A Guide to Working Whilst Backpacking

working holiday visa australia cafe work backpacker jobs working abroad

Have you often dreamt about saying goodbye to the 9-5 and relocating to live down under? It no longer needs to be a distant dream; you can easily work in Australia or New Zealand all whilst funding your wanderlust. We’ve put together the perfect guide to making your dreams a reality.


Working holiday visa

An Australian working holiday visa will be the perfect opportunity for you to experience what it’s like to move to Australia. Ideal for young people aged between 18-30, the visa lasts between 12-24 months, depending on your passport. To qualify for the visa, you will need to prove that you can support your trip and have the funds for a return ticket home. You also cannot have any dependents. You will be able to explore Australia, whilst legally be able to work to sustain your travel. Once your visa is approved you have one year to activate it. 

How to find a backpacking job

Australia is the perfect place to say goodbye to the stress and pressure of the 9-5. It boasts one of the highest minimum wages in the world, allowing you to earn plenty of money for your travels in a short time period. Many jobs are discovered through word of mouth with other backpackers or through hostels who have farm work schemes. Alternatively you can sign up to this website where lots of jobs for backpackers are posted. To qualify for a second year on your visa you will need to do specified work for three months or 88 days if you want to split it up. This work is normally regarded as farm work, but it doesn’t have to take place on a farm! It can include jobs like farming, fruit picking, fishing and pearling, tree farming, mining and construction. 

Types of jobs


If you are coming from industry or have experience in a role such as marketing, advertising or administration you can continue your career here in Australia. Not only will this provide you with more than enough money to explore but it will also give you the added edge of having an Australian office on your CV. Please, note that due to the working holiday visa you can only work in one company for 6 months at a time. This, however, is plenty of time to top up your experience and save for the trip of a lifetime. 

Hospitality industry

Jobs in cafes, restaurants, hotels and hostels are plentiful in Australia. Not only will you sometimes be able to find casual work, but the high minimum wage and options of tips will help you top up your income. Jobs are either found via word of mouth, asking in stores or through agencies. 

Labour and trades

If you have a trade skill, then you will be able to find a job that will not only be well paid but will also count as your specified work. There are plenty of jobs in the construction industry in Australia. You can acquire this through directly contacting construction companies or through hostels or agencies. These jobs might require you to stay in one location for a period, but once the job is finished you will have plenty of money to start exploring your new home. 

Farm work

Farm work is often associated with securing your second year on your visa. It is an essential part of ensuring you get 24 months to explore Australia, but the pay can also be a benefit. There are a variety of types but try to pick something that will suit you, from fruit picking to tending aloe vera plants. Farm work is usually obtained through word of mouth, through hostels or through agencies who will help you process your specified work, however, please note they might take a cut of your pay. Once you have completed your farm work, not only will you have another 12 months added to your visa, but you will also have cash to put towards a well-deserved holiday. 

Au Pair

This is the job for you if you love working with children. As an Au Pair you will also receive a guaranteed income and often with the bonus of room, board and a monthly wage. The only disadvantage is that you will often be required during the week to look after the kids, but you will have the weekends and holidays off to explore your new home. 

Surf instructor

There couldn’t be anything more Australian than a surf instructor. If you have some serious board skills, then why not investigate this career option? There are many surf schools available, with some having hostels attached. A lot of these jobs are accessible through word of mouth or through applying directly to the surf schools. You will be expected to show off your skills, so make sure you have been practising!

New Zealand

Working holiday visa

Like the Australian visa process, you will need to be between 18-30 and be able to prove that you have enough money to pay for a return flight home. You cannot have any dependents. The length of your NZ working holiday visa will be dependent on your nationality. UK passport holders can stay for up to 23 months. 

How to find a backpacking job

Finding a backpacking job in New Zealand is easy. Companies are looking for young people to be part of the team and to contribute. There are many choices for work from hospitality, retail, tourism or construction. Depending on your job, you can expect to earn from $16.50 NZD to $25 NZD per hour. However, if you have a specialised trade you can expect to earn more.

Jobs can be found through agencies, word of mouth or directly dealing with the company. Often some hostels might be able to offer information on speciality work such as a ski instructor or sheep shearer. Please note however, that you cannot accept a permanent job, the working holiday visa is designed for those looking for temporary work. 

Types of jobs

Ski instructor

Whilst Australia has surfing, New Zealand has skiing. The perfect job for any adrenaline junkie, if you have skills on the slopes then this is the seasonal job for you. Roles are available from the beginning of Autumn and wind up the end of Spring. In order to teach skiing, you will be expected to have a qualification, however, there are other entry level jobs available in the ski resorts if you don’t have this.

Farm work

Like Australia there is a high demand for casual farm staff in New Zealand. From picking fruit and vegetables to working on industrial dairy farms or sheep farms, there are many opportunities in this sector. Jobs are normally obtained through word of mouth, from hostels or through work agencies. 

Retail work

If you have any previous retail experience you will be able to apply for a retail job in New Zealand. Retail shops are used to a high turnover of staff so will be able to hire you on a temporary or casual basis. This would be an ideal job for someone hoping to base themselves in one of New Zealand’s big cities. 


There are plenty of opportunities in the hospitality sector. You can work in a café, restaurant, bar, hotel or hostel. This work is often casual and can be obtained through word of mouth or directly approaching the store. Not only will you be able to get a high minimum wage, but you will also be able to get tips which can help top up your savings.


New Zealand is often experiencing earthquakes, this means that there is a high demand for construction workers or those with a trade skill. Canterbury and Kaikoura are in the process of rebuilding after earthquakes so there will be plenty of construction jobs in this area. The best way to find work in construction is through agencies. 

Author: Sarah McCann at MyBaggage.com, when she’s not blogging she loves nothing more than setting off on a camping trip in a new location.