• New Zealand
    • Christchurch
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Biology Business Cultural Studies Economics International Business Māori Studies Statistics Tourism
Need-based funding, Merit-based funding, General grants/scholarships, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level


Price Details
Contact IES Abroad or see website for details: www.IESabroad.org/christchurch
What's Included
Accommodation Classes Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Jul 07, 2022
Aug 27, 2019
3 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

When you look outside your window in Christchurch, New Zealand, exploration awaits you—hiking, fishing, kayaking, or swimming. That’s just a typical day here. Enjoy the adventurous, yet relaxed, lifestyle that Christchurch has to offer.

When you study abroad, Christchurch will quickly become your classroom. Spend time learning outside the classroom by exploring this great city, which is one of the oldest and most European cities in New Zealand. In addition, you can enroll in an internship, where you will get hands-on work experience while learning from local professionals.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

LGBTQIA+ Support

Today, and every day, we celebrate who you are and who you will become. We take pride in simply getting to know you, and look forward to adventuring through this incredible world with you.

Studying abroad as part of the LGBTQIA+ community can present unique opportunities and challenges in exploring a new culture, so we have compiled resources on sexual orientation, gender identity, and allyship to help prepare you and support you along the way.

Neurodivergent Support

Going abroad, whether this is your first time or your umpteenth, can be a trip both literally and figuratively. Seeing something new or being someplace unfamiliar has its own challenges, especially when it comes to mental health and physical accessibility. With IES Abroad, you won't handle these concerns on your own.

We have not only compiled resources on mental health, physical health, and self-care to help prepare you and support you along the way, but we also have a dedicated Student Affairs staff that are available for you to contact from the United States and once in your host country.

Accessibility Support

Going abroad, whether this is your first time or your umpteenth, can be a trip both literally and figuratively. Seeing something new or being someplace unfamiliar has its own challenges, especially when it comes to mental health and physical accessibility. With IES Abroad, you won't handle these concerns on your own.

We have not only compiled resources on mental health, physical health, and self-care to help prepare you and support you along the way, but we also have a dedicated Student Affairs staff that are available for you to contact from the United States and once in your host country.



As part of IES Abroad's Global Good Commitment, IES Abroad employs sustainability measures in the following ways:
-Moving toward more sustainable Headquarters and Centers abroad
-Producing printed materials mindfully
-Hosting events and conferences in LEED-certified buildings
-Purchasing carbon offsets for staff air travel
-The formation of the IES Abroad Sustainability Team - a dedicated group of volunteers responsible for implementing sustainable practices across our organization. The team comprises of members across our Centers, departments, teams. It is truly a global effort, and we are better for it.

Program Highlights

  • Live in beautiful Christchurch, South Island's largest city! It sits on the Canterbury Plains and is a quick trip to the Southern Alps
  • Study at the respected University of Canterbury established in 1873
  • Take part in one of 90 university clubs for an easy way to make friends and immerse into Kiwi culture
  • Enjoy on-site staff support around the clock

Popular Programs

student wearing hiking gear smiling with mountains behind her

Enroll in courses at the prestigious University of Canterbury, one of the top three universities in New Zealand. During your time in Christchurch, you will have access to more than 50 academic departments and more than 90 on-campus clubs and organizations--ideal opportunities to connect with local students.

Program Reviews

4.95 Rating
based on 22 reviews
  • 5 rating 95.45%
  • 4 rating 4.55%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.05
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.55
  • Housing 4.5
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 22 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

New Adventures and Opportunities

Spending a semester abroad was more than just taking courses in another country for a couple of months. The experience impacted me in every way imaginable. I experienced the unknown a lot while I was abroad – public transportation, Kiwi slang, Māori language and culture, Tim Tam Slams – and each of these experiences is a memory I carry that developed me into who I am today and who I will be in the future. Study abroad taught me to be more independent, flexible and fun-loving. The five months I spent navigating the ins and outs of a new country increased my self-confidence and helped me mature as an individual. The curriculum I engaged with while abroad opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about subjects I thought I already knew, and a spark has been ignited in me to follow my passion and do what makes me happy.

While my experiences abroad may have shifted some of my plans for my future profession, there are certain qualities I acquired that will be useful no matter what field I end up in. I have a greater respect of people who aren’t the same as me. I’ve always been a tolerant person, but study abroad has helped me to better understand habits and notions of my own culture that were so ingrained in me I didn’t realized they existed. Not only have I earned a greater sense of respect for people, but I also feel more comfortable adapting to new situations and environments. My semester abroad threw many things my way I couldn’t plan for. I had to learn very quickly how to juggle them in order to succeed.

As part of my program, we went to Rarotonga, the Cook Islands. The entire trip was unforgettable. IES gave us such an incredible and unique experience that I never would have been able to plan myself. On one of my favorite days, we got to visit a school that had preschoolers through about year eight students. After our introduction and a performance from the children, we got the chance to interact with them on a more personal level. They showed us how to play the drums, husk and grate coconuts, weave plates and make coconut leaf jewelry and I even got the chance to play netball and tips with them on their lunch break. As we were leaving that day, most of the children lined up to give us parting high fives. A little girl that I played netball with grabbed my hand and interlaced our fingers instead of giving me a high five. She had one of the biggest smiles on her face I think I’ve ever seen and at that point I realized I would have been so grateful to just spend every day on our trip playing with those kids. Their lives are so fundamentally different than my childhood was, but their happiness was infectious. I have never been on a holiday where I’ve interacted with the local culture as much as we did that week. Yes, we spent our fair share of time on the beach, but I also left with a greater understanding of what life is like for Cook Islanders. I hope I can do that on all my future trips.

A semester abroad is about engaging with the culture of your host country. My program and my semester abroad helped me to do just that. I got the opportunity to embark on road trips with newly made friends, fly to the North Island and set out on an adventure in a very cramped campervan, work on one of my greatest passions (photography) and just see and experience the awesome New Zealand landscape. It seems like around every turn in the road there’s something new and overwhelming you get to take in. I spent a lot of my time abroad just feeling small in such a grand landscape. It was refreshing.

I had my life turned upside down in the Southern Hemisphere and realized that it was exactly what I needed for a lot of pieces in my life to slot together. I don’t think I’ll go a single day in my life where the impact of my semester abroad doesn’t somehow play a role in how I interact with this world. Study abroad is important. It opens new pathways and changes perspectives. Study abroad enabled me to learn about marine biology, evolution, Māori culture, and land ethics. It enabled me to learn about what it means to engage with your surroundings. It enabled me to learn about how I think about the world and what I can do to be a better global citizen. My experiences during my semester abroad are unparalleled to any method of learning I have previously been a part of. Not every moment was perfect, but I experienced so much sheer joy in the five months I spent abroad, I know I’m going to look back on those memories in the future and just soak in that happiness again. I am so immeasurably grateful for the opportunity to study abroad and I can’t wait to continue traveling in the future.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Barefoot people in the grocery store! Shoes are optional in New Zealand!
125 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Study abroad was amazing

Be prepared for a fun adventure every single weekend, the best scenery of your life, and being pushed way outside of your comfort zone in the best way possible. I accomplished many feats I never thought I would, made lifelong friendships, and enjoyed every second of being in a new country with a new culture. Work hard play hard is truly embodied in this program. Study abroad is what you make of it, and I do not regret this decision at all. This trip was home to many firsts- traveling independently, climbing mountains, hiking for 7 hours straight, camping for more than a week, seeing gorgeous stars, and driving on the left side of the road. While Christchurch suffered a major terrorist attack during my time here, I will never forget the support and community efforts of its people. You can't run away from real-world problems no matter where you go, but you can be lucky enough to feel the love and support of a people you just met and who help you feel at home.

What would you improve about this program?
More academic rigor and opportunities at UC would have been a great addition to the program.
115 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Self-Proclaimed Northern-boy Loves the South

Growing up in Northern Minnesota, I became accustomed to the dark and frigid winters. In the land of Ice hockey (sorry Canada), I instead picked up cross country skis and took to the trails hidden underneath the towering pines and oaks. This quiet winter wonderland of Scandinavian Americans is my home. So, when the option of studying abroad came to the table, naturally, I was interested in the Scandinavian destinations: Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Additionally, I had to study at a location where I would attend a university—one in which biology courses were offered. A list of viable programs was generated, and at the top of the list was a program in Sweden. Conveniently, it met all of my requirements; I could have stopped the search right there, but something drew me to scroll down the whole list. There were plenty of decent options, but nothing caught my attention or piqued my curiosity until I got to the very bottom of the list. It was a program in Christchurch, New Zealand of all places: Christchurch Direct Enrollment – University of Canterbury. As I sat there pondering the land of hobbitses (i.e. “Middle-earth”) this curiosity transformed into a deep desire to explore this isolated land. I dropped all commitments to study in Scandinavia and refocused my attention to this program. Now, after successfully taking part in this program, I can confidently say that was one of the best decisions I’ve made—here’s why.
First, this program centers around direct enrollment at the University of Canterbury (UC). This is great for a couple reasons; for one, it is easier for students to take classes that will count towards one’s major(s)—in my case, I needed to take a microbiology course and I had no problem “finding” one that was offered at UC. On that note, classes at UC are on par with the difficulty of academics I experienced in the United States—of course, someone might find the classes easier or harder than what one has experienced in the US, but on average I would say most students will feel adequately prepared. That being said, the academic format is slightly different than what one might be used to in the US. Primarily, in most classes, there are few assessments of your learning (i.e. “homework”) throughout the semester; in most classes your final grade will heavily depend on your grade on a Final paper or exam. That being said, the grading scale is different than what I was used to in the US. For example, the grade range of an “A-” corresponds to 80–84.9%. The second reason direct enrollment at UC is great is that it allows you to connect with other students that are not in your program—kiwi students, international students, fellow biology nerds. These connections can happen in class, and they can also happen through the myriad clubs and organizations offered at UC. For example, those who are keen on trekking through the beautiful landscapes New Zealand has to offer should join the Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC), as outdoor gear can be rented by members, and the club takes frequent trips together. In short, studying at a UC keeps students “on track” for their respective major(s), and it allows for optimal social opportunities.
Another reason this program is a good choice is that the IES program has great staff at all levels. Before I even left for New Zealand there was work to be done—paperwork, preregistering for classes, etc.—the IES staff who were responsible for answering my last-minute questions and concerns before I left for NZ were always timely and helpful (thank you Maria!) I felt confident that there were a group of people who wanted me to successfully study abroad. When I got to New Zealand, I was not surprised that the staff were equally as helpful and genuine. The program director, Candice—who was just starting as the new director—was very kind and easy to talk to. I never had the need to discuss anything serious with her, but if the need had come up, I would have felt completely comfortable discussing it with her. Moreover, she was a great person to chat with, and you could tell she actually cared and was interested in each student’s story. Upon talking with her and sharing my pre-dental plans, she was even able to set up a meet and greet with a local dentist! There was also a “right-hand man” of sorts, Fraser, who occasionally helped Candice. Fraser was a fun, witty, guy, who was quite adept at quick quips and sarcasm; but more than that he was also very helpful—and he took wonderful photos/videos of the group. I am not entirely sure he is a permanent staff member, but if he is around if you end up in this program, make sure to get to know him too.
In terms of the housing options offered, there were not a lot of options. In the semester I went, all of the students in my program were housed in the Ilam Apartments—a large block of apartments, or “flats”, that house most of the international students at UC. This was nice because it was easier to meet other international students, but conversely, not many kiwi students lived in these apartments—so the only avenues for meeting kiwi people were through your classes or the clubs/organizations. I think it would be interesting to live in a homestay housing situation, to really integrate into kiwi lifestyle via a willing family. That being said, I was happy with my flatting situation, as my flat mates and I got along nicely, and we often went into town together. However, even though I had a good flat, I know some other students in my program didn’t have the same situation. So, it can be a bit of gamble as to whether your flat situation is pleasant or not. Despite this uncertainty, even if your flat situation is not what you hoped for, this is hardly a dead end—as mentioned earlier, there are other venues for meeting people, and extreme flat annoyances can often be resolved with the help of IES or the University of Canterbury. I should also mention that these flats are arraigned with five single bedrooms, two bathrooms each with a shower, and one shared living room and kitchen. For a student such as myself, who was used to sharing a small room with several roommates, I found the accommodations relatively spacious.
Last—and arguably most Important—is what New Zealand had to offer. When I was considering New Zealand, I honestly didn’t really know too much about the country—I knew Lord of the Rings was filmed and produced there, I knew they were crazy about rugby, and I thought I heard there were a lot of sheep there. Well, I wasn’t wrong, but this initial assessment barely scraped the surface of what New Zealand is. First of all, New Zealand is chock-full of amazing scenery. From snow-capped mountains, to dense forests, to massive fjords, there is something spectacular everywhere you turn. For those who love the outdoors, look no further than New Zealand to satisfy your need for fresh air and natural beauty. Then there are the people of New Zealand—kiwis; they are generally very laidback and kind people. This laidback attitude and lifestyle was somewhat familiar to me, as there is a similar way of life in Minnesota. But more than that, it made it easier to be an international student learning about the country/culture, as the kiwis were never rude or confrontational in our interactions. I can recall one instance in which I was riding the bus into the city center with a couple other IES students; we were at the front of the bus and were chatting about our experience abroad—it was clear we were international students studying abroad—and when the bus stopped at its destination, the bus driver turned around and said, “I think it’s so great that you guys are here studying in New Zealand, good for you guys,” or something along those lines. We were all pleasantly surprised and began chatting with the driver. I think this interaction summarizes the people of New Zealand quite well. I should also note that English is one of the main languages in New Zealand—along with te reo Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language—so if English is your first language you will feel comfortable communicating with people and understanding most written instructions.
Overall, this program was a fantastic experience; the country is beautiful, people friendly, and the opportunities for amazing memories—practically endless; this Northern boy is certainly happy he went South.

What would you improve about this program?
Overall this program is great. The one thing that could be improved however, is having more options for housing. For example, I think it would be great if homestays were offered.
118 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Please go to NZ

New Zealand is the most beautiful place I have had the opportunity to travel to. The mountains and coast are within a 3 to 4 hour drive of each other... The landscapes are otherworldly... gosh, honestly New Zealand holds such a special place in my heart. Studying abroad with IES was the best decision I have made thus far in my life. If you are a student looking to study overseas but still speak Enlgish, New Zealand is the best best best option. If you love outdoor activities, NZ is the place for you. If you like independence, laid backness, and adventure, NZ is it.

Now, the IES program itself was lovely, and my classes were nice and not too challenging when I put in the work, but these arent the aspects that made NZ for me. New Zealand itself, is what make this the most amazing time. The mountains summited, the weekend adventures, the people I met along the way, the people I got to know. Those were the moments that made it all

What would you improve about this program?
Allowing students to drive would make transportation so much easier. It is completely unrealistic to get around NZ without a car.
117 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Christchurch is the BEST

I absolutely fell in love with Christchurch, and am so happy I got the chance to study abroad there! It's the most perfect little city, and definitely provided the atmosphere I needed to grow as an individual. Eunice, our program director, was the BEST, and really helped us get acclimated to life as a kiwi. We also got a chance to go to Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, which wouldn't have happened if not for IES!

131 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Little Corner of the World

Program: Our program director, Eunice, is such an amazing and sweet person. She really genuinely cared about us and wanted us to have the time of our lives. We could email/ call/ text her with any question and she responds ASAP. She gave us tips and advice for anything and everything.
Country: Breathtaking. No other words can describe how beautiful the country is. My friends and I traveled all over the country every single weekend and still could not hit everything we wanted to get to. Will definitely go back.
University: Beautiful campus. Small class sizes. Flexible instructors. No smaller assignments but more focused on papers and exams.
Safety: I felt safe all the time, even at night.

What would you improve about this program?
Less handholding for group trips. Allow car rentals because it is very unrealistic to travel around the country for cheap without one.
116 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

IES Christchurch

I participated in IES Christchurch, direct enrollment into the University of Canterbury(UC) July-November 2017 and could not have been more pleased! The program coordinator was the most down to earth woman who made the transition into the Kiwi life super easy. All of my UC classes were 20ish students because I was taking junior-level courses. The courses were challenging but very manageable compared to what a junior level Biology course at my home university would require. I had the opportunity to get to know my professors and other students in my classes. Not to mention, the south island of New Zealand is a prime location to study abroad for the outdoor adventurer! I'd go back in a heartbeat!

What would you improve about this program?
The required on campus housing was sub par for what we were paying.
118 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Upside down and Backwards

Travelling to New Zealand, a country on the other side of the world, was more than just a far-away country with new accents and foods. I wasn’t just on the other side of the globe – I was upside down and backwards. From navigating the airport and making my way to my new school, to walking on the other side of the street and greeting “Kia Ora!” to everyone I met, little things added up to create an upside down and backwards world. Going to New Zealand with IES, though, gave me a steadfast support structure and people to help me navigate everything new. Our program director was there for any and every question I had, and the other people there with IES were instant friends.

Going abroad with IES gave me an invaluable entry into Kiwi society that I would not have been afforded otherwise. In both New Zealand and during an IES sponsored trip to the Cook Islands, the IES Christchurch program gave me the opportunity to converse with local figureheads about social, economic, political, and environmental issues. Moreover, our program director from IES took us on amazing trips throughout the semester to a wildlife sanctuary, showed us hidden highlights of the city, and brought us to a Marae. (A Marae is a Maori community meeting place, and you have to be invited to a Marae by one of it's members in order to visit. Once there, we got to learn about Maori songs, language, art, traditions, and modern day culture.) All of these trips were just a few ways that I was welcomed into the Christchurch community that I would never have glimpsed if I hadn't gone with IES.

122 people found this review helpful.

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