Living in NZ

New Zealand, the Land and its People

New Zealand is a beautiful, green, island country in the South Pacific. Our country is similar in size to Japan or the UK, but there are only about 4 million people. This means that unspoiled beaches, quiet bush walks and all manner of outdoor activities are available near the main centres. New Zealand’s cities have modern, thriving commercial and entertainment centres, interesting shops and wonderful restaurants and nightlife.

All New Zealanders speak English, but the country boasts a wide variety of ethnic groups, mostly of European, Pacific Island and Asian origin. There is a great variety of cultural experience for the visitor to enjoy.
The climate is temperate without great extremes. People from the northern hemisphere can escape their difficult winters by crossing the equator for a New Zealand summer. Winters, especially in the North Island, are mild so Kiwis can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle for most of the year.

New Zealand is a unique country. Its scenery sets it apart from the rest of the world. There is abundant beauty and diversity in scenery, lifestyle and culture. From rolling green farmlands to barren volcanic desert areas, from golden beaches with clear blue water to majestic snow covered mountains, New Zealand offers a sample of every possible landscape within a relatively small country.

New Zealand is a Parliamentary democracy, offering a safe political environment for international students and visitors. It has a population of only 4.4 million and is similar in size to the United Kingdom or Japan. New Zealand is primarily a European culture which has absorbed many of the rich and historic cultural elements from the Maori and Pacific Island heritages, and now from its rapidly growing multi-cultural Asian communities. New Zealander’s have a reputation for friendliness, strength and independence.

With a well-educated population New Zealanders excel in many areas – arts, science, technology and manufacturing. Schooling is compulsory until the age of 16, but a steadily increasing number of students remain at school to gain qualifications for further study at tertiary institutions.

Banks

All cities and towns have banks. In many cases there are banks located in or near your institution. Most trading banks are open 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, however, some are open longer hours and on weekends. To open a bank account is easy and most students who intend to study for more than three months are advised to open a bank account.

Most banks make use of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) by which you can withdraw money or make transfers between accounts at any time. Some telephoning banking is also possible. If you wish to open or close an account, or otherwise, talk with a bank official. Each bank will offer several types of accounts. It is normal to have at least one account that allows you to withdraw money when you want using ATMs. A cheque account will also allow the writing of cheques. Most banks will charge for each transaction and/or will have a monthly fee. Normally to withdraw money from an ATM is cheaper than visiting a teller inside the bank. Some banks offer lower fees or bank charges for students.

Spending money is easy in New Zealand! The majority of shops use Electronic Funds Transfer (EFTPOS) which saves carrying a lot of cash with you. You may also use cheques or any one of a number of Credit cards.

When you come to New Zealand you will need to change your currency to New Zealand Dollars. This is easily done at banks. You do not have to bring a lot of cash with you – travellers’ cheques are easily exchanged. For further information, follow this link: https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/live-in-new-zealand/money-tax/banking-loans-fx

New Zealand Currency

Most overseas currencies are accepted and easily exchanged in New Zealand banks and exchange centres. To pay for tuition and other fees, international students can send bank-drafts through their local bank to New Zealand banks or directly to New Zealand institutions where they intend to study. Overseas travellers cheques and credit cards such as Visa, American Express, Bankcard, Mastercard, Diners Club and JCB are accepted in most places.

New Zealand currency is made up of dollars and cents. There are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. There are 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins. $1 = 100c. You can go to any bank or bureau de change to exchange foreign currency for New Zealand money or New Zealand money for foreign currency. A small commission fee may be charged for this service.

In some countries you may be able to open a New Zealand bank account before you leave home. This will enable you to transfer funds directly to your account in New Zealand. If you haven’t got a New Zealand bank account before you leave home, you may want to purchase travellers cheques in New Zealand dollars. This is safer than carrying large amounts of cash. Another option is to bring a bank draft with you. Once you get to New Zealand you can easily open a bank account as there are a range of banking products and services available.

Shopping

Stores and shops usually open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday and until 9pm on Friday nights. There is an increasing number of shopping centres opening until 9pm on Thursdays as well. Many shopping centres open all day Saturday and Sunday in major cities and tourist areas. New Zealand shops offer a wide variety of products including fashion clothes, outdoor clothing and equipment, crafts and international food halls.

Food

New Zealand has a wide range of indigenous and imported food. We are a major producer of pasture-fed lamb, venison and beef and dairy products are abundant and inexpensive. Almost all types of fruit are available in the shops. New Zealanders generally have a balanced diet of vegetables with either meat or fish as their main meal. Dinner is usually considered to be the main meal.

Accommodation 

Homestay

A Student aged under 18 years enrolled at any educational institution must be living with either:

  • a parent or legal guardian,
  • a school approved home-stay,
  • or a designated caregiver (a close friend or relative of the student’s family)

Homestay for either High School or adult students can be provided through most educational institutions. The typical placement fee is NZ$250 and weekly board is NZ$260.

Students living with Kiwi families can expect to be treated as one of the family. They will have their own room with warm bedding, drawers and cupboard for their clothes, a desk for study and heating in the winter. The host parents will provide three meals a day and do the student’s laundry. Students are encouraged to join in with family activities.

Other

There is a wide range of other accommodation options in New Zealand, including hostels, boarding, apartments and flats.

Our team can advise students about the different types of accommodation, arrange home stays, or assist students to find their own accommodation.

Many of our students choose to go “flatting” – that is, share a flat or apartment with other people. Generally accommodation in the suburbs is less expensive than in the central city, but transport costs are higher.

For further information on the Cost of Living – follow this link: https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/living-in-nz/money-tax/comparable-living-costs

Major Cities

The capital of New Zealand is Wellington (population approximately 400,000), situated at the southern tip of the North Island. Other major cities and towns are Auckland (population approximately 1,000,000), Hamilton (population 120,000), Palmerston North (population approximately 75,000), Christchurch (population approximately 400,000) and Dunedin (population approximately 110,000).

Climate

Situated in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. The climate is temperate with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers.

Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
Spring: September – November

Electricity

New Zealand voltage is 240 volts. European appliances can be used in New Zealand with a three-pronged adapter plug. Adapter plugs can be bought in most electrical shops and also at the airport.

Driving System

New Zealand has a left hand side driving system. Foreign students require an international driver’s license.  Click this link for further information:  http://www.nzta.govt.nz/driver-licences/new-residents-and-visitors/driving-on-nz-roads/

Employment for International Students

International students who wish to work during their study OR holidays, must ensure they meet the requirements of their visa.  Click this link for further information http://nzstudywork.immigration.govt.nz/

Health Care in New Zealand

Most international students are not entitled to publicly funded health services while in New Zealand. If you receive medical treatment during your visit, you may be liable for the full costs of that treatment. Full details on entitlements to publicly funded health services are available through the Ministry of Health, and can be viewed on their website at: www.moh.govt.nz.

If you have an accident in New Zealand

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides accident insurance for all New Zealand citizens, residents and temporary visitors to New Zealand, but you may be liable for all other medical and related costs. Further information can be viewed on the ACC website at: www.acc.co.nz.

Religion

For international students most major cities have churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and centres of worship for most religions.

New Zealand observes most Christian holidays and whilst the majority of the population are Christians there are a large number of people from other religious faiths such as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. For students who have special dietary religious regulations, home-stay families and boarding hostels can ensure that these are respected.

Television/Radio/Newspapers

As an English speaking country all media is in English. There are 3 main television channels and some satellite channels are also available. New Zealand has numerous AM/FM radio stations, both national and regional. Daily newspapers (morning and evening editions) are produced in the major cities.

Arriving in New Zealand

Upon arrival in New Zealand, if you have arranged to be picked up, AEI will send a representative to greet you and take you to your accommodation.

>Sporting and Recreational Facilities

With such an abundance of open space accessible to everyone, sports are an important activity for many people. Rugby football is the national sport but many others have a large following. Schools, universities and colleges offer excellent sport facilities for students who want to play tennis, squash, cricket, basketball, soccer, netball, softball, or, indeed, rugby.

The wide open spaces and national parks have influenced New Zealanders’ love of outdoor activities. Tramping (hiking), camping and skiing are all popular activities. There are some hundreds of beaches, ideal for swimming and diving – many of them within walking distance of student campuses.

New Zealand also has some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the world, and many people can enjoy the game on the uncrowded greens and inexpensive private and public clubs.

Social and Cultural Activities

New Zealanders come from many ethnic backgrounds. As an English-speaking country, New Zealand also has a strong Maori cultural heritage. There are many different ethnic communities including European, Asian and Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand.

Social and cultural events take place throughout the year all over New Zealand. They range from concerts, operas and exhibitions to Maori cultural gatherings in the Marae (meeting house).

What will impress international students most are the diverse ethnic communities, living in relative cultural and social harmony.

Entertainment

New Zealand offers an array of exciting entertainment. All the major cities and towns have cinemas, nightclubs, restaurants, art galleries and museums. In addition to these, seven professional theatre companies operate throughout the country and pop concerts feature regularly, often with overseas artists. Five professional orchestras perform frequently and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand String Quartet tour throughout the country as well as overseas. Daily newspapers provide details of local entertainment and nightlife.

Travel To and Within New Zealand

New Zealand has two main international airports, Auckland and Christchurch, served by 24 international airlines offering either non-stop, direct or online services to North America, South America, Australia, Asia, the UK and Europe, as well as the neighbouring Pacific Islands. Wellington, the hub of the domestic network, also has a service to the major east coast Australian cities. Air New Zealand offers special student travel concessions through STA Travel offices.

Distances between major attractions in New Zealand are short and there is a good transport network. This makes independent travel in the country easy. There are three main domestic airlines, Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Pacific Blue who fly between the major cities and resort areas. Commuter airlines service other towns. Just about every town and city in New Zealand is linked to a network of coach and rail services operated by either InterCity, Mount Cook, Newmans, and KiwiRail. The North and South Islands are linked by modern ferries operating between Wellington and Picton which carry passengers and vehicles using a drive-on/drive-off service.

Clothing for the Climate

Whether you feel cold or hot in New Zealand will depend a lot on where you come from. What you can be sure of is that you will need clothing to handle warm dry weather in the summer (shorts or skirts and t-shirts and light cotton clothing) and cold wet weather (only occasional snow) in the winter (warm, woollen jerseys/sweaters and socks, thick trousers such as jeans, a scarf, hat, and gloves, and waterproof shoes or boots, a waterproof jacket or raincoat and an umbrella). All this clothing is available in shops.

Although a very mild climate by world standards, New Zealand can be very changeable.

New Zealand as a whole depends on the weather of the Tasman Sea (producing for example the north-westerly in Christchurch), and the Southern Antarctic ocean (which may result in a cold Southerly Front bringing rain and a drop in temperature).

Public Transport

Christchurch and Auckland have a fairly sound transport system that runs regularly. See the relevant links for further information:

Private Cars

Owning your own car in New Zealand is easy. With the exception of the United States, New Zealand has more cars per head of population than anywhere in the world!  However, even if you are an experienced driver, if you are not used to driving on the left hand side of the road it may be a good idea to have a few lessons from a driving instructor. This would also familiarise you with New Zealand rules and driving conditions.  

Bicycles

Bicycles are popular amongst students. There are always second hand ones available, although even new ones are not expensive. It is the law that a person must wear a bicycle helmet and if riding at night, must have lights at the front and rear of the bicycle.  Christchurch, for the most parts is a flat city and so is fairly easy to bicycle around.  Auckland, however, is a mix of hills and flat parts, but is a much more busier city than Christchurch.