Study in New Zealand: The Lowdown

Samuel Clennett

With vibrant cities, unspoilt nature, and top universities - all a relatively short way from home - New Zealand is a popular destination for Australian students looking to spend time studying overseas. The cost of studying in New Zealand is another draw. Australian citizens and permanent residents may qualify for domestic tuition fees, which can work out cheaper than attending an Australian university - although you’ll naturally incur other costs including travel, accommodation and living expenses.

We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of studying in New Zealand, including a closer review of the costs, in a moment.

This helpful guide will also show how international students in New Zealand can cut the price of currency conversion and sending money overseas with Wise. With the multi-currency borderless account from Wise you’ll be able to send, spend and receive payments from all over the world, with low charges and no hidden fees to worry about. Let’s dive in.

Studying in New Zealand

For many people the opportunity to live in New Zealand, and explore its rich natural and cultural heritage is enough reason to attend school, university or a study course there.

However, if you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, studying in New Zealand comes with the added bonus that you’ll be treated like a domestic student when it comes to calculating fees. This can make it cheaper than attending university in Australia or as an international student elsewhere.

If you’re Australian you’ll also be able to head to New Zealand without arranging a visa in advance, and get yourself an Australian Resident’s Visa once you arrive. This is a relatively simple process, and removes much of the hassle you might experience if applying for a study permit or student visa¹,².

There are 8 universities in New Zealand as well as a range of polytechnics and private colleges, offering many different undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as short study courses for languages and specialist subjects. The University of Auckland is the highest ranking institution, coming in at 85th in the world. That said, all 8 university options are counted among the best in the world according to the Top Universities rankings, meaning you’ll get a great quality of teaching no matter where you decide to go³.

International student fees are some 4 or 5 times higher than domestic fees⁴ - which could be a factor if you’re not an Australian citizen or resident, and don’t qualify for the domestic fee option. It’s also worth considering what you want out of your international study experience before you select New Zealand. If you’re looking to be immersed in a completely new culture, or take the opportunity to learn a new language while you study, you might find there are better destinations out there.

Study Visa

If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you don’t need a special study visa for New Zealand. Instead, you’ll be able to simply travel to New Zealand, and apply for an Australian Resident’s Visa once you get there⁵.

If you’re not from Australia or have only temporary residence status, you might need to follow a different process⁶. There are various different student visas available for New Zealand, depending on your needs.

You can read more about the different student permits on offer, with this guide to New Zealand student visas. In most cases, to apply for a student visa you’ll need to have been offered a place at a qualifying institution, have proof of funds covering your tuition fees, living expenses and a flight home, as well as a valid passport⁷.

Cost of studying in New Zealand

No matter where in the world you decide to study, there will be fees to pay, as well as the costs of day to day living. New Zealand is a popular destination for students from Australia, in part because the fees as well as many daily costs can come in cheaper than back home.

Here are some of the most important costs you may want to consider.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees vary by institution and also by the type and level of course you want to follow⁴,⁸,⁹.

Type of studyRepresentative cost
State school fees - primary and secondary schoolsPrimary schools :NZD11,000 per year Secondary schools: NZD13,000 per year
Private school fees - primary and secondary schoolsFrom NZD25,000 per year
Undergraduate courses - domestic student feesPrices vary by course and institution - expect to pay around NZD6,000-8,000 per year for most courses. If you want to study medicine in New Zealand you’ll find it’s more expensive - around NZD15,000 a year
Undergraduate courses - international student feesPrices vary by course and institution - expect to pay around NZD23,000-35,000 per year for most courses. Medical courses are again more expensive - from NZD32,000 up to NZD80,000 for years 4-6 clinical
Postgraduate courses - domestic student feesNZD8,000-10,000 per year for most subjects MBA and similar courses are more expensive - NZD18,000-27,000 per year
Postgraduate courses - international student feesNZD28,000-38,000 per year for most subjects MBA courses are more expensive - NZD27,000-54,000 per year

Cost of living - a comparison

Of course it’s not only the costs of tuition fees you need to think about. Day to day costs can make a big difference, too.

To help build a picture of the relative costs of life in New Zealand, here are a few price comparisons between Sydney and Auckland. You can get lots more cost of living data over at Numbeo¹⁰, including comparisons by city, which are created using live user data for accurate reporting.

Living cost examplePrice in SydneyPrice in Auckland
Renting a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centreAUD2,500/NZD2,650AUD1,800/NZD1890
McDonalds mealAUD11/NZD11.55AUD10.48/NZD11
Monthly transport passAUD216/NZD227AUD204/NZD215
Cinema ticketAUD20/NZD21AUD17/NZD18

*All data correct at the time of research - 4th December 2019. Numbeo data is dynamic and changes over time. For most recent data, visit the Numbeo website

Universities in New Zealand

There are 8 universities in New Zealand:

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

You’ll also find a number of private colleges, polytechnics and other institutions which offer a broad range of courses depending on your personal preferences.

Cut the costs of studying abroad with Wise

Studying in New Zealand might mean lower tuition fees than staying in Australia - but that doesn’t mean life is cheap. You’ll still have fees, books, accommodation, travel and entertainment to pay for - costs which soon mount up. If you are looking for a way to send money to New Zealand, Wise could be an option.

Studying abroad can also come with a higher price tag due to currency conversion and international payment fees.The good news is that you can save money on sending money abroad, if you use Wise. All international payments with Wise use the mid-market exchange rate, with no hidden fees. You just pay a transparent charge per transaction, which is often much cheaper than using your regular bank or an alternative money transfer service.

You can also make life abroad cheaper and easier by getting yourself a multi-currency borderless account from Wise. This smart new type of account comes with a linked debit Mastercard for simple spending and lets you hold dozens of different currencies all in the same place. It’s easy - and free - to receive payments into the account in Australian dollars, using your own unique local AUD bank details. You can then switch between currencies whenever you need to using the mid-market rate, and pay just a low upfront fee.

Studying overseas is an exciting opportunity - but it’s not going to be cheap. See how you can save on international payments and currency conversion with Wise.


  1. Study NZ
  2. University Guide
  3. NZ University Guide
  4. University Fees
  5. Australian Resident Visa
  6. Student Visa Info
  7. How to Apply for Visa
  8. Fees for domestic students
  9. Cost of Living NZ
  10. Compared Cost of Living

All sources accurate as of 06 Dec 2019

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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