Study Abroad in New Zealand

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in New Zealand

“Kia ora!” Welcome to New Zealand! If you’re looking for miles of tramping (hiking trails), animated sporting events, fun nightlife, and highly respected universities, then look no further, study abroad in New Zealand can provide it all. From vibrant cities, like Auckland and Wellington, to incredible landscapes, including rainforests, glaciers, and mountains, there is something for everyone in New Zealand. Local universities offer numerous research and internship opportunities, along with study abroad programs that are well regarded worldwide. There’s a perfect program for students from almost every major with a desire to study abroad in New Zealand.


New Zealand is made up of two main islands known as the North and South islands. Auckland is the largest city, holding almost a third of New Zealand’s population and located at the tip of the North Island. Despite being a large city, it still boasts the stunning beauty the rest of the country is known for. There are plenty of museums, art galleries, and the Auckland zoo to explore. It’s also easy to get out on the water while studying in Auckland, with regular whale and dolphin tours and day trips to the dozens of small islands nearby.

Travel south to bottom of the North Island and you can explore Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city and the southernmost capital city in the world. While studying in Wellington students can learn more about the country by visiting the Museum of New Zealand, the parliament buildings, and The Museum of Wellington City and Sea. Wellington also has a plethora of bars, cafes, and restaurants to experiment with.

Heading to the South Island, you’ll find the charming city of Christchurch. Study abroad students who choose Christchurch can check out the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for a glimpse of a kiwi bird, take a ride up the gondola for stunning views of the city and nearby harbors, and can’t miss the unique opportunity to go punting or fishing on the Avon River.

At the very bottom of the South Island is the vibrant city of Dunedin, host to the University of Otago, the oldest university in New Zealand, and yet another great place to study abroad in New Zealand. At the center of the city is The Octagon, where students can find numerous bars, restaurants, and accommodations all within walking distance of each other. Dunedin is also home to Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential street.

Study Abroad in New Zealand

New Zealand’s diverse university system students to pursue just about any area of interest imaginable while studying abroad in New Zealand.

There are eight universities spread out across the country that each offer several different courses of study. Head to the South Island to find the University of Otago, New Zealand’s first university and one of the world’s most southern universities, or travel to Christchurch for the University of Canterbury. On the North Island in the city of Palmerston North, where students can study at Massey University, which holds the nation’s largest business college. Or head to Auckland for the University of Auckland, the country’s largest university with almost 40,000 students.

Accessibility to the country’s many wildlife areas make studying environmental management, biology, forestry, and other outdoor-related fields particularly interesting. No matter where you study abroad in New Zealand, a class in Maori history is highly recommended, to learn more about the country’s indigenous people.

New Zealand’s universities generally run on a semester system with the first semester taking place from February to June and the second semester from July to November. Some schools also offer study abroad courses during the summer, but these generally have more limited options, from early November to early February. This schedule does add a small challenge for students from the northern hemisphere who want to study abroad in New Zealand, but in most cases, it’s possible to ensure dates line up without needing to miss more than one semester or quarter at your home university.

Generally, students will take three to four courses (sometimes referred to as “papers”) to make up an average course load while studying in New Zealand. Internships opportunities are available through universities in New Zealand, in combination with coursework as well. Final exams often take place over two or three weeks, which allows study abroad students ample free time to explore the country in between their studies. Mid-semester breaks are observed during both the first and second semester, which are great for traveling to other parts of the islands during study abroad in New Zealand.

Scholarships & Costs

Students from the United States who choose to study abroad in New Zealand will find that New Zealand has a comparable cost of living to the U.S., especially when compared to the much higher cost of living in neighboring Australia. Since the country is small, it’s reasonably affordable to rent a car and do a driving tour of the main islands, which will save students money on costly air travel. However, it’s worth noting that petrol (gas) prices are quite high in New Zealand. There is slightly over 1 New Zealand dollar for every $1.

Check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory for study abroad in New Zealand to apply for financial aid.

Accommodations & Visas

Many students who study abroad in New Zealand have the opportunity to live in a flat with other international or local students. Flats generally refer to a rented living space that can be as small as a studio or as large as a house. This option offers international students an easy way to meet local friends and learn about the culture and environment of their new home.

Student housing is often in easy walking distance to shops, restaurants, and local attractions, lessening the need for a car or bus pass while living and studying in New Zealand. Not all housing is centrally heated so bringing some extra layers, especially if you’re living further south, is definitely a must. Home stays are also an option in many areas and a great way to get to integrate quickly during study abroad in New Zealand.

If you’re studying abroad in New Zealand from the United States for less than three months you will not need a visa. However, if you’re planning on studying in New Zealand for a semester or full year, you will need to apply for a student visa. The process isn’t complicated and is all online now, but you will want to start early to make sure you have your visa granted before your flight to New Zealand!

There are several pieces of documentation you’ll need to upload to the Immigration New Zealand portal to complete your student visa application to study abroad in New Zealand. For example, you will need a letter from your Kiwi university stating you’ll be studying there, confirmation that you or your institution will be able to cover your course fees, proof that you have sufficient funds to study in New Zealand for the duration of your program (often included in a letter from your home university), and proof that you are planning to leave the country at the end of your program. It will take a few weeks for the Immigration New Zealand team to review your documents online, and then they will issue you an electronic visa by email that you will then print and bring with your passport to the airport and you’ll be set to go abroad!

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Overall, New Zealand offers a truly unique place to study abroad. The combination of rich history, vibrant culture, and amazing outdoor adventures gives individuals studying in New Zealand an unforgettable experience. With few challenges, New Zealand is an excellent choice for students traveling abroad for the first time and seasoned travelers alike.

From your first day on the island you’ll feel right at home. Study abroad in Zealand and learn first hand what a magical place it is!

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in New Zealand


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