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Study Cookery to Become a Chef in NZ (and Get Permanent Residency)

Why work in New Zealand as a chef?

NZ has a lifestyle that is the envy of the world. Clean and green, with great healthcare, a laid-back lifestyle, and opportunities to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

While chef roles in NZ are typically paid less than similar jobs in other countries, there are bonuses aside from salary. Some employers provide accommodation (such as at Mt Cook), a vehicle, or health insurance. Salaries for Chefs de Partie and above range from NZ$48,000 to $65,000 a year.

Are chefs in demand in NZ and in which locations?

Chefs are in demand in NZ. In 2018, there were more than 25,000 chefs in NZ, and once the borders open post-COVID, demand is expected to increase.

You can find roles scattered almost everywhere throughout the country, but you can expect most demand in the tourist towns or remote places. Queenstown and Rotorua have many eateries due to high levels of visitors to the areas. Places like the remote West Coast of the South Island, Mt Cook, and small towns may also have high demand for chef roles as some people prefer to work in bigger cities. However, these small towns are a great place to establish yourself in NZ.

Top cookery courses and institutions

Because NZ has such a focus on tourism, many institutions offer fantastic cookery/ chef courses.

Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)

SIT has produced many exceptional chefs and cooks with their exceptional teaching from respected chefs. They have Bungalow Restaurant and Vault Café as their training grounds, where you can prepare beautiful food for paying (and kind) patrons.


  • Diploma in Culinary Excellence Level  5
  • NZ Diploma in Cookery (Advanced)
  • NZ Certificate in Cookery Levels 3 and 4
  • Food Safety

SIT Queenstown

  • NZ Certificate in Cookery Levels 3 and 4

ARA Polytechnic

Located in Christchurch, ARA is a large polytechnic that allows you to train in chef and cookery courses, but also baking, hospitality management, and tourism. Their cooking courses include:

  • Diploma in Cookery – Advanced Cookery
  • Diploma in Cookery – Advanced Patisserie
  • New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4)

The on-site training restaurant allows you and your fellow students to practice your skills on forgiving paying members of the public.

Professional Business and Restaurant School (PBRS)

PBRS has been operating since 2000. They offer a range of high quality, relevant cookery classes, including:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Cookery – Levels 3 and 4
  • International Diploma in Food Preparation and Cookery Supervision – (Advanced) Level 5
  • Certificate in Food and Beverage – (Café and Bar Services) Level 3
  • New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service – (Restaurant Services) Level 4

Located in Auckland, they are close to hospitality outlets, making it easy to work while you learn.

Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand

The most respected cookery educator worldwide, Le Cordon Bleu is the leading authority in culinary techniques. The NZ school offers a range of degrees:

  • Grand Diplôme®: This 18 month course teaches techniques for classic French cuisine, including pâtisserie.
  • Pâtisserie courses: These range from a basic 10 week level two course to a nine month advanced level five course.
  • The cuisine courses range from a basic 10 week cuisine certificate through to the intensive nine month Diplôme Avancé Culinaire in Cuisine.
  • A range of short courses for upskilling in technical cooking aspects, such as French baking, cheese making, or panforte and truffles.

Aspire 2 (Ntec)/ Concordia Institute of Business

With campuses in Auckland, Christchurch, and Tauranga, this modern facility offers flexible learning options. As one of the largest NZQA accredited PTEs in NZ, these courses aim to produce highly employable students.

  • New Zealand Certificate in Cookery – Levels 4 and 5

The Culinary Collective

This is an amalgamation of two long standing NZ cooking schools, NSIA and NZMA. The Culinary Collective give hands on training with tutors who have been chefs, bakers, or caterers. You’ll learn the practical skills that employers want, building confidence as you go. Small class sizes mean more one-on-one time with their trainers. They have branches in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington, Rotorua, Napier, and Whangarei.

  • Diploma in Cookery Level 5 with Internship Patisserie strand
  • Diploma in Cookery Level 5 with Internship Cookery strand
  • Certificate in Cookery Level 4
  • New Zealand Certificate in Baking (Generalist)(Level 4)
  • Food Safety Certificate

Manakau Institute of Technology                          

Providing you with all the practical skills you need to create beautiful food, MIT get you on track for a career as a cook or chef.

  • New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4)
  • International Diploma in Cookery (Level 5)
  • New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) (Level 5)

Career outcomes in NZ after studying cookery

Once you’ve got your cookery degree in NZ, there are plenty of work options.

  • cafes
  • bars or taverns
  • corporate catering firms
  • restaurants
  • cafeterias
  • childcare centres or retirement homes

You can also continue to progress through the ranks, becoming sous chef, or a head/ executive chef. There are also opportunities to specialise in certain cuisines.

How to follow a pathway to PR

In NZ, Chef de Partie (or higher) is on the long term skill shortage list. This means that there is a pathway to permanent residency with the availability of long term visas for qualified chefs.

To qualify as a chef de partie, you must have a minimum of a NZQF level 4 qualification, such as the Certificate in Cookery (Level 4). You must also have a minimum of five years experience in relevant employment. This could include a restaurant providing a la carte or buffet dining. Two years or more must be at a Chef de Partie (or higher) level.

To get PR in NZ:

  • If you have completed your degree in NZ, you can apply for a post-study work visa
  • Apply for employment as a chef within NZ at the appropriate level (Chef de Partie or higher)
  • Once you’ve gained relevant employment, you can apply for a work to residence visa such as a long term skills shortage list work visa (prior to October 2021) or accredited employer work visa (from mid 2022).
  • Once you’ve been on this visa for 24 months, you can apply for a residence from work visa, which would make for a NZ resident. These visas may be approved within 62 days currently.

Currently due to COVID19, no temporary visas of this type are being approved. Once they resume, there are no expected timeframes.

Get IDP to help

If you’re wanting to study cookery in NZ, or start your journey to permanent residency, contact IDP. We are experts at getting our students into the courses they want—and the future they dream of.

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