The most important thing when working in New Zealand, or anywhere in the world, is to know the basic rights and obligations for both the employee and employers.

Your official source of information regarding employment laws should always be the government website. The official employment website of the New Zealand government is highly recommend anyone looking to start working in New Zealand to read through the website and understand your rights.

We have simplified some of the most important aspects below, considering common practices in the horticultural industry.

  • Rest breaks of 10 to 15 minutes long – usually every two or three hours.
    • Which can be used for resting, eating, drinking, and/or to solve personal matters.
  • Meal breaks of at least 30 minutes.
  • Be paid at a minimum wage rate or above for every worked hour.
  • Receive payslips.
    • This is a brief document summarising your gains in the period and all taxes deducted from your wages.
  • Be paid 1.5x ( time and a half) your wages if working on a public holiday.
  • Have four weeks of annual leave for every 12 months worked for the same employer
    • If on a short or fixed term contract, it’s very common to receive the equivalent annual leave as a payment on top of the salary. The employer has the right to retain this payment until the end of your contract, paying you the accrued amount with your final pay check.
  • Have a valid work visa at all times and communicate to your employer if your visa situation changes.
  • Have an IRD number and provide it to the employer.
  • Have a bank account.
  • Receive payslips.
  • Be sure your taxes are being correctly deducted from your payslip.
  • Be compliant with all rules and obligations mentioned in the employment agreement, that has been signed prior to starting the job.
  • Provide the employee with an employment agreement and have copies signed by both parties.
    • This is a document in which the job description is defined, the salary/wages, payment method, tax deductions, accorded working hours, nature of the employment (fixed term, casual or permanent), place of work, and every other detail relevant to the job is recorded.
  • Pay you on time.
  • Be mindful of health and safety obligations and provide a safe work environment for every worker.

Quick Tip:

Remember to always seek assistance if anything looks significantly different from any of these details below. The government has multiple public channels to help people with employment matters. Find below a list of government channels to seek assistance:

  • Employment New Zealand - Call 0800 20 90 20 or go to
  • Crimestoppers – for more serious concerns such as immigration fraud or worker exploitation. Call anonymously 0800 555 111 or go to
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau: helping to understand rights and obligations – Call 0800 367 222 or go to
  • Inland Revenue – for questions related to taxation and deductions – Go to


As a general rule, in order to start working in the horticultural industry in New Zealand you will need three basic documents:

  • A valid working visa permit – or be a New Zealand or Australian resident or citizen.

  • An IRD Number

  • A bank account

  • A physical address (to apply for the documents above).

Let’s explain each one of them in more detail:

A valid working visa Permit

If you are an immigrant, you can come to New Zealand to visit, work or live. There are multiple types of visa and you should refer to New Zealand Immigration to figure out the one most suitable for your situation.

When being granted a New Zealand visa, the visa will always state if the visa holder is allowed to work or not. So be mindful to ALWAYS READ YOUR VISA INSTRUCTIONS upon being granted a visa and respect those conditions above all rules.

Here we’ll describe the basics of most common visas and whether someone holding these visas are allowed to work or not.

NZ Visitor Visa

This visa is specific to people coming to New Zealand to visit and travel. It usually has a duration from three up to nine months maximum. After that period, the visa expires and the person has to leave the country, unless formally authorised to stay by New Zealand Immigration.

Can you work on a visitor visa?

No. A person is NOT ALLOWED to work in New Zealand as a visitor. The purpose of this visa is for visiting only. This is non-negotiable with both New Zealand Immigration and the employer. If you are coming to New Zealand to visit, be mindful that you cannot work and may face legal action and deportation if you break this condition.

Read more about the New Zealand Visitor Visa

NZ Student Visa

This visa is given to people coming to New Zealand to study. This means any kind of studying, from language schools to university degrees. This visa usually has the duration of the course you are coming to study and expires usually a month after the end of the course.

Can you work on a visitor visa?

It depends on what you will study and for how long. Immigration New Zealand can allow the visa holder to work or not. If you are allowed to work, you will be authorised to work only part-time, which means up to 20 hours per week at most. This rule is set so the student can focus on their studies rather than work. Working more than 20 hours per week may result in a visa being revoked, and the visa holder may face deportation or, in the best-case scenario, be ineligible for further visas in a few years’ time.

Read more about the New Zealand Student Visas

Post-Study Open Work Visa

This visa is granted to people who were holders of student visas and have now finished their courses. This visa is not granted for all courses and course categories. It is usually granted to students who completed their graduation or post-graduation in New Zealand – a long-term course. This visa is considered to be provisory, as Immigration grants this visa aiming to help the visa holder to find a job in the field they have just finished studying, building up a pathway to residency in New Zealand.

Can you work on a Post-Study Open Work Visa?

Yes! You can usually work for any employer in any position for as long as the visa duration . Although you can work in any position, it’s recommended that the visa holder works in a field related to the one in which they just completed their studies. That would create the possibility of an extension of that visa or support a future resident visa application.

Read more about the Post-Study Open Work Visas

Open Work Visa

There are multiple ways of being granted this visa. A person is granted an Open Work Visa if they: a) are partner of someone who is currently a work visa holder or a New Zealand resident/citizen, b) come to New Zealand on specific working programmes such as a Skilled Migrant Category Visa, Silver Fern visa, or other, and, in some cases, c) are a partner of a student visa holder – depending on what the student is studying. This visa is usually granted for either the same length as the supporting partner or for one to three years, depending on each situation.

Can you work on an Open Work Visa?

Yes! You can usually work for any employer for as long as you want while being an Open Work Visa holder, unless stated otherwise in your visa conditions. If that applies to you , feel free to apply for jobs in our Job board.

Read more about Work Visas

NZ Working Holiday Visa

One of the most popular visas with travellers in New Zealand, the Working Holiday Visa – most often referred to as WHV – is a visa granted to someone intending to come to New Zealand and work while traveling. A great opportunity for younger people willing to take a ‘sabbatical year’ and make some money along the way. This visa has a few different conditions depending on the country the person is applying from. As a general rule, this visa is only granted to people under 31 years old, as long as they have good health, no criminal convictions, and are not intending to stay in New Zealand for more than one year. The visa has a one-year duration, starting on the day the person arrives in New Zealand.

Can you work on an Open Work Visa?

Yes! WHV holders are entitled to do any work for any employer in New Zealand while their visa lasts. It’s important to highlight that WHV holders, although allowed to work, are only allowed to work for a maximum period of three months for each employer. In other words, the visa holder has to find a new job every three months. This should not be a problem for most visa holders: since they come to New Zealand to travel and explore the country within a year, they would probably have to find another job in another region anyway.

Tip about this visa: WHV holders can request a three months’ extension of their visa if they work in the horticultural or viticultural industry. That’s a great benefit that only our industry can offer!

Read more about Working Holiday Visas

Read more about Working Holiday Visa Extension

NZ Resident Visa

This is considered the higher-level visa offered by New Zealand Immigration. To be a New Zealand resident or citizen means you are living in New Zealand indefinitely, were born here or have been legally entitled as such by Immigration New Zealand. The same rule applies to Australians. All others are considered immigrants and must follow the immigration guidelines to work in New Zealand. There are multiple ways of being granted a resident visa; none of them are easy and they all involve a long process within the New Zealand Immigration department.

Can you work on an Open Work Visa?

Yes! Once granted a resident visa, you have the same rights and obligations as people born in New Zealand. Therefore, you can work for any employer you want, for as long as you want, unless stated otherwise in your visa conditions.

If you have plans to come to New Zealand to live indefinitely and apply for a resident visa, we strongly recommend you take time reading the New Zealand Immigration website.

Read more about Resident Visas

Working for a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE)

Available only for people originally from the following pacific countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. This special visa is granted to Pacific Islanders willing to come to New Zealand exclusively to work at horticultural or viticultural orchards. The maximum length granted for this visa is seven months and it must be supported by a Recognised Seasonal Employer. In other words, the visa holder must apply for a job with a recognised employer and be accepted. Once accepted, the employer will organise all visa arrangements with Immigration New Zealand and look after the visa holder for the whole time they are in New Zealand.

If you are a Pacific Islander, please click here to download the official guide from Immigration New Zealand on working for a recognised seasonal employer.

Tax obligations and IRD Number

As mentioned before, as in most countries, all individuals or organisations that earn money must pay a certain percentage of it to the government, which uses this money to keep the country running and invest in public services. This percentage is called tax and, as we said, everyone’s income is taxable unless stated otherwise by the government. New Zealand’s tax system is managed by the Inland Revenue Department – usually called the IRD. This entity retains the money and makes sure all individuals are tax complaint.

In order to keep complaint with taxes, all individuals and companies must have an official IRD number and you must provide this number to your employer, so they can proceed with the hiring process.

Employers are obligated to register you to the IRD as their employee as soon as they hire you. Once you are registered as an employee, your employer will deduct your taxes automatically from your payments, so you don’t have to worry about taxes, since they will be already paid. Most times, these taxes will be collected through a system called P.A.Y.E (pay-as-you-earn) and will be shown on your payslip.

The tax-year starts in April and runs until the 31st of March every year. Once the tax year finishes, you will have to log onto the IRD website to check all taxes you’ve paid in that current year and verify if you have any outstanding taxes to pay or if you are eligible to claim back some of those taxes you’ve already paid. You can find more information about this in the links below.

You can apply online for an IRD number at the official Inland Revenue website; you will need the following documents before applying:

  • Your passport details.
  • Your Immigration New Zealand Application Number (you can find this on your visa approval letter from Immigration New Zealand).
  • Your most recent overseas tax number (if you have one).
  • A New Zealand bank account with proof of ownership (bank statement, draft, or official letter from the bank containing your name).
  • A valid email address or a mobile phone number (to receive the official SMS/email containing your IRD Number).
  • A physical address in New Zealand (to receive the official letter containing your IRD Number).

Once the application is finished, your IRD number will be sent electronically to your email address or by SMS to the mobile phone number you provided within two working days. You should receive an official letter from the IRD with the same content to the physical address you provided upon registration.

If you’d like to apply for a New Zealand IRD Number, please visit this link and follow the steps.

Quick Tip:

Having a Bank Account

As described above, in order to be hired, you need an IRD Number, and in order to apply for an IRD Number it’s necessary to have an active bank account in New Zealand. Luckily, opening a bank account in New Zealand is not a complicated process and the country has one of the best and most automated banking systems in the world, enabling them to process new enquiries very quickly – when compared to other countries.

The main banks for traditional banking in New Zealand are:

  • ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited)

To open an account at any of these banks you will be required to have the following documents:

  • Identification (ID/Passport or NZ driver’s licence)

  • Your physical address in New Zealand (including postcode)

  • Landline or mobile number

  • Minimum amount to deposit (specific at each bank)

If you are currently overseas and want to open an account before arriving in New Zealand, most banks also offer this possibility as long as you can provide the documents above. This information can be found directly on their websites or via international phone numbers.

It is important to know that, as horticulture is a popular sector in New Zealand and it demands a huge number of overseas workers per year, bank branches are prepared to provide all the information and advice to open an account.

Most banks have similar services and any of the ones listed above will have suitable options for you as a worker, although it’s in your own interest that you look at all different options and choose the most suitable for you in terms of fees and benefits offered.

A good idea when choosing a bank is to visit their website and follow that up by visiting a branch – if you are already in New Zealand – and talk to a personal banking manager or help desk to answer any questions you may still have.

Regardless of which banking provider you choose, chances are you will receive an EFTPOS card (New Zealand’s debit card) within a couple of days of opening a bank account, which you can use to buy goods and withdraw cash anywhere in the country.