Best Places to Live in New Zealand

Best Cities for International Students in New Zealand

With its beautiful scenery, lively cities, and world-class universities, New Zealand is an immensely popular destination for students traveling from around the globe looking to pursue higher education at renowned institutions in a unique location. Geographically isolated on a pair of islands in the South Pacific, the country might seem off the beaten path, but that’s why so many people are attracted to it. Its remote location has not stopped it from becoming one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and students are naturally attracted to the opportunity to take their studies to an exciting location.

With highly regarded academic institutions spread across the country, it can be difficult to know where to start in terms of deciding where to study. If you don’t have a particular school or program in mind from the beginning, maybe the best thing to do is learn about the top student destinations in New Zealand.

Here are our Top 5:


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital and the country’s second largest urban area – home to just over 410,000 people. The city is located on the southern point of New Zealand’s northern island and ranked 12th in Mercer's 2016 Quality of Living Survey, despite the fact that it has reportedly the fastest winds in the world.

One of the reasons students find the city attractive is its social scene: Wellington has more cafés, bars, and restaurants per capita than New York, and the city is famous for its vivacious nightlife and world-class culinary scene. For the students who love a good beer and unique breweries, Wellington has become the hub of New Zealand’s craft beer revolution, with experimental breweries and specialist bars popping up all over the city.

If you’re interested in Wellington, you might begin your search with schools like Victoria University of Wellington  [link to Findcourse Victoria U profile when available]or the University of Otago, Wellington [link to Findcourse Otago profile when available].


For the fourth year in a row, Auckland was ranked 3rd in Mercer's 2016 Quality of Living survey. The only reason it didn’t edge out Wellington for the number one spot on this list is its high cost of living. Its 1.4 million citizens pay some of the most expensive prices in the world, but for good reason: the city is home to some of the most amazing cuisine, culture, and nightlife the country has to offer.

Located on the North Island, Auckland is home to some of the best universities in New Zealand. Having established itself as a well-known student hub, the city attracts the majority of international students in the country. Ranked 18th in the top student cities in the world by QS, the city is incredibly accessible and small in size – in fact, most of the attractions can be explored within half an hour of the city centre.

If you’re interested in Auckland, you might begin your search with schools like the University of Auckland or Auckland University of Technology [link to Findcourse AUT profile when available].


Known as the Garden City of New Zealand, Christchurch is renowned for both its high-quality academic institutions and its innumerable attractions. The city is ranked in the top 50 student cities in the world according to QS, making it the second city in the country to earn that status.

One of the largest cities in the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch has a population of approximately 400,000. International students and travelers are attracted to the city for many reasons, despite the fact that it experiences frequent natural phenomena like earthquakes. In fact, the city is still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2011, but the spirit of the city and the beautiful nature of the souther island continues to draw more and more people to its sites every year.

If you’re interested in Christchurch, you might begin your search with schools like the University of Canterbury or Lincoln University [link to Findcourse Lincoln profile when available].


Fourth on the list is Hamilton, a city located in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Hamilton is not only a major tourist destination in the South Pacific, but is also a study destination for over 40,000 students, local and international, alike. One of the reasons behind its popularity among students is its college-town feel, complete with busy cafes, beautiful libraries, and popular shops.

Hamilton is also a comparably more affordable city for students to live in that the first three destinations on this list. Students can enjoy may amenities offered by the city, including some of the best shopping in New Zealand, a thriving array of terrific nightlife, and beautiful hiking trails – all for a much more affordable price than many of the country’s other top study destinations.

If you’re interested in Hamilton, you might begin your search with schools like the University of Waikato or Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC).

Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay is a region set on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island and is home to over 150,000. World-renowned for its wines, Hawke’s Bay has a Mediterranean-style climate with long, pristine summers and short, mild winters. Whether you’re adventuring by car, on foot, or exploring ‘The Bay’ on one of the over 200km off-road pathways on bike, students will never face a shortage of things to do and see.

The cities of Napier and Hastings together comprise the fifth largest urban area in New Zealand. They are modern cities that are both rich in tradition with Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture creating a special character that attracts people from around the world.

If you’re interested in Hawkes Bay, you might begin your search with schools like the Eastern Institute of Technology.