Please note: New Zealand Now content reflects pre-COVID-19 conditions and outlook. For COVID-19 related updates to visa and border requirements, click here.

Everyday student life

In and out of the lecture hall or classroom, student life in New Zealand has its own distinctive Kiwi flavour.

Supportive environment

New Zealand offers a very supportive environment for students.

Numbers in your class or course will probably be smaller than you’re used to. So you can expect to receive more personalised attention from your teachers than you might in other parts of the world.

Students sitting on campus grounds talking

If you’re having difficulty with an assignment, you can discuss it with your tutor or get help from the student learning centre. Seeking help where needed is a normal part of student life here.

This support for students extends beyond the school or university. The New Zealand Government was the first in the world to adopt a Code of Practice that sets out standards for the care of international students, in and out of the classroom.


Unlike in some cultures, challenging and questioning teachers and lecturers is an important part of a New Zealand education. At all levels students are expected to have original thoughts and to be able to defend them in debate. This is how we show respect for our teachers - by participating fully in the academic process.

You’re also expected to be a self starter, particularly at university level where courses typically involve relatively few hours per week of formal lessons. A high degree of self-motivation and self-discipline is needed as you will be expected to do a lot of preparation to be able take part in class discussions. Be prepared to work hard, work in teams and think innovatively.

Encouraging creativity

New Zealand is a young country where independence, initiative and resourcefulness are more highly regarded than status or rules. As a student here you’ll be encouraged to be questioning, flexible and to seek your own answers by thinking for yourself.

Learning here rewards inventiveness and creativity.

Pastoral care

New Zealanders are genuinely concerned about people and you'll find there are plenty of places to turn to if you need help.

Every institution hosting international students like you has staff dedicated to ensuring your time in New Zealand is successful and stress-free. Halls of residence and hostels have live-in wardens who can provide advice and guidance.

You’re also protected by a Code of Practice that sets the standards every institution must meet in supporting its international students.

The New Zealand Government was the first in the world to introduce such a Code. Amongst other things, it covers the educational standards your school or institution must maintain, financial dealings and support if you need help with cultural issues or accommodation. As part of this code, your fees are also protected.

You can read the Code of Practice on the NZQA website.

Accommodation for studying in New Zealand

Living in a homestay or hall of residence are best for making new friends quickly. 


It's a good idea to have some accommodation organised before you arrive in New Zealand. As a student, you could stay in a hall of residence, rent a house with friends, or board in a homestay. Living in a homestay or a hall of residence are probably the best options for someone who is new to New Zealand, because it will allow you to make new friends quickly. Make sure you check how the accommodation you choose is heated, as some older houses in New Zealand are not insulated and can be very cold.

Another accommodation option is a homestay. You can live with a host family, in a room of your own, and they provide meals. Interacting with your hosts and meeting their neighbours and friends is a great way to advance your English and get ‘up close’ with New Zealand’s way of life and culture.

Contact your education provider for specific information about accommodation in the area.


Most of New Zealand's cities are relatively small, so it is easy to get around. Day to day commuting in the city is often by bus, biking or walking. There are good bus networks in the main cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin), plus Auckland and Wellington also have commuter rail and ferries.

Check out our transport page for more information.

Cost of living

Students may find some regions or cities are cheaper to live in than others in New Zealand. You can calculate how much everyday expenses such as accommodation, power, groceries, and transport are likely to cost by using Studylink's cost of living calculator.

Part time work

If your visa conditions state that you can work part time while studying, this can be a good way to get work experience and earn a little extra spending money. It can also help you meet people. However, you need to make sure that your visa allows you to work, and make sure you leave yourself time to study and enjoy New Zealand.

For more information visit Immigration NZ.

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Sign up to receive relevant job opportunities from New Zealand employers and practical advice on how to make your move to New Zealand a reality.