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Sheep shearing in New Zealand

If you think you’re tough enough to do sheep shearing in New Zealand, here’s what you need to know…

About the job

Summer (December to March) is usually peak season, but this can vary by location and type of sheep, and there tend to be some opportunities available throughout the year.

The work is physically hard and whilst sheep shearing is a skill that takes years to perfect, the more basic work is ‘crutching’ which is something you can learn in a week or so. Crutchers shave just the rear legs of the sheep to keep them clean through the summer. In general, crutchers get paid around $0.50 per sheep and after a couple of weeks should be churning out around 400 – 600 sheep per day, or $200 - $300 per day (£103-£154). Work is slow and can be frustrating, and it will take a few weeks to get up to the level where decent money can be earned.

Experienced shearers may be able to shear around 400 sheep a day, which could earn you something in the region of $580 (£300) per day. These are anticipated earnings from the employer and sheep shearing is piece work so earnings largely depend on your speed and skill. If you are not producing enough you could earn much less.

For more information about the industry and job opportunities, visit the New Zealand Government’s careers website.

Gemma, Tomi and Jack

Getting in touch

The programme featured Peter Lyon who is a shearing contractor and is hired by farmers to come and shear their sheep. He is the biggest shearing employer in the region near Queenstown on the South Island. For more information on him, please the Peter Lyon Shearing website.

Alternatively they can contacted via telephone on: +64(03)4486378 or via fax +64(03)4489201

Getting there


• Flights from London Heathrow to Queenstown are £1000-1500 return roughly and £650-900 one-way. Upon arrival you will need to show you have sufficient funds to purchase a return flight home (up to £900).
• Working Holiday Visa: £85 (NZD 165)
• Living expenses: You must have the equivalent of £180 per month of your stay (NZ$350) in your bank account, and be able to prove this at immigration. So, if you are going for four months, you will need £720 in your account.
• Travel insurance: £170 (approximate amount based on four months in New Zealand - amount will vary depending on provider, level of cover, and length of stay. You must make sure that it covers the sort of work you may be doing).
• ACRO Police Certificate: £45 (for the 23 month visa)
• Additional living expenses. Be sure to research the area you’ll be working in to see if the employer in question provides accommodation and/or board, or ask them advice on these costs.


• Please visit the New Zealand Immigration site for all the information you need on visas.
• Working Holiday Visas are open to UK citizens aged 18-30. For these visas, the purpose of your visit must be a holiday where you may end up working rather than the other way round. You can find further information on the Working Holiday Visa here.
• There are two types of Working Holiday Visa, 12 months and 23 months. However, if you get the 12 month visa, you can only work for six months and if you get the 23 month visa you can only work for 12 months.
• If you apply for the 23 month visa you will need a police background check certificate which you can apply for at ACRO.
• You will also need to contact your doctor for a medical certificate and a chest x-ray. These aren’t required for the 12 month visa.
• You need to show you are of good character, which will include not having been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more in the past 10 years. Find more information on this here.


• You need a passport which is valid at least three months past the date you intend to return. If the visa is a year the passport will need to be valid for 15 months.

This information was correct at time of writing on 24/07/14 but you should check with relevant authorities and companies as costs and requirements can change at any time.

Remember local taxes may apply and that your earnings may affect your UK tax position and any benefits you may be entitled to.