study abroad, international college, New Zealand, Wellington, Victoria

Victoria University of Wellington


Located in the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, between a beautiful harbor and rolling green hills, the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Wellington is the political, cultural and creative capital of New Zealand.

Victoria University of Wellington offers a comprehensive range of internationally recognized courses and degrees, consistently ranking highly in the QS World Rankings by Subject. As well as AACSB, Equis and AMBA approved Business courses, the University offers Sciences, Architecture, Design, Education, Engineering, Health, Music and a wide variety courses in New Zealand's highest ranked Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Home to around 22,000 students including 3,000 international students Victoria University of Wellington offers the opportunity to study at New Zealand's top ranked university for research intensity, in a spectacular location with fantastic facilities. The University is centrally located in Wellington City.

Intakes: February, July



Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Place to Spend Some Time

I absolutely loved my study abroad experience at VUW. My program is at the graduate level in Canada and undergraduate level in New Zealand, so there was an adjustment going from a graduate to undergraduate program for a semester. But the professors were generally lovely and I learned so much.
Wellington is a great place to live, and a fantastic jumping off point to explore New Zealand further (in-country flights can be very inexpensive!) I completely fell in love with Wellington, and my experience in study abroad was completely fantastic. I would highly recommend studying abroad at VUW for anyone, but especially those who love nature, culture, food, and wine.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My number one advice is to get out there and DO things. Say yes. Explore opportunities. Walk around the city by yourself if you have nothing else to do. Book a solo trip (I went skiing!) It can be scary, to put yourself out there, but that's where friendships are forged and amazing memories are made!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

You can't beat Wellington on a good day

Going to Victoria University for my student exchange was truly one of the great things that could have happened to me. I learnt so much - how there are so many things out in the world beyond the shores of my small country; the challenges and efforts of people in bridging Maori and Pakeha relations; the reality that learning does not have to be stressful and only about grades. Staying at Helen Lowry Hall, I've made some awesome friends who showed me how living in a community is about caring, sharing and making connections. Wellington is a really accessible city with plenty of nature trails and walks. All you need is your two feet to get to see some plenty awesome views that'll blow you away. Something that I miss a lot about New Zealand are the natural landscapes and the kind people I've met during my journeys around Aotearoa.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the price of food in general is something that I needed to get comfortable with. It'll be great if the food in school could be more affordable with more selections but the staying in a catered hall has helped. Being able to pack seconds at dinners for the next day's lunch was a good solution in reducing expenditure on food.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best time of my life

I adored everything about my study abroad. I made most of my friends at my hall. The RAs are incredibly interactive and sweet. The food wasn't amazing but it was still better than most of the food back home. Because of the friends I made, I always had a place to stay when I traveled during the tri breaks. I never had to pay for a hotel, just a bus ride. I was able to see Hobbiton, Rainbow Springs, and the Redwood Treewalk. I was down in Christchurch for a week, where I visited their adventure park, Hanmer Springs and a beach in Sumner. I attempted surfing. The classes themselves were amazing too. If you're sick, they understand you can't come to class. My professors all excelled in the fields they taught and brought in constant real-world expertise and advice. One of my professors was working at Weta, which in general just provides a really cool opportunity to learn from someone active in a field I'm interested in. I took some intense courses so sometimes I was overwhelmed but overall it was a great experience. I love what I learned, the people I met and the stunning views I was able to witness.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I've always been somewhat shy, and really I did this program to push myself. I've always wanted to go, but learning I was going by myself was startling, as previous people from my major just happened to be able to go in groups of threes. The first week I was there is my biggest regret. I was terrified of everyone and everything. I missed opportunities to meet people intentionally and hid in my room as much as possible. I hung around my roommate in a desperate attempt to wedge myself into her group. It wasn't until someone in my hall directly invited me out that I started talking with people. It was so scary to even just start a conversation but I shoved some words out. By the end of the tri, I was really close with dozens of people between several groups, and we cried together when I left. Sometimes you just need to dive in and go from there. I still keep in contact with most of them.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Study Exchange in Wellington

My time spent at Victoria University of Wellington was way beyond my expectations. Regarding the academics, the classes were relatively easy and that is even though English is not my first language. The teachers were easy to understand and always open to answer any questions. Also, the workload is not too much which allows you to go travelling and exploring the surrounding nature! The university's staff was always very nice and followed us through the first steps to the last day of exhange. Regarding the accommodation, I was with Stafford House, a university's residence. They organized a lot of activities, mainly in the beginning, allowing international students like me to meet other students and make friends easily. On the social scene, the people in New Zealand and Wellington are very nice, open, welcoming and ready to help. Wellington is the perfect little seaside city; everything is close and there is always something exciting to do. 10/10 for the study abroad program at Victoria University of Wellington, I'll always be grateful for this experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would recommend attending all the activities that you can, mainly in the beginning; there are so many of them and that is where you'll meet most of your friends for the remaining of your stay. Also, remember that you are not alone, there are a lot of other international/study abroad students that, just like you, are looking to make friends.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


Overall, my abroad experience was amazing. I liked my home university more than my host, but for me, school was not the main focus of going abroad. I tried to travel New Zealand with my girlfriend as much as possible, and those trips were the best part of my abroad experience. The New Zealand landscape is incredibly varied, and all of it is beautiful. It also has some awesome wildlife such as dolphins, stick bugs, weka birds, star fish, Kia birds, (not-so-awesome) possums, jellyfish hedgehogs, (extinct) Moa birds, and so many birds in general. The Victoria University of Wellington Tramping Club was my favorite part about VUW. I would recommend it for exchange students wanting to meet new people and get out of the city to hike or rock climb.


Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I had been very indecisive about where I was going to do my study abroad experience at. Being that my University has a strong political science program, they had dozens of options for me to choose from.

When I sat down with my advisor at school, she asked me about what kind of hobbies I was interested in and about my personal preferences of lifestyle, and what things I liked to do in my free time; with all my answers, New Zealand was one of her top suggestions for me, and it was the option that I was the most curious about. But overall, I decided to pick New Zealand because of how unique the country is and how it would offer me a chance to experience a perspective on the world that I was taught very little about in school.

When I thought about having the chance to live in New Zealand, I was so excited, curious and overwhelmed with the number of fun opportunities for adventures that I would have there, and I knew it was the right fit.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program was a direct enroll program, so I entered Victoria University as an independent student, not with a group of students from my home university.

Most of the logistical work was done by me; arranging my visa, applying for housing and enrolling in classes, buying my flights to and from, etc. But my home university assisted us with the application process (as a direct enroll student, I had to apply to Vic directly essentially like a transfer or exchange student would and they had to accept or deny my application), so my abroad advisor assisted us with getting our documents and our applications in and sent to the right place on time since my University has an established relationship with Victoria U.

Once we were selected for the program by the team at Victoria International- the program is not very competitive; you just have to meet academic performance standards and have the ability to pass a visa background check - we had a pre-departure meeting with the AU Abroad staff in which they gave us a list of things we would have to complete a few weeks before we would leave for New Zealand.

The process of making all the arrangements can be very stressful as you will have thousands of questions, so having a sort of "check-list" for what I needed to have done and when helped me work all of the extra pieces into my busy schedule as a student.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If I had any advice, I would say to make sure that you do complete ample research about the country and its customs, things to do there, the school's reputation or class-structures before you go ahead and apply. I decided to narrow down my options to three programs that stood out to me, and from there I weighed the pros and cons of each, the cost of each, and timeline and variability I had to my own discretion for each program before I made my final choice. Obviously, you want to play it smart and safe, but all that being said, do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a little!

All of my friends at my university were also applying for study abroad programs around the same time as me, and it would have been very easy for me to have played it extra safe and chosen a program that everyone else was doing so I could stay in the comfort of my pre-established bubble. But I firmly believe that taking the bigger leap of faith and choosing to go to Victoria, a program where I did not know anyone else upon my application and arrival, was the best decision that I have ever made for myself. And, as scary as it sounds to go move overseas essentially alone, I made so many lifelong friends and I had the time of my life meeting new people.

Victoria sets things up very nicely so you have ample opportunities to meet new friends. And the extra bit of independence from the crowd gave me more of the curiosity, the bravery and the confidence to try new experiences on my own! I now have much better faith in myself and my abilities because I did the "scarier" thing and followed my gut!

If Victoria is the program for you, my advice is to not be afraid to participate, take some risks, take your classes seriously, but also leave room for you to have lots of fun adventures in your free time. I also recommend, if you are able, to leave room in your class schedule to take one fun, unique or locally interesting class! I was already an avid photographer but took my first class in New Zealand, and it was so cool! But if your class regime has to follow your degree path strictly, take the time to join a club or two on campus! I joined a Maori-language club specifically for international students and I had an amazing time learning from other Maori students at the uni once a week!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The average week consists of a structured class schedule, after school free time to have fun/study/see friends or play sports on a rec league, and home time. I lived in University Hall so I was in a student share-house in Kelburn just about 8 minutes from campus.

As someone who is very academically focused, I make school one of my priorities during the week.

I had classes 4 days a week, and I started my day around 9:15-10am with classes every one of those days. I would wake up regularly around 8-8:30 get ready, go to class(es), come home and have lunch, (or meet my housemate for lunch on campus or just down the hill in the CBD), go back to campus for my evening classes, and then spend the evenings doing work, hanging with friends, running errands.

At night, my housemates and I typically gathered in our living room to chat for a while before bed. Thursday and Friday evenings were when we would usually go out downtown in the evenings. We left weekends for mostly fun!

Saturday was typically the day we would plan hikes or short trips outside the city for. On Sunday is when we did most of our shopping and chores, having the farmers market run usually around 10-11am on Sunday and reserving the evening to catch up on work or prepare for the next day's classes.

The average student should have a decent amount of free time to work with for all different kinds of fun. There is not really an "average" activity I found for anyone, in particular. Everyone had different or shared hobbies like music, fishing or water sports, going on runs, hikes or playing intermural sports, reading, art, photography, you name it! It depends on the preferences of the people, but all of my friends definitely had time to enjoy themselves and get connected with the community while also being a full-time exchange student.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I would definitely say my biggest fear going into the program was that I would be too shy or too tunnel-visioned on one thing and miss out on getting to actually take advantage of my time there and all the wonderful things New Zealand has to offer.

I have always been one to over-stress myself over academics. I really want to succeed and do well in school, but sometimes I get so focused on that and really start to over-kill it so much that I have missed cool opportunities that came up. I became very afraid early on that I would disappoint myself and leave without really feeling that I had lived to my best ability with the time I had there. I would say that I really learned how to forcefully budget my time while I was there so I had the time and the ability to do well in school, but I could also go out and have fun and explore around the city and the surrounding areas without being stressed about completing my school work.

I really found that the fear of missing out on these opportunities was all in my head and that the best way to not miss out was to take advantage of opportunities that came up in front of me and to not be afraid to try something new or to get out of my comfort zone. And if you research the city and other things nearby, you have the ability to make a list of things that you want to accomplish, and that gives you a daily reminder to budget your time wisely so you can see what you want and try new things and have all the experiences you will remember for the rest of your life without so many regrets.

What did you like the most in your trip?

If I had to pick four places or activities/things to do in or around the Wellington Region that I am very happy that I took advantage of while I was there, I would say that they are;

  1. All of the amazing food: definitely take the time to go on a little "food tour" of the city while you are there. My friends and I found SO MANY great spots to grab a bite, I honestly still daydream about some of the meals I had there. The night markets and underground markets are also really cool places to find authentic international food, and the weekend farmers' markets are the best way to save money on beautiful fresh produce.
  2. Go to a rugby game! - I had so much fun learning a bit about rugby and having the chance to watch some professional rugby at Westpac Stadium is really cool. The All Blacks game was definitely my favorite, but I also had so much fun at a Wellington Hurricanes game, it was like being immersed in the local sports culture, which was a cool comparison to my hometown's sports culture!
  3. Enjoy all the hidden gems that the local parks and wildlife reserves have to offer! The Wellington Region is blessed with spectacular scenery. From the amazing landscapes that are the Putangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser, about two hours drive away from Wellington, showcasing some of the scenery seen in the Lord of the Rings, to Red Rocks Wildlife Preserve and the Wellington Skyline Trail. From the beautiful beaches and coasts of Oriental Bay, Scorching Bay and beyond, to nature preserves like Zealandia and the Botanical Gardens, you have so many beautiful landscapes right there for you to explore. Mount Victoria and its amazing city-scape at sunset, is just about 25 minutes from the Kelburn campus! If you do not have the ability to endlessly travel around the country, then I would at least recommend visiting these nearby places!
  4. Visit the city itself and learn something new while you are there! The city itself is really cool and has a lot of character. I was lucky enough to have classes at the Te Aro campus in town twice a week, which allowed me to spend more time in the city and explore a bit. Wellington has a really amazing character, it is all heart and soul of the people there. If you can't get into the city during the week, there are always activities happening in town and they like to post about them online and on social media, or you can make some fun on your own! I found a scavenger hunt sort of activity that is app-based and a friend and I ran around the city all day trying to find all these interesting and historic spots that it marks out for you. It was a really cool way to get to know the fast facts about Welligotn while also getting an intimate look at the city itself!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Courtenay James

Job Title
Victoria International Leadership Programme Co-ordinator
Courtenay James is the Coordinator for the Victoria International Leadership Programme (VILP) at VUW. Inspired by her own study abroad experience, she now works to bring the world to her students as they engage with global issues and challenges and develop as global citizens.
Courtenay James

What is your favorite travel memory?

There are too many to choose from! I travel to the USA for vacation often and each trip is unique and memorable in its own way. If I had to pick, it would be relaxing with my family at a great seafood restaurant overlooking Monterey Bay in California, watching sea otters play in the surf as the sun went down. Bliss!

Travel is full of busy days and endless activities, but the quiet moments where you can take a breath and appreciate wherever in the world you are, are the most rewarding for me.

How does your role have a positive impact on the experience of students in your organization?

In my role, I'm lucky to be able to provide students with a range of opportunities to expand their worldview and improve their leadership capabilities, whether this is something as small as planting a tree or as big as going overseas for a trimester.

As I am in a primarily student-facing role, I am able to give direct support to students working to complete the programme, encouraging them to transform into more active, global participants of the world.

What do you enjoy most about working with students/participants?

I had such a fantastic student experience and it is incredibly rewarding to see this generation of students thriving! We have such wonderful students who are active, involved and passionate and I am inspired by their successes. It is great to see VILP participants take on global challenges and work together towards solving complex world issues. This role has given me an insight into what students do each and every day and what opportunities are offered here at VUW.

What makes your programs unique?

VUW is the only university in New Zealand to have an extracurricular programme like VILP. We are very lucky to have it here, as by nature of being in the capital city of New Zealand, we're just a stone's throw away from places of significance like Parliament and the Reserve Bank, not to mention a considerable number of Embassies and High Commissions. Our close relationships with these organizations allow our students to interact with influential people in the political, economic and social spheres. It's not every day you get to speak with an Ambassador, but it happens pretty regularly here at VUW!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in creating an excellent experience for your students/participants?

Absolutely our passion! The VILP team is passionate about making the programme the best it can possibly be - we dedicate time to searching out new opportunities for engagement and advancement and are constantly thinking of ways to do and be better. Students recognize and appreciate this and in turn, bring their all to the programme.

What's your dream travel destination and why?

My dream travel destination is the Scottish highlands. My entire family is Scottish (they moved to New Zealand in the 1970s so I'm a first-generation New Zealander!) and I'd love to visit the country that was their home for so long. I'm also a big fan of the TV show Outlander and was a History major, so I'd like to visit some sites from the Jacobite Rebellion and, of course, Loch Ness!