You may be surprised to learn that English is not among the official languages of New Zealand - especially if you're considering learning English there! In fact, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages, with English recognized as a significant unofficial main language. That said, there are no shortages of opportunities to learn English in New Zealand, and the welcoming reputation Kiwis gave for foreigners makes it a great candidate if you're looking to study abroad.

Whether you end up on the North or South Island, being surrounded by some of the most impressive natural beauty on earth will only help to enhance your English learning experience: you'll gain new appreciation and understanding for phrases like "I finally saw the Wanaka tree!" Get ready to enjoy this adventurer-friendly country while you learn English in New Zealand.

Course Types

To learn English in New Zealand, you can enroll in courses at a university or take classes at a private language school. There are plenty of options for both, depending on where in New Zealand you go.

University Courses

Many of the major universities in New Zealand provide English courses for students who need them. If you study abroad in any subject there, you can add these to your course load. These classes may also be open for students to take as one-off courses or through auditing.

Language Schools

If your motivation for learning English is independent of a study abroad program or university, a small, private language school could be a great fit. These courses allow you to focus on English as the only subject, rather than as part of a degree program. This is a great option for students who are living or spending time abroad in New Zealand, but aren't necessarily enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, and may have a lower cost of enrollment than similar classes at a university.

Where to Go

The most common locations in New Zealand to learn English will be in larger cities. If you have your heart set on a smaller community, there may still be options that might require greater research before enrolling to ensure you'll receive quality instruction. Here are some of the larger destinations you might consider.


Located on the North Island, Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and has the widest variety of opportunities for language learning. From the universities to a number of language schools spread throughout the city and programs that can help match you to a language instructor or course, you'll have to shortage of options.


The largest city on the South Island, Christchurch is also a great urban spot to learn English in New Zealand. Similar to Auckland, you'll have plenty of choices on where you'd like to learn, and what program you'd like to enroll in.


Also located on the South Island, Dunedin has strong cultural and architectural influences from Scotland and England. You'll have the chance to learn England while in this setting, and the large student population in Dunedin will help you feel welcome in whichever course you choose.


Smaller than other cities on this list, Queenstown should nonetheless be considered for its stunning setting: the city is on a lakefront and near the Southern New Zealand Alps. If you want to spend your time outside of English class adventuring, Queenstown is a great candidate.


The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a cultural hot-spot and offers plenty of choices for language learning (both university and language schools). The city is smaller than Auckland or Christchurch, but has plenty of opportunities to practice your English skills at the variety of social events, restaurant openings, and concerts.

Planning Your Trip

Depending on the type of language course you enroll in while in New Zealand, the amenities associated with your course will differ.


For students enrolled in university-affiliated courses, it is quite likely that you will have housing options provided for you as part of the course – especially if you are studying abroad from another campus. If this is the case for you, be sure to check with your home campus for specific details. Students who study English in New Zealand at a language school will probably have to find their own housing.


The New Zealand Immigration division presents a straightforward way of determining if you need a visa; as a student you will very likely be required to apply for one. If you're learning English while traveling, living, or working in New Zealand, your visa status will depend on your home country.

Contributed by Valerie Stimac

English Language Programs in New Zealand

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