New users” section, click “create an account“.

new zealand working holiday visa

Bravo, you arrive in the registration page for an account. Note that you must register an account to apply for the visa.

You do not need a passport number for registration. For those who don’t have a passport yet, feel free to create an account anytime.

new zealand working holiday visa

Congratulations, you have now registered your account. Now let’s proceed to the next part.

Check out my 10 Days New Zealand South Island itinerary!

Step 2 – Applying For The Visa

Now, the main part.

After registering your account, you should log in with your account details on the “Apply Online” page (Login page) I showed you just now.

You will be brought to the “Working Holiday Schemes Online” page. This page shows Working Holiday Visas of all 42 different countries.

The dark grey box indicates that the visa application is open, while the light grey box indicates the opposite. Some European countries have an unlimited quota, therefore are always open for application.

Select your country. For this guide, I will be using the United Kingdom as an example. The details needed inside the application form are almost the same for every country.

The only differences are the validity period of visa and NZ$ needed to enter New Zealand.

new zealand working holiday visa

If the application is open, you will see the below page. Click on “APPLY NOW”.

Note: It’s not necessary to complete the application in one go. You can save the application form and resume the next time you visit. Your data will be saved on the website. 

new zealand working holiday visa

Step 3 – Entering Your Details

Upon entering the application form, you will arrive on the page below.

There are 4 tabs: Personal, Health, Character and Working Holiday Specific. And under the Personal tab, there are 3 more tabs: Personal Details, Identification and Occupation Details.

Note: Some of the fields are not mandatory, which means you can leave it blank if you want. I highly recommend skipping those non-mandatory fields if you’re applying for the visa in a fierce competition situation, like Malaysia.

Working Holiday Visas in Malaysia has a low quota and extreme competition. The quota will typically run out within hours after opening and it’s getting fiercer every year. Do note that if the competition in your country resembles that too.

Tab 1 – Personal

As you can see below, the “next section” referred is the payment page. After you entered all the details, you will be brought to a payment page, where you will pay for the visa.

For countries with limited quota, the seat is not reserved for you until you made your payment successfully.

new zealand working holiday blog

After you complete a page, click “Save” to prevent any data loss. Do that before proceeding to the next tab.

Here’s the Identification tab.

new zealand working holiday visa

“Occupations” tab. Note that these are not mandatory.

new zealand working holiday visa

Tab 2 – Health

After completing the “Personal” tab, it’s time to jump to the “Health” tab.

This section should be fast and easy if you do not have any medical issues.

how to apply new zealand working holiday visa

Tab 3 – Character

Next up, “Character” tab. Like the previous one, this section should be easy for most.

new zealand working holiday malaysia

Tab 4 – Working Holiday Specific

Lastly, the “Working Holiday Specific” tab.

It’s funny that they asked whether you have sufficient funds, and you must answer “Yes”. So yea, for that part, it’s a Yes.

For the date you intend to travel to New Zealand, it does not need to be specific. However, it must be within one year from the date your visa is granted. With New Zealand Working Holiday visa, you must start the program within a year after your visa is approved.

For the amount of time, just enter the validity period of the visa.

“What if I want to extend my Working Holiday visa?”

Of course, you can opt to extend your visa for an additional three months or so. But for this part, let’s just enter the validity months of the visa, either 6, 12 or 23 months. No more than that.

Click “Save” before you click “Next”, which will bring you to the payment page.

working holiday visa new zealand

Unfortunately, this is the furthest I can show you. I will need to enter all the details in order to proceed to the payment page.

At the time of writing, application for New Zealand Working Holiday visa for Malaysians is closed. Therefore I could not enter the payment page to show you what’s in there.

Instead, I will describe to you how the payment page is like, in words.

Step 4 – Payment For Visa

The very last step for your application. Once you click “Next” in the “Working Holiday Specific” tab, you will be brought to the payment page.

First Page

The first page you will see is the “Confirm Submit” page. For this page, there will be a checklist of declarations, to show that you understand the terms and conditions. Tick “Yes” for all the boxes, and select “Submit”.

Second Page

The second page is “Submit Received”. There just a sentence here: “Please note that you must pay the application fee before your place is secured”. Click on the “Pay Now” button below. There’s a “Pay Later” button beside, for your information.

Third Page

The third page will display the application fee for the visa. The amount varies among different countries of origin. Most of them cost NZ$208. Click on the “Secure Payment Site” below.

Fourth Page

At the fourth page, you will need to enter your name at the “Payee Name” section. That’s the only section in the page, nothing else.

After clicking “OK” on the fourth page, you will have to choose your preferred payment method. Note that only MasterCard and Visa credit cards will be accepted. Select the one you prefer, fill in your credit card details, then “Pay Now”! 

Note: Although it is written that only credit cards are accepted, some people successfully made their payment via debit cards. To be on the safe side, just opt for the credit card.

Step 5 – Wait For Your Visa!

And that’s it! You’re done now, and all you have to do now is wait for your email from New Zealand Immigration. You should receive your visa within 14 days after payment.

If you wonder how the visa looks like, no it’s not printed on your passport. It’s an e-visa, which you have to print out to show the immigration. This might be a piece of sad news for those who collect visa stickers and stamps in their passport. Your passport will still get stamped when you enter New Zealand though.

If you’re preferring the USA over New Zealand, here’s my guide for your Work & Travel USA Program application.

Wrapping It Up

I sincerely hope that you found the step-by-step guide above helpful. Please share it to your friends who are interested in applying for the New Zealand Working Holiday visa. It means a lot to me than you think.

If you haven’t read this yet, here’s What I Learnt From New Zealand Working Holiday. And I’m sure you will love my Ultimate Guide to New Zealand Road Trip too!

Feel free to comment below if you love this guide or there’s anything I can improve. Happy traveling!

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new zealand working holiday

Written by

Yen is a university student from Malaysia and a huge fan of Blues music and photography. His passion for travel can be traced back to 2016 when he spent 6 months traveling New Zealand. By blending into the locals and traveling long-term, he shares all the comprehensive and detailed travel ideas and guides for the countries with his footprints.

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35 thoughts on “New Zealand Working Holiday Visa: Complete Guide 2020 (UPDATED)”

  1. That’s a very thorough and easy to follow guide; I like that you’ve added the screenshots so I can see exactly what is being asked. Sadly I’m way too old to do the working holiday route now, although it’s great to see that it’s open to friends and family. And much as I love Australia, it’s good to see New Zealand shown as another option; since there’s so much awareness about Australia. And how’s the Blues scene in NZ? We went to Dockery Farm, Clarksdale and Cleveland on the Blues Highway a couple of years ago – definitely one of our best trips ever to see where it all began!

    1. Things get easier when it’s visual right? Haha. It’s a blessing that I had the chance to go NZ for working holiday. 😀

  2. Wow. Great step by step guide to make the process easy. Or at least as easy as it could be! My husband and I are traveling about 6 months a year now and will eventually be full-time travelers so this is a great option for New Zealand, especially since it’s an expensive part of the world. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for such a detailed walk-through! The screenshots are super helpful and I’m sure more people will have a much smoother time applying thanks to your post. I’ve done a working holiday in the US back in my early twenties, too bad I can’t do one in New Zealand right now!

    1. Yep, I had problems when I first applied so I wanna try to be as detailed as possible. I’m going USA for Work & Travel next month too! Great to hear we will be having the same experience.

  4. hey Yen, I opt in Google Alerts and i found your post! This is extremely useful, i am going to read your “What I Learnt From New Zealand Working Holiday” and [Ultimate Guide to New Zealand Road Trip] tonight! Just one question tho: Do you know when usually the application will open for Malaysian? I’m turning 29 next year Feb and i really really want to do this before i turn 30. Appreciate your reply!

    1. Hey Kennie, great to hear that you loved what I wrote. It meant a lot to me. 😀
      For Malaysians, the visa application usually opens on January every year, mostly 20 something January.
      You can still apply even if you turned 30 but it’s better to apply next year, the competition is just going to get fiercer and fiercer.
      I’ll be very glad to give a hand if you’re going to apply one. 🙂

  5. I am Australian and my family is half kiwi, so I don’t need a visa but this is a very good step by step guide for anyone wanting to work there. My understanding that Australia has similar rules to the NZ one.

    1. Yep, I’ve heard about working holiday in Australia too! But the quota is a little too limited for Malaysians so I never gave it a try.

  6. That’s a very thorough guide, and the visuals really help! Too bad it’s age-capped, otherwise we would have applied for sure. We went to Australia a few years back but did not make our way “south”. Would love to visit New Zealand – the outdoor enthusiasts that we are can’t wait to explore the stunning landscape!

    1. I know right, the otherworldly impressive landscapes. It’s still at the top of my bucket list destinations nowadays. Haven’t explored North Island yet, I spent all of my 6 months in South Island, working before a month-long road trip. If you’re interested in having a road trip in New Zealand, check out my guide in the blog. 😀

  7. Great info here! An ex-coworker of mine from Paris moved to NZ several years ago. But it seems like she didn’t stay there very long. If she had read this post, maybe she could have stayed there longer.

    1. Yep, the visa is valid for one year for French. 😀
      Plus there’s extension of 3 months upon application too. Definitely a memorable experience to have. But I’m sure your friend enjoyed New Zealand as much as I did.

  8. I know we all like to say that we have no regrets, but man oh man I don’t know how I let my 30th birthday slip by last year without having applied for the New Zealand working holiday visa! I was lucky to have worked there as a tour guide for an American travel company nearly ten years ago and fell head over healts in love with everything about magical Aotearoa. I wish I’d seen this post to reinspire me last year! I have some friends who I’ve been nudging to get on the working holiday visa for Aus or NZ before they hit the big 3-0 and I’ll definitely be passing this post along to them!

    1. I appreciate that Erica! Glad to be a part of inspirations for you and your friends. I’m lucky to have the chance to explore New Zealand under NZ Working Holiday Visa. Thanks for passing the post around. 😀

  9. Hi Yes,

    Great article – it’s clear, comprehensive and informative. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
    You mentioned the cut off age of 30 for this visa, but your readers might be interested in two other visa types that they may be eligible for. These are the Immediate Skills Shortage List (ISSL) and the Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL). As their names suggest, these are visas where New Zealand are experiencing skills shortages for jobs so they won’t be for everyone, but may be an option for some.

    1. Hey Gabe, thanks for the extra information. I didn’t know much about other visas. So, thanks for adding values to this article! I’m sure readers will love to know that.

  10. Hi, if the quotas run out during my application process , will I be able to access payment ? I would love to apply but the competition for visa in my country is so intense . I want to avoid a situation where I apply and make a payment and all the quotas ran out without me being eligible for refund.

    1. Hey there, from what I know, a slot is only secured after the applicant made the payment. So if an application submitted all the information and has not made payment, the slot is not secured. So the situation you described probably will not happen, since once you made payment, your slot is secured, and if the quota is full, your payment will probably not go through. Hope this helps!

  11. Great article with tons of good info, thank you very much Yen.
    Btw, is that letter of good conduct no necessary for this application?

    1. Hey Wai Kit, thanks for reading! Which letter of good conduct are you referring to? As far as I know, there is no letter of good conduct needed other than filling in the forms provided on the website, which clarify that you never conducted any wrongdoings or crimes in your country.

  12. Hi Yen,

    Based-on what you wrote, you mentioned that the NZ Working Holiday visa is only valid for 1 year at the time of your online application when you receive it from the NZ Immigration.

    That means when the application for Malaysians opens in January 2020 and when he or she is successfully granted a visa within days of application, the validity period starts from the date the applicants receive their visas right? Let’s say the application opens on 25th January 2020 and the application receives his visa on 27th January, the validity period starts from 27th January 2020 to the following year 27th January right?

    I am currently a Final Year university student from Swinburne University in Kuching, Sarawak and my expected date of completion is June 2020 and I plan to do work and travel in NZ after my October convocation 2020. If I apply for the NZ working holiday visa in January 2020 and receive it, will it be too late to start working in NZ given a short amount of time left?

    I actually plan to work and travel in NZ from November or December 2020 for at least 6 months after my uni life. But if I got my visa in January 2020 will my visa be cancelled because the validity period already expire in January 2021 when I just started to work in NZ from November or December 2020 onward?

    Please advise.


    1. Hey Felix, well I wasn’t exactly sure whether the visa is valid from the day of application (25th Jan 2020 in your example), or the day of receiving the visa (27th Jan). The validity means that you will have to travel to New Zealand to start your working holiday before 25 or 27th January 2021.

      In your case, if you travel from Malaysia and arrive in NZ on Nov or December 2020, it’s totally fine. Your 6-months Working Holiday Visa will start counting from that day onward. It doesn’t matter when you arrive in NZ, as long as it’s before your application expires (25 or 27th Jan 2021).

      So let’s say you arrive in NZ in November 2020, you will have 6 months ahead to enjoy your working holiday, until May 2021 (if my maths is right). I hope this solves your question, feel free to ask me here or through my Facebook page if you have any more questions. Glad to help. 🙂

      1. Hi Yen,

        Thank you for your feedback. Do you I should consult consult with the NZ immigration officer on the phone to clarify more about my concern?


  13. Hi Yen,

    What are the initial documents to have in getting the slot for the working holiday visa? From the screenshots, it seems that documents are not yet needed. So filling up the forms are the only needed right?


  14. Hi Yen,

    When I apply, another tab comes up called Adviser. I don’t understand what this is. I’m from the UK as well, so am confused as to why it didn’t come up for you.

    Do you think you’d be able to help?

    Thank you,


    1. Hey Joe, I’ve just tried and there was no pop-up from the website. Tried searching online and couldn’t find any information on it too. :/ Did it happen every time you tried to apply?

    1. Well, the payment is sort of like a confirmation of the visa. Once you pay, it’s very likely that you got the visa, but if you couldn’t get to the payment page before the slots get filled up, I’m afraid it’s full. Anyway, let’s hope for a better luck next year? 🙂

  15. Very nice guide, thank you for the effort in preparing this 😀 I was wondering if it’s possible to create multiple accounts, but fill-up for one specific person’s application only? Thank you!

    1. Hey Vadet, sorry for the late reply. As far as I know, they will need one’s personal information to create an account, that includes name etc. However, I found that it’s possible to edit that information when you’re actually filing the application for NZWH Visa. I’m not 100% sure, but my take is yes, as long as the created accounts are legit accounts (ie: the information is your family member’s or your friend’s).

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