New Zealand Academic Year

The New Zealand academic year matches a calandar year.  It is always a good idea to start application and enrolment processes as early as possible, to leave time for visa and other arrangements.  The following is a rough guide of timetables in a variety of New Zealand educational institutes.

Secondary Schools

The school year begins in February and ends mid-December.  Classes are held Monday to Friday, from about 8.45am till 3.15pm (some schools differ slightly.)  Extra-curricular activities and sporting events take place outside of school hours during the week and on Sundays.

Secondary schools in New Zealand have four 10 week terms.  School breaks for a two week holiday in April, July and September.  Students enjoy a longer break at the end of the year.

During the last three years of schooling, some qualifications are based on assessment undertaken throughout the year.  If you are planning to transfer during the senior years of school, you may not be allowed to enrol late.


The academic year begins in late February or early March, and ends in October.  The year is generally split into two semesters of about 12 weeks, with a short, two week break in the middle of the year and a longer, six week break at the end of the year.  This is not a definitive guide for all universities – one notable exception is Victoria University of Wellington, which has trimesters.  Students generally spend their break studying or working full time.

The majority of courses are full year, which requires you to be enrolled from February till October.  In some circumstances, you may enrol in the middle of the year.  Classes are held Monday till Friday.  Sometimes, examinations take place on a Saturday.

Some universities offer summer school.  Summer school takes place during the end of year break.  By undertaking extra study during your holiday, you reduce the amount of time it takes to finish your degree.

Institutes of Technology and Private Training Establishments

Polytechnics have two semesters, February till June, and July till November, with holidays similar to secondary schools.  In some circumstances, you may be able to enrol in the middle of the year.

Private training establishments run on a similar timetable.

Language Schools

Language schools run all year long.  Courses can be a short as a week or as long as an academic year.  Classes run Monday to Friday.  They sometimes offer related excursions on weekends.

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