Living in New Zealand

New Zealand has a world-class recipe for better living so embrace New Zealand's unique culture and way of life.

Mount Cook, New Zealand Depositphotos 4687852


With a similar in size to the UK but with a population of just over four million people, New Zealand is one of the world’s least-crowded countries.

New Zealand is diverse and multicultural, although the majority of New Zealand’s population are of European descent and English is the everyday language. New Zealand’s indigenous Māori make up around 15 percent of the population. Growing numbers of people from around the world are also making New Zealand their home.

Geography and climate

New Zealand has a dramatic and varied landscape. The country’s lakes, mountains, native forests, coastline and clean air provide an unforgettable backdrop to life in New Zealand. With a temperate climate and moderate rainfall, Christchurch is warm in summer and cooler in winter.

Find out more about how to Get outdoors in Canterbury.

Lifestyle and culture

New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and climate make it ideal for many outdoor activities. As a nation of sports lovers, popular pastimes include sailing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, hiking and fishing. In the cities, you will find great food and coffee, museums, galleries, parks, shopping, theatre and nightlife.

Find out more about Experience Christchurch's renewal.

Cost of living

The cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to all OECD countries, however you may find that some things cost more or less than you expected. In New Zealand, a goods and service tax (GST) of 15 percent applies to everything except income and financial transactions and is included in the quoted retail price.

Find out more about the Cost of living.

Working in New Zealand

The work culture is informal yet friendly and professional. As an employee in New Zealand, you will have basic employment rights, regardless of the job you do. These may be different from the country you come from so it is a good idea to check what they are. There are three minimum wages in New Zealand.

You can find out more about workers’ rights, wages and deductions like tax, by visiting the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website.


Most transport in New Zealand is conducted by road. Day to day commuting is often by car and there are good bus networks in most cities. Transport between cities can be made by car, bus or plane.

With its flat landscape and over 330km of on-road and off-road cycle ways; more people bike in Christchurch than any other city in New Zealand.

Find out more about Cycling, driving and public transport in New Zealand.


Essential health care is provided free if you qualify through the public health system. If you are here on a temporary visa, eg a student visa, it is unlikely that you will qualify for free healthcare. You will need to buy travel and medical insurance to make sure you are covered for your stay in New Zealand.

To find out if you are eligible for free healthcare, visit Immigration New Zealand.

Find out more about Insurance for incoming students required as an international student at UC.

If you have an accident and require emergency treatment, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides comprehensive injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand.

To find out more, visit the ACC website.


Visit Accommodation for international students to find out more about your housing options in Christchurch.

More information

Phone +64 3 364 2987 ext 4864

Level 3, Matariki
You will need to report to the Student Services counter when you arrive in the building.

Postal address
International Relationships Office
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand