You might not get to take classes with hobbits, but Queenstown, New Zealand has so much more to offer to high school students. Any budding thrill seeker will feel at home in Queenstown, known as the top adventure destination amongst adrenaline-junkies from around the world. The combination of water sports and heaps of outdoor activities - not to mention that cutie who caught your eye in calc class - might make focusing on your studies a bit difficult. If this sounds better than the dimly lit, slightly stinky hallways of your high school, then head south (way south!) to experience life as a kiwi with high school study abroad in Queenstown!
Teen Programs in Queenstown
For many high school students thinking about studying abroad, this trip will be their first big trip without their parents. While New Zealand has its own unique and fascinating culture, the fact that it is an English speaking, western culture may make it an easier transition for teen travelers.
Popular high school programs in Queenstown. Students looking for outdoor adventure have come to the right place. In addition to hiking, snorkeling, and skiing, high school students in New Zealand can learn about marine biology and permaculture. Interested in giving back? Try a community service program and learn about Queenstown and its environs by volunteering. Students interested in developing a home away from home might consider a homestay, where you’ll become part of your Kiwi family and experience real life in New Zealand.
How long are typical high school programs in Queenstown? Looking for an adventure but not yet ready to spend a whole year away from home? Try a high school summer program in New Zealand, where there are several companies organizing programs for students to experience the best of New Zealand for a few weeks at a time. Not all high schools will accept transfer credit from a study abroad program so shorter programs have the added benefit of not interrupting your studies. The downside to only spending a few weeks in New Zealand is the travel time: it takes roughly a full day in each direction. This means you need to ration your airplane movies because there might not be new ones by the time you are ready to return home. Don’t let the travel time deter you though because once you’ve landed, you’ll dive right into your program and your summer will fly by in a blur of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and adrenaline rushes.
Longer programs allow you to settle into your new home at a slower, deeper pace. Spending up to a year in Queenstown will give you the opportunity to live like the locals do and learn more about the intricacies of local culture and traditions. There are several program options that help students enroll in a local school for a semester, trimester, or whole year. Find out how high school differs for Kiwi teens versus North American teens during your high school exchange program.
Teen Life in Queenstown
One of the reasons we travel is to learn about how other people live, to value our differences, and to understand our similarities. Doing high school abroad in Queenstown will introduce you not only to Kiwi and Maori culture, but also to teenage life in New Zealand. Some things will be the same: signs in English, movie theaters, bowling alleys, coffee shops galore. But, in New Zealand, you can also try your hand at rugby or beach volleyball after school instead of football or baseball. Instead of PB & J, you’ll be packing Marmite sandwiches for lunch (maybe you’ll love it by the time you’re ready to leave).
If you choose a homestay program, you’ll have a host family eager to show you the very best of New Zealand. Your days will be filled with mini trips to see other parts of the country, days on Lake Wakatipu, hiking, maybe a trip to Hobbiton. Impress your friends at home with stories of that time you jumped off a cliff (attached to a bungee and supported by trained professionals of course). With English as one of the official languages of New Zealand, you’ll have no trouble getting around and communicating with locals (provided you paid attention last year in English class).
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Since it’s in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand’s seasons are the opposite of what we experience in North America. This means that the school year starts and ends at different times than at home. It should be interesting to celebrate holidays that you usually associate with snow and winter in the heat of the summer. What’s the summer version of an ugly holiday sweater? Is it an ugly holiday bathing suit (there could be a great business idea here!)?
The native population of New Zealand are Maori, while the non-native people are referred to as Kiwis. New Zealand society is heavily influenced by Maori heritage, and the Maori language has been an official language (in conjunction with English) of New Zealand since 1987. Perhaps you’ll do some foreign language learning during your time abroad after all!
Aoteoroa, where you can visit Middle Earth, climb a mountain, snorkel amongst stunning marine life, and learn about the Maori people, all in the same country. Get to know your neighbors (with so many sheep here, they probably will be four-legged) and enjoy your high school study abroad in New Zealand!
Feeling inspired? Keep reading! You’ll love our our comprehensive guide on high school study abroad in New Zealand.