We bet that New Zealand has already captivated you with its reputation and with its study and work opportunities. Now you’re just looking for the perfect city in the land of kiwis to settle. That’s why we tell you all about what living in Queenstown is really like. You might end up falling in love!
Living in Queenstown | A Complete Guide
Queenstown is a city located on the southern island of New Zealand. It has lake Wakatipu on the forefront; surrounding it, the alps, and, to the west, the imposing fjords. These majestic scenarios are home to extreme sports and tourism. There’s a reason why Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world!
Style and Quality of life
Among New Zealand’s cities, Queenstown has earned traveler’s hearts with its blend of quiet city life and extreme sports accessibility. Those who have lived here are stunned by the majesty of its landscapes and the wide variety of open-air activities.
To give you an idea, you’ll be able to ski on Coronet Peak, do cycling and trekking in Queenstown Hills, or, if you are hardcore, adventure on a skydiving journey over the lake. Forget about boring weekends!
However, although it is one of the main tourist attractions on the southern island, the city also boasts a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle. While walking through its streets and plazas, you’ll feel that hurrying and insecurity are things from another world. You will also enjoy seeing them clean and in great conditions. There is also access to a wide range of stores, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs while living in Queenstown.
Of course, you’ll have quality academic institutions at your disposal. Here, you’ll be able to take English and vocational courses and even go to college. Besides, you’ll have free Wi-Fi downtown and optical fiber service in the rest of the city. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
When deciding which kiwi city is best for us, the weather should certainly be a top consideration. A frozen environment or a desertic one might make us want to rush home on day one. Luckily, if you choose to live in Queenstown, you’ll enjoy nice temperate weather all year round. This comes from being in a subtropical area.
Summers in Queenstown (from December to February) are characterized by long and sunny days. During this time, the thermometer can reach 30°C, and daylight hours go from 5 AM to 10 PM. Therefore, locals and travelers enjoy whole days of boat trips on the lake and all the extreme sports their bodies can bear. By the way, always keep your waterproof clothes at hand, because rainfall starts during this season.
During the fall (from March to May), winds become tougher, and the temperature goes lower. However, you won’t stop having sunny days to take long strolls on the beach. This is the time of the Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival, which celebrates the mining legacy of the region. And, of course, you can’t miss the spectacular color turning of the leaves.
In contrast, during the winters (June to August), temperatures usually stay around 8°C, but they can go as low as 2°C, with a chance of snow. Overall, while living in Queenstown, you won’t face freezing colds or snowstorms. It is the perfect time to visit Coronet Peak and witness extreme snow competitions.
Cost of Living in Queenstown
Regarding the costs of living in New Zealand, our Growers almost always agree: it is high! Especially when it comes to food costs. But don’t panic! We are also told that it is balanced with good salaries and a high quality of life.
Thus, even in a position as hostel staff, you’ll earn more than enough to cover your expenses. Let’s see a summary of costs of living in Queenstown.
Basic expenses (per week):
- Food and beverages – 108 NZD (new zealand dollars)
- Rent in a shared apartment on the periphery – 170 NZ
- Transport costs 10 NZD (Tip: use a bicycle and save money!)
- Internet and mobile phone – 20 NZD (depending on the plans you choose)
- School supplies – 10 NZD
Occasional expenses and extras
- Clothing and shoes – 50 NZD
- Selfcare products – 20 NZD
- Cleaning products – 10 NZD
- Eating out – 80 NZD
- Party night – 100 NZD
- Skiing or kitesurfing – 120 NZD
You’ll see that your average monthly expenses, between basics and extras, will fluctuate between 1,270 and 1,300 NZD. And this is counting a few extras. Although if there’s a month when you party a lot or adventure in extreme sports, your expenses might increase in about 200 NZD.
Of course, you should add your school costs. This will depend on the school and program you choose. Also, don’t forget your arrival costs, like buying furniture or a bicycle.
Working in Queensland as a Student
How can you find a position that lets you pay for the costs of living in Queenstown? Well, the first option for thousands of travellers is joining the hospitality industry. To give you an idea, a position as barman or barista can give you up to 500 NZD per week.
Other key industries in Queenstown are commerce and construction. Most require certified employees who speak fluent English. As a reward, salaries increase. However, whatever you choose, you must be sure to comply with the basic requirements to live and work in Queenstown.
In the first place, you must define the type of academic experience you’ll be living. If you expect to study and work at the same time, which is the most complete option, your first duty is to enroll in a certified institution.
Next, comes a fundamental step: getting the right visa for the type of course you’d like to study. The first step to get your visa is, precisely, enrolling in a certified course. Among the offers, we recommend you keep these in mind:
- Student Visa (Fee Paying Student Visa). This one is most recommended to make the most out of your trip. With it, you’ll be able to study a course (English, vocational or college courses) lasting from 4 months to 4 years. Besides, you are allowed to work part time (20 hours per week).
- Tourist Visa. Do you plan to stay only for a brief time or visit acquaintances? Consider this visa that also allows you to take a course lasting less than 3 months.
- Working Holiday. This is the most popular visa among international travelers that allows you to work full time so you can afford adventures in New Zealand. You can also combine a 6 month long course with 6 months of work. However, a limited amount is granted each year and not to all countries, so check the site to make sure it applies to you.
Keep in mind that having admission in a certified institution in New Zealand might be conditioned upon passing an English level exam. Besides, the granting of a visa will also be subjected to additional requirements:
- Hiring medical insurance or provide a health certificate.
- Proof that you have enough funds (at least 1,250 NZD per month) to cover your expenses.
- You must also prove that you can pay for your course’s costs.
- Provide biometric data.
Some Advice to Get a Job in Queenstown
The salaries that you’ll earn while living in Queenstown sound great. But, how exactly will you get a job once you have your visa? First, find your good old CV and throw it away. The most commonly used form of CV will be of no use. You’ll have to pimp your CV New Zealand style. Follow these tips:
- Update your information on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. They are the most consulted social networking sites by employers.
- Track work opportunities on those social networks.
- If you choose to be accompanied by GrowPro, you’ll have access to exclusive groups for job-seeking growers.
- Consult specialized websites. We recommend Indeed, Trade Me Jobs, and Backpacker Jobs NZ.
- Make friends and ask to be introduced to people looking for employees. Make contact with those people and offer your services. This is the networking principle.
- Try an age-old method: go around the city with many copies of your CV in hand. Deliver them in person wherever you see an opening, and it might be you get to land a job.
Accommodation in Queenstown
Surely, with your enrollment ready and your visa in hand, you’ll be looking for jobs before arriving in Queenstown. That’s quite alright! What you definitely should not do for no reason is rent accommodation on kiwi lands from abroad.
From traveler to traveler, we recommend you opt for reserving a room at a hostel at least during your first week in the city. Thus, you’ll be able to get your bearings more easily, personally identifying places to rent. This way, you’ll avoid confusion and even scams. In Queenstown, you’ll find many accommodation options for backpackers and even parks where you can camp day and night. If you’d like to know more Kiwis, you can go to the popular bed and breakfast option. In both cases, you’ll find fares between 120 – 150 NZD for a whole week.
Where to live
Once you’re installed in your first home at Queenstown, it’s time to explore the city and its neighborhoods. You can check on the internet and the classified ads. Above all, ask the locals what is the best area to rent a room or an apartment, according to your budget. We can lend you a hand with a stroll around the three most attractive neighborhoods.
If you’d like to be where everything social, political and cultural happens in Queenstown, then you must get a place downtown. Although we must say it is not cheap at all. A two bedroom apartment rents from 500 to 950 NZD. Unless your budget allows or you get two roomies, we suggest you look on the periphery.
To the south, following the lake’s riverbank, you’ll find Fernhill. It is a quiet suburb surrounded by nature with trim green areas. Here, you’ll find an abundance of hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts, so you can make this neighborhood your temporary base as soon as you arrive in Queenstown. A three room apartment rents for 400 to 800 NZD here.
Following south, you’ll find the Sunshine Bay suburb. Here the small town calm environment is at its top gape. Filled with green areas, the zone is distinguished by its location right in front of the beach, which can be trodden on foot or bicycle. You can also stroll through the Arawata trail. The costs of renting an apartment goes between 400 to 600 NZD.
Rosario Garate, one of our Growers and Student Advisors, recommends looking for rental offers at Trademe Property. She also comments that you must not lose sight of any opportunities for doing homestay or home sitting when checking out where to live in Queenstown. One consists on spending your stay with a local family. The later, on getting accommodation in a house in exchange for looking after it. If these alternatives interest you, visit Kiwi House Sitters.
Best Zones for Going Out
Moving around Queenstown and its surroundings is quite easy. The best part is you can do it on a bike because it is all nearby. You save the money from public transport and you stay in shape! So we’re here to recommend the best areas to take a stroll, do sports and have lots of fun.
The Town Centre has the best shops, restaurants, bars and cultural events in the region. During the Winter Festival it turns into a colorful carnival you cannot miss. To the north, in the airport area, you’ll find malls for shopping or just looking at what’s new. You’ll also find supermarkets and supply stores.
If you’re heading south to Sunshine Bay you’ll be able to enjoy a pleasant stroll through the beach. This is the perfect spot to go for a run in the mornings. This area is also the gateway to trekking and cycling tracks.
As you may have noticed, living in Queenstown will allow you to experiment with extreme sports, getting close to nature, and diving into cultural diversity. Depending on your tastes, the plans for a day of adventure are almost endless. However, there are three common plans you just have to consider.
The first obligatory destination is exploring Lake Wakatipu. You can navigate its 80 kilometers in length by boat, row boat or kayak. There are a great variety of offers for hiking tours along the coast or the most exciting paragliding over this body of water. And do not forget that the riverbanks are populated by some of the most prestigious vineyards in the country.
If you’ve had a lead heavy week, you may just be looking for a Saturday or Sunday of complete relaxation. Well, try to get up early and go straight to the bay. Run or walk so as not to lose your condition and spend the rest of the day resting on the sand without doing anything else. Sounds good?
A trip to Queenstown is not complete without a visit to Arrowtown. This small town, of just 1,600 inhabitants, is located 20 kilometers north of the city. Its great attraction lies in being the living memory of the gold rush that southern New Zealand experienced in the 19th century.
The rustic architecture of its houses, hotels, shops and church will make you feel like you are in a trip to the past. And, of course, you can’t miss a dose of Kiwi history at the Lakes District Museum.
Places to Visit
As with any city worth visiting, Queenstown is home to amazing sites. It is also the gateway to great New Zealand landscapes and nature adventures. Join us to take a look at those you cannot miss when you start your life there.
As we mentioned above, this 1,650 meter high mountain is a mecca for snow sports.Due to its steep slopes, it is a meeting point for skiers from all over the world. Also, it offers an unforgettable view of the lakes and valleys of the Otago region, where Queenstown is located.
It may seem like old-fashioned transportation, but the cable car is a must-see when living in Queenstown because it will give you an eagle’s eye over the city and Lake Wakatipu. It offers you an extra challenge because to tackle it you will have to climb to the top of the rugged Bob’s Peak.
In the city center, you can get away from the tourist bustle a bit by venturing to Queenstown Gardens. Inside the lush botanical garden, you will find a wide variety of plants, flowers, and trees, as well as a small internal lake with birds and tennis courts.
Living in Queenstown, a must for its proximity is the Milford Sound fjord. Although the drive there takes almost three hours by car, every kilometer is worth it because it is a unique natural park in New Zealand. In it, you can explore the rainforest by navigating between elevations of over a thousand meters, such as Lion Mountain (1,302 meters) and The Elephant (1,517 meters).
Studying in Queenstown
We have told you about the life, the climate, the work, the attractions and the rent you’ll find while living in Queenstown. We’ve even given you tips for finding a job and where to live. Perhaps we have already awakened your interest in looking for schools in Queenstown to enroll and get a visa. But what courses can you take in this city? As our final goodbye, we present them to you.
Of course, if you’re reading this you may not be all that interested in an English course. But maybe you’d like to improve your skills in the language or are interested in an specific area. If this is your case, you’ll be glad to know that Queenstwon offers intensive and specialized courses you can take.
Vocational and University Courses
Queenstown is home to excellent options for entry into what is known in the New Zealand system as tertiary education. You will find institutes to take VET courses, whose purpose is to prepare you for the job market. You have at your disposal Bachelor’s degree and postgraduate degrees in the best universities of the region.
Live in Queenstown with GrowPro
We have reached the end of our journey. What did you think of the idea of living in Queenstown? We know that you now have a lot of information to consider, but we hope you already have a good overall impression.
Either way, take some time to consider it and compare it to other cities in New Zealand. At GrowPro, we will be publishing more guides for you to get to know the best Kiwi cities. Stay tuned to the blog!
When you are ready to take the step that could change your life, our Student Advisors will be ready to advise you on whatever you need. They can guide you to make the decisions that will make your experience more profitable.
Choose your experience on our webpage, fill out the form, and get a personalized quote for your adventure. After that, one of our Students Advisors will contact you shortly to help you throughout the process. Living in Queensland is easier and closer than you think!