Life in New Zealand

View of Aoraki/Mt Cook in New Zealand

Lifestyle and culture

Offering the best of both worlds, New Zealand has a world-class recipe for better living, so take the opportunity to embrace New Zealand's unique culture and way of life. The diverse landscapes and climate here 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.

Experience Christchurch's renewal outlines a number of activities and ways you can get involved with the local community.

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’s population is diverse and multicultural, although the majority of people here are of European descent and English is the everyday language. New Zealand’s indigenous Māori make up around 15 percent of the population and Māori is also one of the country’s official languages. 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 lakes, mountains, native forests, coastline and clean air here 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

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; the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is a useful reference point for details about workers’ rights, wages and tax obligations.

Housing and the cost of living

There is a variety of accommodation available in Christchurch. Visit Accommodation for international students to find out more about your housing options.

Although the cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to all OECD countries you still 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.

Immigration New Zealand provide up to date details on the cost of living so you can compare prices and get an idea of what you can expect to pay for everyday items.


The most common way to travel in NZ is 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, Christchurch is perfect for cycling and more people bike here than in any other city in New Zealand.

This cycling, driving and public transport overview is a helpful starting point to find out more about transport in New Zealand.


All international students will be covered by international student insurance. (You must buy travel and medical insurance to make sure you are covered for your stay in New Zealand before you travel here).

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

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

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.

More information


Level 3, Matariki building
Please 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