New Zealand

You've seen the beauty of New Zealand in Lord of the Rings, now experience it for yourself! Sunny beaches, ice glaciers, and lush rainforests are just a few of the pristine locations to explore. Enjoy skiing to surfing, skydiving to bungee jumping, hiking to kayaking, and much more!
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Semester on the North Island, New Zealand

New Zealand

Live in this sea-side, metropolitan city with more cafés per capita than New York City. Take a broad range of courses from environmental science to Maori culture, and enjoy the boundless adventure opportunities nearby.

Semester on the South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand

From sea kayaking and mountaineering to wine tasting and sheep shearing, you’ll love all that the South Island has to offer. Your Kiwi host (local New Zealand student) will show you around your new home at the country’s oldest university.

Intern in New Zealand

New Zealand

Gain practical experience while immersing yourself in the Kiwis’ friendly workplace and lively, modern Pacifica culture. Month-long to year-long placements are available.

January in New Zealand

New Zealand

Escape the winter blues with summer in the Southern Hemisphere! World- class academics, a youthful city, and the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand await!

Summer in New Zealand

New Zealand

Exchange a little summer for a little winter in Dunedin, New Zealand. Enjoy world-class academics, picturesque landscapes, and a youthful city bustling with students. On the Summer in New Zealand program, you’ll get a taste of everything the country has to offer.

Official name of country: New Zealand/Aotearoa

Population: 4.3 million

Capital City: Wellington

Time Difference: New Zealand is +12 GMT, so it is 16 hours ahead of the east coast and 19 hours ahead of the west coast.

National Anthem: “God Defend New Zealand”

National Animal: Kiwi (bird)

National Currency: New Zealand Dollar

National Sport: Rugby (unofficial)

Demography: While in New Zealand you will meet a variety of locals from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Although it has a relatively small population, New Zealand has a large percentage of foreign-born citizens. The largest group of people in the country claim European decent, mainly from Britain and Ireland. The Maori make up the second largest group in New Zealand and their unique language is the second official language on the islands. Asians are the third significant group in the country and their population is rapidly growing. Groups from various Pacific Islands also share a presence in New Zealand. This varied demography creates a rich blended culture.

Geography: In the heart of the South Pacific Ocean you will find the North and South Islands that make up New Zealand. The South Island is the larger of the two and contains the Southern Alps mountain range, forests, and fjords. The North Island is less mountainous but it is home to many volcanoes and thermal areas. Its location in the Southern Hemisphere creates seasons that are opposite of those we are used to in the US. The warm summer months are December to February and the cooler winter occurs from June to August. The maritime climate keeps temperatures fairly mild, but the weather can change rapidly so it’s best to always have a light jacket handy!

Famous People: Edmund Hillary (first man to conquer Mt Everest), Keisha Castle-Hughes (actress), Peter Jackson (director), Flight of the Conchords (comedic and musical duo), and Katherine Mansfield (novelist).

Great Movies: The Piano; Once Were Warriors; Heavenly Creatures; The World’s Fastest Indian; Black Sheep; Last of the Living; The Strength of Water.

New Zealand is a perfect study abroad destination since it is considered a safe, stable country. There is no need to be overly worried for your personal safety. As always, we urge you to exercise caution in any unfamiliar situations you may encounter. At orientation you will be advised of particular safety issues of which you should be aware. In New Zealand there are not any general health risks beyond those found in the US. While health insurance coverage is not required for visitors by the New Zealand government, CIS includes a comprehensive medical and accident insurance plan with all of our programs.

University education in New Zealand is closer to the British than the American system, therefore you will find bachelor degrees to be three years long and the education more focused rather than "liberal". The academic year extends from late February or early March to November with a long summer vacation from mid-November to mid-February. For each course you are required to attend a given number of lectures, tutorials and/or laboratory periods per week. These are supplemented by personal reading and research. With this style of education, you develop independent study skills with a minimum of professional supervision. The grades you receive for tests, assignments and practical work count toward your final grade for a course.

New Zealand is the perfect place to study or intern abroad! You’ll live in one of the most beautiful and enchanting countries in the world when you study abroad in New Zealand. In addition to earning credits, you can also complete an international internship for up to a year in this incredible setting. You can choose a semester on either New Zealand’s North Island or South Island- either way, you can’t go wrong! If you don’t have time for a full semester abroad, we also offer a convenient January term study abroad program in New Zealand as well as a Summer Term

For more details on CISabroad study abroad, summer, or intern abroad programs in New Zealand, click here.

Learn more about your site director in New Zealand Meet Alexandra, CISabroad New Zealand Site Director

Beyond the allure of visiting Middle Earth, what do you think draws students to New Zealand?
I think it is safe to say that students that come to New Zealand are generally outdoorsy and are drawn here because of the amazing scenery and adventure and ‘tramping’ (hiking) opportunities. The fact that we speak English and that it is quite a journey to get here also makes it appealing!

You are from Australia, but consider yourself more of a Kiwi, what drew you to New Zealand and lead you to call Wellington home?
I moved to New Zealand as a child with my parents so did not really get a choice on leaving Australia. I am glad though to have been raised here but do regret that my only aunts and uncles and cousins are so far away (they mostly all live in Perth). Like many New Zealanders I ended up in Wellington after finished undergraduate studies, and although have left a number of times keep boomeranging back. The weather in Wellington can be crazy but I still love living here. The city is compact and therefore easy to get around, has a beautiful waterfront, vibrant arts and event scene, excellent restaurants, cafes and bars and people here tend to be politically and socially active and informed. I also love that the city is surrounded by native bush, hills, the sea and that you can see once endangered native birds, such as the Kaka flying around.

You spent two years in Singapore with your family, how has that changed the way you approach your job as Site Leader for CISabroad?
I have lived abroad a number of times, but Singapore was my first experience living abroad with my family and amongst many different cultures. The experience has helped me to understand how even simple things can seem quite challenging when you are not familiar with the system and that I should be extremely sensitive and accepting when a student is struggling with something seemingly straightforward. It also reminded me how culture shock impacts you and again has been useful for my work with CISabroad and has helped me to tune in with where students are at during the different stages across the semester.

What considerations should students take when deciding between studying on the North Island versus the South Island?
Firstly, I would advise students to review the programmes offered at each university and to aim for the best academic fit. If they are able to take the same or similar classes at either Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago then I would suggest that their next consideration should be what they want to get out of the semester and where they see themselves living. Wellington offers students a dynamic city environment (big city feel) with the city literally on their doorstep, whilst Dunedin is a true ‘Scarfies’ (student) city. It’s possible to get into the outdoors from either city, however, I personally believe tramping is better on the South Island but I am biased as I grew up in Christchurch.

What can students expect their average day in New Zealand to look like?
Students should expect to attend several lectures and a tutorial or laboratory or design studio depending on their programme. Some lucky students may find that they do not have classes on Fridays and can enjoy a long weekend. Going to the gym is popular but arguably not something they would necessarily do every day! However, coffee features in many students’ daily routine. Both Wellington and Dunedin have excellent cafes with endless coffee choices, as well as having good choices on campus. Spending time on-line to catch up with friends and family seems universal. As there are no meal plans students need to cook dinner either for themselves or their flat. This is the best option, as it can get expensive to buy dinner out every night. Evenings may involve volunteering, spending time with friends, going into town, studying, and researching and planning trips.

The following video from Victoria International gives a taste of a day in the life of an international student in Wellington

In addition to the lush landscapes, beautiful coastlines, and sweeping mountain ranges, what can students expect to see and experience in New Zealand?
New Zealand is known for its dramatic landscape but many students do not realise how multicultural the country is. Students should have the opportunity to learn about and experience Māori culture, as well as taking part in other cultural events, such as Chinese New Year, Diwali, Mexican Day of the Dead, Pasifika and Polish Festivals.


Not only as Site Director, but as a student of Victoria University yourself, what advice do you have for students studying abroad in Wellington?
Actually, this tip applies to students studying abroad in Wellington and Dunedin - use the services on campus, as they are fantastic and they are generally free. After many years recommending students use Student Learning Support, I decided to try it out myself and attended several workshops for students embarking on a thesis. The sessions really helped my assignment work and provided specific information which was not covered in such detail during the lectures. On both campuses Student Learning Support offers workshops on topics such as critical thinking, mind mapping, exam preparation, as well as offering one on one appointments for more personalised support. Other departments offer excellent personal development and well-being sessions and workshops, such as meditation, stress management, ‘stop procrastinating’ and much more.


What is your number one must-see/do while studying in New Zealand?
That’s a hard question! Definitely go on a tramp. It does not have to be on one of the Great Walks necessarily but finding a spectacular location is important (eg Fiordland, Lewis Pass, Marlborough Sounds). There are also some great backpackers in remote locations, which offer more than a regular backpacker. My favourite is Hopewell Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds I recommend the BBH backpackers chain and to look for ones with a high rating. I also really like Billy Brown’s in Port Chambers, just out of Dunedin. It’s really quirky and you can literally have the whole place to yourself.

As an experienced volunteer, are there any opportunities for students to take advantage of while studying abroad?
Absolutely! I recommend any student who is interested in community service and leadership to consider signing up for one of the programmes offered by the universities, such as Victoria Plus Programme and the Victoria International Leadership Programme (VILP) or to contact the Otago University Volunteer Centre. As students are here for less than six months it can sometimes be hard to secure roles that require training and a longer commitment, however, there is always a need for volunteers in some capacity. If a student is determined, they will find a role. One-off opportunities are good for students that plan to travel frequently such as volunteering for cultural events and festivals or on environmental projects such as a beach clean-up.

What advice do you have for students who want to study abroad, but may be apprehensive or anxious about being so far from the comforts of home?
Travelling a long way from home is frightening but it is also extremely exciting and liberating. Being apprehensive is completely normal. I also think people forget that there are places in the US that are further away by car than the plane flight to New Zealand and it is not uncommon for students to study a long way from home in the US too.

I would reassure the student that they will have my support on the ground, together with that of their fellow CISabroad students, as well as from the amazing staff in the international offices of both of the universities. New Zealand is a modern country with many comforts that are found in the US. Admittedly our wifi and internet coverage is not the same but we have great food, friendly people and most of the services that the student would be used to in the US. If the student still does not feel ready to go so far away, I would suggest that they try going somewhere closer to home for a shorter period, to test the waters so to speak, and then once they feel more confident come to New Zealand for a semester.

Ready to study abroad in New Zealand? Make the deadline, no regrets.