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Do I need visa to go to New Zealand?

If you are travelling to New Zealand to study a short course of less than three months, you can come on a visitor’s visa. Some countries have a visa-waiver agreement with New Zealand. For example, if you are from Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland you will be issued a three-months visitor’s visa on arrival in New Zealand. For a full list of visa-waiver countries, please check the immigration website you are planning to study for more than three months, you need to apply for a student visa before coming to New Zealand. You will find the instructions on how to apply and where to send your application on the immigration website You can apply for a student visa by lodging a paper application or apply online through the New Zealand Immigration website.

What documents do I need to send with my student visa application?

When you book your course, you will be issued an Offer of Place and an invoice. Both documents need to be enclosed with your student visa application. You will also need to provide:

  • Receipt of payment for your course
  • Bank statement in your name to show that you have sufficient funds to live in New Zealand. Currently, the requirement is to have $15,000 for a year or NZ$1,250 per month of study. This amount includes your accommodation costs.
  • A return ticket to leave New Zealand or a booking for a return flight and evidence of sufficient funds to purchase a ticket.
  • If you are planning to stay in New Zealand for more than six months, you will also be required to provide a Chest X-Ray Certificate, unless you are from a country with low incidence of tuberculosis. The list of countries is available on the immigration website.
  • If you are over 17 and staying in New Zealand for more than two years, will be asked to provide a police clearance certificate from your country
  • You will also need to send your passport to the immigration office.

Application guides with detailed instructions are available on the immigration website

Will I be allowed to work while studying in New Zealand?

Yes, you will be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while studying full-time on a student visa under the following conditions:

  • You are enrolled in an English language course of 14 weeks or longer at a Category 1 institution.
  • The main purpose of your course is to develop English language skills and you have IELTS 5.0
  • You are enrolled in a course of minimum two years in duration
  • Your programme leads to a New Zealand qualification that will qualify you for points under the Skilled Migrant Category.

Can my parents visit me in New Zealand?

Yes, if you are a long-term student, your parents can visit you. If you are not from a visa-waiver country, your parents will need to apply for a visitor’s visa.
If you are 17 and under or enrolled in secondary school, one of your parents can apply for a guardian visa to care for you in New Zealand.
Check the immigration website for more details


What does homestay accommodation include?

Most students prefer to live with a New Zealand family as it is the most economical type of accommodation. Homestay fee is usually charged on weekly basis. Most schools offer half board homestay automatically. It means that you will be provided two meals a day on weekdays (breakfast and dinner) and three meals a day on weekends. If you prefer the family to give you lunch as well, you can book full-board homestay for a small extra fee. Families are expected to provide a single room with a bed, a desk and a wardrobe. Bed linen and a towel will also be supplied by the family. You will need to bring your own personal hygiene items, such as shampoo and body soap, toothbrush and toothpaste and anything else you would normally use.


What happens if I have problems with my homestay?

If your school organised homestay for you, talk to them as soon as possible. A lot of problems are caused by misunderstanding of cultural differences. If the problem cannot be solved, you can change your homestay. The school will need to give your host family a two-week notice before you can move to a new family.


Can I ask for a homestay to be close to school?

If your school is in a big city, such as Auckland or Wellington you will have to travel to school by bus. A 15 minute bus ride from homestay to school is considered to be close. In smaller places, such as Coromandel or Tauranga, there may be homestays within a walking distance.


Can I live with my relatives?

Yes, you can. However, if you are under 18, your parents will need to authorise you to stay with the family they have arranged for you. The school is required to visit your caregiver to make sure that accommodation is suitable. Students aged 10 and under are required to live with one of both parents.


Can I stay in a student residence or hostel?

You can if you are over 18. Your school would be able to recommend a student residence or hostel, or you can book one by yourself on the Internet. There are usually no meals provided at student residence. There will be communal cooking facilities available if you wish to cook.


How can I rent an apartment?

If you are over 18 and staying in New Zealand for more than 3 months, you can rent an apartment or share one with other students. Your school may have some recommendations where to look for an apartment or even arrange one for you. If you have found an apartment through a real estate agent, you will need to pay a letting fee of one week’s rent. The other costs associated with moving-in include a bond (refundable at the end of your stay, provided there is no damage to the property) and rent paid in advance. Sharing an apartment or flatting is fun and is an affordable type of accommodation. You will have your own room and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Utility costs such as power, water and phone are normally shared between flatmates or may already be included in your rent. You can find flatmate ads on the Internet or in the local newspaper.


How can I get to school on the first day?

This is another benefit of staying in homestay. Your host family will show you how to get to school and back home. If your family is working, they will do it over the weekend. Some families may even be able to travel with you on a bus on the first day and pick you up after school.
If staying in a hostel or student residence, there will be bus information and maps available at reception. Google maps is also very helpful to find your way if you know the address.


When is the best time to travel to New Zealand?

If you are travelling from the Northern Hemisphere, you will be arriving to the opposite season in New Zealand, so there will always be something different to do and experience to your own country.New Zealand’s summer months are December, January and February – this would be the best time to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, the sun and lots of water based activities. It does not get very hot in summer, the average temperatures are between 20-30oC. In June, July and August, the New Zealand’s winter, it rains more often, but the temperatures are still very mild ranging between 9-15oC. In mountainous areas and in the South Island the temperature can drop below zero and it snows. There are a number of world-class ski resorts in New Zealand to enjoy in the winter season.


Is it expensive to live in New Zealand?

You will find that living in New Zealand is cheaper than in many other English-speaking countries.Approximate costs for various items in New Zealand dollars:

  • Milk (per litre) $2.47
  • Bread $1.55
  • Coffee $4.50
  • Takeaway pizza (large) $13.00
  • Light lunch $5.00 – $15.00
  • Shampoo $3.50 – $12.00
  • Toothpaste $2.00 – $3.00
  • Movie ticket $17.00

What forms of payment are accepted in New Zealand?

When travelling to New Zealand you can bring foreign cash, travellers cheques or have money on the credit card. New Zealand’s national currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). It is easily exchangeable with all major currencies, which can be done at all banks and numerous currency exchange offices. Banks are usually open from 9.00 to 4.30pm on weekdays and some branches are open on Saturdays. New Zealand has one of the highest uses of electronic transactions in the world. Credit cards are readily accepted in most shops and supermarkets. If you run out of cash, you will be able to withdraw money from an ATM machine, which are available in all shopping centres and along central streets. If you are staying in New Zealand for at least 6 months, you can open a bank account and be issued an EFTPOS card, which can be used for your daily expenses. All banks have special packages for students with no monthly or transaction fees. To open a bank account you need to bring your passport, a proof of address and show a valid student visa.


What public transport is available in New Zealand?

Bus is the main form of public transport. It is available in all cities in New Zealand. Auckland and Wellington also have a rail system, which is a convenient and often a faster alternative to buses. A ferry service operates in Auckland and Christchurch connecting the nearby islands and the bay areas. A taxi service is also available in all major cities.To travel between cities, you can take an intercity bus. Long-distance bus service is excellent in New Zealand. Some companies offer trips for as low as $1. Flying between cities is also a quick and affordable way of travelling. Just make sure that you book in advance.


Is it safe to cycle in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a bicycle friendly country. While it is a good form of exercise, a lot of people also cycle to work or school. There are more and more designated cycle paths are being built on New Zealand roads to make it a safer travel for cyclists. Where there is no cycle path, you must ride on the road and keep as far left as possible. Wearing a helmet is a must for cyclists and is required by the New Zealand road code. If you don’t own a bike, it can be hired from a rental place or even a bike store. Rental places may also provide you with a cycling route map.


What clothes do I need to take with me?

No matter what time of year you are visiting New Zealand, it is advisable to bring clothes to cover all weather conditions. For summer, bring your swimming gear, a sun hat and sunglasses. Light clothes and shorts can be worn anywhere on a hot day. Students in New Zealand usually dress casually – jeans, a t-shirt and walking shoes are quite normal, although you will need something more dressy for going out. Wearing sports clothes or jandals to a night club is not a good idea.
For winter, a rain jacket would always come handy. Wearing layers is an effective technique for winter season as it may be very cold early in the morning and at night, but very warm during the day. There is no central heating in New Zealand homes, so you may feel that it is colder inside the house than outside. Dress well when you are at home: a jumper, long pants and slippers to feel warm and comfortable, and a flannel pyjamas for bed time.


Will I be able to use my electronic devices in New Zealand?

You can safely bring your electronic devices to New Zealand to keep in touch with friends and family. Fast broadband Internet service is available across New Zealand. You will find many free Wi-Fi hotspots in all main cities. It is also common for schools and universities to offer free Wi-Fi access to their students. For charging your device, you may need to use a power plug adapter, because the power outlets in New Zealand take electrical plugs with two or three angled pins.To stay connected, you can also get a local SIM card for your mobile phone. There are three main mobile service providers: Vodafone, Spark and 2 degrees. Shop around, choose a mobile package deal that suits your needs better. Packages usually come with phone calls, text messages and Internet data including 3G and 4G connection.