Seriously, how awesome was New Zealand?
Joey: The landscape is gorgeous. It was like walking around in a postcard. New Zealand is relaxed and it offers a slower pace of life. Even big cities like Auckland are not "that" big. You can also meet people from all around the world.
Why did you decide to take on such a huge trip?
Joey: I was not happy with my situation back home. Despite making very good money, I felt stuck in my job – I did not enjoy it. I had all this money saved when a friend of mine told me about working holiday. I looked into it, and it intrigued me for about a month.
Then it went from: "It looks cool!" to "I can do that!" to "I should do that!" to "I need to do that!"
I talked to friends and family and they all supported me. That is what pulled the trigger. Not receiving any negative feedback about this idea was great.
Describe what Working Holiday Starter do?
Joey: It is a service that helps travellers to transition into a working holiday in New Zealand. And they also provide support while in New Zealand.
What do you think about our service?
Joey: It was very good. It was personal and you were available for me when I needed you. You guys clearly have seen it all and were prepared for anything so you help me a lot.
What is the best thing Working Holiday Starter did for you?
Joey: Convincing me to come over here! I Skyped with Robin before making any plans and he reassured me and showed me that with the right support, it would be an awesome thing to do. And it was!
You also took a 12-month bus pass with one of our company partners, was it fun?
Joey: I loved it! I was friends with a few drivers. I actually did the whole route twice as my pass was unlimited. I did it once in summer and once in winter.
I was always with a good group of people. Everybody was there to have a good time and see most of the country – not just party. Everybody was respectful and fun. It was really fun.
What jobs did you do here in New Zealand?
Joey: I had an extremely stressful job back home, unnecessarily stressful in fact. You suggested WWOOFing to me and it seemed so different from everything I knew, as we don’t have that in the US. But I went for it anyway. It was a great way to meet locals and change my pace of life. Although it was tough work, it was very rewarding. Every person that I met through WWOOFing was friendly, so I stuck with it for most of my trip.
I worked in a sheep farm in Masterton on the North Island. I was doing some landscaping. I learn that sheep are cute, but dumb and dirty. Haha!
In Otaki I worked on an organic farm chopping wood and picking olives.
In Picton I worked in a hostel as night manager. I actually worked there twice, as I really loved it.
Finally, I was creating and setting fire to burn piles in the Bay of Islands but did some babysitting too with an amazing family. It was the best time. I even spent Christmas there!
What was your biggest challenge?
Joey: I had a small health problem but, because I was travelling all the time, it was hard to follow up on it. Not going to the same doctor and have proper check up did not help. But I dealt with it despite the extra stress. Because I did solve it on my own, I ended up quite proud of myself – life experience!
What is your favourite spot in New Zealand so far?
Joey: I loved the Bay of Islands, because I did WWOOFing with the most amazing family. They have two awesome kids that I had to take care of. It was their second time WWOOFing only and my first time, so we figured things out together. It was interesting and we hit it off very well.
We went to rugby game together, we took boat trips to go snapper fishing, and scuba diving for crayfish.
It felt that I was part of the family – it was great. And we spent Christmas together so it brought us closer.
What was the best dollar you spent in New Zealand?
Joey: It is a tossup between skydiving in the Bay of Islands and the Franz Josef heli-hike. Both are really expensive but totally worth it.
What have you taken away from this experience in New Zealand?
Joey: I learned not to be driven by my expectations. I spent too much time thinking about what will happen that I forgot to enjoy the moment. I don’t do that anymore.
I also learned to cherish the time that I have with people, because as a traveler, you meet people everyday but they are gone as fast as that so you need to make the most of the time you have with them.
What advice would you give to somebody that is about to come to New Zealand on a working holiday visa?
Joey: It is easier said than done, but here you are: plan out your first week and that’s it!
Don’t plan your whole trip. The best things I did were not planned.
Would you recommend Working Holiday Starter to your friends?
Yes, of course. It was such a personal service. If I needed help, I could contact you and have a cup of coffee. I was not in herd of cattle, thrown a room and done in a couple of hours. You showed me everything personally and made the transition much easier. I did not lose 2-3 weeks trying to do things on my own like other people I met.