Bringing your family
If you plan to bring your family with you to New Zealand, you will need to arrange their visas and accommodation, and ensure they will be well supported.
While it can be a wonderful shared experience living together in New Zealand while you are studying, you will have extra things to organise if you bring your family. You also need to make sure you will still have time to focus on your studies.
We recommend your family travels to Wellington at least four weeks after you—many students wait until the end of their first trimester to bring their families. This will give you enough time to settle into Wellington and your studies, before helping your family settle in too.
Make sure you have the financial resources to support your family before they join you. The additional costs for your family may include:
- visas for all family members
- living costs
- childcare and/or international school fees.
If you are a New Zealand Scholarship student, you will need to pay for your family but they may receive free healthcare and public schooling. Find out what your Scholarship does and does not cover for families on the MFAT website.
Your partner and family may be able to join you in Wellington, but they will need their own visas. You must apply for your family’s visas through Immigration New Zealand—explore visa options for your family. Your family’s entry to New Zealand is subject to meeting Immigration New Zealand’s entry criteria.
Renewing family visas
If a family member needs to renew their visa, you must apply through Immigration New Zealand. As a student, you can renew your visa through the University’s visa office if you meet certain conditions.
It is important to budget for visa renewals as these costs can be high. They will include any application fees and possibly medical checks or police clearance.
Immigration New Zealand now requires all visitors to New Zealand to hold a valid visa or an NZeTA. If your family are from a visa waiver country and wish to visit you, they will need to hold an NZeTA before they travel.
Most University halls of residence and homestays are only available to single students. If you bring your family, you will need to find private accommodation. It can take some time to find private housing, so you should organise temporary accommodation for when you first arrive.
As a student, you are automatically covered by the University’s recommended Studentsafe-University policy. Arranging private insurance for your family is your responsibility, however, our International Insurance Adviser can help you include your family on your Studentsafe policy.
It can take time to find a good job when you move to Wellington. If your partner wants to work, they must apply for the appropriate visa and allow time to find a job. Explore visa options for your family.
On your student visa, you may also be able to work during your studies.
Childcare and schooling
You may need to pay international fees for your child’s schooling in New Zealand—unless you are a New Zealand Scholarship student. International students also need to pay any additional school costs such as buying uniforms, paying compulsory donations, and camp fees. These costs vary depending on the school.
Childcare (children aged 0–5)
There will be a range of childcare centres and preschool options in your local area. Demand can be high so make sure you register your child early—some childcare centres have a waiting list.
University Kids Wellington provides childcare for students and staff near to Kelburn campus.
Read more about New Zealand’s childcare services on the Immigration New Zealand website.
School (children aged 5–18 years)
In New Zealand, most children start primary school when they turn five. School is compulsory from the ages of six to 16. If you have children who are five or older, you will need to enrol them in school once they arrive. Children under the age of 14 will need to be supervised outside of school hours and may need before and after school care too.
Don’t worry if your family arrives after the school term has started—most schools are flexible about starting new students during the term.
Read more about New Zealand schooling on the Immigration New Zealand website.
Families can require additional support to settle into a new country, especially if they are not in school or work while you are busy with your studies.
Here are some good first steps they can take to help them feel at home:
- Make friends by joining community activities or cultural groups.
- Volunteer and share their skills with local organisations.
- Explore English-language schools in the Wellington area, if your family does not speak English.
- Learn about the New Zealand education system to understand what might be different from your child’s previous schooling.
- Consider career and job options if your partner wants to work.
As a student of the University, we offer a range of services to support your study. University services are not available to family members.
The International Student Directory is a great resource for new international students and their families. This provides information about health and counselling services available to families, as well as religious groups, community services, and local interest groups.