New Zealand Travel Planning

How to Get a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Over 30

Did you know that there is a New Zealand working holiday visa for anyone over 30 years old? Until earlier this year, I didn’t know that either.

I’ve been searching for an opportunity to live abroad ever since I realized that travel is a healing process for me. My desire to immerse myself in a foreign culture runs deep. So, I began digging into the available options.

I don’t run my own online business and this blog is far from being a source of income for me. I’m not a graphic or web designer or a professional photographer. So, location independence is pretty much ruled out as a means to make money while I travel. After reading hundreds of blogs and watched hours of Youtube videos by people teaching in Spain, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan, I’m not 100% convinced that teaching is “my thing.” So, I have failed to make any real progress beyond research.

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new zealand working holiday visa

Finally, at 33 years old, I accepted the fact that I had aged out of any working holiday visa program. Working holidays allow travelers up to a year to live and work in another country, but typically only if you’re in your 20’s.

Then I finally caught wind of BUNAC, a company that coordinates gap year opportunities to intern, work, and volunteer in select countries all over the globe. It’s London based, but there is a partner office in the Arizona. Programs they offer are for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Among the list of opportunities, people can coach sports in South Africa, volunteer in Nepal, and be a summer camp counselor in the U.S.

Exclusive to BUNAC is the IEP Work Exchange Visa, which is open to first-time U.S. working holiday travelers 30-35 years old. Additionally, anyone 18-35 who has already spent time in New Zealand using the standard working holiday visa can return for another year with this visa.

paperwork needed for new zealand working holiday visa

Ready to apply for my New Zealand working holiday visa!

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Here’s a list of what you need BEFORE you can apply for this visa.

Basic Requirements

  • You must be a US citizen and apply for the program while physically in the U.S.
  • Your passport must be valid for six months after your planned departure from N.Z.
  • Must be between 30-35 (inclusive) years old. Inclusive means you may turn 36 while living/working in N.Z.
  • Payment to BUNAC for the Work New Zealand Essentials Program ($629)
  • Proof of $4200 NZD (about $3000 USD) in an accessible bank account. Plus $1100 USD if only purchasing a one-way flight to NZ – $4100 USD total
  • Flight itinerary and proof of confirmed flight to Auckland
  • Comprehensive international insurance covering your entire length of stay in NZ

Additional Requirements

If you have already spent 12 or more months in New Zealand using the standard Working Holiday Visa:

  • Medical exam and/or chest x-ray (NZ is very strict about TB)
  • FBI background check

Benefits of the IEP Work Exchange Visa Program

Paying a $629 fee for a visa may seem like a lot, but here’s a list of what’s included in that fee.

  • Excellent support before and during the visa application process
  • In-country support once you arrive New Zealand, including assistance with taxes, banking, job and accommodation search support
  • Access to affordable flights through STA and international insurance (if you have no experience buying/researching your own)
  • First two nights accommodation at a hostel in Auckland
  • Comprehensive welcome orientation
  • Voucher for transportation to the hostel from the airport
  • Work New Zealand handbook and orientation
  • Plus a Lonely Planet New Zealand guidebook, luggage storage, free internet at resource centers across the country, NZ$5 phone card, and mail forwarding service

Read More: Things to Know About New Zealand: A Guide to the Practical and Quirky

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How to get a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa over 30 years old.


  • Reply
    February 12, 2017 at 8:44 PM

    I wish more people knew about BUNAC! I’m over 30 and can’t wait to use mine for NZ as most people don’t realise you can apply until your 35. A really useful post and thank you for spreading the word.

    • Reply
      Brittany Quaglieri
      February 18, 2017 at 4:13 AM

      Ya, Meg! I’m so glad I learned about this visa. It was explained to me that as long as you apply and arrive in New Zealand before you turn 35, you can work that year up until you turn 36. When do you plan to be in NZ?

  • Reply
    Eric B
    December 19, 2017 at 11:17 PM

    Having not heard about working holiday visas until I was 30, I’m happy I found this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Did you end up going to New Zealand and working? What sorts of jobs did you think you could get?

    Also, the BUNAC web site is fairly vague on any required timelines for getting a job. E.g. if you don’t get a job after some number of weeks/months (or want to quit a job you couldn’t stand), are you still able to stay and keep looking?

    • Reply
      Brittany Quaglieri
      December 20, 2017 at 3:09 PM

      Thanks for reading! I did go to New Zealand, I was there for 3 months! I should write more about my experiences while I was there. I ended up having a difficult time finding a job, for many different reasons. You shouldn’t be discouraged from going and trying yourself! There is no requirement that you work (or stay at a job you hate) when you have this visa, it just allows you to extend your stay in the country (by 6 months I believe) and the opportunity to earn money while you are there.

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