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Tips for Pre-Departure for Study Abroad in New Zealand

Congratulations – you’ve been accepted to study in New Zealand! Here’s what you need to do before you leave.

You’re about to start on an incredible adventure. Keep these top tips in mind when you’re preparing for your New Zealand study experience.

Accept your offer of study

Accept your offer of study before applying for a student visa. Read the offer carefully before you accept it, to make sure it’s exactly what you were expecting.

Pay your fees

In most cases you will have to pay your fees in full before you can get a student visa. You can also get a visa if you can prove that you have a scholarship to cover the cost of your fees, or that you are eligible for a student loan to pay them.

Apply for a student visa

If you are going to study in New Zealand for more than three months you will need a student visa.  To get a student visa you’ll need:

  • an offer of a place from an approved education provider

  • a written guarantee that suitable accommodation is available to you in New Zealand (if you're aged under 18)

  • evidence that you have enough money to live on while you are studying

  • a return air ticket to your own country, or evidence that you have enough money to buy one.

You can find out more about student visas and apply online through the Immigration New Zealand website. Also check out their useful NZ Ready planning tool or first-time student visa application checklist.

Student visa applications can take up to eight weeks to process. Make sure you apply well in advance of your intended travel date. You can apply up to four months in advance of your travel. 

Organise accommodation

If you are under the age of 18 you must have accommodation arranged in order to get your student visa. Even if you’re older, it’s still a good idea to organise accommodation before you arrive in New Zealand.

  • Homestay: If you stay in a homestay, you will live with a host family. You will usually have a room of your own and all meals provided. Talk to your education provider about homestay opportunities.

  • Hall of residence:  All universities and many institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) provide student accommodation in halls of residence. You will get your own room with shared bathroom facilities, and at least two meals a day.

  • Flatting: Many New Zealand students live together in a rented house or apartment (flat). You will have to cook your own meals and share expenses such as power and internet with your flatmates. A good place to look for a room in a flat is on Trade Me.

Get insurance

International students need full health and travel insurance as part of their visa requirements. Most education providers recommend getting insurance through Studentsafe.

Pack your essentials

You should be able to fit everything you need for your time in New Zealand into one suitcase (unless you’re a serious snowboarder or a fanatical cyclist!). It’s worth bringing:

  • at least NZ$100 in cash for when you first arrive, with another $300 easily available through a credit or travel card

  • three month’s supply of any prescription medicines you need (plus a note from your doctor if you will need to get more while you’re here)

  • an adaptor plug for your laptop and mobile phone chargers.


By Linley Boniface

Updated 3 years ago

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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