12 Things International Students Should Know Before Coming to NZ (SUMMER EDITION)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

This is a short list of some of the main things we think international students should know before coming here. These are our top tips of preparing for your New Zealand stay, with a summer twist.


New Zealand’s summer months are December to February; however, March and April can also be fabulous!
If you have decided to come to the country in these months you are in for the warmest of welcomes! Especially in the warmer North Island. Sometimes summer doesn’t arrive in the South Island until Christmas time. Also, in the South Island the West Coast can be very wet, even in summer, while the black sand beaches of the North Island’s West Coast will burn your feet.


We are generally a safe country, but that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t be on alert
New Zealand often ranks highly in the best place to live. Wellington is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world, while Christchurch is  considered one of the friendliest. However, it is still important that you take care. Keep your valuables locked up and avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar surroundings. We recommend taking your key valuables with you, especially when travelling in a rented vehicle or a friend’s car – it is advised that you don’t leave valuables in your car. If you are going out be sure to take a few friends with you! In an emergency, the number to call the fire service, ambulance, search and rescue or police in New Zealand is 111. This year a new non-emergency number was also released – 105.


Budget accordingly

In summer especially, you will be spending a lot of your time and money on outdoor activities and trying new places to eat. You’ll need to balance this with eating home-cooked meals. Plus, when you factor in transport costs for road trips, funds for activities and general living expenses, make sure you are keeping your finances in mind. There are a few tools available online to help you, we recommend the sorted budgeting tool.


Pick the right transport option

Need a car, bike, bus, ferry, train or plane? Whatever your itinerary, make sure you check to see what your plans are for that day and how you will get there – by air, land or sea. Make note of travel times, who can drive in your group and take care when travelling long distances with fatigue. A lot of New Zealand roads are challenging as opposed to two lane highways, which can be easier to navigate.


Culture and etiquette
Do you know what a Pōwhiri is? Are you planning on visiting a Marae soon? Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts when it comes to visiting a Māori meeting place. In general Kiwis are relaxed, however, there are some spots that are restricted or considered sacred to the local people that you will always need to be aware of before visiting. Why not learn some te reo Māori while you are here? Start with kia ora, then continue your learning with the colours and numbers.


No bartering

New Zealand has fixed prices, take them or leave them. If you are used to haggling, we don’t recommend trying it here! The prices for everything should be clearly marked on the item or shelves.


There are no large predators and hardly any poisonous creatures around

There are no snakes, scorpions, crocodiles, or alligators to worry about. We have three spiders that have a nasty bite – the endangered katipo, the redback, and the white-tailed spider. Apart from these spiders, the most dangerous animals we have here are the possums, and the thing at risk there are the trees!  


We have a ‘Freedom Camping Act’

While you can camp for free in certain areas of the country, it is recommended that you use the Holiday Parks, Campgrounds, Campsites or Department of Conservation sites. Here you will be able to camp without fear of being fined for staying in a prohibited or private area. You can find out more on the freedom camping website.


We’ve got Wi-Fi!
Yes, that’s right, we’ve got internet almost everywhere, if you know how to get it. Connecting to a Wi-Fi network is usually straightforward, especially at New Zealand’s public libraries or at school or University campuses. The other way to get access to the Internet is to buy a New Zealand sim card, which will give you access to mobile data, calling and texting. Most hostels, hotels and restaurants will also have Wi-Fi you can access as well.


Prepare for the sand flies and cicadas
In summer the sounds of the cicadas are the background orchestra and the sand flies are the pesky antagonists of your scenic New Zealand adventure. Insect repellent is crucial to repel the sand flies and don’t be alarmed if you see cicada shells left behind on tree trunks and branches.


Make sure you’ve got a place to stay figured out

Whether it’s at a hostel, hall of residence, flat, hotel or at a homestay, make sure that you have got your accommodation sorted before you make the trip over to New Zealand.


Respect the Environment
If you respect New Zealand’s natural wonders then they will respect you and so will New Zealanders. Respect here means two things;
1. leave the environment as you found it in the first place, and

2. stay safe in the environments you go into and make sure that you don’t underestimate the places you go to, especially if the place you are going has variable weather conditions.


Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.