The basics
New Zealand: Destination Guides - Must read

New Zealand student survival guide: Everything you need to know


We've got the lowdown on everything from living costs and eating out, to applying for a course in New Zealand and working while you study. Read our useful guide and get the facts on studying in New Zealand.

Living costs

For students coming from some parts of the world New Zealand can seem quite expensive; although its important to be aware that New Zealand is still a relatively affordable place, by western standards. By managing your finances carefully you should be able to live quite comfortably in New Zealand on a moderate budget. It's advisable that you take extra care with your spending during the first few months, until you've worked out the costs involved, as it's important to make sure your money lasts for the duration of your studies. 

Your biggest expense will be your tuition fees, followed by accommodation and food. 

It is recommended that you pay your education fees directly from your home country. One of the expenses which students often underestimate is the cost of their textbooks: most textbooks cost around NZ$100 each and you may need to buy at least one or two for each course. Textbooks can often be purchased second hand, keep an look out in second hand bookstores and on campus notice boards.

If you move into an unfurnished (empty) flat you may need to buy items such as a refrigerator, a washing machine, a heater (keep in mind that electricity is quite expensive in New Zealand), and other furniture. 

These can be bought or hired and, depending on the quality, they could cost you anywhere between $500 and $3,000 in total. 

Entertainment on a budget

New Zealand is an adventure playground for those who love the Great Outdoors, which means there's so much to do without spending a dollar! Students enjoy spending their free time enjoying the natural environment, in a country blessed with incredible scenery, a pleasant climate, and plenty of parks, lakes and beaches where you can walk, jog, cycle or have a picnic for free!

New Zealanders love their festivals as well, so check out one of the many free food and wine, arts, flowers, or jazz festivals which run throughout the year.

A word of advice before heading out, Zealand does get quite a bit of rain so even if it's sunny when you leave make sure you pack a rain coat if you're out for the day, as the weather can turn pretty quickly!

Your local paper will usually give details of what's going on in your area.

How to open a bank account

Opening a bank in New Zealand is easy as nearly all the major banks have packages for international student. In order to do this, you will need a passport, evidence that you are/will be in full-time study at your institution (a study approval letter or a fees invoice will be sufficient) and proof of your residential address in New Zealand.

Eating out

New Zealand is a paradise for food lovers. It's not only surrounded by miles of untouched South Pacific coastline, but the air here is somehow cleaner and fresher than you'd think possible; added to that New Zealand has a temperate climate and an abundance of rich and fertile land. It really is no wonder the quality of produce in New Zealand is second to none.






If you're a meat-eater, you're in for a treat as New Zealand is a world-famous producer of lamb and beef. And as you're never far from water, there's some of the sweetest, freshest seafood you'll find anywhere in the world. The emphasis here is on healthy, high quality produce and you'll find an excellent variety of dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables and organic, locally produced ingredients.

Consequently the people of New Zealand take their dining seriously. Home to globally recognised chefs and award-winning restaurants, its cosmopolitan population has created a culinary scene with influences from all over the world.
Eating out is a way of life for Kiwis and usually a meal in a restaurant is a pretty casual affair. There are heaps of affordable restaurants and cafes, including Thai, Chinese and other Asian dining spots where you can get a meal for around $10. Naturally there are many mid-range and top-class restaurants as well (for a splurge!).

In New Zealand many restaurants are 'BYO' (Bring Your Own) which means you can save considerable money on the bill. If a restaurant says it is BYO, you're allowed to bring your own alcohol. A small corkage charge is often added to your bill - make sure you check what the corkage charge is as it can vary quite a lot.

Eating in

New Zealanders will often eat their evening meals at home or have friends over for dinners and barbecues as this is a very popular way to socialise with friends. Food can be bought relatively cheaply at the local supermarkets, farmers markets, or food markets.

Most people visit the supermarket at least once a week to pick up their day-to-day essentials. Supermarkets stock almost every food you can imagine including groceries, fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, spices, herbs and other essential items, such as cleaning equipment, light bulbs, toiletries, newspapers and magazines. Most supermarkets will stock familiar spices and products and many cities will also have speciality shops, such as Asian supermarkets.

Opening hours vary, but in the main cities they are usually open between 8am-8pm or later, seven days a week. Some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
See links below for more details:

Part-time work

Full time international students are allowed to work part time in New Zealand under certain conditions:

• To meet course requirements for practical work experience, or
• During the Christmas and New Year holiday period if you are in a full-time course of study lasting 12 months or longer, and/or
• For up to 20 hours in any given week during the academic year if you are in full-time study. 

Many students work to give them a little bit of extra income so they can travel or save, others work to gain experience, meet locals and make friends. Students may choose to work in bars, restaurants and cafes, or to take on a part time job in an industry which relates to their studies. Part time job opportunities can be found in local papers and online.

Student Job Search helps students find summer holiday and temporary or part-time work. It is funded by students' associations, tertiary institutions, and the government, and is run by student associations. 
Go to the Student Job Search (SJS) or contact your local Student Job Search office, for further information.

Under Immigration New Zealand's Study to Work policy, international students who successfully complete at least three years of study in New Zealand may be eligible for a work visa for up to three years, following the completion of their studies.

If you are offered a job relevant to your recent New Zealand qualification you can apply for a two-year work visa. Eligibility for the visa depends upon the whether your job qualifies for points under the Skilled Migrant Category of the New Zealand Immigration Residence Policy.


Volunteering is a great way to get to know other people in the New Zealand community and to make friends. In addition, many students volunteer so that they can gain extra-curricular skills or broaden their cultural horizons.

Volunteering opportunities may involve working with a not-for-profit or community organization; or helping out at a business which relates to their studies. In New Zealand volunteers can do anything from conservation projects, planting trees, helping out on farms, cleaning up beaches, to working at major sporting or music events, or helping out the elderly community.

It might be just an hour a week, or a little more commitment, however it is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Students with additional skills and experience are often looked upon favourably by potential employers.

Your education institution may also advertise volunteering opportunities..
Read more about volunteering  

Staying healthy

When you arrive in New Zealand you should register with a local doctor/GP.

All international students (except those from Australia and the UK) are required to have medical insurance when in New Zealand to cover all treatments, including doctors, hospitals, ambulance and any other specialist treatments. Students at a tertiary institution can see a doctor at the student health centre on their campus, usually for a very reasonable fee.

Health insurance can be arranged before you leave home, or your institution will help arrange it for you when you start the course.

Emergency services

In case of an emergency, the number to dial is 111.

New Zealand has an accident compensation scheme called ACC. It covers everyone who is in the country (including visitors) who suffers any injury in the event of an accident. Whatever the cause and whoever is at fault, you will get subsidised medical and dental care, prescribed medication, X-rays and surgery.

Different courses that students can choose from

Overseas students in New Zealand can choose to study any course at any of the higher education institutions here on the Hotcourses website.
Nationally recognised higher education awards include certificates, diplomas and degrees at bachelor, postgraduate, master or doctorate levels.
Qualifications in New Zealand are recognised as part the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). NZQF qualifications are endorsed by the New Zealand government, so an NZQF qualification is recognised all around New Zealand and by other countries.

What types of institutions are there in New Zealand?

The Higher Education sector in New Zealand is made up of 8 Universities, 20 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and a dozens of private training establishments (PTEs), many of which have specialized courses.

Before applying to your chosen institution you must make sure they are signed up to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. This Code of Practice sets out the standards for the welfare of students to ensure the appropriate advice is given and the needs of international students are recognised. All education providers who have students enrolled on international student permits are required to ensure these standards are met. The code applies to pastoral care and the provision of information only, and not to academic standards.

You can search the Hotcourses website for all New Zealand institutions and their courses.

The application process

Once you have found a course at your chosen institution you should apply directly to that university or college. You can often find application forms within institution websites, do this by clicking on the website link on this website from the institution in which you're interested. You can also email an enquiry or specific question from the Hotcourses website.

Visa process

In order to study in New Zealand you will need a student visa. The requirements for this visa will vary according to your nationality and the nature of your study. Check out the New Zealand Immigration Department website for more information.

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