Name: Julian König
Job site: New Zealand
Duration: 9 months
What made you choose a work and travel program in New Zealand?
When I graduated, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in professionally. Instead of enrolling at a university and then maybe dropping out, I wanted to gain new experiences so I could be clear about what I want to do. I knew about New Zealand from the Lord of the Rings movies and have always been fascinated with the landscape.
How did you organize your trip?
I used several websites to learn about New Zealand. While I wanted to organize as little as possible in advance, I felt more secure knowing that my first few days there would already have been planned. To make organizing my stay easier, I booked a package from Travel Works. Among other things, the agency assisted with the technical formalities, such as booking a flight and applying for a visa, and offered to help if I encountered problems or had questions during my trip. Also, I had to plan the contents of my backpack pretty diligently to avoid overloading. I had saved 3,000 euros to pay for the travel package, the flight, and the first few weeks in New Zealand.
Tell us more about the trip
When I first arrived in Auckland, I shared accommodations with five people who also had booked their packages through Travel Works. On the second day, we were invited to participate in a workshop where we were given more advice and tips. After that, we went our separate ways and the actual adventure began. Some people in the group shared a rented car; I opted for a bus pass. Travel Works partners with operators of what is referred to as hop-on-hop-off tours. The buses are driven across the country regularly and you can get on and off wherever you choose.
Where did you get off the bus?
In the beginning, I stayed on the North Island traveling towards the south. I spent two months at my first job on a farm located between Auckland and Wellington. I was responsible for setting traps for rats and opossums because their presence endangers birds and other animals. From time to time, I was asked to slaughter a goat. My second job was on a smaller farm in Wellington where for six weeks I helped the family renovate their home. Following that, I worked for three months in Christchurch on the South Island. Between jobs, I volunteered to help with The Pioneer Mountain Bike Race through the New Zealand Alps.
What other experiences did you make in New Zealand?
My jobs allowed me to have many new experiences and to learn about the culture in New Zealand. When I wasn’t working, I hiked to the places where Lord of the Rings was filmed and in Auckland I went to a match of the All Blacks rugby national team.
Was it difficult to find jobs or accommodations?
It depended on where I was. But I figured out that the best way to find work was to ask the locals about job opportunities. One of the farm jobs came through WWOOF, a network of organizations that coordinate jobs at organic farms around the world. I learned about the bike race online.
Were there moments when you were stretched to your limits?
Communicating with people was difficult at first. I did well in English in school, but trying to understand the natives was a whole different story. Luckily, everyone was very helpful.
What was it like to return to Germany?
Getting back to my routine was culture shock in reverse. Currently I am doing shift work in an industrial company to replenish my bank account. While I now know that I want to study math in Bonn, I also know that I have been infected with the travel bug and I want to see more of the world as soon as I can.