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The basics
New Zealand: Destination Guides

The top student cities in New Zealand

New Zealand is a vibrant and dynamic study abroad destination. World-class institutions are allied to a great student lifestyle that galvanizes student energy. We explore the top five university cities.

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New Zealand may seem far away, but with breathtaking landscapes and rich culture, there's a reason why it's one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Whether you know it for Lord of the Rings, the All Blacks, or its volume of sheep, New Zealand is captivating. Although small in size, with a population of only 4.8 million people, it constantly punches above its weight, with world-renowned universities and globally recognised academics. With this in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to studying in New Zealand and its five main cities. It’s time to get a taste of life in the Kiwi lane.


Studying in Auckland


As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland attracts the highest influx of tourists compared to any other city in the country. As a result, Auckland is a deeply multicultural place, catering to everyone. Being a student, you won’t find it hard to keep yourself busy in this lively city.

When it comes to food and drink, Auckland’s not short on cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to satisfy that craving. Areas such as Ponsonby, Takapuna, Mt. Eden and the notorious ‘K Road’ will provide you with plenty of choices to indulge. Although well-known for its Auckland Museum, the Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge, Auckland has a lot more to offer than just these well-established landmarks. 


You won’t truly experience the essence of living in Auckland unless you get outdoors. Kiwis are adventurous, so be sure to take advantage of the different outside activities. Try going for a hike, mountain biking, kayaking or, if you prefer a bit less adrenaline, walk, run, or swim through Auckland’s stunning scenery.


Auckland is also full of parks, such as the Auckland Domain, Cornwall Park, and Myers Park. Auckland's collection of beaches, including Mission Bay, Pt. Chevalier, Piha, and Bethells, will keep you outdoors and exploring Auckland’s beautiful landscape. You can make a day trip to Waiheke, Karekare or Rangitoto in order to explore more of Auckland’s beauty.


To get around Auckland, the bus network will be the ideal companion if you don’t have a car. If you’re wanting to get from the city to many of Auckland’s more distant suburbs, make use of the Britomart Train Station which connects you right to the city centre. Auckland also boasts some excellent higher education institutions including:



Studying in Hamilton


With its proximity to Auckland, meaning you can still access the amenities of a big city, Hamilton is a vibrant location. It sits right within the Waikato region, which is very well known for its dairy industry. If you have a car you can explore the surrounding countryside. You may get the odd whiff of cow dung, but it can be a sure way to clear the head during those stressful study periods.


Take a trip to the little town of Cambridge, only a 25-minute drive away, or drive for 50 minutes and you'll reach Matamata, home of the famous Hobbiton set from Lord of the Rings. Rotorua, and its world-renowned hot springs, will only take you an hour and twenty minutes on the road.


When it comes to food, Hamilton has more than enough choice to keep you content. After a nice meal out that won't break the bank? The Dumpling House & Saigon Noon can fill that craving for some fresh, delicious Asian food, or check out Winner Winner to salivate over their choice of burgers and chicken.


When that craving for a coffee hits, pop into one of any number of cafes scattered across the city. Whether living in the city centre or not, Hamilton also hosts a wealth of cycleways, to encourage a more active, sustainable means of transport. Why not take your bike out for the day and go check out the Hamilton Gardens?


Being one of Hamilton’s most established attractions, this horticultural excursion provides you with the chance to wander peacefully through nature without the distraction of technology fighting for your attention. Hamilton is also home to the internationally renowned University of Waikato.


Studying in Wellington


Wellington is New Zealand's capital city. Home to New Zealand’s parliament and its world-famous Beehive building, it is the heart and soul of the country's operations. Yet, it is also arguably the most student-friendly city that New Zealand has to offer.

You can walk to most places, and with the proximity of campuses and accommodation to the city, it's not hard to get used to student life in Wellington. The city exudes creativity and is a melting pot of art, music, design, fashion and architecture, which all contribute to its unique identity.


With artwork marking the streets, local and international acts performing most weeks, and enough boutique fashion stores to pique your interest, you'll never have a dull day when you go out. A stroll down the famous Cuba Street is a must.


If you talk to someone from Wellington, they'll be quick to let you know that the city plays home to some of the world's best coffee. With local favourites such as Raglan Roast or Pickle & Pie, you'll find the city's cafes humming with chatter constantly. 'Wellingtonians' will also let you know how good the food is. You can find cheap, quality eats all across the city, which we know is important on a student budget. Pair this with a craft beer from any number of the breweries Wellington prides itself on and you’ll have a winning formula.


You can't live in Wellington without checking out New Zealand's national museum Te Papa, which is a free activity that boasts exhibits to rival any museum across the globe. As for Wellington's nightlife, there's plenty of bars and clubs throughout Cuba Street and Courtney Place to explore.


To get outdoors, make sure you wander along the oriental parade, visit the wind turbine, climb Mt. Victoria, stroll through the Botanic Gardens or peruse the waterfront markets every Sunday morning, all of which are either in, or within minutes of this special city. If Wellington sounds like your kind of place you may want to explore the higher education institutions in the city, including Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University.


 Studying in Christchurch


Christchurch welcomes a huge number of new students year-in and year-out to its vibrant environment. When you're not busy with university, your options of what to explore will keep you well and truly engaged. Throughout the Summer, Christchurch hums with festivals, markets and outdoor cinemas that truly express the city's creative nature.


Take the opportunity to bike around the cycle-friendly city, maybe going along the Avon River or through the Botanic Gardens. It wouldn't be a South Island city either without a farmer's market on the weekend filled with fresh produce and happy locals, happening on Saturdays at Riccarton House. Wanting a bit of a shop? New Regent Street has you covered, with new eateries, cafes, bars and boutique stores popping up often.



Further outside the city, your options are endless. Just outside the city, you'll find the Halswell Quarry Park and Kennedy's Park, to help you escape from the books for a bit. Make the short trek out to Cashmere too and you'll discover the Rapaki Track and the Harry Ell Walkway. Fancy some camping? Orton Bradley Park, Lavericks Bay and Awaroa/Godley Head are all ideal spots to escape the confines of your accommodation. In winter, living in a place like Christchurch will spoil you for choice when it comes to hitting the slopes.


Two of New Zealand's most beautiful towns, Queenstown and Wanaka, that play home to four of New Zealand's major ski fields, are an accessible weekend away with mates. Whether you want to ski/snowboard or not, spending a few days amongst these New Zealand gems is a must. Christchurch could also be the ideal place for you to study, with the University of Canterbury being a renowned institution of higher learning.


 Studying in Dunedin


Nestled right on the South-East coast, Dunedin is a city that thrives on student life. With about 16 per cent of Dunedin's population is made up of University of Otago students, the city hums with a unique energy. When it comes to getting around, Dunedin has the luxury of being a compact city. You'll therefore find that getting those legs moving, whether walking or cycling, will be a convenient means of getting around. Doing so through Dunedin's Botanic Gardens, or the Otago Farmer's Market is always a good plan.



For things to see and do, a place like Dunedin will keep your appetite sufficiently at bay, both literally and figuratively. As with most of New Zealand's big cities, Dunedin's coffee culture is ever-present. Vogel St. Kitchen, Vanguard Coffee Co., and Heritage Coffee will all give you a place to park up with a warm cup and a bite to eat.


If a juicy burger is on your mind, pop an order in at Good Good. Beyond food, an appetite for adventure and exploration can also easily be satisfied. Being by the coast, you'll have your choice of white sand beaches like St. Kilda and St. Clair, or Tunnel Beach, all mere minutes’ drive from the city. Visit the Otago Peninsula too for a peek at the beautiful wildlife the region has to offer. Dunedin is also home to the University of Otago, which has proven to be a popular choice for international students.  


Make sure that you take the chance to explore more of what New Zealand and its institutions have to offer. You may find that with that the combination of world-class university’s and a great student lifestyle, it’ll be the right fit for you.