After finishing university and not knowing what I wanted out of life, I researched overseas programs that would help me gain experience while traveling abroad. I was terrified at the thought of going to another country all by myself, I had never been that far away from home before, but the Bunac and Work New Zealand program definitely helped me to soon get over that!
Once I arrived in NZ, the Work New Zealand office had already booked a night for me at the nearest backpackers and had an orientation meeting for a group of travelers the day I arrived. Sure, I was nervous, but that first day I met so many great people and I knew I had made the right choice. Through the orientation we learned about the NZ culture, the different kinds of jobs available to us, and the essentials like setting up a bank account (and figuring out the currency!).
I went without a plan, and that made for a grand adventure. I learned about WWOOFing (working in exchange for accommodation) and working at backpackers and knew that I wanted to check out the south island first, so I talked with the program office and they recommended that I take the train down south to begin the second part of my adventure.
I stopped in Wellington and applied to different WWOOFing positions and ended up working in a small household (living out of my own little caravan!) with a great family. My mornings started out cleaning up after the horse and donkey that they kept, and then I was assigned other various tasks throughout the day. It was hard work, but it was worthwhile and I got to live with a local family and hear their stories and gain an insight into the culture of the area.
While there I applied to two jobs: One working at a small backpackers in Nelson on the South Island, and the other was just a shot in the dark sending my resume to the observatory at Mt. Cook (because I always wanted to work at an observatory). I ended up getting a call back from the backpackers first and they offered me a position in the reception office and I was soon on the ferry heading there!
I ended up staying there for five months! I loved the family I was working for and it was in such a cool town and really my job was to meet people from all around the world. It doesn't get much better than that! I worked for accommodation, free wi-fi, and utilities AND got a small stipend each week. Talk about an adventure!
My last few months were spent traveling and exploring the South and North Islands, living entirely out of a car (minus the few nights at various backpackers; we had to shower somewhere). Along the way I found myself jumping off cliffs on a canyoning tour, sitting under the light from hundreds of glow worms in a cave in Waitamo, and beside three fierce mountain trolls from The Hobbit! (Seriously though, I had so many more adventures; I could write all day about them)
I ended up losing my passport early on, which was a bummer, but the Work New Zealand office guided me through the steps to get a replacement. It was a hassle, but the process itself wasn't as bad as I had feared thanks to the help I received. And really, the staff at the Work NZ office is always just a phone call or email away and very willing to help travelers in any way they can.
Do yourself a favor and book your year abroad with them. You'll be glad you did.