How to turn your 2021 annual leave into double the days off

Most of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, but before we dive into 2021, it’s worth knowing how to boost your annual leave days for the coming year.

Here’s how to use 13 days of annual leave, in combination with public holidays, to get longer breaks throughout 2021 – including some 10-day stretches. All up, 43 days’ worth! Plus, we also show how to see out 2020 with time off, too.

Why it’s important to take annual leave

When used wisely, annual leave can reap huge rewards for you both personally and professionally. In fact, 39% of Kiwis say that regularly taking time out to concentrate on themselves and the things they enjoy has a ‘huge impact’ on their mental health.

Taking leave helps us achieve better work-life balance, says Amaria Osman Senior manager of Recruitment and Talent Acquisition at Stats NZ. “Annual leave is a chance to rest, reset, refocus, regenerate, recuperate and sometimes re-evaluate,” she says. “Some people like to relax at home and do nothing, others like to get stuck into home projects that give enjoyment and a sense of achievement, others like to holiday where they can have new experiences or go to a familiar spot or batch. All of this is rewarding in some way.”

Get the most out of your annual leave by joining it with public holidays

Combining annual leave with public holidays is a great way to maximise your leave, and Osman recommends you organise your leave early. “Talk through your plans with your workplace to make sure that work won’t pile up while you are away or your absence doesn’t put strain on the team, business, manager or customers,” she says.

So, how can you make the most of your annual leave by combining it with public holidays?

Christmas and January 2021

You can get a 11-day break (December 25–January 4) by taking just three days off from December 29–31.

  • Friday December 25: Christmas Day public holiday
  • Saturday December 26: Boxing Day (weekend)
  • Sunday December 27: Weekend
  • Monday December 28: Boxing Day public holiday (if you usually work Mondays)
  • Tuesday December 29: Annual leave
  • Wednesday December 30: Annual leave
  • Thursday December 31: Annual leave
  • Friday January 1: Public holiday
  • Saturday January 2: Public holiday (Weekend)
  • Sunday January 3: Weekend
  • Monday January 4: Day after New Year’s Day public holiday

February 2021

Make the most of Waitangi Day (public holiday on 8 February) by taking an extra day off beforehand.

  • Friday February 5: Annual leave
  • Saturday February 6: Waitangi Day (weekend)
  • Sunday February 7: Weekend
  • Monday February 8; Waitangi Day public holiday


If you’re keen for a 10-day break from April 2–11, you can take four days of annual leave from April 6–9.

  • Friday April 2: Good Friday public holiday
  • Saturday April 3: Weekend
  • Sunday April 4: Easter Sunday public holiday
  • Monday April 5: Easter Monday public holiday
  • Tuesday April 6: Annual leave (Southlanders have this as their Anniversary Day)
  • Wednesday April 7: Annual leave
  • Thursday April 8: Annual leave
  • Friday April 9: Annual leave
  • Saturday April 10: Weekend
  • Sunday April 11: Weekend

Anzac Day

It’s possible that you can have even more days off in April if you book another four days off from April 27–30.

These dates combine with a weekend and Anzac Day, giving you a total of nine days off.

  • Saturday April 24: Weekend
  • Sunday April 25: Anzac Day
  • Monday April 26: Public holiday
  • Tuesday April 27: Annual leave
  • Wednesday April 28: Annual leave
  • Thursday April 29: Annual leave
  • Friday April 30: Annual leave
  • Saturday May 1: Weekend
  • Sunday May 2: Weekend

Queen’s Birthday four-day weekend

The Queen’s Birthday holiday falls on Monday 7 June, so why not take Friday June 4 off and enjoy a long weekend?

  • Friday 4 June: Annual leave
  • Saturday 5 June: Weekend
  • Sunday 6 June: Weekend
  • Monday 7 June: Public holiday

Christmas and January 2022

If you want to get really organised for 2021, book in three days of annual leave from Dec 29–31. That means you’ll be in line for a 11-day break from Dec 25–January 4.

  • Saturday December 25: Weekend (Christmas Day)
  • Sunday December 26: Weekend (Boxing Day)
  • Monday December 27: Christmas Day public holiday
  • Tuesday December 28: Boxing Day public holiday
  • Wednesday December 29: Annual leave
  • Thursday December 30: Annual leave
  • Friday December 31: Annual leave
  • Saturday January 1, 2022: Weekend (New Year’s Day)
  • Sunday January 2: Weekend
  • Monday January 3: New Year’s Day public holiday
  • Tuesday January 4: Day after New Year’s Day public holiday

And this potentially still leaves 7 days of annual leave to use as you wish. You could use them together or spread them out over a few weekends to get a few bigger breaks during the year. If you’re in Wellington, for example, Wellington Anniversary Day on January 25 could be a prime time to take more leave for a long weekend.

Annual leave gives you an opportunity to unplug from work and have a break long enough to return to work refreshed. It can also give you the time and space to think about new directions for your career or new ways of doing things.

By looking at all the public holidays coming up in the next year, you can build an annual leave plan that maximises your chance to recharge your batteries.

Some parts of New Zealand have regional public holidays, so to find out more about public holiday dates, go to Employment New Zealand.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published December 2020.