Arriving and living in Auckland

Here’s a guide to what to expect and what to consider as you prepare to study at AUT.

Be sure that you arrive in Auckland in time to come to Orientation, and learn how fun living and learning in Auckland can be.

New Zealand knowledge

Before you arrive you’ll want to learn as much as you can about New Zealand.

Many students include the following places in their ‘must-do’ lists:
  • North Island: Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Tongariro National Park
  • South Island: Queenstown, Christchurch, Milford Sound
For information about these places and all of New Zealand, visit the official Tourism New Zealand website,

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Document Checklist

Make sure to bring your:

  • Passport
  • Insurance certificates
  • Offer of Place
  • Visa
  • Driver’s license - an international or own-country driving license is valid for one year in New Zealand. After that you will need to obtain a New Zealand driver's license
  • Birth certificate (copy only)
  • Any other documents you may need
  • NZ$300 cash just to cover emergencies

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Cost of living

Living costs vary from student to student. Here are expected minimum annual living costs you should budget for. You should also complete research into your own expected costs.

Description    Annual estimate (average) NZ$
Phone (excludes toll calls)   
Laundry     $350
Entertainment     $1,000
Books and materials   
TOTAL: (per year)   

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This table shows the NZ$ cost of some commonly purchased items. This information is a guide only.

Description Estimate non-discounted NZ$
Big Mac   
Large pizza   
Asian meal  
Can of coke  
Beer (pint)   
Wine (750ml)   
Movie ticket  
Cellphone on contract
(200 free off-peak minutes)

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Electrical goods


If you are bringing in electrical goods, such as computers, hairdryers etc., be aware that electricity throughout New Zealand is supplied at 230 volts, 50 hertz. Most power sockets accept three-pin plugs or similar adaptors. You can buy adaptors readily in New Zealand. Most student rooms will be wired for internet use, but check with your specific accommodation.

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What clothes should I pack?

Auckland is warm in the summer, but in the winter it can get cold and it often rains. Therefore, make sure you pack warm clothing along with summer clothes. University students dress casually so bring your favourite jeans, t-shirts, jerseys (sweaters), sweatshirts, shoes and sports shoes. Bring formal clothing for special occasions. You’ll also need a warm waterproof jacket.

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  • Summer: December - February
  • Autumn: (Fall) March - May
  • Winter: June - August
  • Spring: September - November

  • Average summer temperature: 23 degrees C , 75 degrees F
  • Average winter temperature: 14 degrees C, 57 degrees F

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Transport from the airport

You should fly into Auckland International Airport. There are many different transport options from the airport. We recommend that you book your airport transfer with Airport Transfers Ltd. You will be met at the airport by a friendly and professional driver who will safely transport you from the airport to your accommodation.

To book your airport transfer:

For more information about other transport options visit the Auckland Airport website.

You can also ask for help from the friendly people at the I-SITE Visitors Centre at the airport.

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Immigration and Customs


On arrival in New Zealand you will have to go through New Zealand Customs. You will have been given a form to complete on the plane which outlines prohibited goods. Read the form carefully. Be especially aware that you must declare food of any kind. A forgotten apple in the bottom of your bag will earn you an instant fine of NZ$200 - not a good way to start your Kiwi experience.

Most medication is available in New Zealand, but check with your doctor first. If you are carrying prescription medicines or controlled drugs you should:

  • Have a prescription from your physician advising that the medicine is being used under a doctor’s direction and is necessary for your physical well-being
  • Carry the drugs in their original containers
  • Have sufficient quantity not exceeding three months supply for prescription medicines or one month supply for controlled drugs

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First impressions

You made it! Well done. New Zealand is a long way from most countries and you will have arrived after a very long time in the air. Jetlag is a very real experience. You will get over jetlag more easily if you try to adjust yourself as quickly as possible to the local time and resist the temptation of collapsing into bed for the rest of the day. Besides, you need to get out and about and explore your surroundings!


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Depending on where you come from you may find Auckland very small and quiet or a huge bustling city! Make sure you discover the variety of attractions Auckland has to offer. Auckland is a vibrant multicultural city beside the sea, sprawled between two harbours and two oceans - the Tasman and the Pacific. It offers the best of both worlds - all the buzz, entertainment, nightlife and cultural activities of a big city, as well as an outdoor lifestyle with numerous sporting and leisure activities.

Explore the beautiful beaches, take a ferry to one of the offshore sub-tropical islands, and visit the Auckland Museum. Make sure you attend one of the many local and international festivals, exhibitions and performances held frequently in Auckland. Check out the official Auckland website,

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If you are staying in the central city you will be able to explore the inner city and harbour on foot. To find out more about your campus and how to get to and from your classes, see getting to and around campus.

The Auckland Transport website gives information about getting around on public transport (bus, train and ferry), as well as walking and cycling options.

Auckland Transport website 

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Kiwis - the people

You will notice that there are many people of Asian and Pacific origin, as well as Māori and Europeans. Many of these people will actually be Kiwis - just wait till they start to speak and you’ll know! The Kiwi accent is very distinctive, and one of the things you will have to get used to.

There is a definite Kiwi culture and if you’re not expecting any cultural differences you may be in for a shock! Kiwis are generally considered to be relaxed, friendly and outgoing. Although this is a huge generalisation, we like to think there is some truth to it. Informality is the norm in most social settings. Kiwis have a distinctive sense of humour which may come across as sarcastic, but don’t take offence… They expect the same back.

Sport plays a large part in the Kiwi lifestyle so if you want to meet Kiwis, a sports team is a great place to start (you’ll get more information about sports at Orientation).

Young people are independent from a young age and are expected to take responsibility for themselves. This is important to know from the perspective of your studies. There won’t be anyone to remind you when the next assignment is due!

While the legal drinking age is 18, emphasis is placed on responsible drinking. Drink driving laws are strictly enforced.

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Money matters

Money is always one of the first things you need. Bring enough cash with you to get you through the first few days. NZ$300 should be enough. It's easy to change your money (traveller’s cheques or cash) at a bank, or Bureau de Change kiosk at the airport, in the city or in your suburb.

The New Zealand dollar is the currency used in New Zealand. 100 cents = one dollar ($1).

To check current conversion rates with your home currency check out

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Opening a bank account

It is a good idea to open a New Zealand bank account. Nearly all the major banks have international student packages. If you open a student bank account during Orientation you can often choose from a variety of deals that the banks run to attract students. Most banks will want to know that you or your family has a “banking history” in your own country. You should take a letter from your bank, some proof of your account - such as a copy of a statement, your passport and proof of your enrolment in a New Zealand education provider.

ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines are widely used in New Zealand and readily accessible.

You’ll learn more about banking and finances at Orientation so don’t panic!

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Shop opening hours vary. Standard hours are from 9am to 5.30 on weekdays. Many shops, especially those in shopping malls, also open at the weekends, though hours may be different. Supermarkets have extended hours seven days a week. If you want cheap but reasonable quality goods such as linen and small household appliances, The Warehouse chain of stores is a good place to shop. They’re easy to find as they are RED!

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Medical matters

Once you are at AUT you can make use of the Health, Counselling and Wellbeing centres on campus. However if you need urgent medical attention in the first few days, ask the staff at your accommodation to tell you where the nearest accident and medical centre is located. These centres are scattered around the city and are usually open 7 days a week for extended hours. In dire emergencies only you should call 111.

For information about accident and emergency clinics in Auckland see search results for ‘A&E Clinics in Auckland’ on the Yellow Pages website.

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International Orientation takes place each semester before classes begin and is for international and Study Abroad students. Topics covered will include living and learning in Auckland, banking, insurance, police, travel within New Zealand, ID cards, computer use, a campus tour, special events and lots more.

Make sure you come to Orientation as it’s a great way to meet people and get a good start. Orientation for new international students

Safe travels and see you soon. Kia pai tou haerenga, ka kite ano

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Last updated: 08-Jun-2017 10.52am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.