Life in uniform
No two days the same
Whether you're waking up on an Army base in New Zealand, on a Navy warship somewhere near Antarctica, or in South Korea as part of an Air Force deployment, each day in the Defence Force has the potential to bring something new and exciting.
We're committed to helping you enjoy a diverse and rewarding career. Much of this job satisfaction will come from the things you do and the people you work with. Colleagues become mates. Raw potential turns into achievement. Qualifications are gained and experiences savoured. Put it this way – if someone asks you what you did today, you'll always have a good answer.
Don’t worry, you aren’t signing up for life. Like any other job, you can resign at any time and typically we ask for three months’ notice. The only exception to this are those who are required to complete a Return of Service Obligation (ROSO) for the specialist training they've received.
Your life on and off duty
Working hours and work-life balance
We know that achieving a balance between your career and your personal life is very important. Everything is in place in the Defence Force for you to achieve this balance.
Of course in the Defence Force – when we’re called upon to respond to emergency situations, or we’re on an overseas mission – normal working hours may not always be possible. But generally speaking, you’ll work similar hours to your civilian counterparts.
Getting the balance right
We recognise that because you'll be required to sometimes operate in difficult circumstances, it's crucial we support you in maintaining good physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. There are a variety of support mechanisms available to you as military personnel, such as excellent medical facilities, gyms and physical training instructors, unlimited sick leave, counselling and chaplaincy services.
Downtime can be spent however you wish. You might want to socialise on base with mates, read a book, watch a film, play a game or get stuck into your favourite sport. We give you the opportunity to play almost any sport you can think of. The same goes for hobbies. You might just want to get away from the camp or base and see the folks back home, or into one of the big cities for a night out.
Time off and family life
Holidays and annual leave
We encourage our people to enjoy their holiday time however they like. You'll be entitled to 25 annual leave days (that’s five more than most civilian organisations), and there are opportunities for Leave Without Pay if you want to take some time out to travel or study. We also offer a variety of other sorts of leave, including resettlement leave if you required to move locations for work, study leave, and sports leave.
It's important to remember that your commitment when joining means that your individual needs always have to be balanced with organisational needs, particularly if you're required for urgent or specialist operational duties. This can affect the times of year that you can take annual leave.
The Defence Force is very family friendly. If you're planning a family, you can take parental leave and we offer you support to reintegrate back into working life. There is flexibility around leave for school holidays or if you need to care for a sick child.
Many of our personnel are married, and many have kids too. Just because you're in the Defence Force doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy family life like everyone else.
Life in the Navy
Life in the Army
Life in the Air Force
Have you ever woken up to find that your home has moved 200 miles overnight?
Welcome to the Navy. Whilst we’re not always at sea, at any one time a third of our personnel are onboard.
Whatever the mission, you’ll find there’s a real tight-knit camaraderie when you’re at sea. You will be intensely proud of your ship and the way that everyone works to keep it operating smoothly. Each ship has its own defined role, from a $600m warship operating in a multi-national combat operation to smaller vessels patrolling and surveying the waters off our coast.
The ship is your home at sea, so it has everything you need to be comfortable. There are areas to chill out and put your feet up, work out or play video games.
When we’re not at sea, you’ll find us at HMNZS Philomel in Devonport. Just like when we’re onboard, this is the place where we live, work and play together. Here you’ll find facilities that we can’t always squeeze onto our ships, such as swimming pools, a library and shops. And with Auckland on your doorstep, there are all the big city attractions within easy reach too.
While working in base you will have the opportunity to live in service accommodation within a military establishment or live outside of base and rent, flat or buy. However, we recommend you live on base in the early stages of your career to gain a sense of the Navy lifestyle.
When you are at our home base, HMNZS Philomel in Devonport, you're spoiled for choice. There's the opportunity to take part in many sports and hobbies both on and off base. We have team sports such as basketball, rugby, cricket and football, as well as other sports and hobbies including skiing, music and a motorcycle club. Just ask and someone will let you know what other activities you could be taking part in.
On base you’ll find a chapel and Te Taua Moana Marae. If you fancy a bit of peace and quiet, then there’s also an excellent library. You might use this if you’re studying for any qualifications, or just for reading – as well as a constantly replenished stock of books, you’ll find all your favourite magazines too. The Navy also offers access to computers which allow you to email, Facebook and twitter your friends and family.
The Navy offers services to all its personnel such as holiday homes in Taupo and Tauranga; a ski lodge in Ohakune and opportunities to sail on any one of our sail training craft. You can also take up learning opportunities through the Voluntary Education Study Assistance scheme.
Life in the Army is whatever you want to make it. Choose a trade, learn the ropes, and become an expert. Then spend your time working with your mates to protect the things you love most in the world.
The Army will teach you a lot of things, including everything you need to do your role. But perhaps the two most important things you'll learn are discipline and self-belief. Priceless skills that all employers value.
While working in camp in New Zealand, you can expect to always work in safe and healthy conditions. There are loads of facilities in camp to keep you entertained in your downtime, whether that’s a fully equipped gym, a library or just a comfy place to relax and use the internet.
While you will spend most of your time living in a military camp, at times you will deploy into the field on exercise. This may require you to sleep under the stars in various training areas within NZ or overseas with only the clothes, equipment and amenities that you can carry on your back or in your vehicle – dependant on your trade.
When you’re overseas, or away on a mission, conditions can be different. However, this does not mean you’ll be lacking any of the essentials. If you’re suddenly deployed overseas to assist in humanitarian relief following a natural disaster, then of course it’s not going to be as well-equipped as your home camp. Even if you are overseas you will still have opportunities to stay fit and relax when you are off-duty.
You’ll find life very social in the Army. Success relies upon you forming close ties with your mates, which means enjoying yourself in and out of work. What’s more, as a highly trained professional serving their country, you need some rest time. When you are off duty, there’s a lot to keep you entertained. Gyms and swimming pools can be used by both you and your family. There are bars to relax in with your pals and shoot some pool. There are shops and hobby huts, plus many clubs for you to share your passion with like-minded people. This could be anything from motor biking to snowboarding. If you need a bit of peace and quiet for study or reading, there’s a well-stocked library.
The Army also has holiday homes available around New Zealand that you can book for some time off.
Just like the aircraft that we fly and maintain, our daily lives in the Air Force are fast-paced, exciting and packed with technology.
While working in the Air Force, sometimes you will find yourself in unique situations where 9-to-5 working just isn’t possible. When you are back on base the hours are the same as any civilian job, meaning you get time off to relax, enjoy yourself and follow your passions.
When you’re not overseas, you'll find yourself at one of our three New Zealand bases - in Whenuapai, Auckland; Ohakea in the Manawatu; or Woodbourne, near Blenheim. Our bases are all homes away from home. There’s everything here to make life comfortable and keep you entertained, such as a café and library, and sporting facilities including swimming pools, gyms, sports fields, tennis and squash courts.
Whether your idea of relaxing is feet up with a cup of coffee, or hurling yourself out of an airplane with a canvas chute on your back, we will indulge you either way. There are loads of sports and clubs to get involved in, from all your favourite team sports to classic Air Force activities like flying and gliding. Put simply, you’ll have a perfectly normal social life – the only difference being plenty of leisure facilities and opportunities.
The Air Force also has some holiday homes around New Zealand that you can book for some time off.
Match your passion to your career
Use this handy Passion Finder tool to see which careers could be perfect for you.