Internships in New Zealand

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Internship Programs in New Zealand

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Internships in New Zealand


For a country that is often mistaken as part of its neighboring Australia, New Zealand could not be more different. You may recognize the silver fern that appears as the country’s logo, or have seen the powerful intimidation Haka of the world-renowned All Blacks, but did you know that New Zealand is a two-piece island reveling in culture so deeply embedded in the rolling green hills that people jump off bridges attached to bungee cords, just to experience it?

While the recent Christchurch earthquake has discouraged some from visiting, New Zealand has proven resilient and is boasting new opportunities to help rebuild this great city and contribute to the culturally dense, rugby playing, sheep shearing, hospitable, intelligent, and humorous people of Aotearoa.

Top Industries

There are numerous opportunities for interns to explore a career path and gain international experience, while also making sure to experience New Zealand itself. Interns interested in adventure tourism, environmental science, marine biology, architecture, film, and hospitality are going to find New Zealand the most rewarding.

Adventure Tourism/Hospitality

Adventure and New Zealand are often associated as images of bungee jumping, skydiving, caving, mountain climbing, and the uniquely fun zorbing come to mind. It is a country that relies heavily on tourism and excels in quality experiences for all ages and skill levels.

Queenstown is the nation’s adventure hub and a great place to learn from the experts in adventure and casual excursions as well as hospitality.

Architecture/Structural Engineering

Most recently, the 2010 earthquake that devastated Christchurch has lead to an influx of architects and engineers. Many of the city’s buildings were destroyed resulting in a great need for structural experts and interns looking to put their skills to immediate use. Additionally, other cities in New Zealand boast intriguing architectural feats such as the Wellington’s Parliamentary building, the Beehive.

Environmental Science

Green describes more than just the landscape of the country, as New Zealand is self-reliant for their energy resources and has legislature in place to use 90% renewable energy resources by 2025. Aside from their ruling against nuclear power, New Zealand’s renewable energy comes from hydroelectric dams, wind, geothermal activity, fossil fuels, and other renewable resources.


The Lord of the Rings series have done an excellent job putting New Zealand on the Hollywood map, and now is the time to get involved! With a landscape so unique, the film industry is sending more location scouts to explore the country’s untapped beauty and bring more of the industry to this part of the world.

Wildlife Conservation/Marine Biology

There are hundreds of indigenous species and a lot of work being done to preserve their habitats. The flightless kiwi bird is the nation’s symbol and is also on the endangered list. Whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins are also commonly seen in the waters surrounding the island and are the focus of many conservation efforts.

Planning Your Trip

When and Where to Look for an Internship

The larger cities will provide the most opportunity, such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Smaller cities are also great places to intern, especially if the city specializes in your desired field; for example, Queenstown for hospitality or adventure tourism. Most internships coincide with university scheduling, but opportunities with weekly and monthly increments can be arranged as well. It is important to note that the seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere, so if you plan to find a summer internship, remember that it will be the middle of their winter.

Cost of Living in New Zealand

If you are interested in an internship that is longer than three-months, proof of sufficient funds is required to show that you can live comfortably and not be at risk for getting stuck. Trademe is the nation’s version of Craigslist which provides links and resources to housing and small job opportunities as well as a way to buy, sell, and trade goods.

Something to remember when organizing finances for New Zealand, is that it is an island and that means it costs more to ship goods, making the cost of everyday items a bit more expensive than one might be accustomed to spending. A solid recommended budget for a modest apartment, meals, and transportation would be USD$600-$850 per month.

Work and Labor Laws in New Zealand

If your internship is unpaid, you have less to worry about and can work for up to three months on a tourist visa. If you wish to stay for a longer period of time or decide that you might be interested in exploring a more permanent situation, then you can apply for a Silver Fern visa. This allows you to look for work for up to nine months, and once you find a job you can apply for the Silver Fern Practical Experience visa, and stay for up to two years.

Work Culture


New Zealand is a low context culture, meaning they rely more on verbal cues (being explicit in your words) than non-verbal. It is important to be clear in conveying your message and not to make indirect statements, especially in a professional setting.

It may appear that employees are not as serious as they should be in the workplace, but do not let that fool you into thinking you can slack off. New Zealanders are modest about their work and tend to accomplish their tasks without showing off their progress or amount of effort. Do not expect to be micromanaged, but do expect to produce quality work while being self-motivated.

Greetings are important and a handshake is a common gesture when meeting a new person. New Zealanders might appear standoff-ish at first, but they are reserved until rapport is built and they see that you are trustworthy. It is common for them to use humor and being the center of a joke is positive, as it shows acceptance. Joking back is important too, because it shows you can appreciate the humor in your own flaws.

After a day of work, co-workers commonly go out for drinks, buying a “shout” until each person has purchased a round of drinks. This is an unspoken agreement, but when someone buys you a drink, you accept that you will be buying them the next. The same is common with food and coffee.


English is a national language, along with te reo Maori, and is what the majority of citizens speak. All business transactions are performed in English and it is expected for employees to be fluent.


Unless you have previous knowledge of an event your internship company is highly involved with or sponsors, wait until you arrive and then be an enthusiastic participant in anything and everything. Even if the event is the weekly staff meeting; showing you are engaged and eager to learn from your co-workers demonstrates your work ethic in a positive light.

Your accent is to your advantage, as people are curious about why you are interested in an international experience, especially in their country. Introduce yourself, and then dazzle them with your charisma and business cards.

Contributed by Devon Dean

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