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

Agriculture, forestry and the food sector generate nearly two thirds of our merchandise export earnings and employ 11% of our total workforce.

Agriculture and forestry are among New Zealand's powerhouse industries. Together with fisheries and related industries they generated 44.6% of our total overseas trade in the year to June 2015 and employed over 141,400 people or over 6% of our total workforce. It’s big business by any reckoning - and your chance to work in a sector that makes waves around the world.

Despite some challenging conditions in 2015, the meat, horticulture, seafood and other sectors grew strongly, helping to offset slowdowns in dairy and forestry. Medium term prospects are good with the Ministry for Primary Industries forecasting earnings from the sector to rise around 6% between 2018 and 2022.

New Zealand is the world's largest dairy and sheep meat exporter. The industry has succeeded in building a highly competitive primary production and distribution infrastructure, despite being further from the world’s agricultural markets than any other major producers.

Skilled workers needed

Workers are needed in several areas of agriculture in 2018, especially in supervisory and management roles, and also in highly skilled areas, particularly agricultural-related sciences. For details of occupations currently in demand, check out Immigration New Zealand’s lists of skill shortages.

Agriculture and forestry jobs on the skills shortages lists include:

  • Apiarist
  • Arborist
  • Dairy/beef farmer
  • Pig farmer
  • Forestry scientist
  • Market gardener
  • Poultry farmer
  • Viticulturist

If you are offered a job which appears on a skill shortage list and you have the qualifications and experience to match, getting a work visa will be easier. This is because the Government has identified that employers need to recruit people from overseas to help meet demand for your skills.

But if your job is not on a shortage list, don’t be disheartened. There are other work and resident visa options. 

The dairy sector is especially short of workers. It’s estimated that at least 2,000 more workers are needed every year to cater for growth in the sector.


Working in Dairy Farming

Read the guide

Despite New Zealand’s reputation for its sheep population, jobs in sheep farming are static as the national flock continues to decline. Sheep numbers have dropped by around 4 million in the last five years, down to about 27.6 million in 2016. (Go back 30 years and we had over 70 million sheep!)

Skill shortage skill checker | Immigration New Zealand

Forestry log exports | TTJ online

Seasonal work for working holiday visa holders

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

Register your interest

Take the first step to a new life by registering 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.

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Sign up to receive relevant job opportunities from New Zealand employers and practical advice on how to make your move to New Zealand a reality.


Is there anything wrong with this page?

Page last updated: 22/06/2020

Help us improve New Zealand Now

Your feedback is very important in helping us improve the New Zealand Now website. Please don’t include any personal or financial information.