Step 4: get a Starter Pack
Because there is nothing more stressful in the world than having to start from scratch, I decided to go with a company to help me get started. I mean, who wants to have to deal with government paperwork, bank account opening, and job searching in foreign country only days after landing? NOBODY!
I compared many options, from the huge companies to the smaller ones. No surprises here, the smaller ones offered better services for a better price. I went with Working Holiday Starter. They’re NZ based, had awesome reviews, and provided the services themselves. I felt that it was the right choice for me. And, it really was! I had only one contact the whole time, instead of been bounced around from one person to and other. I knew everybody by name and they knew me. When I needed help I had a mobile number to call and somebody that I knew picked up instead of a call center or a secretary. It was great that I was able to keep in touch for my whole trip and they kept in touch with me too. They always knew where I was.
Advice-wise I could trusted whatever they said, it was great to be within an organisation that focuses on our experience rather than profit. As a result, I could ask whatever question I had without having to question the motives behind their answer. What a relief!
When I arrived in new towns, I could just ask Working Holiday Starter to introduce me to other “Members” so it was real easy to make new friends. We exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet up for a beer or whatever. It was a great way to never be alone even when staying for longer period of time in some places.
While writing this post, I asked a few other Members for their take on Working Holiday Starter and Jack from the USA summed it up pretty well: “I would have paid about twice that amount with another company and I would have only got half of what I got with Working Holiday Starter”.
You will notice that I talk a lot about them on this website as they were a core part of my trip.
The starter pack
Here is what was included in my Starter Pack, which only cost NZ$499 by the way, and my take on them:
I took a small shuttle, which was easy to find, from the airport to my hostel. The driver dropped me off right at the hostel door.
Three nights' accommodation
Three nights' accommodation: the hostel was not fancy, so I tried other hostels in Auckland. I have to say, it was the best in the city centre.
Handy and good quality. It was better than the one I brought from home.
It sounds stupid, but rather than handing us a bunch of maps, brochures, vouchers and such, they took the time to walk me through them and explain me what they were. It made all the difference between a worthless bunch of papers and something useful.
They used a company called Skinny. It was cheap and I could get coverage really well compared to some of my friends on other networks.
One week credit
For my first week I got 60 minutes calling time, 100 texts and 60mb of data. It was enough for what I needed.
Although described as two hours on their website, we took over four hours to cover everything. It was pretty intense but probably the most useful conversation I had in New Zealand. I was with two other Members doing the workshop too in a quiet bar, so at least it felt relaxed.
It was done on my first day and I received it faster than excepted. It went so seamlessly that I have to admit, I can’t really remember what we did and how we did it.
Storage of your documents
Storage of your documents: It was no use to me but I met a guy that was with Working Holiday Starter too and lost his IRD number. They sent him a copy of it on the same day, so that was super handy.
Introduction to New Zealand
We talked transportation, going through all the different ways of travelling around New Zealand and choosing the best one for me adventure-wise and budget-wise. We also wrote on my map all the points that I couldn’t miss and where the activities were that I wanted to do.
New Zealand CV
We went back and forth 3-4 times by email before I even landed in New Zealand with some corrections and information to add on my CV. I arrived in NZ with an almost perfect CV.
If there is one kind of company that I hate to deal with, it’s banks. Most of it was done prior to my arrival and my contact stayed with us at the bank explaining us the whole process. It was really a weight off my shoulders.
Provided at my hostel, the connection and speed were not the best but I sent the emails I had to so it got the job done. By the way, don’t expect any good WiFi anywhere in NZ.
Introduction to Auckland
I stayed in Auckland for a few days and I was busy! I was informed on a good bunch of free activities to do in the city.
It was a nice start to my trip. I went up the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere on my second day with other Working Holiday Starter Members that arrived at the same time. The glass floor lift was freaky!
Discounted price on travel
I book my travel with Working Holiday Starter and saved about a grand, I think, if I add it all up. I took a Hop on Hop off bus pass and a few activities, I then bought the rest of my activities on the go. I also called Working Holiday Starter from time to time to book bus tickets to remote areas and always got a cheaper deal than online. When this was not the case, they referred me to a cheaper website or agency – very honest!
I used their address for everything, such as a couple of parcels that I received from home. I received a text for each piece of mail delivered and it was scanned or forwarded to my current address quickly.
I did not use it, as I packed correctly – pretty proud here. But it seems handy to have.
The fact that I could contact somebody directly that knew me, and that I knew, for anything I needed was a great peace of mind.
They also emailed me all instructions for tax return, kept in touch with me once in a while, and sorted some trips for visiting friends. They were really the backbone of my trip.
I could keep going on and on about my trip and their huge help but the point is: it was useful, friendly and personal. If you are hesitating, just go for it.