10 Things Malaysians Need To Prepare For New Zealand Working Holiday

new zealand working holiday preparation

The idea of going to a different country, especially one that is so different from your own, can be daunting. This time, we left for nearly a year this time, longest we’ve ever been away from home. Before we took our flight to New Zealand, we made sure to get these things done so we won’t get in trouble overseas.

Having to make an overseas phone call is the worst. Phone bills can amount up to NZD$100+ if you’re not careful in handling your affairs before you leave.

From settling your income tax, to changing money, to buying necessary gears, it’s all part of a beautiful process to get yourself ready for your working holiday in New Zealand! For that reason, don’t skip this and make sure you’ve gotten these things done before you proceed!

With that, we’ve put together the things that you need to do before leaving for New Zealand working holiday:

10 Things To Prepare For New Zealand Working Holiday:

If you have been working in Malaysia before going for the working holiday, it is vital that you settle your income tax and obtain the clearance letter before leaving the country.

Your question: Why do I need to settle it? I will be back anyways.

Louis and I both didn’t know about this until his salary for his final month was withheld from him. He had to settle his income tax and obtain the tax clearance letter in order to receive his final month’s salary.

Basically, if you’re leaving for a working holiday in New Zealand, get

  • CP21 Leaver form (can be obtained from the internet or from your employer).
  • BE form (personal income tax form – if the form is not available online, you can always go to the LHDN where you registered your income tax number to get the form done over the counter).
  • EA form, which will be issued by your company.

Depending on different LHDN offices, the documents they require will be slightly different. I read online that some require your passport. Always prepare extra because you never know what they’ll need. Read Maccablo‘s article as we found it extremely helpful.

#2: First week accommodation in New Zealand

What you want to do in the first week when you arrive is entirely up to you. Some don’t like to get straight into action while others prefer to relax and get accustomed to the new surrounding first.

It may sound daunting to book your accommodation early as plans might change and you’re not sure if you’ll stay the whole length. However, booking your accommodation earlier is helpful as you may end up getting really cheap deals! Keep in mind that last-minute bookings are always expensive!

Initially, we thought that it was crucial for us to stay in Auckland Central to set up our bank accounts. But, we can actually make bank appointments from any towns or cities, really! Honestly, there are so many ANZ branches all over New Zealand.

Some of my friends worked while they set up their bank accounts. But, you need to make sure your employer allows you to! Most of them require you to set up a bank account first!

If you’re looking for an affordable budget hostel in Auckland city center, try these ones:

These are the few options that we’ve researched and studied before coming to Auckland. They’re affordable and close to city center too!

#3: Set up your bank account before arrival

This was a huge mistake we did before arriving in New Zealand. We could actually open our bank account with ANZ when we’re still in our home country. Hence, we browsed ANZ online website and registered a Go Account. Immediately, we received an email reply from ANZ’s staff.

However, after reading this email, I immediately thought that the information she was referring to was supposed to be given during our face-to-face bank appointment. WRONG.

The documents and information that she needed can be sent through email. Simply scan the documents (or using CamScanner app to take a picture) and attach it back to the email. 

Their bank system is very different as you need to call their bank and book an appointment. Alternatively, you can also reply to the email sent by the ANZ staff you’re dealing with. 

However, you need to be quick or else the appointment slots will fill up fast

Note: phone service is 24 hours (I was informed that 24 hours service is mostly catered for credit card accidents, but you can always try).

This was my reply:

And then she replied the day after:

That’s when I started making an appointment with the nearest branch. However, I typed the date wrongly. *double smack forehead*

The appointment was made for Thursday – for one person. Despite that, we both went anyways.

She gladly took both of us in and assisted us in opening our Go accounts, applied and gave us our debit cards. 

We also obtained our bank statements to prove that our bank accounts are fully functional. The last one is really important as you need the prove to apply for your IRD account

#4: IRD number

This is a little off topic as we’re talking about preparation for New Zealand, but I thought since I’ve covered the bank part, why not talk about IRD as well.

Once we obtained our bank accounts, we immediately applied for an IRD number through their online website as soon as we got back to our Airbnb.

For those who can read Chinese, you might find Shepherdess Jen’s article extremely helpful.

For those who can’t read Chinese, head over to their website, select registration, and Apply for individual IRD number. Just fill in accordingly and you’re done! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

We received our IRD numbers through email within a week.

#5: Money exchange - MYR to NZD

New Zealand wants to see your proof of sufficient funds to fund your travels in New Zealand. The government website states you need to show a minimum of NZD$2,250 upon entry. But, it really depends as we were not required to show our proof both times when we entered New Zealand.

In my case, when we arrived in NZ, no one asked to see our bank account statements nor did we bring much cash with me. After further research, we found out that 2 stores offered good exchange rates: Midvalley and Port Klang

#6: Airport Shuttle

It’s either you walk more or you pay more.

  • Facebook: You can find shuttle service on Facebook New Zealand Working Holiday Visa pages. It will cost between NZD $20 to $30 per person
  • Bus/Train: Get your AtHop cards ($10) at iSite upon your arrival at Auckland Airport and top up to enjoy cheap bus and train fare. Use the Auckland journey planner to know which bus or train to take to your destination.
  • Taxi: This may not be your cheapest option as taxis can cost between NZD $38-75 one way. However, they’re everywhere and it’s easy to hail one if you’re in a hurry!
  • Uber/Ola: Download the uber and ola app. If you’re a new user, you can usually find a coupon code on couponation to get your first ride for free!

#7: Scan Important documents and send it to yourself

Here are the things we scanned and saved in Google Doc and Google Drive.

  • Passport
  • IC/Identity Card
  • Bank statement
  • Income tax number (Malaysia’s)
  • Passport photo (make sure they’re according to NZ standard size)
  • CV/Resume
  • e-VISA

You can also email it to yourself or just print everything out.

#8: Clean your boots/hiking gear

Two pair of legs and mossy grass in front of their feet
Click this image to read more about our "Milford Track" experience.

If your footwear are dirty, with visible mud on then, you will risk getting your them temporarily taken away from you to go through some biosecurity cleaning.

Clean and wash your hiking equipment or gear before your departure. I showed my squeaky clean shoes to the customs and she took a quick glance without saying anything. Guess my shoes were too shiny that it temporarily blinded her sense of judgment.

But yeah, you get the idea.

Also, while we’re at this topic, please DO NOT bring any form of food in your luggage. If you really want to bring your maggi mee, declare them when you get your declaration card on the plane.

You just have to tick on the relevant boxes of the things you have brought and then hand the declaration card to the declaration officer when you arrive.

#9: BUY only the relevant things

And by relevant I mean your backpacks. If you’re going on a backpacking trip, please choose good backpacks and try not to buy online because you can’t assess the quality and the size. 

Get backpacks that can be locked with TSA locks. Also, choose backpack that can open wide so it’s easy to retrieve your clothes. 

Do not choose backpacks that are too big because you will only stuff unnecessary items in it. My backpack is 60L while Louis’ 70L. We bought ours from Decathlon. Sadly, our packs can’t be locked. So that’s quite dangerous.

Pack Only The Essentials

Do not bring too much winter clothing because it can really add up.

You can buy winter jackets in New Zealand for cheap during winter. We did buy an ultralight down parka from Uniqlo because they are so light and versatile they don’t use up any space at all! Besides that, we used our parka as pillows when we were on the plane.

You don’t really need much. Here’s a guide on what you can pack:

  • 3 short-sleeve T-shirts
  • 1 long-sleeve T-shirt
  • Light Jacket (It can be cold even in summer)
  • 2 short and long
  • 5 pair of undergarments and socks
  • Waterproof jacket/trousers (Important if you go on frequent hikes)
  • Hat (sun hat especially)
  • Sunscreen
  • Shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste
  • Microfibre towels (they dry really fast and don’t eat up any space!)
  • One pair of hiking/sports shoe
  • One pair of sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Medication (also need to declare and should not be more than 1-3 month’s dosage)
  • Menstrual cup (no purchase needed for cotton pads)
  • Recycling bag/Tote bag
  • Powerbank

These are just some of the essentials that I think are necessary. Feel free to add or delete based on your own preferences. Wash your clothes! I can’t stress this enough! It’s easy to find laundry shop in New Zealand especially self-service ones!

#10: Do your research

A book that opens up to an itinerary for New Zealand

This is the final step.

The trip to New Zealand is not the same when you do your research. You will discover interesting and cheap places and save a whole lot of money! Also, research which mobile plan you should get when you arrive! It is essential to have a NZ number to call your shuttle service, your accommodation hosts, job, and the bank! 

Final Words

Enjoy this whole process and your arrival in New Zealand will be a stress-free one! I hope this article has helped you in your preparation!

If you need even more detailed and comprehensive insights, ranging from pre-arrival to after arrival in NZ, check out Travels With Sun’s post, she has listed everything down in such detailed descriptions that you can’t possibly miss anything out!

Let me know how has it gone for you in the comments below!

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16 thoughts on “10 Things Malaysians Need To Prepare For New Zealand Working Holiday”

    1. Hi Eric! Yes. Definitely. However, you need to make sure that you have enough money to get it as petrol and cost of service/maintenance can be scary. I haven’t buy a car yet because I don’t think that’s necessary for me at the moment. Maybe towards the middle of my journey I would. 🙂

  1. Hi! Thanks for all the info. We are travelling to NZ for a holiday soon and I was wondering if you declared your Uniqlo down jacket? Cos I was reading that any products that contain feathers need to be declared and so was wondering if we needed to declare ours

    1. Hi Jia Yin, do you mean the proof of address of where you’re staying in NZ? Yes, I guess bank statement would work. But if you could find any information online, do research first, so you didn’t need to do the same work twice 😉 cheers!

  2. Hi Anna, thanks for sharing. Where would you recommend to stay for first timer? Will be arriving Auckland next year Jan for working holiday too.

    1. Hi Sinnee,

      I recommend anywhere as long as it is convenient for you, and you can walk-in to the nearest bank to open your bank account 😀 you can always choose to stay in Auckland, or jump straight into work if your employer is willing to help you (or wait for you) to set up your bank account, then your IRD. If you need more time to get used to the jetlag, then you can stay a few days in Auckland until you feel like you’re ready to move on.


  3. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for sharing.
    I have some questions on the tax clearance letter.
    Do we really need to get the tax clearance letter?
    May I know is there any reason Louis’s salary for final month was withheld ?

    1. Hi HH,
      Sorry for the really late response! I need to check my comments more often! Haha.
      Yes, you do need a tax clearance letter as it is compulsory for us to pay our tax before we go overseas.
      If you’re already attached to a company, your company needs to get the letter before they can pay your final month’s salary.
      Louis’ salary was withheld because he is resigning, and because he is going overseas, he is required to hand in his tax clearance letter before they can give him his final month’s salary.

  4. hi, may I know how long it takes for you to get the tax clearance letter from LHDN and also is it needed to show during immigration check? Thank you.

    1. Hello Ng,
      My apologies for the late reply!

      If my memory does not fail me, I believe you will receive it within a month. Give or take.

      No, you do not need to show the clearance letter when you’re going through immigration. You do, however, need to show your bank statement to show proof of the amount of money you have, whether you have a sufficient amount or not.

  5. Pingback: Working Holiday In New Zealand - A Complete Guide For Malaysian (2020)

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