Arriving in a new city in a distant land with dreams of travelling this mystical land while trying to fund those dreams, can be as bewildering as this sentence structure. Working Holiday Starter, a New Zealand-based company, prepares backpackers with the tools they need to work, live, travel and holiday in New Zealand. In other words Robin, Working Holiday Starter’s top dog, sorts your life out while you follow like a jetlagged zombie around Auckland.
Working Holiday Starter may be the company name but it should definitely be Robin’s superhero name too. Before even purchasing the Starter Pack and becoming a WHS member, he answers any queries promptly and efficiently – a good first impression, which WHS lives up to throughout your working holiday.
All contact is made via a few simple emails. As they say, there is no time like the present, so you can begin the paperwork process from receiving the ‘welcome’ email. This involves sending a copy of your visa, passport, driving licence, and CV for some early feedback.
Some information on setting up a New Zealand bank account with Westpac, airport transfer, hostel nights, and meeting arrangements with Robin comes next. It’s pretty cool to say to friends: “I have my New Zealand bank account set up already. Oh yeah, I got this.”
Although not compulsory, a Skype chat with Robin is worth it to go over what to expect on arrival and to ask any further questions. It’s also a chance to see that Robin emits the sort of enthusiasm and confidence that you want from someone who is going to be your first New Zealand contact (and sort your life out).
Arrival in Auckland
It’s happening: New Zealand! An easy-to-spot Super Shuttle, which looks like this:
… waits outside Auckland airport where you just give your name and your destination – Silverfern Hostel. After checking in with your passport and $50 deposit, Robin will meet you at Silverfern to introduce you to Auckland city centre. First stop, a spot of lunch! According to the general consensus of WHS members, Robin is Wendy’s #1 customer because he takes everyone there for lunch whilst introducing them to New Zealand’s very own soft drink L&P.
Saying goodbye to Wendy and her L&P, you get onto the “serious” business of going to Westpac then PostShop to sort an IRD number. Ok, so it doesn’t feel so serious when everything is sorted for you – you are basically just present, even if your mind is not.
It’s time to wake up just a little when setting up your mobile phone and talking through your plans for travelling and holidaying in New Zealand, all over a pint in Auckland’s historic Bluestone Room. Word on the street is this destination has been known to change, as does Robin’s choice of drink – not that that’s important but one WHS member I have talked to certainly kept tabs on such things.
Notably, you may have realised you are staying in Auckland so a few suggestions are given on fun ways to spend your time here, including a free pass to the Sky Tower – a place I also happened to have my…
At some point in your Auckland stay, you’ll discuss the “working” part of your working holiday. Definitely some good tips are given for job interviews, cover letters and CVs in New Zealand (and in general), which could have well have contributed to me getting the first job I applied for in Queenstown. This workshop, i.e. chat over a hot beverage, covers all the bases to the point where you may hear stuff you already know if you have done an ounce of research before embarking on New Zealand.
Throughout your stay in Auckland, there are plenty chances to meet up with Robin in between pondering your plans for travelling New Zealand. One thing is for certain; that Working Holiday Starter wants you to succeed in the job hunt. Either that or WHS wants to increase the population of Christchurch so might drop the Christchurch suggestion in somewhere, where jobs are easier to come by. But if you are determined in your dreams then they are supported. For example, I was advised to try outside of Queenstown for the winter season as job hunting there is a headache to say the least. But hey, I went there anyway. Many people want different experiences out of their New Zealand trip and have, in fact, been able to make their NZ trip their own with some help from WHS. The suggestion to use the hop-on hop-off bus company Kiwi Experience to travel New Zealand, was perfect for me.
On the Road
Being released into the wild doesn’t mean all contact stops. So far, I have kept in touch with Robin for interview advice, for mail to be sent my way, and to put me in touch with a member already living and working in Queenstown to introduce me to the amazing place it is. I too have done this for fresh meat in Queenstown. It’s another easy way to make drinking buddies.
Another handy thing to note is that WHS gives you an NZ postal address and emergency contact when you have reams of job forms to fill out.
A small company with the focus of helping you create an amazing New Zealand experience, Working Holiday Starter has certainly made the road so far easier and better than I imagined. Jobs, accommodation and activities are not handed to you on a plate – some work is needed on your part – but WHS will give you loads of advice on getting there. The casual settings chosen throughout central Auckland in your orientations days makes the job workshop and organising the travel an enjoyable and relaxed experience.
Let’s end on a funny story: I was having drinks with the member who introduced me to Queenstown, Jack, and two Canadian blokes who happened to be also staying in Pinewood Lodge. One of the guys found the contact “ICE Robin” in Jack’s phone.
“Oh my God, do you know Robin?!” His Canadian drawl exclaimed. Turns out we were all WHS members who had met up by fate. We all had nothing but praise for Robin, which goes to show he and his small team have shaped a company that they can be proud of.
On the other hand, we all felt like the rebels of Working Holiday Starter because we had taken the risky route of trying to get a job in Queenstown, not Christchurch.