Christchurch is New Zealand's capital, but Auckland, on the North Island, is its biggest city, thanks to the recent merging of Auckland center and four surrounding cities. Its vibe centers on Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf, and if you choose the city for your gap year base, sooner or later you'll find yourself on a boat looking back at the city's stunning skyline. From its Māori roots to its latest ranking of fourth in the world for quality of life, Auckland constantly surprises the visitor – and those who stay longer positively fall in love.
There are two sport-focused volunteer programs based in Auckland, both of which are part of the School Sports Project. They are looking for baseball and tennis coaches for their refugee programs; volunteers are encouraged to coach other sports as well as assist in classrooms.
Environmentally conscious travelers can sign up with Greenheart Travel's volunteer program that includes beach clean-ups, tree planting, and animal rescue. For a more direct experience, the Department of Conservation offers several volunteer programs out of Auckland, including maintenance projects at North Head.
For helping out at local sites throughout Auckland including visitor attractions, museums, faith-based programs and senior services, there is a dedicated site called Volunteering Auckland that is a clearinghouse for a wide variety of opportunities.
Adventure travel was practically invented in New Zealand, and it remains the world champion of activities that involve heart-racing fun. Adventure Cycles gives travelers and volunteers work experience working around bikes and bike tours. The Thumbs Up Adventure Club and the Auckland Adventure Group are a great way to meet locals and travelers who are interested in adventure activities and travel; they have lively networks and can be a useful resource for living in Auckland as well.
Professional internships abound in Auckland, arguably New Zealand’s business capital and the center for many international companies. You can apply for an internship directly through the wesbite of the company you're interested in or an internship program. If you need a starting point to browse internships and see what's available in Auckland, there are two websites where you can get started:
- New Zealand Internships: Internships are listed by category, and do not show specific company names. It also has resources for interns, and a community feel.
- Grad Connection New Zealand has an extensive search function, including benefits offered and “office perks.” Jobs are listed by company, which can be helpful if you want to do additional research on the company.
Planning Your Trip
Visas for Auckland
Visitors from most major countries do not need a visa to enter New Zealand for a three-month duration. A list of visa-waiver countries can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website. The following visas are available for those who want to spend more than three months in Auckland:
- Temporary Work Visa: For people 18-30 who have a job offer, or for students who are studying or have studied in New Zealand, and want to continue their stay while working.
- Working Holiday Scheme: Depending on your country, those aged 18-30 can apply for a stay of up to 12 months. Eligibility and other requirements can be found online. You can work, but not accept a permanent position, and you can also sign up for classes/courses while in country. Note that a return ticket and a minimum amount of money in a bank account are among the requirements.
Cost of Living in Auckland
The cost of living in Auckland is classified as Medium. It's possible to get along just fine on a modest budget, and there are many inexpensive options if you want to keep costs down. The following are average prices as shown on Numbeo (all USD):
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre $825.83
- Basic (Electricity, Gas, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment $260.14
- Monthly Transportation Pass (Regular Price) $105.29
- Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) $13.21
- Eggs (12) $3.84
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) $2.06
- Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course $66.07
The average monthly disposable salary after taxes is $2,841.69, so it's possible to stay on budget while living in Auckland.
Health and Safety in Auckland
Auckland is a safe city by international standards; but as with any city, being aware of your surroundings and being street smart will go a long way to staying safe. The biggest "threat", if it can even be called that, would probably be the neighborhoods that are home to a cluster of bars and pubs. Karangahape ("K") Road is the most notorious of the bunch, and it is advisable to go in a group if visiting Queen Street.
As mentioned earlier, New Zealand is a popular destination for extreme sports experiences. Chances are, the adventurous vibe will be contagious and you'll be tempted to join in the fun. If so, go with recommended, licensed and professional establishments - and follow their directions and admonishments to the letter (AucklandNZ). It is worth checking your travel insurance policy to check whether you are covered in the event of injury while participating in extreme sports.
The emergency number for all of New Zealand is 111; the police request that you report any crime no matter how petty, as it helps them do their job better.