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Preparing for New Zealand

Preparing for NZ introduction

Cost of living in NZ

In order to live comfortably while you are in Auckland, you will need to have about $NZ15,000 per year available for living costs, above the cost of your tuition. The cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to what you’ll find in any OECD country.

You will receive advice from our Student Support team during orientation on how best to handle your money, but initially it is important to note that you should have some New Zealand cash for immediate expenses (e.g. airport costs or transport). You may need further funds in the form of traveller’s cheques, which can be readily cashed. There are foreign exchange offices at the international terminals in each New Zealand airport.

We strongly recommend that while in New Zealand you do not carry large amounts of cash. We suggest opening a bank account as soon as possible after arrival. All major banks have branches within 100 meters of the Campus. You can also purchase goods using EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) at nearly all retailers. Any large amounts of money may be sent in the form of a bank draft, however electronic transfers are, in most cases, the most efficient method of sending funds to New Zealand. Overseas cheques are sometimes difficult to clear and are not recommended.

Further information

Currency and Banking

Local currency is the New Zealand dollar. There are 10c, 20c, and 50c, $1 and $2 coins, and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
Information regarding the current foreign exchange rate of the New Zealand dollar against your currency can be found at here.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

All goods and services in New Zealand are imposed with a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Under law, the prices displayed must include the GST content.


Tipping is not normally the custom at New Zealand airports, taxis, hotels or restaurants.

Working in New Zealand

The purpose of the International students’ visas is for full time study. International students are allowed to work part time, but there are rules and conditions on the part time work they can do, which are very important to know. Details on the same can be found on the INZ website in the work rules for students section. To receive payment all students need to have a bank account and an IRD number. An IRD number is an eight or nine digit number unique to you - it's important because all your tax and personal details are linked to it. Please refer to How to apply for an IRD number. Apply with Immigration New Zealand here.



Homestay is a popular option for international students. Students will usually have a room with a bed and study desk with laundry facilities, cleaning services, and utilities such as internet and phone. Normally you are provided with breakfast and evening meals from Monday to Friday and other meals by arrangement. The minimum time in any one homestay is two weeks.

Seafield can help organise a homestay for you. To book a homestay, please get in touch with your Seafield representative.

Two weeks’ notice is required to arrange the same. A minimum of one week’s written notice must be given prior to departure from a homestay. Payment for the first two weeks of homestay accommodation is not refundable or transferable.

We will make every effort to provide a suitable homestay arrangement for our students.

Apartments or flats

Apartments or flats are usually a cheaper option. A flat may be part of a house or a whole house,which is shared between two or more flatmates.

There is a choice of accommodation options for international students to choose from within Auckland and New Zealand. One commonly used accommodation type is “flatting” where students live together and share the cost of rental and day to day expenses. It’s a great way to make friends and at the same time live independently.

You can find flatting options on the following websites:

Accommodation for International students under the age of 18

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 requires that students under 18 live in an accommodation approved by Seafield School of English.

Medical and Travel Insurance

The New Zealand Government require that students have medical and travel insurance before travel and during their studies at Seafield and period living in New Zealand.

Most international students are not entitled to publicly funded health services while in New Zealand. If you receive medical treatment during your visit, you may be liable for the full costs of that treatment. Full details on entitlements to publicly-funded health services are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Health. The Accident Compensation Corporation provides accident insurance for temporary visitors to New Zealand but you may still be liable for all other medical and related costs. Further information can be viewed on the ACC website.

Your insurance must meet the requirements of the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of practice 2016. A copy of the code is available in English on our website. You can also read the Code in different languages from the NZQA website.

International student who are enrolled for educational instruction of 2 weeks’ duration or longer must have appropriate insurance covering the following:

Seafield will, if required, arrange standard international student cover through Southern Cross Healthcare at the cost of the student.

For more information please check out the links below:


We would like your student journey to be a safe and enjoyable one. Auckland is a safe and friendly city, however you are recommended to take precaution as you would in any large city. The videos here give you sensible tips on how to deal with any incidences and ways in which to protect yourself from danger. Have fun, enjoy yourself and stay safe.

Watch this video for sensible tips.


Public transport in Auckland

Auckland, the largest metropolitan area of New Zealand is serviced by three modes of public transport – bus, train and ferry. These services are coordinated by Auckland Transport under the AT Metro brand. Britomart Transport Centre in the heart of the CBD is the main transport hub.

International students are eligible for a discount on the public transport services. The HOP card has attractive concessions for Tertiary Students.You can pay your fares on Auckland’s public buses, trains and ferries in cash or by using the pre-pay AT HOP smart card. The AT HOP fares are generally at least 20 per cent cheaper than paying cash for the same journey. When using your AT HOP card, you must always ‘tag on’ when you start your trip and ‘tag off’ at the end.

AT HOP smart cards can be bought online or at many locations across Auckland, including the i-Site shop located in the arrivals area of Auckland International Airport. You can add money to your AT HOP card at various stores around the area, and at the large blue Ticket and Top-up machines around Auckland, located at all train stations and at the Northern Busway Stations. A complete list can be found on the AT Metro website.

Driving in New Zealand

All vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road. Before you drive in New Zealand you should read the Road Code to learn about the rules of the road, especially the ‘give way’ rule which differs from any other country. You must also take out a minimum level of insurance against damage to other people or their property. If you have a driver license from another country or an international driving permit, you may drive in New Zealand for a maximum of one year. If you would like to continue driving, you must hold a New Zealand license. There are three kinds of license, as follows:

Types of licences

First you must pass a theory test. If you pass the test, you may begin driving, but only with a supervisor who is an experienced driver. You may carry passengers, if the supervisor agrees. If you use a driving instructor during this time, you will pay for each hour of instruction – roughly around $50.00 per hour.

Restricted License

After six months as a Learner driver you may attempt a practical driving test for a restricted license. If you pass the test, you may drive on your own between 5.00 am and 10.00 pm. For other hours a supervisor must accompany you. You may carry close relatives, but you can carry other passengers only if the supervisor agrees.
Drivers from some countries may not need to sit the practical test – you need to ask if this applies to you.

Full License

Further information about driving in New Zealand can be obtained from the New Zealand TransportAgency - Freephone 0800 822 422, or visit the website at

Community Services

If you’ve recently moved to New Zealand you probably have lots of questions about how things work here. Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to find answers to common questions and discover community services available in your area. Youthline also provide a lot of information for young people in New Zealand and activities and events going on in the community.

Need Help Right Now?
Lifeline Aotearoa's telephone counselling service provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week counselling and support. Call 0800 543 354 to speak with someone who can help.

Civil Defence Emergency Information
Civil Defence are the people who help prepare for and respond to emergencies like major fires, floods, extreme weather, an earthquake or tsunami. Their website has important information on how to get ready for an emergency.

Family Services
Use this directory to locate and contact support for services relating to addiction, basic needs, disaster recovery, education and training, employment, ethnic services, family violence, health, mentors, legal and civil services, mental health, parenting and caregiving, special needs and disability, youth services and ISO capability.

Healthcare and Dental Care
All international students studying in New Zealand are required by the "Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students" to have a compliant medical and travel insurance for the duration of their New Zealand student visa. Seafield can arrange the same on behalf of the student with Southern Cross Travel Insurance. The regular insurance policy does not cover dental problems. You will need to consult a private practitioner for any dental problems. Dental care is expensive in New Zealand and you may wish to consider insurance to cover this aspect of your health care.

Eligibility for Health Services
Most international students are not entitled to publicly funded health services while in New Zealand. If you receive medical treatment during your visit, you may have to pay the full costs of treatment. Full details on entitlements to publicly funded health services are available through the Ministry of Health. View these on their website here.

Accident Insurance
The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides accident insurance for all New Zealand citizens, residents and temporary visitors to New Zealand, but you may be liable for all other medical and related costs. Further information can be viewed on the ACC website.

Postal Service
Post offices in New Zealand are called Postshops. You can find a Postshop near you, and get information about postal services and Kiwibank (the bank that New Zealand Post operates) at this website.

Police advice for new arrivals
New Zealand Police has a useful website with information about your rights in dealing with them and advice on preventing crime, plus contacts for ethnic liaison officers in your region. Information is available in 12 different languages.

Leisure and Attractions

New Zealand has an unlimited range of tourist attractions and activities, located throughout the country. There are many free visitor attractions such as walks and museums in addition to huge range of other attractions and activities that New Zealand is famous for.

Often considered an adventure playground, key ways to explore the great outdoors include Mountain biking, surfboarding, bungee jumping, snowboarding, skiing and hiking. Many of New Zealand’s mountain regions offer skiing and snowboarding in the winter. In the summer it is possible to surf in the morning and visit a glacier in the afternoon. Popular sports include the national game of rugby, as well as netball, cricket, squash, sailing and soccer. New Zealand maintains a high professional standard in a number of sports notably Sailing (former America’s Cup holders) and rugby (The All Blacks).

Things to do

New Zealand, well known for its natural beauty and for being the stunning location for many big budget films (e.g. The Lord of the Rings), offers you the chance explore an incredibly diverse environment. Travel from the sub-tropical north, through the volcanic plateau in the middle of the North Island to the coastal beauty of the lower North Island. Over the Cook Strait to the golden sands of the top of the South Island and the breath-taking mountains of the Southern Alps, then to the rugged country and fiords of the far south. New Zealand is famous worldwide as a producer of fine food, and good eating is a favorite pastime enjoyed. The national cuisine has been described as Pacific Rim, drawing inspiration from Europe, Asia and Polynesia. Roughly the size of California, no other country on earth makes discovering nature, wine, food and adventure so easy, affordable and accessible.

Click here for some ideas on what to do.

Useful links


Studying in NZ