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By living with a host family and attending a local school in New Zealand (Aotearoa), you’ll get to know why this country is celebrated for its friendliness and breathtaking natural beauty. Experience the casual Kiwi culture and pass your days with plenty of time outdoors, having a family barbecue or hiking to the nearest beach. You’ll be totally immersed in New Zealand society and learn all about its rich and diverse culture. This isn’t just a year abroad; it’s an adventure you’ll never forget!

Things to know

The culture of New Zealand is heavily influenced by the Maori people, the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand. You might get a chance to learn the Maori language and you’ll see Maori words and street names all over. While New Zealanders tend to eat a lot of red meat, it’s generally quite easy to get by as a vegetarian. Vegans, however, might have a hard time due to the prevalence of dairy.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated prior to the start of the program
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 16 yrs, 0 months to
17 yrs, 6 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Your Journey to New Zealand

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience. 

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in New Zealand will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff and volunteers and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world! Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on New Zealand culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

On the way to your host community, you’re bound to see picturesque farms, grazing sheep, and kids playing rugby. You might also see people gathering outside for barbecues – a favorite way to pass a weekend day. There is a huge Asian and Pacific Island influence on New Zealand culture and you’ll probably notice that in the architecture, art, and music. In fact, many of the streets you pass may be named in both English and Maori, with the two names used interchangeably.


Meeting Your New Zealand Host Family

You might live anywhere in New Zealand but most AFS students live in semi-rural or rural areas. There is a possibility that you could live on a farm, where you get the added benefit of learning how to feed cattle, milk cows and make hay with your host parents and siblings!

New Zealanders love to spend time outdoors and you can expect that a lot of your family time will be spent outside in the garden, having picnics and going on hikes together. In general, you can expect to help out around the house with the same sorts of things that you’re used to doing at home.


Settling into daily life in New Zealand

Teenage Life

As a teenager in New Zealand, a lot of your time will probably be spent with your host family and at school. In your spare time, you’ll find lots to do with your friends. Teenagers in New Zealand often hang out in cafes and go shopping, but most of all they enjoy playing sports and spending time exploring the beautiful landscape. The most popular sports are rugby, cricket, and soccer. You can also go surfing and whale watching on some of New Zealand’s countless gorgeous beaches!


Foods You’ll Encounter

Since there are so many farms in New Zealand, you can expect to have lots of fresh meat, dairy, and produce. New Zealanders love fish and chips and pot roast, but Asian-style curries and stir-fries are also very popular. You might even notice a distinct Japanese influence in some of the foods. On special occasions, you could experience a traditional Maori feast, called a hangi, which is similar to a Hawaiian luau.


Your Host School

During your study abroad in New Zealand, you’ll likely attend a public school – and remember, since New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, their school year is opposite the U.S. in terms of start and end dates. Depending on what classes you’ve already taken, you may take math, English, art, and science. You’ll also have the opportunity to do extracurriculars like agriculture and outdoor recreation. There are lots of sports clubs, Maori cultural groups, choirs, and drama clubs that you could get involved with as well.

Available Scholarships

AFS-USA scholarships are made possible by the generosity of numerous donors who all have a deep connection with AFS and value intercultural exchanges as necessary for the promotion of peace and justice in the world. Upon submission, applications will be reviewed and matched with the most applicable scholarship, if available. All scholarships are partial, and scholarship award amounts will be determined based on program length. For additional funding resources, check out our Fundraising page. You can view all available national and local scholarships on our Scholarships page.

What's Included

  • Round trip international airfare chaperoned by an American staff member
  • Accommodations, meals, and transportation
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Access to a 24/7 Emergency Duty Officer
  • Visa Support
  • Please review the Terms and Conditions for complete guidelines.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home from your study abroad in New Zealand, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in New Zealand.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated prior to the start of the program
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15 yrs, 0 months to
19 yrs, 0 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement