Sabbatical in New Zealand

You do not discover new continents without having the courage to loose sight of the old coast. (André Gide, French writer)

Have you ever dreamed of a great escape? Get away from all the constraints, have time to think, try new things, explore new fields, further your education, get involved in social or humanitarian projects, or simply recharge your batteries.

A New Zealand sabbatical gives you the opportunity to re-orientate yourself, rediscover old passions or try new things, develop essential skills, and follow your desires.

Whether you explore the New Zealand nature, try new sports, improve your English with language courses, get creative with pottery, attend a Study in New Zealand or enjoy dinner with New Zealanders sampling the country’s cuisine – talk to us about your dreams! We can help you organise your New Zealand gap year.


on request / depending on modules booked

Visas and possibilities for a Sabbatical in New Zealand

Depending on the combination of your Sabbatical modules, you need a matching visa for your entry to and stay in New Zealand.

Please note: All info on visas has been compiled by our team in Germany without claim to be complete or correct. For details on New Zealand visas please visit

On arrival in New Zealand, citizens of many countries can get a Visitor Visa for 3 months without any prior application.

Usual Requirements:

  • You will need to provide your passport on arrival. The passport must be valid for at least three months past the date you are to leave New Zealand,  or one month past the date you intend to leave if the government issuing your passport has consular representation in New Zealand.
  • You will need to show that you intend to leave within the period of your visa. For example by providing flight tickets out of New Zealand.
  • You will also need to show proof that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay. This means you have a minimum of NZ$1000 per month of the visit, or NZ$400 per month if accommodation has already been paid for – in this case you need to provide proof of prepayment, such as hotel prepaid vouchers. Sufficient funds can be in the form of cash, travellers‘ cheques, bank drafts or recognised credit cards with sufficient credit available.

With this visa, it is possible to:

  • Visit one or more training courses, e.g. a language course, diving course or sailing course
  • Complete a voluntary internship in a non-commercial area, e.g. in a national park or at a primary school
  • Travel around New Zealand

E.g. with a 3 months Visitor Visa you could attend:

  • 6 weeks Business English language course (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 2 weeks of voluntary internship in a sanctuary in Nelson (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 4 weeks travel around New Zealand

If you want to stay in New Zealand for more than 3 months, you can apply at your relevant New Zealand embassy for a Visitor Visa that is valid for up to 9 months. Once you are in New Zealand it is possible to extend this visa for another 3 months.


The same requirements as above apply on application for the 9 months Visitor Visa. A visa fee has to be paid.

With this visa, it is also possible to:

  • Visit one or more training courses, e.g. a language course, diving course or sailing course
  • Complete a voluntary internship in a non-commercial area, e.g. in a national park or at a primary school
  • Travel around New Zealand

E.g. with a 9 or 12 months Visitor Visa you could attend:

  • 12 weeks Cambridge language course (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 8 weeks of voluntary internship in a kindergarten in Nelson (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 2 weeks diving course
  • 4 weeks travel around New Zealand

If you are planning to study for more than 3 months at a university or want to attend a long training course (e.g. language course) in New Zealand, you will need a Student Visa. In case you want to stay in New Zealand for a bit longer after you have finished the course, you can apply for a Visitor Visa.


The following documents have to be sent to the relevant New Zealand embassy:

  • Completely filled in application form for a Student Visa
  • Offer of place from a registered New Zealand training institute
  • Proof of payment for the course fee
  • Proof of accommodation or proof of funds to be able to pay for the accommodation
  • Proof of a valid and paid flight ticket including proof of leaving New Zealand
  • A5 return envelope
  • Original passport
  • Passport photo
  • Visa fee
  • Medical certificate if you intend to study for more than 12 months
  • Police certificate if you intend to stay in New Zealand for more than 24 months

E.g. with a Student Visa you could:

  • 4 weeks General English language course (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 1 year course to achieve a diploma in aromatherapy
  • Travel around New Zealand during aromatherapy school holidays

If you are a citizen of a country New Zealand has a Working Holiday Scheme for and fulfill its requirements, you can plan your Sabbatical in New Zealand based on a Working Holiday Visa. Most Working Holiday Visa are valid for 12 months (e.g. for Germans) or 6 months (e.g. for Austrians) after the day of your entry. It is possible to leave and re-enter New Zealand during this time. However for a Working Holiday Visa you may apply only once in a lifetime.


  • Application (online) and visa fee payment
  • German passport, which is valid 3 months after the intended date of departure from New Zealand
  • Proof of funds of NZ$4200
  • Proof of a valid and paid flight ticket including proof of leaving New Zealand

With this visa, it is possible to book all Auszeit Neuseeland modules, in many combinations!

E.g. with a Working Holiday visa you could attend:

  • 3 weeks General English language course to brush up your language skills  (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 16 weeks internship at a primary school in Nelson (accommodation and board in a host family)
  • 8 weeks travel around New Zealand
  • 3 weeks WWOOFING on an organic farm

Sabbatical New Zealand Advantages

Advantages of a Sabbatical for you as an employee:

  • Re-charge your personnel energy levels
  • Prevention of the Burn-Out-Syndrome
  • Improve your personnel well-being
  • Spend some quality time with your family and friends
  • Better motivation and improved human resources when you return to your job
  • Improve and renew your daily routine

Advantages of a Sabbatical for you as an employer:

  • Employees are better motivated and concentrated
  • Better relationship with your employees due to a feeling of trust and appreciation of you as an employer by the employee by showing that you care for their well-being and individual interests
  • Advantages in human resources due to less sick-leaves and less lack of productivity related to stress

Sabbatical New Zealand Advice

What you have to consider if you want to do a Sabbatical

In order for you to enjoy your short term Sabbatical (1-3 months), Sabbatical (3-12 months) or Sabbat-year (at least 12 months) there are a few things you should organise and prepare in advance:

In most states you do not have any legal entitlement for a time out of work. The paid timeout is usually part of the labour legislation that applies to part time work law. In general Sabbaticals fall under employment regulations that are liable to insurance deductions as long as the Sabbatical is not taken as an unpaid holiday. If you decide to take unpaid leave for your Sabbatical you should check with your social insurance first how the unpaid leave affects your rights to social benefits.
For more specific information on legal requirements for your Sabbatical talk to your employer or contact the national employment or labour office. Similarly you should get in contact with both your social and health insurance before going on a Sabbatical.

In order to convince your employer of the benefits and advantages of a Sabbatical for both you and your employer you should know about the aim and goal of the Sabbatical. Some of the general and common aims include:

  • Travel Experience:  Get to know foreign countries and cultures by being open minded towards other cultures and taking the challenge of living in a different country.
  • Social Engagement: Commitment to do volunteer work in order to do something for other people and get to know different values and points of views.
  • Professional Development: Opportunity to undertake further education, occupational re-training, or gain additional qualifications which may increase the chance of promotion.
  • Prevention of Burn-out.
  • Bridging of transition times in between jobs.
  • Family related reasons, including exhaustion after looking after sick or elderly relatives.

From an occupational or professional point of view a good time for a Sabbatical might be:

  • in between jobs (bridging of transition related unemployment)
  • before a promotion or relocation in your job
  • in times of low orders
  • in case of tensions between the employees

The appropriate length of the Sabbatical depends on your individual situation as well as reasons for the Sabbatical.

  • possible time limits to the timeout based on the labour management policy
  • Is the Sabbatical taken in order to fulfill a personal dream, to prevent a burn out or for professional training?
  • How much time is approximately needed to recover from work related or personnel stress?
  • How much do you depend on your personnel and known environment for your well-being?

The successful realisation of a Sabbatical requires a well-directed and scheduled preparation. The following question might help to organise your Sabbatical:

  • What is your main driving force behind the decision to do a Sabbatical?
  • What do you want to do during your Sabbatical? What is your goal?
  • What advantages do you intend to receive both for you and your employer?
  • Do your company’s employment regulations include rules regarding time outs for Sabbaticals?
  • Are there colleagues who can take over your work while you are away?
  • How are you going to finance your Sabbatical? Is there a part time scheme available? Can you take paid leave?
  • How high are your monthly expenditures at home? Will you be able to pay them during your Sabbatical? Are there ways of minimizing these expenditures when you are away?
  • How long can you and do you want to finance your Sabbatical?
  • When would be a good time to go for a Sabbatical? When can your employer accept you taking leave?
  • Do you want to go on the Sabbatical alone or do you want to take your family?
  • How do you think a Sabbatical will change your self-perception and personal well-being?
  • In what ways might a Sabbatical change your family’s, friends and employer’s perception of you?

No matter if you take paid or unpaid leave to go on your Sabbatical it is important that you come to a mutual agreed written agreement with your employer. The following points should be made clear in such an agreement:

  • Length/duration of the Sabbatical
  • Paid or unpaid leave

Employment regulations: how does the leave affect holidays, over-hours, profit sharing, etc.

  • Who and how is your work load dealt with while you are away
  • Agreement on your position in the company when you return

Possible promotion in case of professional development during leave
Consideration of competition clause

The following ideas and tips might be helpful for the meeting with your employer when discussion your interest in a Sabbatical.

  • Inform yourself before hand:
    • Are there any rules in the company’s employment regulations regarding time off for Sabbaticals?
    • What are the regulations on part time agreements?
    • Do you know anyone who has done a Sabbatical in your company before?
  • Take your time and be considerate when you talk to your chef. Consider your individual advantages and possible disadvantages for both you and your employer.
    • Have alternative ideas you can present.
    • Review the companies needs and show that you are aware oft hem.
    • Plan B: Who will be doing your work when you are away?
    • What position do you intend to work in when you return? Will you be able to return in the same position?
  • Take the time to prepare yourself for the meeting with your employer and consider possible question that might come up.
  • Talk to your colleagues about your plans and ask if someone can take over your work for the time you are away. If you have a replacement for yourself it makes it easier to convince your employer.
  • Check with your employer if the same conditions of employment are valid after your sabbatical-contract has expired.
  • Flextime wage records are usually the administrative requirement for a paid sabbatical.

Our services

  • Care, support and advice from a Auszeit Neuseeland staff member before and during your gap year in New Zealand

Before your arrival in New Zealand:

  • Handbook incl. travel-checklist
  • Booking of all flights (international and domestic), upon request (flight costs not included in price)
  • Assistance with applying for an appropriate visa (visitor, student or working holiday visa) (by our team in Germany; visa costs not included in price)
  • Individual booking of training opportunities (fees not included in price)
  • Where requested, placement into a New Zealand host family (placement fee not included in price)

After your arrival in New Zealand:

  • Welcome info pack
  • Assistance with opening of a New Zealand bank account
  • 24 hour emergency hotline
  • Letter forwarding within New Zealand
  • Luggage storage (at our Nelson office)
  • Detailed advice for travel planning in New Zealand

Contact person in New Zealand

Auszeit Neuseeland Ansprechpartner Benny

Benny Horst

Auszeit Neuseeland Director
Tel.: +64 (0)3 929 5645
Skype: auszeit_5


At the suggestion of Study Nelson I attended a 3 weeks Intensive English course at the Nelson English Centre. At first I was a bit skeptical because I had attended a 5 weeks Standard Spanish course in Malaga through another agency organization and was not very impressed with that.

However from day one I felt very welcomed at the Nelson English Centre. On arrival my name was written on a welcome-board and someone from the school looked after me. We were given a little grammar test and the school rules (Speak English only please!) were explained to us. Everything was well organized and I was immediately assigned to a class.

During the first week I could already change to another class, where we had more conversations rather than just learning grammar, which was more suitable for me. Diana was the teacher in this class and she did an awesome job. We learnt “Street English” and New Zealand manners. During the grammar lessons she gave me some extra work, e.g. I had to give a lecture (speaking), plan excursions (searching, reading), make phone calls (listening) and get information from the tourist information centre (speaking, listening).  After this great week I was able to change to an even higher class, which I also enjoyed as my teachers Trudy and Rae in this class were awesome, too. Both are very creative and always funny.

I didn’t participate in many of the weekend activities offered by the Nelson English Centre, because I had planned traveling after finishing my NZ language course, but all students always enjoyed the trips.

I didn’t live with a New Zealand host family myself, but I had the opportunity to get to know one family through a friend. They invited me over for dinner, were always interested in what I am doing and they gave me the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with them.

I have learned a lot at the Nelson English Centre. Overall they gave me more self-confidence in speaking English. The lessons were very funny, well organized and they always found new ways to explain things. We always had the opportunity to ask questions and there is a good relationship between teachers and students. The teachers make sure that every student is in an appropriate class – otherwise you can change classes. The whole team was always friendly and tried to help you in every way; it is obvious that they like their jobs.

In general I had a great time at the Nelson English Centre. I made lots of good friends, did not only learn English, but also about different cultures, and through this English Course it was easier to adjust in Nelson, because you’re not feeling alone. I want to say thank you to Study Nelson for giving me the opportunity to have this great experience.

Dates and registration

A New Zealand sabbatical is possible all year round; however applications should be made as soon as possible (at least 3-4 months) before the scheduled arrival in NZ. In particular, applying for an appropriate visa may take several weeks.