High School in New Zealand

Apply Now
  • Overview

    New Zealand is one of the world’s most geographically stunning and awe-inspiring countries, and as a high school study abroad or gap year student, it could be your backyard! On Greenheart Travel’s Adventure and Culture in New Zealand Program, you’ll attend high school in Rotorua, New Zealand, where hiking, playing rugby, learning about Maori life and zip lining are all part of a day’s adventure.

    Greenheart Travel’s New Zealand program is perfect if you: 

    • Can’t get enough of the great outdoors – you typically spend your weekends hiking, mountain biking, surfing or doing anything that gets you closer to nature
    • Love the idea of speaking English on your abroad program
    • Giving back to the community is important to you- volunteering is your middle name
    • Can’t wait to learn about Maori life, one of the world’s oldest living cultures
    • Live for the thrill – things like whitewater rafting, surfing, rugby, and hiking are on your bucket list

    Wait, do you see yourself in New Zealand already?! Here’s the program at a glance:

    • Host family accommodation provides full cultural immersion
    • No foreign language experience required — they speak English!
    • Program fee includes airfare, accommodation and so much more!
    • You can choose between summer (1-2 months), trimester, semester or academic year lengths

    Many of our students become adventure enthusiasts while studying in New Zealand, like alumni Graham. Check out his crazy adventures while studying abroad here:

  • Program Dates

    Spring 2022 Dates

    Apply early and save! Apply by May 28, 2021 and save $300 off a trimester program and $500 off a semester or academic year program. This discount will be applied to your final program balance, not the deposit. 

    Final Deadline to Apply: September 15th, 2021 

    • Trimester: Early February 2022 – Early April 2022
    • Semester: Early February 2022 – Early July 2022
    • Academic Year: Early February 2022 – Mid December 2022

    Fall 2022 Dates

    Apply early and save! Apply by December 3, 2021 and save $300 off a trimester program and $500 off a semester or academic year program. This discount will be applied to your final program balance, not the deposit. 

    Final Deadline to Apply: March 15th, 2022

    • Trimester: July 2022 – October 2022
    • Semester: July 2022 – December 2022
    • Academic Year: July 2022 – July 2023

    Exact dates will be provided after you are accepted onto the program!

    Arrival and Departure 

    All students are required to book flights on their own. An airport transfer upon arrival is included in the cost of the program. We will provide your exact arrival and departure dates after acceptance, as well as the exact timeframes you should arrive/depart, so that you can start to search for possible flights. We require prior approval of a proposed itinerary before you purchase any flights.

    Nervous about flying on your own? We recommend students and parents sitting down together to review the following resources:

    For many Greenheart Travel students their first time flying is across the world to start their exchange program! You can read our alumni experiences on our blog, such as Emily’s or Madison’s blogs on their experiences flying to Japan or Rachel’s tips on what you actually need to know about flying.

  • Costs and Inclusions

    Academic Trimester: $10,420
    Academic Semester
    : $15,670
    Academic Year: $25,950

    Packaged into the Price:

    • Airport transfer from Auckland to Rotorua
    • Host family accommodation and 3 meals per day
    • School fees (tuition, textbooks, uniform)
    • Comprehensive medical/accident insurance
    • Arrival Orientation with local coordinator in New Zealand
    • Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the program for use on college applications.
    • Access to Greenheart Travel Facebook groups to connect with alumni and others on your start date ahead of your program.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program 
    • Greenheart Travel T-shirt & Reusable “No Plastic Please” Canvas Tote Bag
    • 5-6 cultural or outdoor activities per semester, and a 4-week outdoor and cultural adventure program for Fall students

    Our Support and Services: 

    • Visa Assistance in applying for the visa ahead of arrival, including visa paperwork and extensive directions and support.
    • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from Allison and Jess, your US-based program coordinators! They will be with you from your first inquiry, all the way through preparing to leave and your arrival in New Zealand.
    • Support and counseling services from in-country staff upon arrival to New Zealand.
    • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave
    • 24-hour in-country and emergency support for the duration of the program, including 24-hour emergency phone numbers to reach a program manager at any time.
    • Opportunity to apply for a Greenheart Grant to give back to your community at home or abroad

    What’s NOT included:

    • Roundtrip airfare to/from New Zealand
    • Any personal spending costs like public transportation, extracurriculars, personal excursions or items like toiletries, meals eaten outside the home

    Payment Details

    • $1,500 Application Fee due by the program deadline to formally apply
    • $5,000 Commitment Payment due 14 days after acceptance
    • Remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to your start date. If your program starts within 16 weeks of acceptance, the remaining program balance payment will be due at the same time as the commitment payment. 

    Worried about the program fee?

    Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer a first-time traveler scholarships for a high school study abroad student. The scholarship application details for the upcoming school year are announced at the beginning of the calendar year. We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometown ahead of their program.

    We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.

    Western Heights Merit-Based Scholarships

    All students on this program are placed at Western Heights High School (WHHS) in Rotorua. WHHS offers four annual merit based scholarships under the categories academic, cultural, leadership, and sport. Any exchange student accepted through Greenheart Travel is eligible to apply for one of these scholarships and a separate WHHS scholarship application will be provided upon request after you’re accepted onto the program. The total scholarship awards range from $2,000 up to $9,000 and would be able to be used for things like tuition, uniforms, subscription fees, tournament fees, etc.

  • Academic Info

    Enjoy a range of memorable and cultural activities, make lifelong international friends and have unforgettable experiences while in New Zealand. With only around 1% of high school students studying abroad each year, this is your chance to embark on a unique academic travel adventure that will set you apart from most high school students in your class. How’s that for standing out on college applications?!

    So, what about credits? 

    Neither Greenheart Travel nor your host school abroad (Western Heights High School (WHHS) in Rotorua) provides high school credit. All credit must be granted through your home school in the U.S. or Canada. All U.S./Canadian schools have different policies. Here’s a blog post to read more about how some alumni have transferred credits.  

    In New Zealand, we cannot guarantee that  WHHS will provide you an official transcript, but you will receive progress reports on your performance, behavior, and attendance. WHHS will provide documentation, letters, and any other materials you require upon request, dependent on your  good behavior and attendance.

    Then, you should take this documentation back to your home school as proof of your participation in the program. Your home school is responsible for awarding you credit for this program or not.  

    Before You Go Abroad

    You should meet with your U.S./Canadian high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines for New Zealand with your guidance counselor and/or teachers.  

    Though WHHS is flexible and accommodating, we cannot guarantee you’ll take any specific classes, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad.  

    Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level at WHHS, but you will not know your course schedule until after you arrive in country and start attending school. 

    Access your High School Curriculum Guidelines for New Zealand here!

    Once You’re Abroad

    Please keep in mind that the grading system in New Zealand is different than the US.  If WHHS does award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.

  • Summer Study Abroad

    Can’t miss part of your semester or a full academic year? Don’t worry.

    During North American summers, New Zealand schools are still in session (yay, opposite hemispheres!). You can still attend Western Heights High School and live with a local host family without missing part of your school year.

    Please read more about our 1-2 month summer break exchange options in New Zealand here.

  • Eligibility

    In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:

    • Be between 15 and 18 years of age (at the time of travel)
    • Be from the United States or Canada
    • Possess a high school cumulative GPA of at least 2.75/4.0
    • Be in great mental* and physical health
    • Have a genuine interest in becoming a part of your host family and community

    Want to wait to study abroad until after you graduate? We can also accept high school graduates on a case-by-case basis who want to study in New Zealand before starting university classes.

    *What does it mean to be in good mental health?

    Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

    Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis and ultimately it is Greenheart Travel’s in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Eating disorders
    • Chronic debilitating migraines
    • Bipolar Disorder


    All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.  We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly, before securing these documents.

    Please note that students who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD will not be guaranteed any academic accommodations plans by the host school abroad.

  • Activities and Excursions

    Included Activities & Excursions

    We want you to see as much of New Zealand as possible! Each semester, there are around 5-6 included excursions for exchange students. You might have the chance to surf or visit Hobbiton, take a Waka Trip (a traditional Maori boat), or visit Lake Rotorua or do other local trips & tours.

    Students who study in the Fall semester will be able to participate in an included “summer” (their summer!) activities program, four weeks of outdoor activities, cultural excursions, and tours at the end of their program. The activities include hiking the Papamoa Hills, Whitewater rafting, stand up paddle boarding excursions, kayaking, trying fish and chips, visiting Taupo, mountain biking, ice skating, surfing, cooking classes, learning Pounamu carving, and more.


    Besides exploring the great outdoors, our High School Adventure and Culture in New Zealand program offers tons of opportunity to volunteer! Since one of Greenheart’s values is volunteerism (have you checked out the Greenheart Club yet?), we fully support our students getting involved in giving back to the local Rotorua community!

    If you’re interested in volunteering while you’re abroad, let your local in-country staff know. They can help you find the right opportunity for you. Here are some examples of what our past students have done:

    • Environmental awareness non-profit volunteering
    • Youth development at primary schools
    • After school tutoring with younger students needing academic support
    • Helping animal welfare charities
    • Elderly support
    • Assisting differently-abled communities find resources

    The opportunities seem to be endless. Talk to us about how you can make a difference in New Zealand!

  • Host Families

    You’ll live with a local volunteer family from Rotorua, and they will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a true Kiwi. You’ll start asking for “fairy bread” (Google it!) and wondering where you can buy a new pair of jandals. 

    All prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.

    In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:

    • Successfully pass a criminal background check
    • Undergo and pass an in-person interview with program staff
    • Agree to and pass a home inspection

    We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!

    Host families have many reasons why they want to welcome you! Our host families are volunteers, meaning they don’t receive compensation for housing and feeding students during their program. Many host families love the experience of cultural exchange – they learn just as much about your country as you do theirs. Many are also former exchange students and want to return the favor, or they have children who have gone or will go to study in the U.S. Having an exchange student exposes their children to new languages and cultures.

  • Placements

    Students on Greenheart Travel’s Adventure and Culture in New Zealand program are placed in the North Island’s stunning city Rotorua, an outdoor adventure hub renowned for its hiking, mountain biking, Maori culture, and geothermal springs. Once you see the views of Lake Rotorua, you won’t ever want to leave!

    Rotorua is a city of around 75,000 people so it’s the perfect place to get a feel for real Kiwi life.

  • For Parents

    Do you offer any scholarships, financial aid, or special discounts?

    Yes. Every year we offer various scholarships for select high school program destinations. There are two Early Bird Deadline discounts offered each year as well. See our Program Dates for more information. If you have hosted a student for Greenheart Exchange, you are also eligible for a Greenheart Host Family discount.

    My child’s school requires service learning in order to graduate. How will they do that abroad?

    Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, your child will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to their community, have access to tools for tracking their impact and receive incentives for their efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for your child to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while they study abroad.

    Can friends study abroad together?

    Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host town. Don’t worry though; making friends in the new host country will happen quickly!

    Can my child come home to visit or can we visit them while abroad?

    No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, you should plan to meet your child after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.

    Can my child take the SATs while abroad?

    Your child will not be able to take the SAT’s while abroad.  We highly recommend taking the SAT’s prior to or after the program.

    My child has already graduated, are they still eligible?

    On a case by case basis, we can accept graduated students for Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

    Can we speak to current high school students or alumni?

    Yes! Check out our blog or your child can join our exclusive teen  programs Facebook group to talk to current and past students.

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:

    • 33 years of experience with cultural exchange programs
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from your program manager, Allison.
    • Connect with alumni and others on the program via our Greenheart Travel only Facebook forums, before you even leave!
    • We try and make our program fees as inclusive as we can. We include things like medical insurance and flights so you don’t run into any hidden fees down the line.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program. The Greenheart Travel Atlas is a cultural training interactive guidebook alongside five videos where you will find three main topics covered: Personal/Professional Development, Cultural Understanding, & Environmental Awareness.
    • Our alumni recommend us! GoOverseas.com Reviews // GoAbroad.com Reviews
    • Hands-on support and personal attention every step of the way
    • 24/7 emergency phone number to reach a staff member at any time
    • Pre-departure “Culture Shock and Adjustment” Webinar before you leave
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization
    • Continued support throughout your time abroad

    We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!

    Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)

    Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.

    Greenheart Alumni Program

    We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!

    Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference

    Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.

  • Application Process

    Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.

    1. Start Your Application HereYou will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.

    2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.

    3. Submit your application fee: A $1,500 application fee is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee, it’s not additional.

    4. Complete Application & Documents: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts. You will also submit your documents (below) within your portal account.

    5. Interview: After submitting your application fee, you will schedule an interview with Allison.  During this interview, Allison will ask you questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. She will also explain the overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Zoom, and at least one parent should also be in attendance.

    6. You’re Accepted! Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, visas, and placement.

    7. Commitment Payment: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $5,000 commitment payment within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program. We cannot start the host family matching process until we have this payment. Once you submit your commitment payment you will unlock the acceptance portion of your portal, which includes things like pre-departure videos, travel and arrival information, the Greenheart Travel Atlas, and more.

    7. Book your flights, and get ready for your adventure to New Zealand! 

    Required Documents

    In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.

    The following documents will be required for all destinations:

    • Letter of Recommendation (from a teacher, coach or guidance counselor) – does not need to be sealed, should be scanned and uploaded to the document portal
    • Transcripts from the last 3 years (unofficial transcripts accepted)
    • Student Dear Family Letter
    • Parent Questionnaire & Letter
    • Photo Album (5-7 photos of you on a Word document with captions)
    • Medical Form (including immunizations)
    • Copy of your passport
    • 60-90 second self-introduction video sent via YouTube link
    • Secondary rules & expectations document signed by both parents and students


    For payments, a $1,500 non-refundable fee will be due with your submitted application. This will be deducted from your overall program cost. If we are able to take a last-minute application submitted after the deadline, the deposit will be $2,000.

    Once you are accepted onto the program, a $5,000 commitment payment will be due within 14 days of acceptance.  The remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to  your start date, or at the same time as your commitment payment, whichever comes first.

    You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?

    Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.

    • Upon acceptance, you will receive a student handbook (parents – you get one, too!) and access to the Greenheart Travel Atlas, as well as the Greenheart Club.
    • You will also be required to submit additional waivers, parental authorizations, and documentation
    • You will receive your host family and school placement roughly 2-3 months after acceptance.
    • After receiving your host family and school placement, you will receive further instructions on applying for you student visa (if applicable for your program length)
    • We will also schedule an online pre-orientation with other Greenheart students a few weeks before your departure!
  • Schedule a Call

    Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.

View all