Maximising your annual leave: How to play the public holiday system

Play the system, and maximise your holidays.
Play the system, and maximise your holidays. Photo credit: Image - Getty

Any sucker who finds themself working today knows only too well, and too late, that our annual leave entitlements must be wielded carefully, with precision and planning.

I say this as someone who completely forgot about this week’s bank holiday, and so failed to score themselves a four-day weekend by using up just one day’s annual leave.

Don’t let it happen to you. Newshub has taken a look at the year ahead, to ensure that from now on you can get maximum time off with minimum annual leave outlay.




Taranaki and Otago - listen up. Now is your time, and you’d better get those leave requests in stat.

Taranaki: Take one day of annual leave, get eight days off work


In Taranaki, two long weekends are about to be served up for free - first, Taranaki Anniversary day on Monday, March 12, then the Easter weekend spanning the end of March and beginning of April.

Maximising this is hard because the two weekends are three weeks apart. Your best bet is to just enjoy having two mini breaks - take a four-day weekend for Taranaki Anniversary, and another for Easter.

How to do it:

Book Friday, March 9, off work. You’ll get a four-day weekend, and then another for Easter three weeks later.

Otago and Southland: Take three days of annual leave, get 11 days off work


The south of the country can hit it out of the park this month - if you play this right, taking three days of annual leave in March will buy you 10 days off in a row (or 11 if you work in education in Otago).

This year’s Otago Anniversary day falls on Monday 26 March, just three days ahead of the long Easter weekend. Take those three days off - from Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 - you’ll be laughing with a grand total of 10 days out of the office in a row.

For anyone working in education, turn it up to 11, because schools and universities close for Easter Tuesday as well. 

How to do it:

Book March 27, 28 and 29 off. You’ll walk out of work on Friday, March 23, and not go back until Wednesday, April 4.

Southland: take five days of annual leave, get 10 days off work


Southlanders can play the system this month too - Southland’s anniversary falls on Easter Tuesday, so without booking a single day off, you will be given five days off from Friday, March 30 to Wednesday, April 4.

By taking the rest of that week off, you’ll have 10 days off with an outlay of just three days of annual leave.

How to do it:

Book April 4, 5 and 6 off work. You’ll finish work on Thursday, March 29, and come back on Monday, April 9.




Whole of New Zealand: Take eight days of annual leave, get 19 days off work


The whole country does well in April.

After the four-day free-for-all that is Easter weekend, New Zealand’s only national four-day weekend is swiftly followed by Anzac Day on Wednesday, April 25.

Easter weekend


Easter runs from Friday, March 30 to Monday, April 2.

Book four days off either side of that (Monday 26 to Friday, 29 March, or Tuesday 3 to Friday, 6 April) to connect that weekend to another and get 10 days off the back of your four annual leave days.

Anzac Day


Anzac Day falls smack bang in the middle of the week this year, so you’ll want to book two days either side of that in order to connect it to a weekend.

That’s nine days off in a row for just four days’ annual leave allowance.

How to do it:

Book Monday 23 and Tuesday, April 24, plus Thursday 26 and Friday 27 April off.




Queen’s Birthday: Take one day of annual leave, get four days off work


This month, we celebrate Her Royal Highness’s birthday. Madam was actually born on April 26, but all monarch’s birthday celebrations are carried out on the first Monday in June, in line with the birthday of King George V (that’s the Queen’s grandfather).

This year it falls on Monday 4 June. This is a simple Friday or Tuesday off scenario - book the day either side of the long weekend to earn yourself four days off in a row for just one days’ annual leave.

How to do it:

Book Friday 1 or Tuesday, June 5 off.





South Canterbury: Take one day of annual leave, get four days off work


South Canterbury is the only region that gets a break between June and October.

How to do it:

The regional anniversary falls on Monday, September 24, so book off Friday, September 21, and take a four-day weekend for the rest of us.




Marlborough: Take four days of annual leave, get 10 days off work


Commemorating the fight for an eight-hour working day, Labour Day always falls on the fourth Monday of October.

It’s Monday 22 October this year and for most of us, it’s a simple ‘take one, get four’ scenario.

But Marlborough gets the added bonus of its regional anniversary day on Monday 29 October.

That means locals can take four days annual leave and receive a total of 10 days off in return.

How to do it:

Book four days annual leave - from Tuesday 23 to Friday, October 26. You’ll leave work on Friday, October 19 and not return until Tuesday 30.

Hawke’s Bay: Take one day of annual leave, get five days off work


Hawke’s Bay takes runner up position this month, because the region gets four days off around Labour Day anyway - its regional anniversary day falls on Friday, October 19.

Add Thursday 18 or Tuesday 23 to that, and you’re out of the office for the better part of a week.




Canterbury: Take one day of annual leave, get four days off work


Cantabrians, your regional anniversary falls on Friday, November 16 this year.

You know what to do - book the following Monday or preceding Thursday off for your turn at a four-day weekend.

How to do it:

Book Monday, November 19 or Thursday, November 15 off. Bosh.




Westland: Take seven days of annual leave, get a monster 20 days off work


Although split into two separate weeks, the combined total of time off potential for Westland this month makes the region the clear national winner.

Westland Anniversary Day falls on Monday 3 December, so locals should take the last working day of November off this year to celebrate with a four-day weekend.

Tie this in with our Christmas/New Year equation below, and you’re the clear national winner.

How to do it:

Book a day of leave on Friday, November 30. Then follow the Christmas/New Year guide below.

And for everyone else: Take six days of annual leave, get 16 days off work


The best known public holiday of the year, National Drinking and Feasting Day, falls on December 25 each year.

In 2018, that’s a Tuesday, and is immediately followed by the National Day of Indigestion and Regret the next day.

Just a week after that, you’re going to be hit with New Year’s Day, and the Day After New Year’s Day (*actual name of the public holiday. Note to government: must try harder).

The only reasonable thing to do here is tie all four public holidays into one, yielding a bonanza of 16 days off in exchange for just six days of annual leave.

How to do it:

Book off December 24, 27, 28 and 31, plus January 3 and 4. Leave work on Friday 21 December, and don’t roll back in until Monday 7 January.

Better start filing those annual leave requests now...



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