High School Programs in New Zealand

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A Guide to High School Programs Abroad in New Zealand

With nicknames like “God’s own country,” and “Paradise of the Pacific,” New Zealand is a good-looking place when it comes to traveling abroad, and it has recently become a popular destination for high school programs abroad too. From the sandy coasts to the jagged, snowcapped mountains to the raging rivers and big blue lakes, New Zealand offers a special island experience with a wide variety of natural beauty. High school programs in New Zealand are perfect for students interested in truly enjoying the great outdoors during their first big experience abroad.


New Zealand has two main islands, though it encompasses many smaller islands off its coasts too. Divided into the North Island and the South Island, New Zealand’s South Island is known for its dramatic landscape while the North Island is known for its Maori culture and populous cities. Regardless of which island you decide on for your high school program in New Zealand, there are plenty of experiences to choose from!  

Auckland is the most ethnically diverse cosmopolitan area in New Zealand, and has the world’s largest Polynesian population. The city straddles the Auckland Volcanic Field (volcanic field that is still active) and is home to 14 lava tubes. Auckland also lies on an isthmus, and therefore has two different harbors. Known as the “City of Sails,” Auckland is known for its sailing, and nearly every one in three families owns a sailboat. Whether you love to get out on the water or simply enjoy the view, students will have much to see on land and offshore during high school programs in Auckland.

Queenstown is a small city built around the Queenstown Bay inlet, along Lake Wakatipu. High school programs in Queenstown are ideal for students who enjoy hitting the slopes during the winter season, but it remains a paramount destination year round too. With views of Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, and The Remarkables, the town is surrounded by outstanding mountain scenery, and endless outdoor activities, whether imbedded in the program or enjoyed during free time. Mountain lovers will thrive in a city like Queenstown, because of the year-round exploration the mountains provide.

Wellington, this capital city is also known as Windy Wellington. This mid-sized city has a population of just over 200,000, making it the second most populous city in the country. Wellington is located on the southwest tip of the North Island, and rests between the Cook Strait and Rimutaka Range. Wellington enjoys a sunny, mild climate for most of the year, but the winter can get quite cold. This small, compact city is surrounded by hills, but also boasts sandy beaches, making it the perfect place for beach dwellers. 

High School Programs in New Zealand

It’s common for high school programs in New Zealand to merge multiple experiences into one fulfilling program abroad. Unless the you enroll specifically in an exchange study abroad program or another type of high school study abroad program, high school programs in New Zealand usually involve some volunteer work, some adventure, and a whole lot of cultural immersion!

Cultural Exploration is a huge part of high school programs in New Zealand. Learning how to travel in a meaningful way while experiencing a new culture can have a profound influence on your future. Not only does cultural exploration help shape your worldview, but it shows you how different cultures live through first hand experience. From the history of the Maori people to the way Kiwis live today, there is a lot to culture to see and experience, and high school is a fundamental time to start learning about the world!

Adventure Travel. New Zealand is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, giving both locals and travelers the opportunity to embrace the vast biological and geographical diversity of the country. Since outdoor recreation is such a huge part of the culture in New Zealand, adventure travel programs can also be considered a form of cultural exploration. Whether you join a high school program in New Zealand in the summer, spring, fall, or winter, there will always be something to see and do outdoors. Adventure travel programs provide a significant learning opportunity for high school students as these programs will teach them how to travel responsibly and enhance their appreciation for nature.

Community Service is an important type of high school program in New Zealand, because it teaches students how to bring positive change to a community. From assistant teaching to conducting extra curricular activities, like sports, the majority of volunteer programs for high school students in New Zealand will involve working with younger children and contributing to community development. Many of the underprivileged children in New Zealand come from the Maori community, or fall into other minority groups. These populations can largely benefit just from additional interaction and learning both during and after school. Regardless of the type of service, lending a helping hand in any part of the world can help high school students grow immensely.

The seasons in New Zealand are opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. The most popular season for tourism in New Zealand is during their summer (which is December through February in the Northern Hemisphere). Although this is the most popular time of year for high school programs in New Zealand, there is something to experience in New Zealand no matter what month or season. Every season provides outdoor recreation, from perfect hiking weather in the fall, to powder on the peaks in the winter, to beach days in the summer. The good news is, your time outside isn’t dependent on the season you choose for your high school program in New Zealand. 

Scholarships & Costs

The price range of high school programs in New Zealand varies based on the type of program and its duration. For the most part, programs that last for around four weeks will start at $2,000. These costs typically include everything except for travel costs (i.e. flights) to get you to New zealand, but be sure to check with your host organization or school or your program provider to confirm what is included in program costs.

New Zealand is known for being an expensive country, even in comparison to many places in the United States; however, it remains more affordable than major U.S. cities, such as San Francisco and New York City. Since most high school programs in New Zealand are all-inclusive, this can help students save money when it comes to food and accommodations. Although, students should still expect daily living costs to be more expensive in New Zealand than in many other program locations.

The average prices for eating out include $12 for an inexpensive meal at a restaurant, $3 for a coffee, and $2.50 for a soft drink. Meals will often be included in high school programs in New Zealand. On the other hand, packaged program costs typically do not cover expenses like snacks, souvenirs, and spare-time activities. 

Accommodation & Visas

Living arrangements provided for participants of high school programs in New Zealand often vary. Homestays are a common accommodation for students that are staying for a longer period of time, but may also be incorporated into the itinerary of shorter programs to enhance the overall experience. High school programs in New Zealand with shorter durations also commonly have housing arrangements such as hostels, hotels, and even dormitories.

Students’ passports must be valid for at least three months from the date they intend to leave New Zealand in order to enter the country. A visa is not required for programs that are three months or less. Since most high school programs in New Zealand are shorter (typically two to four weeks), most students shouldn’t need a visa. For those participating in an exchange program, it is best to enlist the help of local teachers or program providers to ensure the correct visas are squared away before departure.

Benefits & Challenges

Cultural Experience Before College. Traveling abroad before college provides students with a unique global perspectives, and looks great on college applications too! Not only will students begin their travel career at a young age, but if used wisely on a resume or application, international experience can help them get where they want to go!

Native New Zealand. High school programs in New Zealand are an exceptional way to immerse in a new culture, by allowing students to connect with locals and learn alongside them. While New Zealand is a spectacular vacation spot, digging a little deeper into the culture will bring a better understanding of their values and beliefs!   

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A Guide To
High School Programs Abroad in New Zealand


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