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Escape to New Zealand

Kim Renner and the board of English New Zealand explain how their schools can help English language teachers enjoy the holiday of a lifetime

New Zealand’s border is open and the English language sector is gearing up to meet the pent-up demand for New Zealand as a study travel destination.

Student numbers will grow significantly over the next 6 to 24 months, so there are immediate and longer-term opportunities for adventurous working holiday makers who hold suitable qualifications and/or experience in ELT.

English New Zealand, the peak body representing the English language sector, has 17 member schools. These centres, both private and university-based, are located throughout beautiful New Zealand in eight different destinations.

All are rated Category 1 (or equivalent for the state sector), which is the highest level of accreditation a school can achieve under the New Zealand Qualifications Authority system. In addition, all of our member schools must meet the globally benchmarked English New Zealand Standards.

“Earn money while taking up a great opportunity to explore New Zealand”

The longevity of our member schools makes them an excellent choice to further your teaching career, allowing you to earn some money while taking up a great opportunity to explore New Zealand.

New Zealand’s working holiday visa scheme is designed to allow 18 to 30/35 year olds to work while holidaying in New Zealand for 12 – 23 months, depending on the country of origin. Gaining teaching experience overseas through schemes such as this has been an integral part of the ELT industry and is a great way to enhance your CV.

Darren Conway, Languages International Managing Director and current Chair of English New Zealand, started his language teaching career in Cairo in 1989: “I was on a Working Holiday Visa in London, did an RSA/ Cambridge Prep Cert TEFL at IH Piccadilly, and walked into their recruitment office and asked where I could work at an IH school in the Northern Hemisphere with a NZ passport. The two choices were Budapest and Cairo. It was before the Berlin Wall came down, so Cairo seemed a sunnier and more practical choice”.

What qualifications and experience are needed?

Temporary teachers need a minimum of an initial TESOL qualification or 500 hours’ English language teaching experience. CELTA or equivalent is preferred.

What level of English is needed for a teaching position?

At least CEFR C1 level.

How many hours of work per week?

There is some flexibility depending on whether teachers want part-time or full-time work. Full-time teaching contact/class hours are usually 20+ per week.

How much can English language teachers on WHVs expect to earn?

Hourly rates vary based on qualifications and experience: approximately NZD 30 – 40 per hour for new teachers, and NZD 32 – 49 for more experienced teachers (before tax). Non-teaching tasks are usually paid at a lower rate. Rates in larger urban centres are slightly higher, reflecting the higher cost of living there.

What is the cost of living?

It varies from region to region. Let us know the region you’re interested in and we’ll provide some more detailed information.

What benefits do teachers get?

Working in a welcoming, supportive environment plus professional development and activities programme opportunities.

Auckland, where Languages International is located, attracts around two-thirds of the New Zealand market. Students and staff alike choose Auckland for the small big city feel (the population’s around 1.6 million), cultural diversity (40% of Aucklanders were born overseas and it is the world’s largest Polynesian city), the mild year-round climate and the ease of access to its harbour playground – Auckland is ‘The City of Sails’.

Nine member schools are in Auckland, and it’s estimated they’ll be looking for at least 100 teachers over the next 6 – 12 months. It’s an ideal base from which to travel around the top of the North Island, visiting some of New Zealand’s iconic destinations such as Ninety Mile Beach and the Bay of Islands. Wherever you decide to base yourself in New Zealand, visiting Waitangi is a must-do to learn about New Zealand’s cultural heritage and history. You can familiarise yourself with Māori culture and language and also learn about protocols, especially if you visit a Marae (meeting ground).

Add Auckland to your list of places to teach but don’t ignore other regions that will also be looking for teachers! The remaining English New Zealand schools are located in Mount Maunganui, Rotorua, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill. These major tourism destinations have a great range of cultural and adventure activities to offer students and teachers.

Mount Maunganui, with its white sand beaches, is home to Mount Maunganui Language Centre, a family-owned school with 30 years’ experience. Students at this school balance their exam preparation programmes with surfing lessons at the beach, just a short walk away. Nearby Rotorua English Language Academy, with small, personalised classes provides activities programmes for students each week on Friday afternoons and weekends. Rotorua is known for its extreme sports and activities, Ma¯ori culture, spas/ hot pools, and lakes. Rotorua is central to so many tourist hotspots – Taupo¯, Tongariro National Park, Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and the Coromandel – making it easy to plan weekend getaways. All schools promote activities to students as part of their New Zealand study travel experience, so there are opportunities for teachers to have free or subsidised access to activities if accompanying the students.

For the full New Zealand experience you should visit and consider working in both the North and South Islands. Schools in Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill provide a range of different courses for English language students like their North Island counterparts: General English for adults is the core programme, but many offer Cambridge, IELTS and other exam courses, as well as English for Academic Purposes.

English New Zealand schools are known for having a diverse nationality mix and you can easily identify a member school by their display of the logo:

Pre-Covid, approximately 20,000 students from over 50 different countries studied at member schools. Japan is traditionally the number one market, and in 2019 it was followed by Brazil, China, South Korea, France, Thailand, Colombia, Saudi Arabia Switzerland and Chile. Students visit for varying lengths of time depending on whether they’re participating in a shorter study travel experience or a longer academically- focused course, but the average length of stay is usually about 10 weeks.

The South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch, has undergone a significant transformation over the last decade. A mix of new and old, this “English” city intersected by the Avon River is within easy travelling distance of beaches and mountains.

A four-and-a-half-hour road trip (you can stop at a range of towns on the way) or a one-hour flight and you’re in Dunedin, a city steeped in heritage, and home to New Zealand’s oldest university and vibrant campus life. The Otago Peninsula is home to the Royal Albatross Centre, the world’s only mainland-breeding albatross colony. A range of eco-tours and experiences in and around Dunedin will enable you to see a range of rare species such as the yellow-eyed penguin.

English New Zealand member schools:

ABC College of English

Auckland English Academy

Auckland Institute of Studies

Bridge International College

CCEL Christchurch

EF International Language Campus, Auckland

Language Schools New Zealand

Languages International

LSI – Language Studies International

Mt Maunganui Language Centre

NZLC – New Zealand Language Centres

Rotorua English Language Academy

Seafield School of English

Southern Lakes English College

University of Otago Language Centre

University of Waikato College Te Kura Huanui

Worldwide School of English

Queenstown, home to three member schools, is often called the adventure capital of New Zealand. Made famous for bungy jumping by AJ Hackett, if you’re not brave enough to do the thrill-seeking activities on offer in Queenstown, there’s a lot more to experience! There are great walking and cycling trails and a range of wineries to visit, and of course world-class ski resorts. Check out New Zealand’s many national parks if you want to experience the great outdoors.

Working holiday visas

This visa is primarily a holiday visa and you will need to show you have enough money to survive without working, normally NZ$350 a month, when you enter the country. Nationals of some countries will also require medical insurance.

NB You must acquire the vis a before you can be given the firm offer of a job. You also cannot apply for a permanent work visa while you are in the country on a working holiday.

As of October 2022 nationals of the following countries under the age of 30 can apply for a Working Holiday Visa

Americas Argentina, Brazil, Chile Canada Mexico Uruguay USA

Europe: Belgium Croatia Czechia Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Slovenia Sweden UK.

East Asia: China (Mainland), Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Taiwan

South East Asia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay, Vietnam

NB More visas will be available for nationals from other countries will be available in November and December. Please check https://www.immigration. govt.nz/ for dates and details. Numbers of working holiday visas for each country are subject to caps details of the numbers available can be found on the same site.

If you do ski or snowboard, there are a lot of ski resorts on the South Island. Coronet Peak and the Remarkables are two popular options close to Queenstown and Dunedin, and Mount Hutt and Porters are within easy travelling distance of Christchurch.

New Zealand’s official travel website provides some great information about regions within New Zealand and activities available.

Key facts about New Zealand will tell you more about the destination and why should you choose New Zealand for your overseas teaching experience.

Aside from the financial benefits of language teaching, it remains a rich pathway to culture, adventure and travel, and it’s bright young graduates keen for some travel that New Zealand would love to attract.

If you’re interested in teaching in New Zealand, send your CV and a cover letter detailing when you’ll be in New Zealand and your preferred location to admin@ englishnewzealand.co.nz.

Kim Renner
Kim Renner
Kim Renner is Executive Director of English New Zealand, and has held various roles that include management, advocacy, sales and marketing during her 28 years’ experience within the English language sector.
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