You’ll see things here that you won’t see anywhere else in the world!

The Quest team traveled to New Zealand to visit select high schools across the country. Touring each school campus provided us with a firsthand look at staff, academic programs, outdoor activities and sports that help define each school’s profile. We have partnerships with the international student departments, and our staff can recommend the right school for you.

From Auckland to Queenstown, we have both islands covered. 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. 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.

New Zealand is a land of diverse landscapes.  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. 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 & 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.

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 NZ Ministry of Education. School administration is managed by locally organized school boards composed of teachers, parents and students.

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.

Schools run from the end of January through the end of November. Classes are typically held from 8.45 am to 3.30 pm, five days a week. The first vacation break 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. New Zealand schools organize sports activities for students during the year.


New Zealanders are known for being relaxed people who love to enjoy life. They often do things spontaneously, 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. Host families may live in urban, suburban or rural environments, parents are very particular about knowing what their children are up to when outside of the house. Kiwi family members usually share the responsibility of household chores.

Families who welcome students into their homes do so because they want to share their lives and culture with a student from another country. In return, they want to learn about their student’s customs and culture. New Zealand families are diverse; they may have children of any age or no children at all. A typical New Zealand home is very busy, sometimes both parents work and it is common for the family to socialize with relatives and friends during their spare time.


Quest offers a fun filled 3-day student orientation in Auckland. The program is optional and is available at the beginning of the New Zealand school year (end of January). This amazing orientation brings together students from around the world who will be studying in New Zealand and Australia. It costs approximately $750 and includes tours, transportation, accommodations, activities and most meals.


Students ages 15-18 are able to choose a high school program for 1-4 months, year or semester. The school year starts in January. There are four terms in a year, with two-week breaks between them and a six-week summer break at the end of the year.

  • Term 1: Late January to early April (Two-week break)
  • Term 2: May to early July (Two-week break)
  • Term 3: Late July to late September (Two-week break)
  • Term 4: Mid-October to mid-December (Six weeks summer holiday)

English is the official language of New Zealand, so there is no foreign language requirement for English-speaking students. English requirements for other international students are flexible. Many schools offer ESL programs, each student is evaluated individually and English proficiency tests are not required for acceptance.


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, 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, 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.

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 offer a vast array of sports and outdoor activities. Some of these happen during school and some happen after school. Since New Zealand is the land of adventure, you are sure to find exciting opportunities!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • Term ( 1-4 months)
Application Deadline
  • April 1st (Year/Fall Semester)
  • October 1st (Spring Semester)
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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

Green Bay High School


Green Bay High School is located in Auckland's Western region, about 30 minutes from the center of Auckland by train. Most family homes are within walking distance to school. The homestay coordinator helps students with adjustment, school life and host family situations.

Green Bay places a strong emphasis on arts, music, and dance. It is a perfect fit for students who want to artistically express themselves! The school also offers wonderful courses in agriculture, sports, and photography.

Hillmorton High School


Hillmorton High School is an urban school located in southwest Christchurch, one of the most developed areas of the city. It is considered a medium-sized high school with approximately 800 students, giving it the ability to provide its students with a more intimate and effective environment where each student knows that s/he is an individual. It offers a wide range of academic subjects and a variety of sports options.

Students attending Hillmorton High School come from various ethnic, social, and academic backgrounds, and most of the host families live near the school. Seventy to eighty foreign students from several different countries are chosen to come and study at Hillmorton, adding a cosmopolitan element to the school.

Kavanagh College


Kavanagh College is located in the university town of Dunedin. There are more than 20,000 students in this wonderful city. This architecturally modern school has computer rooms, laboratories, a library, an engineering wing, a culinary learning area, a fashion design room, a space for the performing arts and a state-of-the-art auditorium.

With a strong focus on sports, the gymnasium is equipped with an official size basketball court, work out room and tennis courts. Kavanagh is located just 5 minutes from the local Olympic size swimming pool, a bowling alley, golf courses and the water sports harbor of Otago.

Kerikeri High School

Bay of Islands

Keri Keri High School covers an area of over 2 acres in the beautiful north of New Zealand. It is located just north of the Bay of Islands where you can enjoy diving, sailing and world-class fishing. It is 45 minutes by plane or 3 hours by car from Auckland. This small community is very interested in its international students. They are committed to cultural exchange and make students feel very welcome.

Keri Keri High School has a Theater Academy that supports students who want to stay active in the arts. Their famous Sailing Academy also offers students the ability to obtain a sailing certificate. Keri Keri is a popular choice for international students because of the many courses and activities it offers, such as photography, theater, chorus, jazz band, automotive studies, hospitality, leadership, tourism, computer and a variety of sports. The school is equipped with a new, modern library and a brand new arts center. In addition, they have an auditorium, sports campuses, swimming pools and laboratories with the latest equipment. Keri Keri is the perfect environment for exchange students who are looking for a warm and welcoming community where they will feel special.

Mount Maunganui College


The city of Mount Maunganui is a district of the city of Tauranga, one of the most important import and export ports of New Zealand. As a summer leisure center for many Auckland residents, the city is laid back and cozy for those who want to have an experience of living and studying in a seaside town. Located on a peninsula ending with Mount Maunganui, there are beaches for surfing on one side and the beautiful entrance to the port of Tauranga on the other. The town of Tauranga has approximately 40,000 inhabitants and Mount Maunganui is a 10-minute bus ride away.

Mount Maunganui College has about 1100 students and beyond the normal courses, they also offer surfing as a subject, a golf academy and the opportunity for students to study oceanography. In the first semester, they offer a divers certificate program. Courses are taken in the school pool, and, in the second semester, students participate in marine collections with their teacher using their newly developed diving skills.

Pakuranga College


Pakuranga College places a big focus on outdoor activities, sports, and adventure. The gymnasium is equipped with an official size basketball court, workout room, and tennis court. It is located just 30 minutes from downtown Auckland and houses a student body of approximately 2,000 students.

Pakuranga College boasts an Olympic size swimming pool, bowling alley, golf courses and water sports harbor of Otago, just a 5-minute walk from the school campus.

Te Puke High School

Bay of Plenty

Te Puke High School (pronounced ta- pookie) is located in the Bay of Plenty, which is on the coast of the North Island about 3 hours by car or 40 minutes by plane from Auckland. The district of Te Puke is 24 miles from the main city of the region, Tauranga, with access to malls, movie theaters and other activities in the city.

The student body is comprised of about 1200 students and offers a variety of course options. Here you can find classes for arts, music, agriculture and even automobile mechanics. Te Puke also prides itself on academic education courses such as mathematics, biology, and exact sciences. With many beaches nearby, students can enjoy water sports, surfing and the beauty of the coastline!

Upper Hutt College


Upper Hutt is a very beautiful and safe city with 50,000 inhabitants, which is surrounded by rivers, parks and a national forest park. Thus, there are many opportunities for recreational sports and cultural activities. Access to the beaches of Wellington and to the harbor is easy.

Upper Hutt College is a co-ed secondary school founded in 1962. It is a 30-minute drive from the city of Wellington and has approximately 1,240 students. It offers a wide variety of subjects, excellent facilities, highly trained staff, and a very positive learning environment. In addition, it is a school that prides itself on its academic success, personalized attendance and intense participation in a wide variety of sports and cultural activities. Students can participate in activities such as fencing, kayaking, netball, rugby, badminton, basketball, hockey, dragon boating and tennis. They can also take part in rock bands, orchestras, debate teams and artistic groups. Upper Hutt College aims to make students feel comfortable and secure while away from home and offers easy access to the internet to help international students stay in touch with their families back home.

They are proud to offer high-quality accommodation in family homes that are carefully selected by the staff. The host family program coordinator takes care of international student needs and welcomes them upon arrival.

Waiheke High School

Waiheke Island

The quiet and beautiful Waiheke Island is just a short 50-minute boat ride from the center of Auckland. This tourist town swells its population in the summer, making it a fun and super active outdoor environment for students. There are many hiking trails that the locals love to show to their international students.

The island is famous for its vineyards that produce quality New Zealand wine. Waiheke High School organizes class trips to visit the wineries where students get to see first hand how the vineyards are managed and how wines are presented to the public. This location is a great option for those who are thinking about a gastronomy career.

Waiheke High School is ideal for independent students. The lifestyle is laid back and students have the ability to get around by themselves. Host families live near the school, so students are able to walk to and from school in a short amount of time. Day-to-day life is quiet, with students having access to Auckland on weekends for shopping, cinemas (including 3D), eateries, etc. If you are looking for a real ``kiwi experience``, Waiheke High School is a great choice.

Wakatipu High School


Wakatipu is located in Queenstown, which is known as a beautiful city and world capital of extreme sports. At Wakatipu High School they emphasize academic excellence along with cultural activities and sports. The focus of the school is on the quality of teaching and learning in an environment that allows and encourages students to become independent. Their goal is to generate an opportunity for students to develop their potential through their strengths. Wakatipu High School has excellent facilities that include an indoor heated pool, gym, full fitness room, climbing wall, six tennis and netball courts, computer labs, internet access, art room with video editing material, printing, dark room for developing photos and library, science laboratory, and theater.

All students attending Wakatipu High School have the opportunity to reach their academic, physical and social potential in a positive and interesting environment. The school has a sports coordinator responsible for coordinating various sports, which are practiced after school, during lunch hours and on weekends.

Wellington High School


Wellington High School is a school of 1,100 students located in the center of New Zealand's capitol. Founded in 1886, the school is proud of its tradition of innovate learning and offers a stimulating learning experience for exchange students from all over the world. They have been working with student exchange programs for 40 years and they welcome students from all countries.

The academic programs are complete and the teachers are experienced and highly qualified. The English learning program is one of the best in the country. Wellington boasts state-of-the-art technological facilities with individual internet accounts. Sports, music, arts, and activities are offered throughout the school year. Small student groups and individualized attention make Wellington High School a great choice for international students.

Western Heights High School


Western Heights High School is located in the city of Rotorua, a cultural center of Maori culture. Approximately 3 hours drive from Auckland, it is situated in a national park with volcanic soil famous for its spas, thermal pools, and treatments.

The school has approximately 1,300 students in a city with 55,000 inhabitants. The school provides an immersion in Maori culture for those students who are interested in anthropology studies. The school has many outdoor fields for sports, including horseback riding. Western Heights High School welcomes international students from many countries. They focus on great student-teacher relationships and academic success.

Whangaparaoa College


Whangaparaoa College, located in Auckland, is one of the most modern educational facilities in New Zealand. The school offers an innovative curriculum and intensive use of modern technologies in an ecologically conscious environment. The school offers academic classes such as physics, chemistry, biology, wood and metal works and other technical courses. It also offers sports, outdoor education, music, dance, lighting and sound table, visual arts/visual programming with state of the art computers, and drama classes (in an auditorium with a 1,200 person capacity).

Whangaparaoa College prides itself on having great support for students. International coordinators help international students adapt. Homestay coordinators find and screen host families that are most suitable for each student with on-going monitoring to ensure each student's well-being. Families are selected for their quality and they are eager to welcome students into the ``Kiwi culture``.

Whangaparaoa's mission is to challenge all students through a series of opportunities, maximizing their potential as individuals and members of the school and community.

William Collenso College


Napier is a city in the northeast corner of the North Island, with a population of approximately 60,000 inhabitants. Situated in a wine region on the seafront, there are wine tasting and gastronomy centers galore. The city was re-erected after an earthquake in 1929 with the architectural style of the time – Art Deco.

William Colenso School has approximately 800 students. It features a climbing wall and classes in trekking and outdoor education. It places emphasis on sports, arts, music and dance with a great tradition of Maori studies.