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Is it safe to study in New Zealand for international students?

By Edvoy• Last updated: Oct 30, 2023
Is it safe to study in New Zealand for international students?
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When a country like New Zealand offers world-class education, gorgeous scenery, friendly locals, and overall high quality of life, it’s hard to resist imagining studying there. Before the pandemic, New Zealand was a popular destination for international students. About 100,000 students would fly to the country to study every year. 

The pandemic has changed all of that. Like many other countries around the world, New Zealand imposed full lockdown restrictions in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The borders were closed to everyone, including international students. 

It should be noted that New Zealand was one of the first to completely eliminate the virus within its borders at the height of the pandemic. But of course, the country entered a few more nationwide lockdowns throughout recent years as new variants of the coronavirus popped up.

Now that the world is easing into a post-pandemic climate, you are probably wondering if it is safe to study in New Zealand as an international student. Let’s take a look at the current situation and some things you should keep in mind before making your decision.

Also Read: Best Countries to Study and Work

Is New Zealand Safe?

Because "safe" is a broad term, we will consider different elements of safety in order to fully answer this question for international students.

Is New Zealand currently free of COVID-19?

New Zealand has been recognized for its strict rules against the coronavirus, which has helped the country remain safe throughout the pandemic. 

In December 2021, the government enacted the COVID-19 Protection Framework system, also known as the “traffic light system,” to determine the restrictions on transmission rates and vaccination. 

Near the end of January 2022, New Zealand was placed under the red light setting when cases of the Omnicron variant broke out within its regions. The country has been battling the virus ever since, with COVID-19 death rates at a record high in July 2022.

However, as of September 2022, New Zealand has lifted all COVID-19 travel restrictions, following the phaseout of the traffic light system. This means travelers no longer need to submit vaccination proof upon arrival. They will still be encouraged to take tests on day one and day five of their visit, and those who test positive will be required to quarantine for seven days. 

So, in terms of the coronavirus, is New Zealand safe? Technically, no. But this is also the case in most other countries right now. In hindsight, New Zealand has experienced remarkably fewer COVID-19 cases than other nations. As long as you’re vaccinated and practice the proper safety guidelines, New Zealand is as safe as any other country in the world. 

Are New Zealand’s streets safe from crime?

By international standards, New Zealand is a relatively safe country. It was dubbed the second-most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index (GPI). For context, the ranking is based on three domains: societal safety and security, the impact of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the level of militarization.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any dangers. No matter where in the world you’re traveling, you should explore with caution and be aware of your surroundings. Take note of areas that might be considered “no-go zones” by locals, and try not to walk around alone at night in unfamiliar areas.

New Zealand’s crime rates are still low compared to other countries, but reports show crime has risen in New Zealand’s cities.

In Auckland, the largest city, crime levels are up 30% from pre-pandemic levels, while gang shootings recently occurred in Wellington. There are also increasing cases of “ram-raids,” or criminals using vehicles to break into stores.

While these reports may make you think twice about studying in New Zealand, it’s important to remember that no city is completely free of crime. Many international students choose to study in larger cities because they offer more opportunities and experiences.

If you research your destination and take the necessary precautions, you can still have a safe and enjoyable experience studying in New Zealand.

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Why choose New Zealand?

Unless you live in Oceania, New Zealand is a faraway place. It’s about as far from Europe and North America as you can get. That's why it might come as a surprise that so many international students choose to study in New Zealand.

There are plenty of reasons why, and we'll detail the most common ones below.

New Zealand’s education system is world-class

New Zealand might be a small country, but it has a world-renowned education system. In fact, the country is home to eight universities that rank in the QS World University Top 500 Rankings 2022. Of those, the University of Auckland is the highest-ranked at number 85, followed by the University of Otago at 194, and Victoria University of Wellington at 236.

But it’s not just about the rankings. New Zealand is known for its innovative and creative approach to education. The country is big on hands-on learning experiences, so students can expect plenty of time outside the classroom to apply what they’ve learned.

Now that travel restrictions have been eased, the country is looking to welcome 1,000 international students in 2022.

Also Read: Top Universities in New Zealand 

The Kiwis are friendly

New Zealanders, or Kiwis as they’re called, have a reputation for being some of the nicest people in the world! They’re known for being down-to-earth, helpful, and relaxed. You won’t find much pretentiousness here.

Of course, you will meet all kinds of people from all over the world when you study abroad. But it’s always nice to be in a country where the locals are friendly and welcoming. It makes the transition to living in a new country much easier.

One of the best ways to get to know Kiwis is by joining a sports team or club. New Zealanders love their sports, so there’s no shortage of options to choose from. If you’re not into sports, you can also try joining a meetup group or taking a language class.

New Zealand’s scenery is stunning

New Zealand features some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with glaciers, mountains, beaches, rainforests, and more. There are even active volcanoes! It's no wonder that the country was heavily featured in the Lord of the Rings movies.

One of the best things about studying in New Zealand is that you don’t have to go far to enjoy the country’s natural beauty. No matter where you are in the country, there will always be something scenic nearby that you can explore in your free time.

When you have the time, try to go on some of the country’s popular hikes, such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Or if you want to get up close and personal with some of New Zealand’s wildlife, head to one of the many national parks where you can see dolphins, penguins, seals, and even alpacas!

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New Zealand has a rich culture

New Zealand is a country with a fascinating history and rich culture. The Maori people are the indigenous Polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand, and their culture heavily influences life in the country.

From the beautiful Maori carvings and artwork to the traditional Hangi (feast) cooked in an earth oven, there are plenty of opportunities to experience authentic Maori culture. You can even learn to speak te reo Maori, the Maori language, while you’re studying in New Zealand.

The cost of living in New Zealand is reasonable

Compared to other popular study destinations like the UK, Australia, and the US, living in New Zealand is relatively affordable. This is especially true if you live outside major cities like Auckland and Wellington. Food and transportation costs are also reasonably priced in most parts of the country.

Of course, the cost of living will also depend on your lifestyle. If you like to eat out often or go clubbing on the weekends, then your expenses will be higher than someone who prefers to stay in and cook at home.

New Zealand’s quality of life is high

In addition to having a world-class education system and stunning scenery, New Zealand is also known for its high quality of life. It’s regularly ranked as one of the best countries to live in. The country consistently ranks high on happiness, safety, and environmental quality measures.

It’s no wonder that so many people dream of studying in New Zealand. If you’re looking for a country where you can enjoy a relaxed lifestyle while getting a top-notch education, then New Zealand is worth considering.


1. Does New Zealand accept international students?

Yes! New Zealand welcomes international students as long as they meet the necessary requirements, including having a valid student visa and being enrolled in an accredited educational institution. The country is looking to accept 1,000 international students this 2022.

2. Is the admissions process for international students difficult in New Zealand?

The admissions process differs from one educational institution to another, but generally, it is not considered difficult. You must submit your transcripts, proof of English proficiency (if English is not your first language), and other required documents. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are pros and cons to studying in New Zealand as an international student during the pandemic. You will have to make a personal decision based on your own risk tolerance and comfort level. New Zealand is generally a safe country by international standards.

If you do decide to study in New Zealand, remember to stay up-to-date with the latest travel advisories and requirements, both from your home country and New Zealand’s Ministry of Education.

Be sure also to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that will cover you in case of any unforeseen events or illnesses.

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safety for international students
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