Best Cities in New Zealand for International Students

Last updated: 18 April 2024 NZ University Guide Study in New Zealand

New Zealand's student cities offer unique experiences and characteristics that make them attractive destinations for international students.

Many of New Zealand's cities are surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, beaches, forests, and lakes. This provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, surfing, and wildlife exploration. Cities like Dunedin and Wellington are known for their proximity to beautiful natural scenery. They also offer a high quality of living; New Zealand consistently ranks highly in global safety and quality of life indexes.

Learn more about New Zealand's best student cities below. If you want to study in New Zealand, arrange a free consultation with SI-Global today.

popular student cities new zealand

Popular Student Cities in New Zealand

Besides quality institutes, New Zealand cities attract many international students. Here are the best cities in New Zealand for international students -

1. Auckland

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and offers an exceptional environment in which international students can pursue their studies. The city is known for its vibrant multicultural community, aesthetic landscapes, and top-notch educational facilities. Furthermore, Auckland is diverse and welcomes international students, offering a perfect balance of studies and leisure. Also, Auckland is a hub of opportunities for career development, has a thriving job market, and provides various internships and work opportunities for students. The average cost of living can be around $150 to $300 weekly. 

Best places to visit: Auckland Museum, Mount Eden, Rangitoto Island

Universities and Colleges in Auckland

2. Wellington

Being the capital city of New Zealand, it offers international students exceptional and enriching study experiences. A quick fact: Wellington is the first place in New Zealand where English settlers first arrived. The city is home to prestigious universities known for its academic excellence and research programs. The living expenses for international students are around $272 weekly. 

Best places to visit: Mount Victoria, Wellington Cable Cars, Te Papa Museum

Universities and Colleges in Wellington

3. Christchurch

Christchurch, also known as the Garden City of New Zealand, is known for its quality universities, institutes, and academic excellence. As per the QS Rankings, Christchurch ranks among the top 50 student cities, apart from Auckland. Christchurch is relatively cheap compared to Auckland. The weekly cost of living for international students is around $304 when opting for hostels. However, international applicants can cut expenses by living outside the campus and even taking up work along with their studies in New Zealand. 

Best places to visit: Canterbury Museum, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Trnaz Alpine Train

Universities and Colleges in Christchurch

4. Hamilton

Hamilton is another top place to study in New Zealand. It is famous for tourist attractions and a popular study destination with over 40,000 international students. Furthermore, Hamilton strongly focuses on creating innovative ideas and implementing technology. The city is home to many research institutions and tech industries, making it an ideal environment for students interested in higher education. Also, the city's living costs allow students to make the most of their academic life without compromising their lifestyle. 

Best places to visit: Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton Lake Domain, The Sculpture Park

Universities and Colleges in Hamilton

5. Dunedin

Dunedin is sometimes referred to as “The Edinburgh of New Zealand.” The city is known for its architectural buildings, mostly inspired by Scotland. Besides that, Dunedin has stunning museums and old townhouses, making it a perfect spot for photographers and nature wanderers. The best thing about Dunedin is that it is the best destination for international students, as the city focuses on culture, education, and its natural and wildlife wonders. 

Best places to visit: Larnach Castle, Tuhura Otago Museum, Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Universities and Colleges in Dunedin

Key Benefits of Studying in New Zealand

1. Stress-Free Admission

New Zealand offers two admission intakes for international applicants: February to June and July to November. New Zealand universities offer a faster admission process than other universities. You can apply for the student visa online and receive the acceptance letter quickly. Even if your visa gets rejected, you have plenty of colleges and universities to choose from. For example, the University of Auckland takes at least four weeks for visa processing, and the University of Otago takes around six weeks to offer acceptance letters. 

2. World-Class Education System

Another benefit of studying in New Zealand is its education system. The New Zealand government emphasizes equipping young students with skills to help them evolve and compete in the fast-paced global market. The country has a highly-ranked education system, and some top-level universities are consistently ranked globally. Thus, international students can find plenty of advanced courses and career opportunities. 

3. Affordable Tuition Fees

The tuition fees in New Zealand for international students are affordable. In addition, the cost of living is much lower than that of many top educational institutions. Fresh food, accommodation, and transportation facilities are quite affordable, making the cost of living in New Zealand perfect for international students. 

4. Scholarships and Fund Facilities

Australian Government and universities like Massey University, University of Canterbury, and Auckland University of Technology offer scholarships to students to support them financially. The scholarship grants and scholarships are available to students based on their academic performance and financial circumstances. Receiving New Zealand scholarships will allow you to reduce your expenses further. 

5. Work While Studying

International students in New Zealand can work part-time while studying. Many international students take part-time jobs to manage their finances. A minimum wage of $20 hourly is paid for part-time international students. 

6. Amazing Lifestyle and Culture

The New Zealand lifestyle lets you enjoy a relaxed, friendly, and safe environment. Auckland, the best city in New Zealand, has been named the world’s most livable city for the past 7 years. Apart from that, New Zealand's cities are diverse and have an outstanding work-life work balance, and there’s always something exciting to do. You can also take advantage of experiencing many outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and cultural activities, like visiting museums, zoos, and art galleries. 

Tuition Fees and Living Expenses in New Zealand

New Zealand’s education system offers flexible study options for everyone’s budget. Here is an average tuition fee range for each degree course in New Zealand:

Tuition Fees in New Zealand for international students


Average Fees

Diploma or Certificate program

$23,376 - $46,752


$20,000 - $40,000


$20,000- $45,000


$6500 - $7500

Living Expenses in New Zealand for International Students

The cost of living in New Zealand depends on your lifestyle and which part of the country you live in. For example, the Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland estimate living costs around $20,000 to $27,000 annually. On the other hand, the University of Otago, Dunedin, ranges around $18,000 to $21,000 annually.

While applying for a New Zealand student visa, you must prove that you have at least $20,000 to cover your living expenses for the first year of study. However, the funds vary depending on the course duration. 

Living cost in New Zealand for international students

Average expenses


$200 - $400 weekly


$10 - $20 weekly

Food and Groceries

$20-$30 weekly

Personal care

$100 weekly

Entertainment and Recreation

$50-$60 weekly

Student Life in New Zealand

Living student life abroad is the most exciting experience. As a student, you will learn to become independent, connect with people, understand their culture, and explore the adventure and lifestyle. Apart from that, New Zealand cities have a very comfortable environment, allowing students to live peacefully. 

Study in New Zealand

If you wish to learn more about studying in New Zealand, book a free consultation with SI-Global today. 

Universities featured in this article:

  • Lincoln University
  • Massey University
  • Auckland University of Technology
  • University of Auckland
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • University of Waikato
  • University of Otago
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