Please note: New Zealand Now content reflects pre-COVID-19 conditions and outlook. For COVID-19 related updates to visa and border requirements, click here.

Agriculture & forestry

Bring your skills to New Zealand and be part of a global industry – while enjoying the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

New Zealand is justly famous for its agriculture and forestry, overcoming the challenge of distance to become a world leader. You’ll have an unbeatable opportunity to develop your career in a country recognised as a hub of agribusiness innovation.

A powerhouse sector globally

Over 60% of our merchandise exports are agricultural goods. We’re the world’s 12th largest agricultural exporter by value.

Agriculture and forestry are among New Zealand's powerhouse industries. Together with fisheries and related sectors, our primary industries generate over 60% of our exports and are key drivers in our continued economic growth.

New Zealand’s primary industries have succeeded in building an efficient and highly competitive production and distribution infrastructure, despite being further from the world’s markets than any other major producers.

A quarter of our exports are dairy, making us the No. 2 dairy exporter in the world. We’re also the No. 1 sheep meat exporter and the second biggest wool exporter.

Primary industry production and exports have performed better than expected during the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The medium term outlook is good with primary industry exports forecast to grow by 3.6% in 2022.

Skilled workers needed

New Zealand’s primary sectors are facing significant workforce challenges. It’s estimated they will need another 50,000 workers by 2025. Skilled workers are particularly in demand.

Agriculture and forestry jobs on the skills shortages lists include:

  • Apiarist
  • Arborist
  • Dairy/beef farmer
  • Pig farmer
  • Forestry scientist
  • Viticulturist

While the government and industry are working together to encourage more New Zealanders to take up jobs in agriculture and forestry, people from overseas will be needed to fill gaps.

A number of roles in agriculture are featured on our official Skills Shortages lists. If yours is among them it is good news for you. That is because it means the Government accepts employers need to recruit for this role from overseas because there aren’t enough qualified New Zealanders.

As at early 2021, agriculture and forestry jobs on the long term and regional Skills Shortage lists include:

  • Beef Cattle Farmer/ Farm Manager
  • Dairy Cattle Farmer / Assistant Farm Manager
  • Pig Farmer / Manager or Assistant Farm Manager
  • Winemaker/Viticulturalist
  • Apiarist
  • Arborist

Skill shortage skill checker | Immigration New Zealand

If your job is not on a shortage list, don’t be disheartened. There are other work, resident, student or holiday visas that might be right for you.

For example, If you can get a job offer and your employer can demonstrate they can’t find a New Zealander for the vacancy, then you may be able to apply for a work visa.

Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a resident visa if you meet the criteria for our Skilled Migrant Category.

Job sites to explore


Working in Dairy Farming

Read the guide

Seasonal work for working holiday visa holders

In a pre-or post-COVID-19 world, New Zealand's horticulture industry has many casual roles available for travellers with working holiday visas, allowing you to work your way around the regions and enjoy some of New Zealand's best tourist attractions.

Work is available all across New Zealand, all year round. And for many roles, experience is not required. While on-site accommodation is available in some areas.

New Zealand has eight main horticulture regions. Their unique weather conditions mean different crops grow better in some regions than others. However all regions are blessed with high sunshine hours, settled weather and warm temperatures - what's good for growing is also great for lifestyle.

Seasonal work and careers in New Zealand horticulture | Pick NZ

Guide for seasonal workers | NZKGI

Visa options

There are various types of visas that you may be eligible to apply for. Work visas are for a temporary stay in New Zealand, but some can lead to residence. Resident visas, such as the Skilled Migrant Category, allow you to stay indefinitely and enjoy more of our state-funded public services.

Visas to work in New Zealand

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.

It’s free and there’s no obligation.

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