With everything from beaches to glaciers and fjords, this island country is known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty. Take advantage of its distinct mixture of European and Maori cultures, and enjoy its friendly atmosphere and temperate climate. If you're seeking a thrill between study sessions, New Zealand is also a paradise for all kinds of extreme adventures such as surfing, kayaking, snowboarding or skydiving!



Languages Spoken:

English

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

There are four types of schools in New Zealand's tertiary education system: universities; institutes of technology and polytechnics; wānanga (Māori centres of tertiary teaching and learning); and private training establishments.

There are eight state-funded universities in New Zealand, which offer a wide range of courses leading to both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Undergraduate degrees take three to four years to complete. However, bachelor’s degrees in some special fields take much longer to complete.

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics are also state-funded and offer a range of certificates, diplomas, and undergraduate and graduate degrees. These institutions focus on applied knowledge in science, professional and technical fields.

Wānanga are state-funded Māori centres of tertiary learning. These institutions provide education using Māori ways of teaching and learning.

Private training establishments are not funded by the government and run as private enterprises. They offer a broad range of courses and generally have smaller classes and more specialized subjects.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR

The academic year is based on the Southern Hemisphere calendar: it normally begins in February to early March and ends with an examination period in November. The second semester typically begins in late July.

TEACHING AND LEARNING STYLES

Your classes will involve a combination of fairly formal lectures (often with large numbers of students in attendance), discussion-oriented "tutorials" (with around 10-15 students usually), and outside work. Professors present core material during lectures but students should not expect to ask questions (unless otherwise indicated by the professor); the tutorials are the time to work through the material in small groups and student participation is encouraged then. Laboratory sessions for students in the sciences and practical studio time for design students are also incorporated into the curriculum.

Kiwi students tend to specialize in their field of study early on. They may even start specializing in their majors during the final year of high school. Curriculum is usually established by the university for each degree program offered, most of it usually within the same subject, therefore there is not much flexibility when it comes to course selection.

Please note the New Zealand education system generally emphasizes independent study over class time, attendance, and participation. Coursework may be less structured than in other countries and students may be assigned significant outside reading that they will not be tested on until their final exam. Furthermore, there are usually fewer assignments counting towards the final grade, so a final exam or paper carries much more weight. For all these reasons, independence and self-discipline are very important in keeping up academically.

TERMINOLOGY

New Zealanders do not use the terms "school" or "college" to refer to the university level of education; rather, they will simply say "university" or "uni." A "paper" is the term generally used for what others think of as an individual course within a degree program. On the other hand, a "course" in New Zealand means a degree program, and can be used interchangeably with the term "programme."

COURSE LOAD, CONTACT HOURS, AND LEVELS

Most institutions assign each paper a credit or point value, which varies between each institution. At university level, you usually take four papers per semester.

The number of credits a paper is worth does not just derive from the number of contact hours. Time spent in private study, group work, etc. is taken into consideration in addition to time spent in class or in labs with instructors. Many business and humanities papers consist of three hours in lecture and one hour in tutorial. Science and creative arts papers have a laboratory or practical component usually three hours in length; this is in addition to time spent in lectures.

Because New Zealanders usually start specializing in their majors during the early part of their undergraduate career, you may find that a paper with a seemingly lower level or number is actually equivalent in content to a mid-level course in your country; likewise, mid-level courses in New Zealand could equate to a very advanced course in your home country.

ASSESSMENT

In New Zealand, students will generally not encounter continuous assessment. Rather, students are expected to be independent in their studying and keep up with outside reading throughout the semester, even though professors will not necessarily be checking up on them regularly. Self-motivation and strong time management skills are a must to avoid falling behind.

It is common for grades to be based solely on two papers and a final exam. Essays must be well-written and academic; professors will not be looking for "reflection papers" among these relatively few assignments. It is recommended that students talk with their professors about what is expected for their first essay. Professors will often offer to review drafts as well.

GRADES

In New Zealand, grading scales differ slightly between institutions but are typically based on the letter scale with A+ as the highest grade and F as the lowest. Grades continue down on a scale: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C with C being the lowest passing grade and equivalent to 50% or slightly above. Failing grades are D, E and F with Q given for failing to meet mandatory course requirements (this notation may differ between universities).

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT

In order to study in New Zealand, you must apply for a "Student Visa" prior to your departure. Generally the visa is issued about two to three weeks after an application is submitted. For more information, see the Immigration New Zealand's Applying for a student visa page.

Application documents include:

  • Complete, signed application form – be sure to read the requirements on the first few pages to determine what needs to be submitted
  • Valid passport
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs
  • Evidence of financial support for the duration of your stay in New Zealand
  • Evidence that you have paid tuition – it is recommended that you submit a copy of your ISEP Letter of Certification, which was included in your PPAF packet, for these purposes
  • A Confirmation of Place letter from a New Zealand institution
  • Pre-paid, trackable envelope (preferably FedEx) to ensure the return of all original documents
  • Visa fee

Applications can be made online or on paper. U.S. students based in the following states must send their paper student visa applications to the New Zealand Consulate General - Los Angeles: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. All other students must send their student visa applications to TT Services, which handles all visa applications for the Embassy of New Zealand - Washington.

New Zealand Consulate General - Los Angeles
2425 Olympic Blvd, Suite 600 East
Santa Monica, CA 90404
United States of America
Phone: (310) 566-6555
Fax: (310) 566-6556
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am-12.00pm

Embassy of New Zealand - Washington
New Zealand Visa Application Centre
1120 19th Street NW
Suite No. 415
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 223-3400
Fax: (202) 223-3900
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am-4.00pm
Call centre hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am-4.00pm

Culture

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

Try to make a sincere effort to meet and get to know the locals. You will find that people are generally friendly, fair and welcoming.

Get involved in a club, embark on a hiking trip or join a sports team! In conversation, show an interest in New Zealand sport (especially the All Blacks rugby team, perhaps the fastest way to a Kiwi’s heart!), politics, and social issues, or the local arts or music scene. Meanwhile, prepare yourself to be asked about and challenged on your own political beliefs. If you don't want to talk about these issues, simply politely decline to talk about them.

Multiculturalism

New Zealand was first inhabited by indigenous peoples (the Polynesian Māori people, now representing about one in seven New Zealanders) and later vastly populated by the British and other Europeans (often called "Pakeha"). Despite a past marked by racial discrimination and marginalization of the Māori people by European New Zealanders, the nation has worked to rectify these wrongs, and today takes pride in being described as a "bicultural nation" based on the partnership between these two main groups. Both English and Māori are official languages.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s population continues to grow more and more vibrantly multicultural, with residents hailing from China, the Pacific Island, Croatia and more.

LIFESTYLE

Time, Work and Leisure

Compared with other nations, Kiwis work quite long hours, yet they take their "leisure ethic" just as seriously, still achieving one of the highest national rankings for quality of life. With most residents (even city-dwellers) living just 20 minutes or so from unspoiled coast or countryside, it is always easy to slip away into the scenic great outdoors for a quiet stroll, a barbeque with friends or other activities. The bach (pronounced "batch"), a modest beach property passed down among family members, is one particularly iconic representation of the relaxed lifestyle in New Zealand. Note though that this is called "crib" in the southern part of New Zealand – one of NZ’s regional variances.

Sports

Sport is perhaps the ultimate favorite pastime of New Zealanders, and you may miss out on a significant part of the culture if you choose to avoid it. Read up on the All Blacks rugby team (a national obsession) before you leave and get ready to dive into the mania upon your arrival. Cricket, sailing, netball and golf are all also highly popular, as are outdoor sports like fishing, skiing, hiking and adventure sports (bungee-jumping, etc.).

Alcohol

Given its many internationally acclaimed wine regions and excellent beers and vodkas, New Zealand certainly has alcohol consumption woven into its social fabric. The legal drinking age is 18, so don’t be surprised if you find that much of student social life takes place at the local pub — especially after sporting events. Please partake in this facet of Kiwi culture if you wish, but also be responsible in your habits, as this will impact your own health and safety, as well as the reputation of study abroad students in general.

Daily Life

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

Try to make a sincere effort to meet and get to know the locals. You will find that people are generally friendly, fair and welcoming.

Get involved in a club, embark on a hiking trip or join a sports team! In conversation, show an interest in New Zealand sport (especially the All Blacks rugby team, perhaps the fastest way to a Kiwi’s heart!), politics, and social issues, or the local arts or music scene. Meanwhile, prepare yourself to be asked about and challenged on your own political beliefs. If you don't want to talk about these issues, simply politely decline to talk about them.

Multiculturalism

New Zealand was first inhabited by indigenous peoples (the Polynesian Māori people, now representing about one in seven New Zealanders) and later vastly populated by the British and other Europeans (often called "Pakeha"). Despite a past marked by racial discrimination and marginalization of the Māori people by European New Zealanders, the nation has worked to rectify these wrongs, and today takes pride in being described as a "bicultural nation" based on the partnership between these two main groups. Both English and Māori are official languages.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s population continues to grow more and more vibrantly multicultural, with residents hailing from China, the Pacific Island, Croatia and more.

LIFESTYLE

Time, Work and Leisure

Compared with other nations, Kiwis work quite long hours, yet they take their "leisure ethic" just as seriously, still achieving one of the highest national rankings for quality of life. With most residents (even city-dwellers) living just 20 minutes or so from unspoiled coast or countryside, it is always easy to slip away into the scenic great outdoors for a quiet stroll, a barbeque with friends or other activities. The bach (pronounced "batch"), a modest beach property passed down among family members, is one particularly iconic representation of the relaxed lifestyle in New Zealand. Note though that this is called "crib" in the southern part of New Zealand – one of NZ’s regional variances.

Sports

Sport is perhaps the ultimate favorite pastime of New Zealanders, and you may miss out on a significant part of the culture if you choose to avoid it. Read up on the All Blacks rugby team (a national obsession) before you leave and get ready to dive into the mania upon your arrival. Cricket, sailing, netball and golf are all also highly popular, as are outdoor sports like fishing, skiing, hiking and adventure sports (bungee-jumping, etc.).

Alcohol

Given its many internationally acclaimed wine regions and excellent beers and vodkas, New Zealand certainly has alcohol consumption woven into its social fabric. The legal drinking age is 18, so don’t be surprised if you find that much of student social life takes place at the local pub — especially after sporting events. Please partake in this facet of Kiwi culture if you wish, but also be responsible in your habits, as this will impact your own health and safety, as well as the reputation of study abroad students in general.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

CURRENCY

New Zealand currency comes in NZ$100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes, and $2, $1, $.50, $.20and $.10 coins. See Xe.com for the current exchange rate.

BANKS & ATMS

ATMs are widely available and most major credit cards are accepted. Banks are generally open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (though some branches of banks in main centers and shopping malls are open on Saturdays). If you plan to use ATMs in New Zealand, be sure to discuss any transaction fee that may apply. You may want to consider opening a local account upon arrival. Many local banks such as KwiBank have special student accounts.

If you plan to use your own ATM and credit cards, be sure to call your bank and credit card companies before departure to notify them of the dates you will be traveling; otherwise those monitoring your accounts may notice foreign charges and disable the cards for security purposes. It is also a good idea to have a backup card, should you encounter a problem withdrawing funds for any reason.

If you travel to more rural and remote areas, be prepared to have cash on hand.

DISCOUNTS

Look into purchasing an International Student ID Card (ISIC) card from STA travel. You can often get you discounts on travel, movie tickets and more. You should also research whether a monthly public transportation pass is available for purchase, and whether this is more cost advantageous than individual fares, which can add up quickly.

TIPPING

Tipping is not expected or required in New Zealand. However, a 10% tip for excellent service at a restaurant or hotel is common, as is simply rounding up your fare to the next dollar when paying your taxi driver. You do not to tip for a haircut or for food delivery.

Sources of Information

Check out the great websites below to help prepare for your New Zealand experience!

New Zealand Education Information

New Zealand Immigration Service

Tourism New Zealand

KIWI EXPERIENCE

Major NZ news website with a wide regional focus

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Guides

The Rough Guide New Zealand

Fodor's New Zealand

Culture Shock! New Zealand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! Guides)

The Penguin History of New Zealand

Literature

  • An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion)
  • Once Were Warriors (Lee Tamihori)
  • The Piano (Jane Campion)
  • Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
  • No. 2 (Toa Fraser)
  • Sione’s Wedding (Chris Graham)
  • Whale Rider (Niki Caro)
  • Second Hand Wedding (Peter Murphy)
  • Eagle vs Shark (Taika Cohen)
  • In My Father’s Den (Brad McGann)

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