If you’ve been thinking about studying abroad in New Zealand, you’re probably someone with a real sense of adventure. Students can spend their days in New Zealand hiking up mountains, exploring active volcanoes, swimming and diving with whales and dolphins, or wandering through centuries-old ice caves—and it’s part of their schoolwork!

Kayakers in the water in New Zealand.

Your study abroad adventure awaits in New Zealand! Photo © Michelle Waitzman.

The choices can seem overwhelming when it comes to signing up for your studies in New Zealand. Should you go for a semester abroad? Get a full degree? Take on postgraduate research? Or pick up a practical qualification that can land you a great summer job? Let’s have a look at some of your options, and how to get your experience started.

Major in Adventure

New Zealand, famous for its breathtaking natural landscapes and as a destination for extreme sports enthusiasts, is an adventure travel hotspot. To support the country’s thriving tourism industry, New Zealand universities, polytechnics, and private training establishments offer programs in adventure tourism management (at Auckland University of Technology, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), Waiariki Polytechnic, and Queenstown Resort College, among others), snow sports management or instruction (at Queenstown Resort College and Otago Polychechnic), commercial skydiving instruction (at New Zealand Skydiving School), and more. These programs always involve lots of hands-on experience, so your studies will be anything but boring.

If you want to get a fundamental understanding of New Zealand’s amazing landscape, a study abroad experience in geology may be your style. Six of New Zealand’s eight universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geology, so you can choose the part of the country that interests you the most, or the program that matches most closely with your preferred area of study. In this field, there’s no reason to be stuck in a lab. Since New Zealand straddles two tectonic plates, there are plenty of opportunities for geology students to study volcano and earthquake science with hands-on field trips.

A snow-capped volcano rises in the distance with a small house in the foreground.

Students in New Zealand can easily access active volcanoes. Photo © Michelle Waitzman.

If environmental science is your field, you’ll find opportunities beyond your wildest dreams. New Zealand offers some of the world’s most accessible glaciers on the South Island, which attract environmental science students from around the world. The country is also home to unique ecosystems and species that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. The iconic kiwi (a nocturnal, flightless bird) is considered a New Zealand treasure, while the tuatara (an ancient relative of the dinosaurs) has lived only on these islands for millions of years.

As an island nation, New Zealand is also a great place for those interested in marine biology. As a student in New Zealand, you will find opportunities to study everything from aquaculture (seafood farming) to endangered marine wildlife up close. University of Otago and Auckland University of Technology offer aquaculture degrees, while NMIT offers a diploma course at their campus in the heart of New Zealand’s renowned Marlborough seafood region. For its marine biology students, Victoria University in Wellington has its own marine field station as well as two research vessels.

Close up view of a tuatara lizard on a rock.

The tuatara  is found only in New Zealand. Photo © pstedrak/123rf.

Where to Study

Even without a scholarship, international PhD students can study in New Zealand while paying the same fees as domestic students. New Zealand put this policy in place to attract top research students from around the world and make their universities leaders in academic research.

New Zealand’s eight universities, located around the country, are great places to get involved in your field and make a difference. The largest university is in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. The University of Auckland has over 40,000 students and is one of two universities in this sprawling city of 1.4 million people (the other is Auckland University of Technology, or AUT).

For a more personal experience, Lincoln University is located in a rural area near Christchurch, and houses a population of fewer than 3,500 students, including more than 1,000 international students. Their areas of focus are agriculture and life sciences; environment, society and design; and commerce.

New Zealand’s oldest university is the University of Otago, founded in 1869 in the city of Dunedin. Dunedin has a population of just 120,000, over 21,000 of whom are students at the university. Combined with the 7,000 students at Otago Polytechnic, this gives Dunedin a very student-centred atmosphere. And FYI – there just happens to be a chocolate factory in town!

A skiier in front of a mountain resort.

Instructor training courses can turn your hobby into a job. Photo © Michelle Waitzman.

In addition to its universities, New Zealand has 18 polytechnics and institutes of technology that offer practical, experience-based education in a wide range of fields, including tourism, environmental science, agriculture, and more. You can even specialize in boat building! Programs range from certificate level to post-graduate.

For more intensive training, a number of private institutions specialize in specific career fields like IT or tourism and hospitality, and offer certifications for ski or snowboard instructors, skydiving instructors, pilots, scuba instructors, and more.

Find out more about your options for studying abroad in New Zealand by visiting the study abroad office at your college, or by visiting the Study in New Zealand website at studyinnewzealand.com.