Gap Years in Australia and New Zealand
Has the time finally come for that much desired tiki tour of New Zealand and/or Australia? Here's everything that you need to know before you embark on your Ozzie/Kiwi Gap Yah...
To spend part of your gap year in Australia, you’ll need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or a working holiday visa. Valid for a period of up to three months, and renewable as many times as you want for up to a year, getting an ETA will cost you approximately AUD 20 and can be obtained through your airline or travel agent. Depending on the state of your finances and gap year plan, however, you could also apply for a working holiday visa. Applicable for those aged 18 to 31 who are childless, a working holiday visa will allow you to work in Australia for up to a year.
New Zealand's Working Holiday Scheme is essentially the same as Australia's but unavailable to those over the age of 30. New Zealand's Visitors' Visa will require you to provide evidence of your intention to leave New Zealand within nine months of your arrival, as well as evidence that you have enough money to fund your trip, namely NZD 1,000 per month of your visit or NZD 400 if your accommodation has already been paid for.
There will always be seasonal jobs available, varying depending on the time of year you visit – from thinning apples to picking blueberries, working on the ski slopes or as a lifeguard at the beach.
These jobs are perfect for those only in town for a short amount of time and employers understand this. As long as you're prepared to work hard for the six weeks or three months you sign up to, they'll be happy for you to leave at the end of it and continue on with your travels.
If you want a truly rural experience, then you could consider a homestay or farmstay, with opportunities aplenty. You'll be able to don a pair of gumboots (wellies), wrap up warm in a swanny (woolly, hooded garment), sleep in a swag (a kind of portable bed), and if you're in Australia, wear a hat with dangles to keep the flies away. Of course, you’ll need to be prepared to help out with daily tasks and join in with local life.
If you’re used to a city-bound lifestyle, in confined and highly populated spaces, then spending time immersed in country air, open fields and peace and quiet may well be an unforgettable experience.
You won't be working during your entire gap year, so what else is there to do while you're in that part of the world?
New Zealand is known for its adventure tourism: from white water rafting to bungy jumping, jet boat tours to sky dives. So if you're an adrenaline junkie, then New Zealand's the place to be. If sunshine and stunning beaches are more your thing, then you may be keen to explore more of Australia.
The latter is home to famous beaches such as Bondi and Bryon Bay, the beautiful Whit Sunday and Fraser Islands, and one of the world's great wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. If you want to get away from the coast, head inland for another spectacular natural wonder, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. Alternatively, you may want to take a vineyard tour, venture into one of the country’s many mountain ranges, or simply make the most of the vibrant culture and nightlife in cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
While taking a gap year in Australia or New Zealand, you might also want to explore some of the Pacific Islands, including island groups such as Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia. Here you'll be able to experience unique cultures being kept alive by those living on these small islands dotted in the Pacific Ocean. These are easy to access from both Australia and New Zealand, and again offer opportunities for both work and play.
What's more, Australia and New Zealand are relatively close to many Asian countries, opening up opportunities to explore countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, amongst others. Perhaps you'll need two years rather than one!
This article was originally published on 7 July 2008. It was updated in May 2016.
This article was originally published in May 2016 . It was last updated in September 2021