Written by Roseanne Bradley,
30th November 2022

If you’re fond of animals and don’t mind early mornings or getting dirty, dairy farming in New Zealand could be for you.

Dairy farming is a huge business in New Zealand and it’s the country’s top export earner. In fact, there’s almost as many cows are there are people! The country highly value on dairy farmers, so when migrants choose to work in the country, the government makes sure that they enjoy what they do.

Grazing cows in New Zealand

Dairy farming

Dairy farming is an active profession and while there are no official requirements to get started on the career path, many employers prefer those with experience. Most roles will ask that you possess a valid driver’s license.

Whether you’re after a casual role on a nearby farm (there will be a nearby farm) or to move and set up your own farm, there is work available across New Zealand.

The country has eight different horticulture regions due to its unique weather conditions. One thing that’s consistent across all regions though, is high sunshine hours and warm temperatures.

A woman using automated milking equipment in New Zealand

Is farming for you?

Like the idea of getting into farming but not sure if it’s for you? Have a read of this checklist to see if it appeals or if it’s something you’d be suited to.

– Hands on profession

If you’re not into the outdoors or don’t like getting your shoes dirty, I suggest taking two steps back. This role is extremely hands-on, as all dairy farmers will tell you.

– Are you an animal lover?

Odds are the cows on the farm will outnumber the staff, so you have to be comfortable around farm animals and expect to get acquainted with the cows on a first-name basis.

– Early mornings

Cows will need milking as early as 5am, so you can expect early mornings to be the norm in farm work. During the daytime, you’ll be expected to do regular farm work and will likely be given some personal time off the clock until the cows’ second milking.

– ‘Can-do’ attitude

Due to the ever-changing farm conditions and weather, farming keeps you on your toes. When you start work, you’ll likely be working alongside the owner or an experienced farm hand. But after a while, you’ll be left to carry out tasks and make decisions on your own, so self-motivation is a must.

Should you move to Christchurch

A view of Christchurch. Could you be happy here?

Green list occupation

There are certain roles and occupations that New Zealand is short of or are beneficial to the country. The Green List is a list of occupations that are in high demand, therefore give you access to fast track visa options which include Tier 1 Straight to Residence or Tier 2 Work to Residence.

Of course, there are eligibility requirements, which you can read about here.

Dairy Cattle Farmers are on the list. These roles include Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager.

If you are an already-established cattle farmer, that’s great news. The only qualification required to be eligible for this application is a minimum of 3 years’ experience working on a commercial farm in a relevant role.

The New Zealand property market in rural area offers plenty of bargains to buyers.

There are plenty of bargains to be had in the New Zealand property market in rural areas.

Salary expectations

According to SalaryExpert.com, the average base salary for a Dairy Farmer in NZ is $44,095 or an equivalent hourly rate of $21.

As with all farming jobs, the salary depends on your position and experience in the industry, however those with more experience or a larger farm could earn up to $60,000.


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