Finding work in Queenstown, New Zealand

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Finding work in Queenstown is easy if you have hospitality skills and don’t mind the long hours! Thousands of tourists flock here every year and this means that the bars, restaurants, hotels and slopes need lots of temporary staff! I worked for Artisan Catering and at the Hilton before leaving Queenstown to continue travelling the world.

We landed to Wellington first and stayed with a close friend from home, who was lucky enough to be house-sitting in Island Bay, where we had a great first week in New Zealand. This was the view overlooking the south island from the deck.

The View
The View

So after our trip to Wellington, we decided to move to Queenstown. For those of you who do not already know, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand with everything from jet-boating, skydive, downhill mountain biking, paragliding and the home of bungy to keep you entertained. Queenstown sits nestled between the mountains, which provide skiing and snowboarding in winter and a beautiful lakeside setting in summer.

Finding work in Queenstown:

Working in Queenstown is a great way to help fund your travels, and it is definitely an easy place to find work. You can use the traditional walk around and hand out CV’s to local establishments or look online. During the busy seasons (Dec- March and June-Sept), there is a lot of work available. The shoulder seasons in between, it can be more difficult finding temp work.

Ask people who work in the bars & restaurants and check hostel notice boards, this can be a good way to get started.

finding work in queenstown

 The most in-demand work in Queenstown is:

Chef –  Every agency, and many restaurants have signs in the window looking for chefs. If you can cook, you will never be stuck for work in QT.  Because of this, chefs usually get paid a bit better than other positions. (I landed a job as a chef for $22 per hour after not working in a kitchen for 7 years!). I am neither qualified or highly skilled. I am just a good cook. If you are two, there are many hotels, restaurants and cafe’s looking for help in the kitchen.

HousekeepingThere are a lot of big chain hotels, B&B’s, guest houses, boutique hotels,in Queenstown. They have a high turnover of workers due to most people finding work in Queenstown are only passing through. There is always work available, especially between Dec- March and June-Sept. These are the busiest times. Pay is usually $14-$16 per hour.

Waiter/Waitress– Plenty of tourists mean lots of eating out. A CV/resume run around town might land you a job. It is easy to get a job for functions through one of the agencies, with at least two days work every week in the high seasons. Pay is $14-$17.

Hammerhand / labourer Construction work is abundant around Queenstown. There are many houses being built, roads cut up and general deck building and the likes happening all around. A hammerhand is someone who has a car and some of his own tools but no qualifications. A skilled labourer in other words. A labourer could be out tree cutting, landscaping, holding a stop-go sign or putting up marques for events. The pay varies depending on experience and tools, but is around $15-$24.

Kitchenhand – All those chefs will have dirty pots, the waiters will have dirty plates and the floor needs scrubbing! Getting work as a kitchen hand is relatively easy. You just wash pots and dishes, mop the floor. Pay is $14-$15 and there is plenty of work.

Telemarketers – That friendly phone call from a telemarketer could be from you! There is an agency who thrive off the constant flow of money strapped backpackers in Queenstown and pay $15 per hour for your services. They operate on two shifts 8am-4 or 4pm-12 and are always looking for chatty, confident people to join their team.

Crazy Mo-Fo If you have your skydive, paragliders, kayak, white water rafting, snowboard, skiing or bungy certificates. You will have no problem finding work. Just be your crazy self!

***The only problem I have found with getting work at one of these functions, is due to the fancy clientele and up-market places these events are held (usually wineries, golf courses and lodges), tattoos and facial piercings can be a problem. Basically, if you have either of these, you will most likely get refused work at the fancy functions. I have a sleeve so no bar tending at the PGA Tour for me.***

finding work in queenstown

There are three predominant job agencies in Queenstown:

Queenstownjobagency – Who are located in the centre of Queenstown, behind KFC, have been the best for me at finding consistent work. They have a good relationship with the local hotels and almost everybody I know here has found work through them.

10 Athol St

+64 (03) 442 5627

AddStaff – This agency is located on the main cafe strip. They have plenty of work, but most of it requires you to have a car. I personally used them for a while, but prefer QT job agency.


Shop 14, The Mall,

+64 (03) 442 4307


Tradestaff –  Focusing on construction work, Tradestaff have work around QT for labourers, digger drivers, painting and cleaning. I have not used them yet but they are a big agency New Zealand wide and have a great reputation.

Searle Lane

+64 (03) 442 8553

Websites for Jobs in Queenstown

If you are looking for a more permanent job while in Queenstown and plan on sticking around for a few months, you can find work via one of the job seeking websites.


Trademe is a great website for finding anything in New Zealand. Whether you are looking for a job in Queenstown or a car in Pahia, chances are you will find it on Trademe.


Seek  is mainly a jobs website and features work available in Queenstown regularly. The jobs are usually of the more professional nature, but most of the major hotels (Hilton, Rydges, Accor) do post all available jobs on this website.


This is the gem for finding work in Queenstown. The local classified publishing called the Lakes Weekly. It is released on a Tuesday morning and you can always see fresh arrivals circling adds while having a coffee if you are in town early. The online version is available late on a monday.



  1. This is so helpful – thank you! My boyfriend and I are going travelling in a couple of months, Thailand, Singapore then Queenstown.. I thought there might be a lot of work over ski season and you’ve reassured me 🙂

    • There is, but try to get there a month before the season starts as accommodation and jobs become scarce! The job agencies were great for finding work. Have a CV ready and be open to hospitality and you should be fine

  2. Thanks adam, this is really helpfull for me!.
    Although I have some doubts.
    Which months are the high demand of job? Do you recommend me to be a month before the high season starts? Is it easy to find job? My now at Nelson and i was planing to move to queenstown when the season starts. I believe being there in june is ok, or is it too late?
    Thanks Adam and really usefull your blog!
    Stay in touch,

    • Hi Bruno, It is hard to say when exactly is the best time as it depends on when the snow falls and the slopes open. I think the start of June is a good time as finding a job and accommodation can get pretty competitive.
      Queenstown is a very expensive place to be living and not working and if you go there in the middle of the season you will be very lucky to find a job unless you have one pre-lined up. The agencies have a tendency to use people they have used before also so if you get one or two jobs done you might have a better chance than when the little village becomes flooded with travelers!

  3. Hi Adam!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and informations!
    I was thinking to move to Queenstown for few months for a temporary job as this city seems to be very fascinating and such a nice place, but nothing is sure yet. That’s why I wanted to ask you some other things: Got it for jobs, I will check these agencies you’ve suggested. But what about accomodations? What do you suggest? How much expensive are the rents?
    Thank you for your attention, have a nice day

    • Hi Luca,
      Finding accommodation is a tricky one. We were paying $180 for a double room but as a couple it was only $90 each. Check the Lakes Weekly magazine for available accommodation as well as the hostels message boards. There are always places in the nomads in the centre of the town. Rent will be $140 and up for a basic room in a share house. YOu might have to but bedding and stuff out by the airport at the shopping centre out there.

    • Hi Leah, this depends on what area you work in. I made $22 as a chef and my girlfriend was getting $14 as a waitress. Most cleaning,bar and waiting jobs are $13-$16.. Hope that helps!

  4. I’m planning on flying to Queenstown around the end of May.. what date do you think would be ideal to beat the rush of backpackers looking for work? I’ve been applying online with not much luck.


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