Working Holidays

Building Websites New Zealand

March 2005 | Kirsty Henderson

Before I left for my trip to NZ I packed up everything I owned in the UK and gave most of it away. The one exception was my laptop which I sent back home to Canada as I wasn't too keen on carting the beast around Asia and it wouldn't get much if I were to sell it considering pretty much everything was broken. But it had all my photos on there and was good enough to build websites and use Photoshop so I sent it home to be reunited at some point in the future.

Well that was a big mistake. When I got to New Zealand I made several attempts at getting off the beaten path a bit and this saw me doing home and farm stays and coming in contact with lots of people running small businesses. After tiring of scrubbing dishes and pulling weeds in exchange for accommodation I threw the idea out there about building websites to earn my keep instead.

One of the first guys I stayed with loved the idea and was keen for me to build a site for his puppeteering business but his computer was utter shite and I was about to move on in a few days so that didn't happen. But it got me thinking and when I got to my next location I suggested the idea again. This time it was a hit and I was able to build a website for Otamatea Eco Village in an attempt to sell some spaces on their permaculture course, raise awareness of the village and to get more volunteers into the area.

I built the website on their computer as they had all the tools I needed luckily but I decided to have my crumbling laptop shipped to me from Canada so I could try it again somewhere new. I love building websites and enjoyed the chance to be creative, learn more skills and help people out with something that could potentially cost a lot of money in the 'real world'. Plus it kept me fed, housed and out of the garden so I was happy!

After a bit of fruit picking (while working on my own sites in my spare time), I landed a job in exchange for food and accommodation in a tiny town called Okarito near Franz Josef on the South Island. I made the same suggestion and soon I was building a site for accommodation on offer in the town and another for a recently purchased rubbish removal business. The couple who I was working for were overjoyed with the relatively simple sites I churned out and I got a break from changing beds and scrubbing toilets. They even took me to a workshop for local businesses about website design and also scammed me a free heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier worth around $300 which was well worth my efforts.

I probably could have searched out some paying web design jobs around New Zealand but I'm lazy and prefer it when things sort of fall in my lap. But if you're into web design and have a laptop, bring it with you and I'm sure you'll be able to put it to good use.




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