Working at The Hilton Queenstown

Tropical Nomad hilton
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The Hilton in Queenstown hosts many distinguished guests and has a range of high-profile clientele staying there throughout the year. But little do most of the guests know, the majority of the staff are travellers on working holiday visas who have not got a clue what they are doing!

While working there I noticed that almost every waiter, waitress, barman, porter and housekeeper were only passing through, and funding their travels by swapping time for dollars.


Tropical Nomad hilton

Arriving in Queenstown during the height of the peak summer season, it was hard not to notice all the advertisements in the restaurant windows and newspaper looking for chefs. If you are a chef and are looking for a great place to live with an abundance of jobs, then Queenstown in definitely a great choice. With a huge tourist industry, hundreds of hotels, lodges, cafes, restaurants, bars and New Zealand’s drinking law stating that food must be served at all times while alcohol is served ( even nightclubs must have pizza or burgers available at all times!). This is good news for chefs.

I walked into Queenstown Job Agency and once I mentioned that I had chef experience, they jumped straight on that. Even though I had spent the past 3 years working in construction in Australia. I wanted a change and although it was 7 years since I last worked in a kitchen, cooking is cooking!

I worked a few catering gigs first with Artisan catering, with an excellent chef called John who had spent years sailing around the Mediterranean working as a private chef on luxury yachts cooking for rock stars and royalty. This saw him travelling further afield to the Caribbean and North America. He is a really creative guy and runs a tight ship with wife Debbie catering high-profile events all around the South Island of New Zealand.

So back to the Hilton…

working at the hilton queenstown

Getting there is either fun, or an expensive mission!

I originally declined the position due to the difficulty in getting to the Hilton from Queenstown. It requires getting 2 x busses and takes and hour at least. A taxi is $50+ or you can get a water taxi. I opted for the boat option and had some cool rides home under the starry skies after I finished. It was a really cool way to get to work and beats the shit out of sitting in traffic. When you work at the Hilton the Water taxi is only $5 each way ad takes 10 minutes from Queenstown.

Perks of the Job…

Working at the Hilton has its perks, which are free tea, coffee, wi-fi and food in the staff room…

working at the hilton queenstown


Your uniform is left there at the end of your shift and you just collect a new one when you come in to work.. Sweet 🙂

The kitchen is modern and well equipped although to get something from a freezer you have to take and elevator 6 floors! Extremely bad layout design. . But there are 4 kitchens… And many chefs. Most of whom are sponsored and being worked to the bone, but sure you will have that. They provide the visa and employees get worked hard for their residency. It is the exact same in Australia.

All in all it is a good place to work and I recommend applying for a job through one of the agencies in Queenstown in the summer and winter seasons as they are usually very busy.

I hope they spend the money we earned them wisely!… 🙂



Just incase Youtube mutes my video again here is the link.. Hilton



  1. Very interesting blog, I would love to travel and work same time. Doing chef work and travelling – what a pleasure you get to make good food and see the beautiful ladies and places. I was in Queenstown in November but not for work, we stayed at a camping site. But will remember this when I need to travel on a budget 🙂


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