New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country has two main landmasses—the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), and the South Island (Te Waipounamu)—and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand’s capital city is Wellington, and its most populous city is Auckland.
Sometime between 1250 and 1300, Polynesians settled in the islands and developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947 and the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand’s population of 4.9 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand’s culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being very dominant.
A developed country, New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, and economic freedom. New Zealand underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy. The service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, and agriculture; international tourism is a significant source of revenue. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the prime minister, currently Jacinda Ardern. Queen Elizabeth II is the country’s monarch and is represented by a governor-general, currently Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum.
New Zealand is a unique country, with gorgeous scenery and excellent study opportunities. It’s a safe and welcoming community with a world-class reputation for cutting-edge research and creative energy. These elements make the country an attractive destination for international students.
New Zealand has several types of higher education institutions: universities, colleges, private institutions and polytechnics. There are 8 universities in New Zealand, which all offer high quality education. All 8 of these universities are ranked within the QS World University Ranking top 500. The highest ranked is the University of Auckland, which is in 82nd place, followed by the University of Otago in 151st place.
One great advantage to studying in New Zealand is the unique approach to education. Students are encouraged to think as an individual and find their own solutions, which is how many develop unique strengths and ideas whilst studying in the country.
You are able to study in New Zealand at all of the traditional levels; undergraduate (bachelor’s), postgraduate (master’s) and doctoral (PhD). There are options to gain specific qualifications, such as Graduate Diplomas and Honours. These types of study generally last one year.
New Zealand is an island country located in the Pacific Ocean. The country mainly comprises of two islands. These are the North Island and South Island, although there are numerous smaller islands. The closest countries to New Zealand are Australia and the Pacific island nations: Fiji, New Caledonia and Tonga.
Made internationally famous through the Lord of the Rings film series, the beautiful scenery of New Zealand is varied thanks to ancient volcanic eruptions. New Zealand offers a rich mix of various cultures, including Maori, Pakeha (people of European descent), Asian and Pacific populations.
It is a developed country and does well in national performance rankings. These rankings consider all aspects, including quality of life, health, education and economic freedom. The most dominant sector of the national economy is the service sector, followed by the industrial sector.
The top tourist attractions in New Zealand include:
New Zealand uses the New Zealand Dollar ($NZD) as their currency.
Institutions in New Zealand are permitted to set their own tuition fees. This means that what you pay will be different depending on your institution of choice. International students can expect to pay between $22,000 and $32,000 for a bachelor’s degree, and between $26,000 and $37,000 for a postgraduate course. However, if you choose a course such as medicine, engineering or veterinary science, your fees are likely to be higher. All PhD students pay the same, which is $6,500 to $9,000 per year. For information about the cost of your specific course, contact your institution.
There are scholarships available for international students at all levels, including students wanting to gain a PhD. These scholarships are offered by the institutions themselves, or the government. Contact your institution to get more information about your eligibility, or use the official New Zealand scholarship directory.
Living costs depend on where you choose to live in New Zealand. As in most countries, the bigger cities will require a larger living budget than the smaller cities and towns. It is recommended that you allow between $15,000-$27,000 per year. If you will be studying in New Zealand for more than one year, you will be required to prove that you have at least $15,000 to support yourself for the first year. If you are studying for up to a year, you are required to prove that you have at least $1,250 for each month of study.
If you have a student visa, you are able to work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and full time out of term time. Students completing Masters by Research or PhD are able to work full time throughout their studies, including term time.
In order to study in New Zealand, you might have to purchase health insurance. This will depend on where you are from. If you hold a student visa, you are not eligible for publicly funded health services. The exception to this rule are students from Australia and the United Kingdom or PhD students. These students are entitled to publicly funded health care for immediately necessary treatment only. If you are from any other country, or need to access further medical treatment, you will need to make sure that you have valid medical and travel insurance throughout your stay. Your chosen institution will be able to provide more information regarding this.
If you will be staying in New Zealand for more than 3 months, you may need to apply for a student visa. Students from Australia or other countries that have an agreement with New Zealand do not need to apply for a visa.
Once you have your visa, you can stay in the country for up to four years and have permission to work up to 20 hours per week. You must be enrolled with an approved institution and have the money to pay for your course.
You can either apply for your visa at your home country’s New Zealand embassy or consulate, but the application fee is 10% cheaper online.
For more information about visas, please visit the New Zealand Immigration website.
There are three official languages in New Zealand; English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Te Reo Maori became an official language in 1987. NZSL, the main language of the deaf community in New Zealand, became an official language in 2006.
With only 3.7% of the population speaking Maori, the language is in danger of extinction. Authorities are working to make sure this doesn’t happen, implementing Maori classes in schools, as well as television channels broadcasting exclusively in Maori. Studying in New Zealand would be a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a historic culture, picking up some Maori language and NZSL.
The majority of courses are offered in English. If your native language is not English, you may have to prove that your English skills will meet the teaching standards. If you do not, it is common for institutions to offer language programmes to improve your skills. Contact your institution if you want more information about this.
Auckland is located in New Zealand’s North Island, and is the largest city in the country. The city has the highest Polynesian population in the world, and is widely multicultural. Auckland is recognised as important in the fields of commerce, the arts and education. There are many tourist attractions, including the Harbour Bridge and the Sky Tower. In 2016, Auckland was rated one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Sitting on the banks of the Waikato River, Hamilton is the country’s fourth most populous city. After the English invasion, the old Maori settlement was renamed after Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton, the commander of HMS Esk. The city was initially an agricultural service centre, but now has a diverse economy, with education and research playing an important part in this. The city is home to roughly 40,000 higher education students and 1,000 PhD-qualified scientists.
Eating & Drinking
As well as having the lion’s share of the nation’s best restaurants, Auckland has excellent markets, a plethora of cheap Asian eateries, a hip cafe and bar scene, and wine regions on three of its flanks. And coffee culture is booming (don’t tell anyone from Wellington…).
Auckland is, quite literally, a global hotspot: over 50 separate volcanoes have formed this unique topography – and the next one could pop up at any time. Take a hike up one of the dormant cones dotting the landscape for a high, wide and handsome city panorama.
From the calm, child-friendly bays facing the Hauraki Gulf to the black-sand surf beaches of the west coast, to the breathtaking coastline of the offshore islands, beach lovers are spoiled for choice around Auckland.
Beautiful bays line Northland’s east coast, making it a favourite destination for families, surfers and fishing fans.
Kauri forests once blanketed NZ’s entire north, and in the pockets where the giants remain, particularly in the Waipoua Forest, they’re an imposing sight.
New Zealand was settled top down by both Māori and Europeans, with missionaries erecting the country’s oldest surviving buildings in Kerikeri. In nearby Waitangi, the treaty that founded the modern nation was first signed.
Find safe swimming and world-class surf at legendary Manu Bay. Beaches on the Coromandel are extremely popular in summer, but glorious isolation can still be yours.
Te Aroha, Cambridge, Matamata and Raglan have great pubs, cafes, restaurants and friendly locals, while Thames and Coromandel Town display their historic gold-rush roots.
Don’t miss black-water rafting (along underground rivers) at Waitomo Caves, NZ’s most staggering cave site…or just float lazily through amazing grottoes of glowworms.
Isolated Whanganui National Park is steeped in Māori lore. Lording over New Plymouth, Mt Taranaki (Egmont National Park) is a picture-perfect peak with fabulous tramping.
Midsized cities New Plymouth, Whanganui and Palmerston North are usually overlooked by travellers but you’ll find fantastic restaurants, hip bars, wonderful museums and friendly folk.
Hit Surf Hwy 45 south of New Plymouth for black-sand beaches and gnarly breaks. Whanganui offers remote, storm-buffered beaches, while the Horowhenua District has acres of empty brown sand.
New Zealand’s mightiest river (the Waikato) is born from NZ’s greatest lake (Taupo): aquatic pursuits abound (kayaking, sailing, fishing) and hot springs bubble up nearby.
Three steaming, smoking, occasionally erupting volcanoes – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – are an imposing sight, and the focus of skiing in winter and tramping the rest of the year.
Skydiving, bungy jumping, white-water rafting, jetboating, mountain biking, wakeboarding, parasailing, skiing – you want thrills, you got ’em.
The Rotorua landscape is littered with geysers, geothermal vents and hot springs. New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, Whakaari (White Island), is 48km off the coast.
Engage with Māori culture in Rotorua at traditional dance and musical performances, haka (war dances) and hangi (Māori feasts).
Paragliding, surfing, skydiving, zorbing, jetboating, blokarting, white-water rafting, mountain biking, kayaking…or just have a swim at the beach.
Follow in the footsteps of early Māori and James Cook along this stretch of coastline, home to the East Cape Lighthouse and Cape Kidnappers’ gaggling gannet colony.
Sip your way through Gisborne’s bright chardonnays, then head to Hawke’s Bay for seriously good Bordeaux-style reds and fine winery dining.
Napier’s art-deco town centre is a magnet for architecture lovers, the keenest of whom time their visit for the annual Art Deco Weekend in February.
Eating & Drinking
Crowbarred into the city centre are quality display spaces including the interactive Te Papa museum and internationally flavoured City Gallery Wellington.
With more than a dozen roasters and scores of hip cafes, Wellington remains the coffee capital of NZ. Start with Havana Coffee Works or Fidel’s.
Between the boho bars around Cuba St and Courtenay Pl’s glitzy drinking dens, you should find enough to keep you buzzed until sun up.
Bobbing in Marlborough’s sea of sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot noir and bubbly are barrel loads of quality cellar-door experiences and regional food.
Not satisfied with just one national park, the Nelson region has three: Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi and Abel Tasman. You could tramp in all three over a week.
The top of the South Island is home to a menagerie of creatures, both in the water and on the wing. Pretty little Kaikoura offers myriad wildlife tours.
Around 90% of its territory lies within the conservation estate. Don’t miss Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and the Oparara basin.
Expect dramatic views along hour-long tracks and hardcore epics, like the wind-scoured, wildlife-rich Cape Foulwind Walkway.
The West Coast’s raffish pioneering heritage comes vividly to life in places like Reefton and Shantytown (Greymouth), and in ghost towns like Waiuta.
Earthquakes have damaged Christchurch’s architectural heritage, but the Canterbury Museum, Botanic Gardens and New Brighton St still showcase the city’s history. Nearby, Akaroa proudly celebrates its French heritage.
Explore alpine valleys around Arthur’s Pass, kayak on Akaroa Harbour, or visit Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park for tramping and kayaking amid glacial lakes.
Descend from Banks Peninsula’s Summit Rd to explore hidden bays and coves, and experience nature’s grand scale: the river valleys, soaring peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps.
Seals, sea lions and penguins patrol the Otago Peninsula, while rocky Taiaroa Head is the planet’s only mainland breeding location for the magnificent royal albatross.
Barrel into the craggy valleys of Bannockburn for excellent vineyard restaurants or delve into the up-and-coming Waitaki Valley wine scene for riesling and pinot gris.
Explore the arty and storied streets of Dunedin, or escape by foot or penny-farthing bicycle into the heritage ambience of Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct.
Few places on earth offer so many adventurous activities: bungy jumping, river rafting, skiing and mountain biking only scratch Queenstown’s adrenaline-fuelled surface.
Queenstown’s photogenic combination of Lake Wakatipu and the soaring Remarkables is a real jaw-dropper. Or venture into prime NZ wilderness around Glenorchy and Mt Aspiring National Park.
Start with lunch at Amisfield Winery’s excellent restaurant, then explore the Gibbston subregion and finish with a riesling tasting at Rippon, overlooking gorgeous Lake Wanaka.
Cruises & Coast
The star of the deep-south show is remarkable Milford Sound, but take time to explore the rugged Catlins coast or remote, end-of-the-world Stewart Island.
Test yourself by tramping the Milford or Hump Ridge Tracks, or amble easy hour-long trails along the Milford Hwy.
Cruise or kayak around glorious Doubtful Sound, test the surf in Curio Bay or get sprayed by waterfalls in the Catlins.