By IELTS Expert

27 November 2022 - 22:57

A woman sits on a bench to appreciate the river view

In this article, you’ll find out how you can live in New Zealand to either work or study by passing the IELTS test. We'll cover the following topics: 

Whether it is high snow-capped mountains, stunning coastlines, ancient native forests, deep fiords, glow-worm caves, clear lakes or amazing wildlife, New Zealand has many natural wonders to offer. Naturally, every year the country draws visitors from every corner of the globe.  

However, there is much more to New Zealand than its breath-taking beauty. The country is a top destination for international students and immigrants because of its multicultural society and relaxed lifestyle.    

Studying and working in New Zealand 

New Zealand can offer you world-class education, globally recognised qualifications and skills that will last a lifetime. In fact, you’re virtually guaranteed a high standard of education because all New Zealand universities are ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world (QS Uni Rankings, 2018-20). What’s more, New Zealand qualifications come at very reasonable prices, making them affordable to most, if not all, international students.  

Perhaps, the best thing about working in New Zealand that you’ll have a career and a life. New Zealanders enjoy life outside of work, so the country offers the kind of work-life balance that is envied around the world. You’ll also have a safe environment in which to bring up children.  

As a native English-speaking country, people there speak the language fluently, so you’ll have no trouble communicating with the locals. Besides, you’ll also find New Zealand a great place to improve your English. 

New Zealanders are friendly and hospitable, so they embrace people from different cultures and experiences. Therefore, international students who live in New Zealand should find it quite easy to fit in. The country is ranked 2nd most peaceful place to live (Global Peace Index, 2022). This means you shouldn’t experience issues around discrimination and intolerance, provided you respect the local people and their customs. 

Finally, if you are a nature lover, this is the place for you. Around 30% of the country is a natural reserve, meaning more wide-open places and recreational options for you and your family – you’ll be spoilt for choice. New Zealanders adore nature and love spending time outdoors, so you’ll find enough activities to enjoy every day of the week. 

Learn more about IELTS Academic 

Requirements for studying in New Zealand 

Although requirements to study in New Zealand may vary, depending on what you’re planning to study and how long you intend to stay there, there are some basic ones you have got to meet without fail. 

  • Enrol with an approved education provider in New Zealand. 
  • Apply for and obtain a student visa, or another type of visa, that allows you to study and work in New Zealand. 
  • Get a health insurance policy that covers you during the period of your stay in the country. 
  • Demonstrate that you have sufficient money to support yourself during your stay. 
  • Prove you can speak and understand English by taking an approved English language test. For example, you could take an IELTS test before moving to New Zealand. You could take the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training test. Find out more about the two tests so that you can decide which one is right for you. 

Visa options to study 

New Zealand has a range of visas that allow international students to go to school, take a course or do other training. Here are some popular options:  

Visitor Visa 

This type of visa is perfect if you don’t want to, or need to, work during your stay and if your course lasts less than three months. 

In order to apply for this visa, you must show that you are a genuine visitor who intends to leave New Zealand at the end of your stay. You must also have a ticket to leave New Zealand and be able to demonstrate that you have with you at least NZ$1,000 for each month that you are in the country. 

Student Visa 

This is the visa that most people who intend to study in New Zealand apply for, since it allows them to work part-time (up to 20 hours a week) while studying and to work full-time in the holidays. 

To apply for a student visa, you must have with you at least NZ$1,250 for every month that you plan to stay in the country

Obtaining a student visa costs around NZ$330, and the visa is normally granted for the same length of time as the course you have paid for. Once you are in the country, you can renew your visa by paying this amount again and registering for a new course. 

Remember that you must have an offer of place, with the name and duration of your course, from an approved education provider before applying for a student visa.  

Working Holiday Visa 

This visa lets you travel and work in New Zealand for 12 months, or 23 months if you are from the UK or Canada.  

With this visa – which is only available to young people, usually aged 18 to 30, but 18 to 35 in a select few countries – you can study one or more courses for up to 6 months in New Zealand.  

To apply for this visa, you must have enough money with you to pay for a return ticket. You should also be able to prove that your main intention is to holiday, with work and/or a short amount of study your secondary intentions.  

Learn more about these visas that allow you to temporarily live in New Zealand.

Options to study in New Zealand

You’ll find a wide network of high-quality schools and education providers across New Zealand. So, whatever you want to study, you’ll find a place that suits you. Here are three options you could consider: 

English courses 

Living in New Zealand is a great choice if you want to improve your English language skills. You can do a general English course, or learn English for academic purposes, and at the same time explore the stunning beauty of the place. Do remember that these courses are classified into levels. The level at which you’ll be placed will usually be determined by a placement test, which can be taken in-person or online.  

Most of these English courses do not require you to have a minimum level of English proficiency. However, if you’re interested in a course at the intermediate or advanced level, you will have to sit an international language proficiency test such as IELTS to provide proof of your English ability.  

Vocational education 

Vocational training prepares you to live in New Zealand by helping you gain relevant work skills and hands-on experience. You can study vocational programmes at Te Pūkenga, a network of 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) established by the New Zealand government. Alternatively, you could enrol at one of New Zealand’s many Private Training Establishments (PTEs) and get the skills you need to work in your chosen industry.  

Employers in New Zealand help create these courses and programmes, which means that you will learn the right skills for the right jobs. Naturally, vocational education can get you a head start and increase your chances of finding permanent employment in New Zealand, because the courses offered consider current shortages in the market. 

These courses can also function as an entry point to university education in the country. Sometimes you may receive credits for some of the subjects you’ve studied as part of your vocational programme. 

If you intend to study a vocational course, you can apply for a Fee-Paying Student Visa or Pathway Student Visa. These visas allow you to study and work in New Zealand throughout your course of study. 

Here are some of the most popular courses chosen by international students: 

  • Business (business, management, accounting, marketing) 
  • Sport (fitness, personal training) 
  • Adventure sports 
  • Information Technology 
  • Digital media (web development, graphic design, social media) 
  • Catering (hospitality) 
  • Health and beauty 
  • Childcare and elderly care 
  • Tourism 

Higher education 

You’ll find world-class universities in New Zealand, which offer a wide range of programmes that are valued by employers worldwide. 

Remember, university education in New Zealand, like in any other country, is more expensive than studying a vocational course or English. Universities also tend to set higher entry requirements. 

The cost of living in New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand is similar to that in other OECD countries. However, the good news is that the country’s flexible education system offers study options to suit every budget.  

Living costs depend on your lifestyle and which part of the country you live in. It goes without saying that living in a smaller town will always be cheaper than living in a city, mainly due to lower housing and transport costs. 

On average, to complete a study programme, you will have to spend around NZ$5,000 in total on the flight, visa, study programme, registration, and study materials. This will also include initial expenses on your arrival.  

Remember, you do not have to meet these costs at once; you can pay them in three stages: 

  • Stage 1 – pay for course/programme, registration, study materials and visa; 
  • Stage 2 – pay for flight tickets; 
  • Stage 3 – pay for lodging, transport and food on arriving in New Zealand.  

If you want help with managing living costs, working while you study in New Zealand is a great way of doing it. Most international students on a student visa can work part-time, while some may be able to work full-time during scheduled semester breaks and/or holidays. Whatever work you choose to do, be sure to follow the work conditions on your student visa. Lastly, it’s strongly advised that you find the right balance between work, study and socialising so you can make the most of your stay in New Zealand.  

The IELTS test 

If you want to enrol at a university in New Zealand, you’ll have to show that you have an acceptable level of English that will allow you to complete your chosen course of study successfully.  

Demonstrating language proficiency will also make it easier for you to apply for scholarships and study grants in New Zealand. 

IELTS, a high stakes English test accepted by over 12,000 organisations across the globe, is ideal for anyone looking to study, work or live in New Zealand. All universities, colleges and professional associations in New Zealand have set minimum language requirements to accept IELTS.

It assesses your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English. You will take the first three sections of the test – Listening, Reading and Writing – on the same day. Speaking may be held on the same day, or seven days before or after it, depending on your test centre. Results are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest). 

If you want to study and work in New Zealand, take the IELTS Academic test, because it measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment

In order for you to be able to do well in the IELTS test, it is important that you fully understand what is expected of you. You should also spend sufficient time practising your skills. Take advantage of the wide variety of online IELTS study materials and resources available on the British Council website.  

Learn more about IELTS Academic

Want to live in New Zealand? 

A New Zealand education will give you skills that prepare you for future work. Along the way, you can expect to make meaningful connections, learn to think independently, and acquire the ability to work collaboratively. Above all, life in New Zealand will help you strike the right work-life balance and adopt a relaxed lifestyle.  

There’s no surprise that so many people want to live in New Zealand as it’s an unbeatable place to work and study. Taking IELTS will set you on the path to living in this exciting country. Good luck!