Starting your life in Auckland as an international student

Ready to start your life as an international student at AUT? Find out more about settling into life in Auckland – from accommodation and where to shop, to how to set up banking, your mobile phone and internet.

Setting up your new life in Auckland

Your choice of accommodation can depend on several factors, for example what you can afford, the location, distance from campus, and retail, social and community services in the area. It’s a decision that you should carefully consider.

If you’re bringing your partner or family with you when you’re moving to Auckland to study at AUT, we recommend you come early to organise your studies and look for accommodation that will suit your family’s needs. Then you can arrange for your family to join you once you’ve got that sorted.

Stay on campus with AUT student accommodation

Living in student accommodation is a comfortable and convenient option whether you're a first-year or postgraduate student. AUT’s student accommodation is modern and secure, offering a social community just a few minutes' walk away from our City or North Campus.


Arriving at your AUT student accommodation for the first time

We strongly recommend that you arrive at your AUT accommodation during the days and hours outlined below. That way we can help you to settle in and make sure you have everything you need from the start of your stay.

  • Wellesley Student Apartments: Monday to Sunday, 8am to 9pm
  • Akoranga Student Village: Monday to Sunday, 8am to 7pm
  • Te Āhuru Mayoral Drive: Open 24/7 but contact us if you’re arriving after 8pm

If you’re arriving outside of these hours, especially if it’s late at night or very early in the morning, we suggest that you find alternative accommodation near the airport and make your way to your student accommodation the next day. This will be at your own cost. There are options near to the airport which range from 2-4 star hotels to suit your budget.

Auckland airport accommodation information

Under 18 years of age

If you’re under the age of 18 you need to live with your parent, legal guardian or a designated caregiver as per the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 (the Code).

When you submitted your application to study at AUT, your parent(s) would have had to provide information regarding your accommodation and care while enrolled, until you reach the age of 18 years.  As part of our duty of care, our international support staff will also arrange to view your accommodation to ensure you have an appropriate and acceptable environment to live and learn.

Off-campus accommodation for AUT students

There are a number of accommodation options available to you if you prefer to live off campus while you're studying at AUT.

Other accommodation options

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

You should bring about NZ$500 with you – prepaid travel money cards, Cash Passport or credit cards may be safer than cash.  This is to cover things like taxis, food or even a hotel for your first night.

If you must use your overseas bank card at a New Zealand ATM (Automated Teller Machine) you may be charged higher foreign exchange rates.  You will get a better deal at a currency exchange service.

Let your bank at home know that you will be studying in New Zealand, so they do not freeze your credit card on suspicion of fraud when you use it after you leave your home country.

Kiwis (New Zealanders) do not often carry cash; we use our bank cards to pay for most things.  It is important that you keep your bank card safe and do not tell anyone your PIN number.

Most Kiwis do their banking online or through an app on their phone.

AUT is a cashless organisation and you will only pay for goods and services with bank, credit cards or the AUT Wallet.

Opening a bank account / Setting up an account before you arrive

There are five main banks and several smaller banks to choose from in New Zealand.  The five main banks are:

The five large banks have information online about their services and setting up an account before you arrive in the country but you need to go into the bank when you arrive in Auckland to activate your account in person.

Once you arrive in Auckland, you can visit and discuss your needs with the customer help desk at the bank.

You may be able to open a bank account online and put money in it before you arrive in NZ. We recommend that you contact each bank to find out if this service is available.

Visa requirements

Some banks may only open a bank account if your student visa is valid for six months or longer.  You will need to check with the bank to see whether this is a requirement.

Documents you may need to open your bank account

To open a bank account you will need to provide identification and information.  Each bank will have their own requirements but the information below is often requested:

  • Your passport details
  • Proof that you are an enrolled student in New Zealand
  • Proof of your address in New Zealand (if you are not in NZ or organised your accommodation yet, please discuss with the bank directly)
  • Your Tax Identification Number from your home country (and any other country where you are or were a tax resident)

You can request proof of your address by email or in person from the AUT Student Hub at each campus. If further documents are required, the bank will request these from you.

Banking in New Zealand

How to pay for your shopping

You can make most of the purchases you need in your first few days in Auckland using your credit card. Practically all shops and businesses in New Zealand accept the major cards.

It’s a good idea however to use cash for some purchases - for example, taxis put a surcharge on fares paid with a card. You can get cash from ATMs (automatic teller machines). They’re easy to find and they all have the Cirrus and Plus interbanking systems, so if you still have an account in your home country you can access that. Sooner rather than later, you will need a local card, linked to a New Zealand bank.

Opening hours for shops

Shop opening hours in New Zealand vary. Standard hours are from 9am to 5.30pm on weekdays. Many shops, especially those in shopping malls, also open at the weekends, though hours may be different.

Supermarkets and grocery stores

Most people buy their groceries (food) from a supermarket. Major supermarkets are Pak n Save, Countdown and New World, and you can find them across New Zealand. These supermarkets have extended hours seven days a week.

Supermarkets specialising in ethnic and alternative foods are located across Auckland and include:

  • Lim Chhour, Karangahape Road, Auckland City
  • Sandringham Shops, Sandringham Road – Indian foods
  • DH Asian Supermarket, Dominion Road – Asian foods
  • Halal shops and markets
  • Otara and Avondale markets – fresh produce
  • Bulk foods, Dominion Rd
  • Harvest Whole Foods, Richmond Rd – Organic foods

Other household items

If you want cheap but reasonable quality goods like linen and small household appliances, The Warehouse chain of stores is a good place to shop.

Other shops to buy household items include Kmart, Briscoes, Farmers and Costco. You can find stores across Auckland.

One of the top priorities after you land will be setting up your electronic links to the rest of the world, so you can check in with home and find out what is happening in your new community.

You will need to get your mobile phone working and get connected to Internet. You will also want to get access to TV, radio and news.

Getting connected in New Zealand

Setting up your mobile phone

When you arrive, you will probably have a mobile phone. To connect to a local network you need to purchase a plan from one of New Zealand’s main providers. You can find some of these network providers at the Auckland Airport or on Queen Street in the Auckland CBD.

Mobile phone network providers in New Zealand:

Purchasing a plan from a network provider will allow you to have access to a mix of data, calling and texting to suit your needs.

Setting up internet

It’s a good idea to compare the options available from internet providers before signing up for broadband. Think about the cost and the type of plan (for example the amount of data in your broadband internet package).

Compare internet options

Electrical plugs and sockets

New Zealand’s electricity is 240 volts and 50 hertz.

You can buy adapters can be purchased from electrical and travel stores and some pharmacies and supermarkets. However, these adapters don’t convert the voltage. This means you can’t use 110-volt appliances in New Zealand. Check your instruction manuals carefully to avoid an accident.

If you have a current and valid overseas driver’s licence or an international driving permit, you can drive in New Zealand for 12 months from the date you arrive. After that, you need to get a New Zealand driver licence if you want to drive.

You must have your licence on you when you’re driving. If your licence is not in English, you must carry an accurate translation.

If you’re caught driving without a licence

Driving in New Zealand without an appropriate licence is illegal. If you’re caught:

  • You may need to pay a large fine
  • Your car may be impounded
  • You’re unlikely to be covered by insurance if you have an accident

Getting a New Zealand driver licence

In New Zealand there are two types of driving tests—theory and practical. You may not have to re-sit these tests if you’re from a country with similar licensing laws to New Zealand.

To see the testing requirements for your home country, visit the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

Learn the New Zealand Road Code

If you plan to drive, make sure you study the New Zealand Road Code. Understand what the road signs mean and how to drive safely.

You can test your knowledge of the New Zealand Road code on the Practice website. Or read a copy of Driving in New Zealand

Learn the Road Code and practice tests online

Driving in New Zealand

There are a few things that you may not be familiar with when driving in New Zealand. For example:

  • We drive on the left side of the road
  • It’s easy to underestimate travelling times here
  • Our roads are narrower, more winding and sometimes steeper than you might expect
  • Our roads are mostly two-way, with one lane in each direction - we have few motorways

Check the conditions on your visa – it will show if, and when you are allowed to work while you're studying in New Zealand.

Many students work while studying. It offers opportunities to meet new people and practise your English language skills, but having a good balance is vital to success. It’s a good idea to discuss work and study expectations with your supervisor or faculty.

Working while you study

Workers rights in New Zealand

Employees in New Zealand must be paid at least the minimum hourly wage rate for every hour worked. All employers and employees should have a written agreement whether it is an individual or collective contract. The Employment New Zealand website has information on understanding your employment rights while working in New Zealand.

Employment New Zealand website

Childcare for children under the age of 5

Enrolling children under the age of five years into childcare is at your own expense. There are no childcare subsidies for children of international students.

There are several childcare options in the Auckland region, but there may be waiting lists and you may not be successful at getting a place for them straight away. We recommend that you contact various providers before you come to New Zealand.

If you’re studying at the AUT North Campus, AUT has the Akoranga Childcare Centre, which has excellent staff and facilities to provide a safe and happy environment for your child.

Akoranga Childcare Centre

School for children over the age of 5

If you have a child that is between 5 and 6 years of age or older, they need to enrol in a New Zealand school. Have a look at the Ministry of Education and the Study in New Zealand websites below to understand the New Zealand education system and the appropriate enrolment for your child.

According to New Zealand law, children under the age of 14 may not be left home alone without an adult looking after them. At 14 children can be left home alone.

New Zealand school year

The school year runs from late January or early February through to December. The normal school day will usually be between 8.45 a.m. to 3.15 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Choosing a school

You can choose a school depending on the area where you live in Auckland. Most Auckland schools are zoned to ensure that children who live in the school's area (the zone) are guaranteed a place at their local school.

Children of international students will have to pay international school fees unless you’re a doctoral (PhD) student. In that case, your children will pay domestic school fees.  This is at your own expense.

Useful websites

New to AUT?

Starting uni is exciting but it can also be a bit of a change from high school or the workplace. Don't worry; we're here to help. Find out how to get started at AUT, where to get support and how to make sure you’re settling into uni life and make the most of your time at AUT.


Culture shock if you’re an international student

Arriving in New Zealand is exciting, but once you’ve settled in a bit you may experience culture shock. It’s a natural part of adapting to a new culture and affects most international students. Read our tips for managing culture shock.


Students walking on Waiheke

New Zealand values and customs

Understanding New Zealand rules, customs and laws, and what to expect in New Zealand will help you feel comfortable with New Zealanders and make the most of your time here.


Contact us

For international student support while you’re studying at AUT contact the Student Hub. Our student advisors can help with:

  • Visa and immigration matters
  • Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Life in New Zealand
  • Talking to faculties
  • Homesickness

Phone 0800 AUT UNI (0800 288 864)
or +64 9 921 9779

Opening hours

Contact us online

After hours phone +64 9 921 9900 (for emergencies)