Teach English Abroad in New Zealand

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A Guide to Teaching Abroad in New Zealand

Teachers are drawn to New Zealand because of higher than average teaching salaries, a national appreciation for education, and a relaxed classroom atmosphere that fosters student engagement; New Zealand is constantly ranked among the highest educational systems in the world. Students are encouraged to form bonds with their teachers, often beginning by calling educators by their first names. Teaching abroad in New Zealand is popular for uncountable reasons, from the beach weather to the rich culture of ancient peoples mixing with modern lifestyles. Lastly, it is a favorite for the outdoor adventure crowd; New Zealand has much to offer teachers outside the classroom too.


The most populous city and often the most popular tourist destination in New Zealand, Auckland is a great place to live and teach in New Zealand. Ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities and a town with one of the highest qualities of living, this coastal city is the dream of many looking to relocate abroad. Furthermore, Auckland is home to many international immigrants, increasing the need for adult ESL teachers. 

Christchurch, making headlines in recent years due to a devastating earthquake, is a city being rebuilt from its ashes. International teachers can find teaching jobs in Churchland because many were vacated when citizens moved away from the city due to the environmental disaster. Nicknamed the Garden City, Christchurch was historically a farming community that has urbanized considerably in the last decades. 

New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is home to a large population of Maori citizens and Pacific Islanders, meaning that classroom lessons often include the history of the New Zealand islands and the rich history of the native peoples. Wellington is a uniquely beautiful area, with mountain ranges surrounding the urban center of the city.

Nicknamed the “Twin Cities,” Napier and Hastings are neighboring urban areas located north of the capital on an idyllic Hawke’s Bay. A strong connection to Maori culture and history exists in these cities, making teaching abroad in either a learning experience for both student and teacher alike. These cities are also popular tourist attractions, because of the distinctive architecture that took a hold of the area after a devastating earthquake in the past.

Teaching Abroad in New Zealand

For those looking to teach English abroad, New Zealand is a challenging, but immensely rewarding choice of location. The majority of the population is English-speaking, but English teaching jobs in New Zealand are still prevalent in private institutions or in the form of tutoring positions. Since teaching jobs in New Zealand tend to be highly coveted, many international travelers work as tutors while they look for a more permanent position.

For those with a teaching degree or a considerable amount of teaching experience, teaching subjects other than English is common, including math, sciences, music, and the arts. New Zealand is ranked seventh internationally in science and reading and thirteenth in math; national curriculum standards help teachers in their lesson planning, making New Zealand schools organized, effective, and productive.

School in New Zealand begins in mid-January and continues until mid-December, with holiday breaks throughout. For the most part, schooling is reminiscent of any European style school system; teachers work a standard day with lunch breaks. Teaching takes up most of the day, with the latter part of the afternoon dedicated to grading, planning, and other administrative tasks. Due to a recent invigoration of the native Maori language and culture, schools across the country have invested time and energy into adding curriculum that connects students with the rich history of the island nation. Therefore, teachers with knowledge of the Maori language are in high demand.

Salary & Costs

New Zealand is a favored destination of many looking for international teaching jobs; it offers many of the same weather and recreational benefits of neighboring Australia, without the skyrocketing cost of living. A beginning salary for a teaching job in New Zealand ranges from $3,000 to $3,500 per month, depending on whether you’re hired at a public school, a language school, or a private institution. Teaching experience is another important factor that could be determinant in finding a teaching job in New Zealand. Many individuals who find themselves teaching abroad in New Zealand supplement their income, if needed, with private tutoring sessions priced at $20 to $50 per hour.

In general, those who teach abroad in New Zealand will find that it boasts a moderate cost of living. Within the limits of a larger city, expect rent to take up a large portion of your monthly salary; in more expensive areas of Auckland, for example, monthly rent can be as high as $2,500 a month, with more affordable options farther away from the city center.

A cup of coffee costs around $5 and groceries for two weeks can cost up to $100. Bus tickets typically cost around $6, and without a vehicle, this price of transportation can really add up. Relative to much of the U.S., these prices are high, but compared to Australia, New Zealand comes out ahead. Teachers just starting out in their international teaching career find New Zealand is a country where it is possible to cut costs, if necessary. Many grocery stores have discounts if you pay in cash (and sales are advertised online), for example. In addition, teachers tend to carpool to work together to save on transportation costs.

Accommodations & Visas

Teachers are rarely offered accommodations as part of their salary for a teaching job in New Zealand, but some international and language institutions do offer housing for their staff at a reduced rental rate. International teachers often choose to live with each other, for convenience of commuting and as a cheaper alternative to living alone. Check with your school before securing an apartment; even if they do not offer staff housing, they often have recommendations. Internet postings are another common way to secure cheaper housing, especially if you are looking to secure your place before you begin teaching in New Zealand.

Another reason teaching abroad in New Zealand is so popular amongst young people looking to work abroad is New Zealand’s Working Holiday 12-month visa. If you are under the age of thirty, you are eligible to receive this 12-month visa to live and work in New Zealand. Though this visa typically applies to those seeking employment in short-term jobs, such as hospitality, teachers just starting out can use this visa to launch their teaching career in New Zealand too. Many teachers find that it is easier to apply for this visa, travel to New Zealand, network and find a teaching job, and then apply for a longer work visa once they’ve begun their teaching job.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Without a doubt, finding teaching jobs in New Zealand is difficult as an international English teacher. Cince English is New Zealand’s national language, and because teaching experience is highly valued by employers, New Zealand will certainly be a challenge for any beginner teacher, but a worthwhile one at that.

Simple Splendor. The rumor about sheep outnumbering humans in New Zealand is true; natural land, animals, and beauty surround you everywhere you go in this island nation. Whether the beach views or the grassy hillside attract you, the Kiwi outdoors draw in millions of travelers every year.

Exceptional Educators. Education is at the forefront of New Zealand’s interests, politically and socially. Within a system that rewards educators for performing well, being a teacher is an intensely fulfilling job in New Zealand, where you can connect with students about subject matter and with peers about shared passions and meaningful travel experiences.

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A Guide To
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