Quest Exchange in New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of diverse landscapes. You’ll see things here that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hills, subtropical forests, a volcanic plateau, and miles of coastline with sandy beaches will amaze you. For a more metropolitan perspective, explore New Zealand’s great cities. Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch are full of artistic and cultural energy. New Zealand’s climate varies very little from season to season. The north is subtropical and the south is temperate. The seasons are opposite of those in the U.S. The warmest months are December, January, and February, and the coldest are June, July and August. The official languages include English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

Come experience the kindness of the New Zealand people, glorious nature and the Maori arts and culture that define the Kiwi lifestyle!

3 Fun Facts
  • New Zealand is one of the world’s least crowded countries with a population of only 4 million people.
  • Roughly 15% of the diverse, multicultural population is made up of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori and Polynesian people.
  • NZ has banned all television advertising on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, ANZAC Day, and Christmas Day.
Program Dates


Late Jan – Late Nov


Late Jan- Early July
Late July- Late Nov


Late Jan – Mid Apr
Late Apr – Early July
Late July  – Late Sept
Mid Oct  – Late Nov


Teachers and staff are warm and welcoming. They believe that teaching is a learning experience for them and not just for the students. With importance placed on the physical and emotional health of each student, New Zealand is a holistic opportunity for international students to be able to grow and develop naturally. The school system is divided into primary and secondary sectors. All school systems, public and private, are controlled by the State and conform to the curriculum laid out by the Ministry of Education.

Exchange students are placed in a high school close to their host family home, or, in some cases, in the same school as a host family member. School lunches are not free in New Zealand, but most Kiwi students either buy or make their lunch. Purchasing school lunch is a personal expense for exchange students and is not included in Quest program fees.

The school year starts at the end of January and runs through the end of November. Classes are typically held from 8.45 am to 3.30 pm, five days a week. The school year is broken up by various vacations. The first vacation is in mid-April for Easter and it lasts for two weeks. There is another two-week vacation in July and then again in September.

There are many different schools students can choose from, some require a school uniform. Schools expect international students take an interest in their courses, study diligently, and complete all assignments. Outdoor education is taught at every high school, this is an exciting opportunity for international students to participate in many outdoor activities such as trekking, kayaking, sailing, to name a few. Sports are very popular in New Zealand, students can expect to find a vast array of sports offered through their school.


New Zealanders are known for being relaxed people who love to enjoy life. They often do things spontaneously. This may be perceived as impulsive, but they also show great commitment to things they become involved in. Family life is very important in New Zealand culture and the host family will do everything they can to make their exchange student feel at home. Students adapt to their new surroundings and feel like a genuine family member in no time.

New Zealand parents are very particular about knowing what their children are up to when outside of the house. They are fairly strict when it comes to rules, but this is just because they care and want to reduce unnecessary risks. Kiwi family members usually share the responsibility for house chores.

New Zealand families who welcome students into their homes are families who genuinely want to share their lives with a student from another country. In return, they want to learn about the student and his or her home country. The families are diverse; they may have children of any age or no children at all. A typical New Zealand home is very busy, sometimes with both parents working. It is common for the family to socialize with relatives and friends during their spare time. They may live in urban, suburban or rural environments.


An optional 3-day student orientation in Auckland is available at the end of January in the beginning of each school year. The orientation brings together students from around the world who will be studying in New Zealand and Australia that school year. It costs approximately $750 and includes accommodations, activities and most meals.


Unique to New Zealand is the way schools qualify international students who are accepted based on their individual achievements, not their past grades or test scores .English is the official language of New Zealand, so there is no foreign language requirement for English speakers. New Zealand Sign Language is also an official language, Quest offers programs for the hard of hearing and deaf students.


For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students apply for the visa online and it can take approximately 4 weeks. As the details of this process may vary, neither Quest nor our New Zealand partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.


Click on the dropdown menu to view New Zealand’s other regions.


Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. Although Wellington is the New Zealand capital, Auckland is New Zealand’s main financial and economic center. With an estimated 1,523,700 population, Auckland holds about 31% of the country’s population. It was founded in 1840 and was the capital of New Zealand until 1865.

The city of Auckland is situated on a strait that separates two natural ports: Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean and the Manukau Harbor to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. The Auckland region includes four cities – Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere, and three districts -Franklin, Rodney and Papakura.

Also known as “The City of Sails”, Auckland has a great structure completely geared towards hospitality and tourism. In both of its ports, you can enjoy seeing hundreds of moored boats sailing every afternoon in front of a beautiful sunset. The city is also home to international regattas such as “The America’s Cup” and the “Louis Vuitton Cup”.

The center of the city is where the biggest urban attractions are concentrated. Here you will find Skycity complex, which is complete with a Casino, restaurants, luxurious movie theaters, hotels and Sky Tower. The Sky Tower itself has an observatory and revolving restaurant that provides a 360-degree view of Auckland and a safe 192-foot bungy jump from the top of the tower.

In the center you will find the reverse bungy, Aotea Square, Aotea Center, Auckland Town Hall, Venue Selector and IMAX cinema complex. Two blocks from there, you will find the Auckland Art gallery, next to the green and flowery Albert Park.

Walk down the main street of Queen Street to the harbor where ferries depart and visit one of the Hauraki Gulf Islands, such as Tiritiri Matangi with its rare and endangered birds. Still at the Auckland harbor next to the Viaduct, visit the Maritime Museum which also offers boat trips. Go to the Harbor Bridge and try the bungy jumping or a walk to the top with the Bridge Climb.


Auckland has 28 beaches. Ten minutes from the city center, you will find the charming Mission Bay Beach, a small white sand bay ideal for an afternoon walk. On the other side of Auckland’s waterfront, you can find the beautiful Takapuna beaches ideal for picnics and the historic village of Devonport or the charming Browns Bay. Piha, the most popular beach in New Zealand, has a great structure with public restrooms as well as lifeguards. Other beaches that are good for surfing are Bethells, Muriwai and Maori Bay. Try to avoid sun exposure between the hours of 11am to 4pm and protect yourself using a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Take showers only between the flags and watch out for the strong currents and the changing tides. When surfing, avoid the calm water areas, as they are currents that will take you out to sea.


Rent a snorkel and take an unforgettable dive in Goat Island Marine Reserve – the fish are incredibly friendly. To get to Goat Island you must drive on “State Highway 1” heading north through the Harbor Bridge for approximately 1 ½ hours. For those who surf or enjoy the beach, a good spot in the area is the Pakiri beach, which has thick, white sand excellent for walking on.


Another interesting tour in the Auckland region is a tour of the region’s vineyards, highlighting the vineyards of Matakana, Kumeu, Henderson and Waiheke Island.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Yes, students will most likely have access to the Internet/WiFi at home and school. Though, the Internet can be very expensive in New Zealand since data usage is not unlimited, which means that people pay for the amounts of information downloaded. Thus, students should ask the school and host family if they should pay extra in order to access the Internet or get a SIM card with pre-paid access.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if a student has an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with a Kiwi carrier/SIM card. Students are encouraged to bring their smart phone, personal laptop or tablet to school to use during class.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone, if given permission?

Students cannot travel outside of the host area without adult supervision. Travel outside of the host area with adult supervision is authorized if approved by the natural parents, host family, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $200/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in New Zealand?

Kiwi families are diverse, so family expectations, interactions and activities vary widely. Some families may afford the student a great deal of independence, while others may expect the student to participate more extensively in family life. Some families may be very active or outdoorsy, while others may prefer to relax at home. Thus, students must be open-minded and ready to adapt to their new host family dynamics.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

What is the visa application process and how long does the process normally take?

 For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students apply for the visa online and it can take approximately 4 weeks. As the details of this process may vary, neither Quest nor our New Zealand partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Most students are within walking distance. But, if not, they could bike, skate or take the school or public bus. Their host family may also be able to drop them off. Students are responsible for any transportation costs, which would be in addition to Quest program fees.

Is there a possibility for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, it may be possible, but each school is different. Some schools may offer this at no cost after classes in the library, whereas some may assign a tutor at an extra cost. Students should consult with the academic coordinator at their school for more information. Tutoring fees would be an additional cost on top of Quest program fees.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program?

Yes, students will receive a final school report with the subject and associated assessment listed. But, students must complete all school assignments and take all exams in order to receive this. They must also communicate with the school officials in New Zealand about their desire to receive this documentation. Students must be proactive about this, as obtaining this documentation is their responsibility before they leave New Zealand.

Do schools offer different sports/activities?

Kiwi schools typically offer a vast array of sports and activities. Some of these happen during school and some happen after school. The offerings vary greatly by school.


The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!


Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.


You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.


Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.


The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.


You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.


Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.


This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.


Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.


You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.


This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.


This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.


Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!


Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!


Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • Term
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Term: Variable

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.

New Zealand School Choices

Click on the images to learn more about each school

  • All
  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Kerikeri
  • Dunedin
  • Mount Maunganui - Tauranga
  • Napier
  • Queenstown
  • Rotorua
  • Upper Hutt
  • Waiheke Island
  • Wellington
  • Whangaparaoa
  • Te Puki