Information for New Students to New Zealand



On the whole Auckland and other New Zealand cities are safe places. However, you do need to take some basic precautions outlined in this handbook to help protect yourself and your property from a minority of people who may, at some time, try to take advantage of you. New Zealand Police are here to help and assist you at ANY time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Unlike some other countries, the New Zealand Police DO NOT accept payments of any kind. They DO NOT accept money or gifts in payment of any help they may give you.


The Police have access to a FREE telephone interpreting service called Language Line. It operates from Monday to Friday 10am - 6pm. When you contact the Police either in person or face to face, just ask for Language Line and your language (e.g. Language Line Mandarin). Language Line is available in 35 languages. For further details, go to:

The legal age for drinking alcohol in New Zealand is 18. If you are under 18 you are not allowed to enter a bar or nightclub, or to purchase alcohol. You may be asked to show identification before you enter a bar or club, or when purchasing alcohol. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol (beer, wine, spirits etc) and/ or drugs.

Image by Dan Freeman
Image by Dan Freeman

You are not allowed to smoke and or vape inside the School.

​You should not smoke in areas immediately outside buildings (e.g. entrance ways, outdoor balconies, outside windows or intake ducts) that are access ways for staff, students or visitors, or from which smoke might be drawn into a building.

Note that smoking is banned in hotels, restaurants, and most other buildings in New Zealand. The smoke free legislation is the law in New Zealand and must be adhered to. There are significant monetary penalties for breaches.

The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age.

You may be asked to show proof of your age when purchasing tobacco products.

​General Advice Regarding New Zealand’s Culture

New Zealand is a country of polite, friendly people.

When you meet people for the first time, look at their eyes and speak to them. Some people may want to shake your hand, if they put out their hand, shake it firmly.

It’s polite to smile and say “Good morning!” or “Hello!” when you see someone you know.

New Zealanders will help you if you need it. Ask when you don’t understand something, they will help you. Use “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” where necessary to be polite.

​In New Zealand, “yes” usually means “yes”, and “no” means “no”.

New Zealand lifestyle is casual.

Table Manners in New Zealand:

  • Talk between mouthfuls, not with food in your mouth.

  • Say “please” and “thank you” for food.

  • Try not to make a noise eating.

  • Pass the salt, sauce and food to other people.

  • Use outside knife, fork or spoon first.

  • It is not acceptable for you to sit on tables.


Western Table Talk and table manners:

  • It is good manners to talk at table. Just make a little conversation, then resume eating again.

  • “Please may I have some carrots? I like carrots.”

  • “Would you like some sauce? The food is good, isn’t it?”


Social Talk:

  • “How was your day? I heard you had a test.”

  • “We’re going to a beach on Saturday. Would you like to come?”



  • It is friendly and polite.

  • It is normal in New Zealand.

  • It makes you part of the family.



We recommend that you budget a minimum of NZ$15,000 for each year of study for your personal living expenses. This amount includes accommodation, food, clothing, and entertainment, etc. It does not include tuition fees. 

Funds Transfer Scheme (FTS)

The FTS is a secure way for students from some countries to transfer funds to support themselves in New Zealand.

​You need NZ $15,000 to pay your living costs for each year of study. This is the minimum amount you need to transfer to your Funds Transfer Scheme (FTS) account.  Living costs do not include your course or tuition fees.


The FTS is only available to students from:

  • China

  • India

  • Philippines

  • Sri Lanka

For further details, go to:


Protection of Valuables:

Please be very careful of your possessions.

  • DO NOT CARRY large amounts of cash.

  • Always lock your car when leaving it unattended.

  • DO NOT leave valuable possessions in your vehicle for others to see (lock them in the boot of the car or conceal them as much as possible). Skill New Zealand can take no responsibility for theft or lost property.

  • RECORD the serial numbers of all your valuable possessions in case of loss or theft.

  • ALWAYS report the theft or loss of an item to the Police as soon as possible.

  • REPORT the loss of any bank cards, credit cards to your bank immediately to prevent fraudulent use of your money.

  • Then advise the Police.


Reverse Charge Calls

Call 0170 to connect to an international operator. It will cost $9.00 to make a collect call via the international operator.


There are many different types of bank accounts. Ask about the different types before you decide which one to open. A Current Account is probably the most suitable for students. When you open an account, you will normally receive an ATM Card. Many shops in New Zealand will not accept cheques, but most will take EFTPOS cards. An ATM Card cannot be used for credit, but it can be used in most shops to pay the bill (as long as there is money in your account) and it can be used to withdraw money from the machine (ATM) you find outside banks.


Transport and Driving

Auckland City has a comprehensive bus system. Weekly fares range from approximately $11 to $30. Special discounted passes can be purchased at a bus terminal. Your student card will allow you to receive discounts on bus fares providing you have a current sticker attached to your student card (ask at reception for a MAXX discount sticker).

​Some students prefer to buy their own car. A second-hand car costs approximately $2,000 upwards, a new car costs $20,000. Think carefully before buying a car. Unfortunately, some international students have had problems with driving or owning cars and some of them have been serious. We recommend that you buy a vehicle from a licensed car dealer. If you purchase a car from an individual, it is advised to phone AUTOCHECK on 0800 658 934 to make sure the car is legal. If you purchase a car it is important to buy car insurance to protect you against theft and damage to your or another person’s vehicle.

​Once you own a car you need to make sure that it is licensed and has a warrant of fitness (WoF). If your vehicle does not have a current vehicle license and warrant of fitness you will be fined. 

​You need to be 16 years old or over to drive in New Zealand. All drivers must have a current and valid New Zealand driver's license, overseas license, or International Driving Permit. You can drive on an overseas license for 12 months, after which will need to apply for a New Zealand license. When driving you must carry your license with you at all times. It is important that you learn the road rules, traffic signs, and signals for driving here, by viewing a copy of the New Zealand Road Code (the Road Code). The Land Transport Safety Authority also has a factsheet for visitors to New Zealand: factsheet 56 - New residents and visitors: driving in New Zealand. You can access both the Road Code and factsheet 56 through the Land Transport Safety Authority website, go to: Copies of the Road Code can also be purchased through bookstores.

There are four main reasons why people crash or die on New Zealand roads: driving too fast, driving after drinking alcohol, not doing up their safety belts, and not giving way at intersections.

​Many students choose to use a bicycle to move around Auckland City. In New Zealand, you are required by law to wear a cycle helmet when on a bike. These can be purchased from bicycle retailers or sports stores. Cyclists are not permitted to ride on the pedestrian footpath areas and must use the road system and follow the New Zealand road laws available at the above website or road code.

You need to exercise care when walking around the city. Main pedestrian crossing areas are controlled by a traffic light system that will show you when it is safe to cross. Crossing streets at random will place you in danger of being hit by a vehicle. Special pedestrian crossings are marked by white stripes on the street. At these crossings, the traffic must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street.

However, it is important to watch for cars to ensure they are aware of your intention to cross before you step out onto the street.



New Zealand tap water is safe to drink.


Cost of Living Expenses

Below you will find an estimation of what your expenses may look like for housing, transportation, food, and more. The living costs in New Zealand will depend very much on where you settle in, so we recommend our students to use the information below as a rough estimation. 

To find out what your expenses may look like based on location, students can use a calculator offered by New Zealand Immigration.


Big Mac


Bottle of Wine

$8 - $30

Milk - 2 litres

$3.30 - $4.50

Coffee from a cafe




$200 - $250 / week


Bus ticket

$2 - $10

Car registration

$90 / year


Mobile phone plan

$19 - $80 / month

Internet - Fibre 80 GB

$70 / month

Recreation and Culture

Gym membership

$7 - $22 / week

Cinema ticket

$10 - $20

Swimming pool entry

$3 - $6

Source: New Zealand Immigration



International students can choose between:

  • Living with family members

  • Living with a homestay

  • Renting a student apartment

  • Living in independent accommodation



Homestay accommodation means living in a private household with a New Zealand family. We recommend that all international students choose to live in a homestay for at least their first three months in New Zealand.


The benefits of a homestay

  • Safety – the homestay family can help students get around and give advice on living in New Zealand

  • It’s the best way to practice English – talking to your homestay family enhances your vocabulary and helps clarity of speech – an important part of living and studying in an English-speaking country

  • Routine – you will have regular meals and a daily routine – study requires energy and focus, so it’s important that you eat a regular and balanced diet of nutritious home-cooked food

New Zealand families are familiar with students from ages 17 to 25 which covers the majority of our international students. Some families may accept older students, the choice is limited.



'Flatting' is a term commonly used in New Zealand that describes a living arrangement where people share rented accommodation. Students can find flat advertisements in a local newspaper or on notice boards found across the city. Rental properties can also be rented through real estate agents. A landlord is required to enter a tenancy contract; a bond may be required which the landlord must protect by depositing with Tenancy Services.  Tenants who have looked after the house and paid rent in full should get a refund of their bond when the tenancy agreement ends. Room rental prices vary widely throughout the country, with higher prices in bigger cities. 

Here are some great websites to get you started:

Other useful links to find more information on accommodation:

For information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant:

Useful sources of information for international students