Living and studying in Auckland

Information for international students about living and studying in Auckland and New Zealand.

This information complements the general information provided for all students about Living in Auckland.

Safety in Auckland

Auckland is a vibrant and beautiful place.  But like any big city, it is up to you to make sure that you look after yourself.

Take some time to watch the video below to make the most of your time in Auckland.  

Driving in New Zealand

You must have a legal driver's licence to drive in New Zealand. You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). Please carry your driver's licence with you at all times.If your overseas driver's licence is written in a foreign language, please have it translated into English and carry both with you. You can be fined if you drive without a licence, or if you have a licence but don’t have it in the car.

12 months after you arrive in New Zealand, you are required to convert to a New Zealand driver's licence.

For more information, visit New Zealand Land Transport Authority

Keep left

In New Zealand we drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you are having trouble remembering, write “keep left” on a sticker and put it on your steering wheel.

Always wear your safety belt

  • The driver and all passengers in the car must wear safety belts if they are available.
  • If you are 15 years or over and drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing safety belt you can be fined. 
  • If you are the driver you can be fined if you have a passenger aged under 15 riding in your vehicle without wearing a safety belt or child restraint.


We strongly recommended you get insurance for your car.

For tips on how to purchase insurance, visit Consumer Affairs.

Accident advice

If you are involved in an accident, pull to the left of the road and find a safe parking space. If no one is injured, you can exchange details with the other party. Get the name of the driver, address, telephone number, car registration number (number plate number), make of the car and name of insurance company. Then report the accident at a police station within 24 hours.

You can take a copy of the report to the insurance company and make your claim.If someone is injured in an accident, call 111 for emergency services (ambulance, fire or police).

If you drink and drive, you're a real idiot!

Do not drink and drive in New Zealand – you can be fined up to $4,500 and possibly imprisoned if you are caught. If you’ve had a big party night, get a friend to take you home or catch a taxi.

Speed and fatigue

Excessive speed is one of the biggest killers in New Zealand, especially on rural roads. Keep to the speed limits and drive carefully.
Fatigue is also a common cause of accidents. If you're feeling tired while driving, pull over and have a rest.
For more road safety information, visit the following websites:

Buying a car

Many international students try to buy a car as soon as they arrive in the country.

In some countries it's usual to buy brand new cars, but in New Zealand it's quite common and acceptable to buy second-hand or imported used cars.

There are several ways to find a used vehicle to buy. The New Zealand Herald, TradeMe (an online auction website) and local community newspapers are frequently used to advertise cars for sale. You can also check out local car fairs, such as the fair at Auckland's Ellerslie Racecourse every Sunday morning. There are also plenty of authorised car dealers who can sell you a new or used vehicle.

If you decide to look for a used car, there are some things you should check before you buy. Consult the New Zealand Automobile Association's Guide to buying a used car.

Banking in New Zealand

How to get a New Zealand bank account, plus some money management tips.

Why put your money in the bank?

It’s not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash around with you or hide your money at home. Instead, keep it safe in a bank account.

Advantages of a bank account:

  • Your money is safe, but still easily accessible.
  • You can earn interest on credit balances.
  • You can purchase items with an EFTPOS card, so there’s no need to carry a lot of cash around.
  • You can transfer and receive money from within New Zealand or overseas easily, quickly and safely.
  • You can use bank statements to track spending, which helps you to live within your budget.

Types of bank accounts

  • Current account: Ideal for everyday use, such as buying food and paying bills. This type of account, also known as a cheque account, may pay interest on credit balances.
  • Savings account: Ideal for any spare money that you don’t need to use for day-to-day living. Earns a higher rate of interest.

Some banks, such as ANZ, offer an ‘International Student Package’ with special benefits for international students. It's also possible to open more specialised accounts, such as foreign currency accounts.

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account, you will need:

  • Your passport
  • A residential address in Auckland
  • An opening deposit
  • Proof that you are a student (such as a fees receipt or a letter of offer) if you want to take advantage of a special international or tertiary student package.

Accessing your money

When your account is opened, you will be given an account number. With this account number you are able to make deposits (including international payments) and withdrawals immediately. You will also receive an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) card in the mail.

ATMs (also known as cashpoint or money machines) allow you to withdraw money 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are widely available throughout New Zealand and on campus. ATMs also allow you to check your account balance and transfer money between accounts.

You can also use your ATM card at most shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels and service stations to pay for goods and services electronically via EFTPOS. When you make a purchase with EFTPOS, the amount is immediately debited from your account. Because EFTPOS is widely available in New Zealand, you don’t need to carry a lot of cash around.

You can also check your account balance, transfer money or pay bills with telephone and internet banking. Ask your bank for details on how to use these services.If you need to go into the bank, branches are usually open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-4.30pm.

You will be sent regular statements with details of all your transactions. You can choose to receive statements every week, fortnight or month, in the mail or electronically.

Which bank should you choose?

New Zealand’s major banks are Kiwibank, ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand, ANZ, Westpac and TSB Bank.

ANZ has a special package for international students and has a branch at City Campus, located on Level 1, Student Commons, 2 Alfred Street. ASB Bank has a branch in the Owen G Glenn Business School building and there are a number of ATMs located in the AUSA Quad.

New Zealand fast facts

Useful facts about New Zealand for international students.

What is a kiwi?

The kiwi, New Zealand's national bird, is a flightless bird with hair-like feathers and a long, slender beak that it uses to pull worms and insects out of the ground. Found only in New Zealand, kiwi are active at night in the wilderness areas of the country. New Zealanders often refer to themselves as Kiwis, and the term is also used as a short form for the famous kiwifruit. On the stock exchange, the New Zealand Dollar is referred to as “The Kiwi”.


There are no snakes or dangerous wild animals in New Zealand, making it safe for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities.New Zealand has a wealth of native birdlife and some interesting marine life, including fur seals, dolphins and whales.

To learn more about our wildlife, visit the Department of Conservation.


The north of New Zealand is subtropical, while the south is more temperate. The warmest months are January, February and March; the coldest are July, August and September.

Average daily temperature (High/Low)

Spring(Sep -
Summer(Dec -
Autumn(Mar -
Winter(Jun -
18/11 (°C) 24/12 (°C) 20/13 (°C) 15/9 (°C)
65/52 (F) 75/54 (F) 68/55 (F) 59/48 (F)

The weather in Auckland is generally pleasant, however it can be unpredictable. You’ll need to be prepared for whatever the day may bring. In summer, have a light jacket with you just in case. In winter the wind can be very cold, so include a warm, waterproof jacket in your wardrobe. If you walk a lot, it’s always a good idea to have a raincoat or umbrella handy.

The sun is surprisingly intense in New Zealand, so protect exposed skin with an effective sunscreen when you’re outside. Look for an SPF rating of 15 or above. Sunscreen probably isn’t necessary in June, July and August, unless you’re outside for the entire day.

Time difference

New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the new day, 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

In summer New Zealand uses 'daylight saving' - clocks are put forward one hour to GMT+13. Daylight saving begins on the first Sunday in October and ends around the last Saturday in March.

Drinking water

New Zealand cities and towns have excellent water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water taken directly from rivers and lakes should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered before drinking to avoid stomach upsets.

GST (Goods and Services Tax)

Goods and services tax (GST) is New Zealand's main type of tax apart from income tax. All goods and services are subject to a 15% goods and services tax (GST), which is usually included in the displayed price. If the GST is not included in the advertised price, then the vendor is obliged to advise you of this fact before you buy.
GST is charged on virtually all goods and services supplied in New Zealand, except for the rental of residential property, financial services such as mortgages, loans and investments, and the sale of a complete business as a ‘going concern’ to a new owner.
When a business buys goods or services from its suppliers, it can claim a credit for the GST that the suppliers charge on these purchases. However, end-user consumers can’t claim a deduction for GST in this way. The effect of this is that the final consumer of any product or service pays 15% GST on its cost. Visitors can’t claim this tax back, however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor's home address outside New Zealand, the GST will not be charged.

New Zealand customs and communication

New Zealanders have a way of life that’s similar to most Western countries, but there are some special characteristics. The New Zealand government has a useful guide to help new migrants and visitors understand local customs.

For more information, visit New Zealand Now.

Halal facilities

There are many halal restaurants and retail shops in Auckland.

Halal food on campus

UniKebab: AUSA Quad, City Campus.
Jewel of India: AUSA Quad, City Campus.

Halal food available in Auckland and New Zealand

For a comprehensive guide to halal retail shops and restaurants, visit the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

Academic expectations

At a New Zealand university you are expected to work by yourself and to be a self-motivated learner.

While you will have lectures, tutorials or seminars with a tutor, you are expected to work without their direct assistance. No one will follow up if you have not made a deadline for an essay – you will simply fail the paper. Nor will anyone check if you have read the relevant course material.

You have complete responsibility for your study. For many students, this requires a lot of self-discipline and good time management.

Any academic work that you do must be your own. Do not copy from your texts or use other people's work as a quick solution. The University regards acts such as cheating and plagiarism as serious academic offences. Such behaviour may lead to a disciplinary penalty.

Marking systems: low and high marks

New Zealand universities may have a very different marking system to the one you are familiar with. In New Zealand, a very good piece of work may be rewarded with only 65 percent whereas 70 percent may be a poor result in your home country.

It is important that you understand this possible difference between the marking systems, and don’t get upset if you are awarded lower grades than you are used to. It is best to measure your level of achievement by comparison with the grades given to your classmates, not marking systems from your home country.

Tips for non-native English speakers

If English is not your first language, you may experience the following problems when you first begin studying at a New Zealand university.

Listening to lectures in English

At first you may have difficulty understanding the English spoken by your teachers and classmates. While this can be very frustrating for you, it is normal. Do not be discouraged; you simply need time to get used to listening to spoken English.

Solution: You need to improve your listening comprehension.

  • Socialise with other students who cannot speak your first language, including other international students.
  • Listen to the radio and watch English-speaking television and films.
  • Utilise the excellent resources provided by ELE (English Language Enrichment). ELE has a dedicated space in the Kate Edger Information Commons building where you can access language learning resources, or join a language learning group or workshop. ELE also offers online learning tools to help you with your English reading, writing, speaking and listening. Find out more at ELE.

Contributing to group discussions

The aim of academic experience in a New Zealand university is to explore a subject by listening to different opinions and discussing available information. The sharing of ideas and analytical thinking which takes place in seminars and tutorials may be uncomfortable at first and you may feel shy about making a contribution.

Solution: Overcome your shyness by contributing to class discussions as often as possible.

The more you contribute, the easier it will get. Discussions help you to think analytically in English.

Getting through the course reading material

The amount of English reading material you are expected to get through as part of your course can be extremely daunting. If you try to read every word, you'll never get through it.

Solution: You can process texts rapidly by using a new set of reading strategies.

  • Learn how to skim read to extract the fundamental points. It doesn't matter if you don't understand every single word; you just need to understand the main points.
  • It may be enough for you to study the introduction, abstract and conclusion of an article to get the essential ideas.
  • Your lecturers will draw your attention to the most important items on your reading list – quite often you do not have to read every single text
  • Check out the Student Learning Services website for workshops on reading strategies and make use of the resources at ELE (English Language Enrichment) to improve any reading strategies you already have. Go to Student Learning Services, and ELE.

Writing: 3000-word academic essays

Don’t worry if you get a relatively low mark for your first essay. You will probably find it difficult for a number of reasons.

  • You may not have written an essay of this length before.
  • You may not be familiar with the style (such as including a literature review or relating theory).
  • Correct use of English is expected.

Solution: Treat your first essay as a learning experience.

Where to go for help

For details on how you can get help with your English, visit English language support.

Student stories

Watch our videos of students from a range of countries talk about their time in Auckland. Visit the University of Auckland YouTube channel.

More about Living in Auckland

For other general information about living and studying in Auckland including transport, leisure and the cost of living, see Living in Auckland

Useful links: