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Cost of Living in New Zealand and Living Expenses for International Students

Make the most of your money

Knowing how much you will need for your day-to-day living expenses is a great starting point, but it is important to note the cost of living will vary slightly depending on what city in New Zealand you live in.

New Zealand also has a Goods and Services tax (GST) of 15 per cent which is added to the price of most things you purchase.

Your banking and payments options

New Zealand’s unit of currency is the New Zealand (NZ$) dollar.

When it comes to managing your money, there are a number of choices. You may decide to set up a bank account with any of the national banks or credit unions available, which you can do before or after you arrive in New Zealand. When setting up your account, you will need your Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE), Letter of Offer and other forms of identification. You may also need a New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number, which you can apply for by visiting the Inland Revenue website. 

Many banks offer ‘student accounts’ which can provide benefits such as free banking, interest-free overdrafts and travel discounts.

Setting up your phone and Internet

You’ll probably want to get your phone and Internet sorted pretty quickly after arriving in New Zealand.

While there are a number of different network providers for your phone, there are three basic options that you will need to consider:

  • Landline: usually only relevant to those who live off campus in rented accommodation. You might be able to get a better deal by bundling your landline with Internet access
  • Mobile – prepaid: allows you to control how much you spend and are widely available in local shops and supermarkets, as well as via mobile phone providers. Through the prepaid option, you are also able to cancel the service at any time 
  • Mobile – contract: depending on how long you will be in New Zealand and how often you use your phone, you can also choose from a variety of monthly plans

Similar to mobile providers, there are many Internet service providers in New Zealand and the plans they offer vary depending on download limits and where you live. You may want to shop around first to find the right plan that meets your requirements.

Most educational institutions provide free Wi-Fi access which you can connect to using your student login and password. If you can’t access the Internet through your own laptop or computer, you can usually find a service to use in the student library, or at an off-campus public library or Internet café.

Some public places may offer free or cheap Wi-Fi, however, it is important to check the security of the network you are connecting to. 

Making international calls

International calls can be a lot more expensive than domestic calls.

To make an international call, you can purchase an international calling card from most convenience stores. Alternatively, for a cheaper option you can use online options such as Skype or FaceTime.

To call a New Zealand number from overseas, you need to enter the country code (64) followed by the area code and then the telephone number.

To call another country from New Zealand, enter 00 followed by the relevant country code and the area code (if required) and then the telephone number.

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Shops and restaurants

From the shops to the dining hall There are many options for eating and shopping in New Zealand.


While you’re studying, you may want to explore your local town, city or other parts of New Zealand and there are many options to take you there.


Places to visit

New Zealand contains lots of natural beauty due to its towering mountains, open and lush plains, volcanic plateaus and incredible glaciers.

People and culture

You’re moving to New Zealand. Here’s what to expect.

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