General info

Living in New Zealand – General information

Welcome to New Zealand and our culture.

The best way to learn about New Zealand way of life is to be open to experience it, live it, and learn.  Living in another culture gives you insights into your own values. There is always another way of looking at life.

There are many resources available on-line to help you with background factual information.


Population: an uncrowded 4 million people

Tourism is a large industry – attracting visitors to our spectacular scenery  of glaciers, majestic mountains, subtropical forests, sandy beaches or rugged wild coastline… a paradise for outdoors activities

New Zealand Houses

  • Heating: New Zealanders are often heated by a heat pump or wood burner. Most are insulated, but found to be cooler by many overseas visitors. NZers wear warmer clothing inside during winter. Hot water – is expensive – so shorter showers are recommended. To cool the house it is often as simple as opening windows, using a fan or using the heat pump.
  • Amenities: New Zealand homes are equipped with electrical items like fridges, freezers and washing machines, and some homes will also have dishwashers and clothes dryers. Access to WiFI depends on location. Some homes would have limited broadband – enough for email but downloading movies may be a challenge. Schools have internet.



  • New Zealanders are usually informal and friendly. Hospitality amongst friends is often by “pot luck” which involves those who come to dinner also bring food to contribute. Sometimes this will be organised; other times it is free choice. It is general courtesy to take a contribution.
  • BBQs – many NZ families have outdoor dinners in summer. The meats are cooked on the barbecue outside, salads etc complement the meal – and everyone sits outside holding their plates.
  • Eating times vary. A young family may have dinner near 5 pm; others eat later about 7pm.


Family values

You will be welcome in your host family. They are keen to learn about you too.

    • Composition: Your family could be two parents with or without children, a single parent with or without children, a young family or an older couple.  They could be NZ European, NZ Maori, or other cultures. All have something special to share.
    • Honesty and openness: Your hosts will expect honesty and you willing to try. If you cannot or do not eat certain foods, then they will understand if they know about it beforehand.
    • Courtesy and respect: “Please” and “thank you” indicate appreciation and are expected when requesting or receiving something – even as small as someone passing the salt at dinner.
    • Household tasks: These are shared – and bringing in wood, drying the dishes, setting the table, and keeping your room clean and tidy are wonderful ways of integrating into a home. Family rules about food, washing and other tasks enable the household to run smoothly. Everyone helping is usual. Offering, and not waiting to be asked to help, is appreciated.


  • Family routines: These may vary, of course, according to the demands of getting to school or work.  
  • A typical day would start at 7:00 am –  to prepare for the school day.
    • Breakfast usually comprises of toast or cereal and a hot or cold drink.
    • Lunch – Some make a packed lunch to take with them to school and others will purchase their lunch from Kai Whakapai, the school canteen.
    • Dinner  is together with your homestay family around 6:00pm.
    • Transport to school: If you live close to school you will probably walk or bike to school in the morning, and if you live further afield your host parent will drop you off or give you a ride in their car. Some students come on the school bus.
    • New Zealand teenagers are expected to be home before dark – check with your host. After dinner you might do things like complete your homework, spend time time doing activities with your host family or go out to a sports match.
    • New Zealand families normally go to bed between 9:30pm – 11:30pm.


Upcoming events

Friday 10 Dec

10th December Last day of term 4.

Friday 10 Dec

10th December Junior and middle school prizegiving takes place at the Regent theatre. Middle School 9am. Junio... [Read more]

Thursday 2 Dec

2nd of December Teacher Only Day. No School. This is a day set by the Ministry of Education and will be coveri... [Read more]

Monday 29 Nov

Westland Anniversay Day holiday. No school.

Monday 22 Nov

22nd November Senior Prizegiving takes place at the Regent Theatre at 6pm.

Monday 25 Oct

Labour day holiday. No School.

Monday 18 Oct

18th October. Term 4 begins

Friday 1 Oct

1st October. Last day of term 3.

Friday 24 Sep

24th September the Westland High School Ball takes place. More information regarding venue and other details w... [Read more]

Monday 13 Sep

13th September to 20th September is Te wiki o te reo Maori / Maori language week. Visit https://www.tewikioter... [Read more]
All events