The Homestay Hosting Process

Homestay is a cultural exchange between a local individual or family (called a host) and a visiting international student (guest). A homestay allows guests the opportunity to stay in a warm, welcoming Kiwi household rather than in an impersonal apartment, dorm or hotel.

Traditional families, non-traditional families, single people, roommates and friends living together – any person or group who is willing to share daily life with an international guest can be a host.

As a New Zealand Homestay host you must:

  • Make yourself and your home available to your guest. Our hosts must be able to provide a clean, comfortable and private bedroom for guests.
  • Hosts must speak clear and correct English in the home.
  • Help your guest settle into a comfortable and safe home and help them to learn. You will be willing to make them feel at home with conversation, support, inclusion in family activities and personal warmth. Ideally, you’ll have a sincere interest in other cultures and a desire to connect with new friends from around the world.
  • Provide healthy food for your guest (if this is included in their service, please see “what levels of service can I offer” for more detail.)
  • Show your guest around the community to assist the guest to become familiar with the local area and customs, while in a relaxed and friendly household setting.
  • Help your guest to access or organise important services e.g. setting up a bank account and mobile, and assist your guest to seek medical or dental attention as necessary.
  • Meet NZH host requirements.

For full details and requirements, see our Homestay Policy and Homestay Host Agreement.

We offer several packages for guests in homestay these include:

  • Full Board Homestay: Host provides 3 meals, 7 days/week
  • Half Board Homestay: Host provides breakfast and dinner Monday to Friday, 3 meals Saturday and Sunday
  • Dinner-Only Homestay: Host provides dinner only 7 days/week
  • No-Meals Homestay: No meals provided by the host

Packages will vary depending on your region. Contact your local NZH office for more detail.

Most of our guests are university students and have travelled a long way for the opportunity to study in New Zealand. A quality education, strong English language skills and knowledge of western culture may set the student up for a brighter future at home. Because it is so important, students will often be very focused on their studies and school activities. They will want to join you at mealtimes (if you are sharing meals) and for family activities and outings.

Most placements are for 28 nights. After this time, if both guest and host wish to continue, the placement will be extended. Some guests stay for 4 weeks then find their own accommodation, while others choose to stay for an extended period to make the most of their cultural exchange.

Yes, our hosts need to be within a maximum 60 minutes by public transport (including walking time) of a school, university, college or educational institution where there is current student demand.

NZH guests comes from all over the world. They will generally be high school students and tertiary education students who are here to study in a degree program, an ESL, or vocational course. We also place primary school students, interns, older professionals, and study tours. Most will be coming to New Zealand with an educational objective.

Visit our locations page to see if NZH is currently placing students in your area. If you don’t see your city marked on the map, NZH is not currently placing students near you. You are welcome to apply even if your area is not represented; we’re always looking to expand, though you are less likely to get a guest placement.

You need to speak clear, correct English in your home anytime the guest is around but you do not need to be a native English speaker. If your speech is heavily accented or difficult to understand, we’ll help you identify that early in the process and probably recommend against hosting. One of the primary objectives of homestay is for guests to perfect their English therefore they need to learn from your conversation.

English proficiency will vary but they will speak some basic English when they arrive. Remember though, their goal is to improve these skills through homestay and having conversations with you. You will need to be patient, curious, kind and respectful, especially at first as you navigate new communication.

Yes. All residents over the age of 18 must undergo background safety checks including police vetting (Section 2 of the New Zealand Police Vetting Service Request & Consent Form to be completed by host residents) and supply photo ID.

The primary host (residential caregiver) will also need to provide details for a referee so we can conduct a reference check.

Once you complete the application, online training, interview and background safety checks we begin the process of matching you to the right guest. This can happen right away or could take months, depending on demand in your area and what guests match with your lifestyle and preferences.

Not at all. Submitting the application is a great way to learn more about the specifics of hosting in your area and it doesn’t obligate you in any way. We don’t have any sales people on our team and we won’t pressure you about hosting. You can decide to host or not host at any time, whether it is at the beginning of the process or even if you are already certified or have hosted guests.

NZH is affiliated with the Australian Homestay Network which developed the original and ‘appropriate’ national standards for homestay in Australia, making their first placement in 2008. NZH has been established to adapt and introduce a local version of their world-class standards, technology and best practices to the New Zealand market.

New Zealand Homestay processes, policies and comprehensive services also fulfil good practice standards such as those laid out in The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021.

We’re a little different than more direct, peer-to-peer services in that we provide a full service approach to hosting. That means that we know exactly who is staying with you and what their background is. It also means that you have our support 24 hours a day in case there is a problem or emergency. We also handle billing and most collection activities and pay you directly, on time, via direct deposit. We give you training on cultural understanding and making international guests (and your own family) comfortable.

Our process for hosts ensures we prepare you to have the best experience and how we can offer the same quality and integrity to the guests who come to stay with you.

The initial online application is just a capture of basic personal and household information and it should take only about 5 minutes to submit and get the process started. The full process is outlined below:

  • Complete the online application (5 minutes)
  • Receive your welcome email
  • Complete your online profile / submit banking info for payment (you can wait until later in the process)
  • Take the online training and self-assessment (under 1 hour)
  • Background safety and referee checks to be completed
  • Schedule your home interview with your Host Manager

Upon successful completion of all the above steps you will become a registered and approved NZH host.

We do advise you to take your time crafting the profile to ensure we get the best guest matches possible, but there’s no urgency to get it done. You just need to finish it before we start matching you with guests.

We understand and support preferences based on gender and age. NZH places students of all different cultural and religious backgrounds and encourage all homestay participants – hosts and students – to be accepting of peoples’ diversity. Remember: the broader your acceptance criteria, the higher the likelihood of a match.

NZH offers 24/7 support for both guests and hosts and will assist you from the start to finish of the placement. If things aren’t working and we can’t resolve them for you, we’ll arrange for the guest to move to a different home.

The health and wellbeing of hosts and students (guests) participating in our homestay program is always a priority for NZH. The NZH COVID-19 Safety Policy outlines our procedures and expectations for placements in the COVID-19 era and provides information and resources on the situation in New Zealand.

Host Payments

All hosts receive payments by direct deposit every 2 weeks. The amounts vary based on:

  • What meals and amenities you provide
  • Your region
  • The age of the guest

We provide payments in a 2-week cycle because it means you get paid more frequently and always for the exact number of days you host. For a more in depth overview of payments please click here.

Homestay is not designed to be an income generator specifically. If you are careful with your payments and efficient with your spending, you can make a small income. Payments from NZH are designed to cover the costs associated with accommodating a guest, with a little extra to thank you for your efforts.

You can host up to 4 guests at a time and as many guests consecutively as you like. You are paid per guest. We limit hosts to 4 guests at a time because the value of homestay is bigger than just the accommodation. It is about the interaction and the personal connection, so we want you to be able to have that with all your guests.

The NZH model is designed to make the homestay relationship easier by keeping the collections tasks out of your home and making them an NZH corporate function. NZH keeps a small percentage of the homestay payments in exchange for managing the administrative and legal tasks and providing 24/7 support for hosts and guests. If you decide to go direct with your guest, you will sever your connection to NZH’s services and support.


Students are ultimately here to experience New Zealand, therefore should be eating the everyday foods you prepare in your home. Some guests will be very easy-going about food and others will have a harder time adapting or will just be pickier eaters. You’ll need to figure this out through conversation and observation. In time, you’ll find some go-to favourites and you can also invite your guest to cook with you. It will be fun, you’ll learn new dishes, and you’ll get used what your guest likes and doesn’t.

If your guest asks for special food, they need to buy that themselves (not ask you to buy it and reimburse you). Invite your guest to go to the supermarket with you, then give them the chance to buy the things they want (within reason). It may be an interesting opportunity for you to learn about local international markets or foods you wouldn’t normally buy. Ultimately though, they are here to experience New Zealand, therefore should be eating the everyday foods you prepare in your home.

You can choose the level of homestay you provide from our list of packages (see “What levels of service can I offer?” for more detail). Breakfast and lunch are self-serve, so you will need to have food available for your guest but you don’t need to prepare it. We ask that dinner (if you’ve chosen to offer it) is served at least 5 days each week and includes interaction and conversation with your guest. NZH payments are reflective of each package offered; reimbursing our hosts for their costs and effort.

Meals may sound like a hassle at first but our hosts confirm what we know to be true – that mealtimes are the best and most rewarding times to connect and build friendships with your guests, especially if you are cooking for yourself or your family anyway. Including your guest in mealtimes will make a much richer experience for you and for your guest.

Be clear with your guest which food is theirs and which you would prefer they do not use. If you have chosen to host a guest who is on a plan without meals, you simply need to make the kitchen available to them.

Some guests will eat anything and some are very picky. But don’t worry, If your guest isn’t connecting with the food in your house, offer to take them to the supermarket with you so they can pick out things they like. You can also invite them to teach you to cook a dish they enjoy or help them find recipes and local ethnic markets if they are new to cooking, but just miss the taste of home. You may also want to create a dedicated shelf so they can keep their favourite foods separate from the household pantry. Sometimes something as simple as finding a sauce or condiment from home can allow your guest to easily turn some simple meat and vegetables into something they will love.

You will be able to specify in your profile whether you are willing to support special diets.

Overall, cooking Halal is usually less trouble than it sounds, especially if you live in a city where Halal butchers are nearby. Halal is a process through which meat is butchered and treated, like Kosher. It is the same to prepare Halal meals as meals with conventional meat. You must avoid pork and alcohol and you just need to keep the Halal dishes distinct from the other. However, when a guest identifies as a Halal eater, it is worth having a conversation about it. Some may be very strict in their Halal practices but others may be happy to simply avoid pork and alcohol.

There are lots of great websites with recipes if you need some help with meal planning. Try looking at recipes.co.nz or foodinaminute.co.nz to get you started.

Insurance and Tax

NZH has its own comprehensive insurance that covers any damage caused by your guests. Guests are required to take out their own health insurance before coming to New Zealand. If damage is caused to your property whilst you have a guest, you can contact your local office for advice and guidance on the appropriate steps to take.

NZH has tailor-made cover that has been designed for NZH hosts and NZH managed guests in a homestay situation. It is a requirement under the NZH program for hosts to have appropriate liability insurance protection for themselves and guests and appropriate cover for guests’ belongings. The insurance NZH has arranged provides this protection.

Details about the NZH insurance program and policy can be found here.

By agreeing to host, you are agreeing to do your best to help and support this visitor, providing a safe and secure environment and assisting them to adjust to the New Zealand way of life. If something happens to the guest on your property, your risk is the same as it would be for any guest in your home.

Under 18 students do require extra duty of care. For more information about your responsibility for a younger guest’s welfare, see the NZH Code of Conduct for Under 18s in Homestay.

Income earned from homestay is taxable and you can claim deductions for costs related to earning that income. Different tax rules apply depending on the circumstances, and hosts are responsible for their own compliance with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) rules and requirements that apply to them.

Please refer to the IRD website for information regarding boarders and home-stay students.


Of course, it just needs to be stated on your profile. Some guests will fall in love with your pets. Some will be afraid, allergic, or have a religious prohibition for being around pets. In those cases, we’ll ensure you aren’t matched with that guest.

You do not need to accept a guest who states they are a smoker. Your house is your house and smoking will not be tolerated unless you allow it. Smoking is a lot more acceptable in some other parts of the world than it is in New Zealand. If a guest is a smoker, they will be asked to smoke only outside of the house and in whatever area you designate. They will be required to clean up after themselves as you request. If any guest disrespects your smoking rules, NZH will help you correct the problem and will remove the guest if it continues.

In anticipation of your guest’s arrival we have provided a quick checklist to ensure all key topics are covered during the guests first few days with you. Click here to view our checklist and ensure you have covered everything before your guest arrives.

You’ll get some information about the guest through the Homestay Management System, but you probably won’t get to meet them in person until they arrive at your house. In most cases, you can begin emailing and getting to know your new guest before they leave their home country.

If you have travelled, you’ll know it can be hard being so far from home, especially the first time. Making your guest comfortable can transform their experience from scary to life-changing and wonderful. Data shows us that international students in a comfortable, warm, supportive and harmonious home perform better in classes and other endeavours they take on in their new culture.

Making someone comfortable is simple and you already know how to do it. For example:

  • Have food and drinks available and offer them regularly at first. Saying “make yourself at home” is easy but most guests won’t feel comfortable to get what they need on their own. You need to offer.
  • Ask them what they need, especially when they first arrive. Maybe they are tired and would like to rest. Maybe they would love a shower or a meal. Maybe they are excited to get out and get their bank account set up. Maybe they are anxious to get a local mobile phone so they can call and tell their family they’ve arrived safely. Give them options.
  • Make sure their room is clean and orderly and try to make it inviting. A lamp with soft light, some pictures, a vase of flowers, a soft throw blanket or nice pillow – these things show that you care about their comfort.
  • Take them to the grocery store and have them pick some things they like. Set aside an area in the fridge or cabinet for food that they can have anytime and let them know this is for them.
  • Ask them about their studies, hobbies or family. Ask them about anything they’ve noticed or have been curious about since they’ve arrived in New Zealand.
  • Invite them to join you for errands, watch TV or just sit and talk.

The majority of our guests are old enough to manage public transport on their own and most will prefer it. We just ask you show them how to use it for the first few times. If you are happy to provide guests with a lift this is appreciated but not necessary. We do have some younger guests who do request transport – this is advised at the time of making the placements.

Holidays and Outings

You simply log in to your host account online and set your availability to “unavailable to host” as you’d like. When you are ready for your next guest, log back in and let us know you are available again by resetting your status. Alternatively, contact your local NZH office and let us know!

All intended holidays must be reported to your local NZH office at least two weeks in advance. For students over 18 there are three options:

1. You are welcome to invite your guest to join you on a holiday. If you invite them to come along and don’t plan to pay their way (you are never obligated to pay their way), just let them know in advance what the costs will be so they can decide whether it fits with their budget.

2. If the guest is staying behind and you are happy to leave them at home (over 18 students only) you are still responsible for upholding your hosting duties while you are away. You must let your guest know in advance. You must provide enough food for the student in your absence and prepare all dinners before your departure.

3. If you want the student to be transferred to another homestay while you are away we require 2 weeks’ notice. You may be requested to drop your students to the new homestay and collect them when you return.

If your Guest is Under 18 they are NOT allowed to be left unattended. You must contact NZH immediately and we will arrange for temporary accommodation in another homestay for the student while you are away. There may be an option to have an approved adult (at NZH discretion) stay at your home with the student subject to police vetting.

We ask that you include your guest as much as you are comfortable to but you are certainly not obligated to include them in everything. Your payment will help cover costs but if you don’t want to absorb the expense of a meal out or an excursion, just talk with your guest ahead of time about what the cost will be for them and allow them to decide whether or not they would like to go along. Showing a guest around and giving them new experiences can be very rewarding for your family though, so don’t miss an opportunity to be a great host and give your guest something to remember!

You are not expected to pay for your guest if you go on a trip, excursion or out to eat at a restaurant. Just talk to your guest ahead of time to let them know how much it will cost and allow them to decide whether they’d like to spend the money to join you. If you’d like to offer to pay the guest’s way, you are welcome to do that.

Yes. All guests will have their own money. You are expected to pay for their food as required for the level of service you’ve chosen to offer and to be a gracious host as you would for any guest, but you are not expected to pay the guest’s expenses beyond your host agreement and hospitality.

Responsibilities and Rules for Homestay

All guests under 18 years of age and their hosts must be aware of the information outlined in the NZH Code of Conduct for Under 18s in Homestay.

We do ask you to take your guest to get a mobile phone and bank account when they first arrive as they will not be familiar with New Zealand or their surroundings. Hosts should help guests understand options, contracts, and commitments but never co-sign or pay for services for the guest. Your guest should be responsible for their own personal business, with your help and support.

Of course. You are sharing your home and you are responsible for setting and communicating the rules of your house. Remember that you are usually hosting young adults and they will appreciate flexibility as they explore this new place and adventure. Try to balance your needs and expectations with theirs as you work together to agree to house rules. If you are hosting an under 18 student you will need to ensure that the curfew complies with the requirements detailed in our Homestay Policy.

Yes. It is important to set your house rules and expectations and communicate them clearly at the beginning of the placement. Remember that young guests are like young people everywhere. They may need to hear the rules a few times and be shown examples of what you expect. International guests may need some additional help understanding. Be clear, firm, kind and patient.

Feel free to use the generic NZH House Rules Template and modify them to suit your household.

No – you should be a gracious and welcoming host but the guest is responsible to take care of their own mess and space. Make your expectations and house rules (you can modify these accordingly) very clear when the guest arrives and remind them of the rules if they are not following them. Please keep in mind that many guests, especially the younger ones, may have never cleaned before and may not know how. Consider showing your guest how to clean, where to find the supplies and what you expect for frequency and standards. You may need to follow up and give them feedback (and offer some kind patience) as they learn.

Talk with your guest to find out what works best for you and for them. Some guests (especially young women) may not want anyone handling their private things. Some will want to wash things too often or not at all, in which case it may be easier and more hygienic for you to do the washing for them. If you decide together that they will do their own laundry, show them how to do it. Be very detailed – how much soap to use, water levels, what times of day are OK for laundry and how often they are welcome to use it. Do the laundry together a couple of times if this is new to them. Whether they do the laundry or you do, provide the guest with a laundry basket for their own use.

Yes. The guest is responsible for cleaning up after him or herself and for contributing to the household as a family member would. That said, it is not ok to use the guest as additional household help. Our generic NZH House Rules Template can be modified to suit your needs.

Common Hosting Questions

Guests sometimes feel uncomfortable turning all the lights off at night. Try a nightlight or changing the light bulb to one with lower wattage. You can also explain to your guest that electricity is expensive in New Zealand and that it isn’t acceptable to leave lights on.

No. Be sure the guest has the basics – clean towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies – and offer to take your guest to the supermarket with you sometimes so they can purchase additional items they need.

Students get homesick and overwhelmed sometimes. Studying far from home in an unfamiliar culture and language is a very difficult thing to do. If your guest is struggling, please contact your local NZH office who will notify the school to get resources in line to help your student.

Yes, if you need to. Your local NZH office can connect you with the parents or provide emergency contact info if the guest has provided it on their profile. In the case of emergency however, always contact NZH immediately.

You make the rules for your house and assuming they are reasonable, your guest is expected to do their best to honour your rules. Most hosts would not want additional overnight guests. If overnight guests are welcome in your house, you can negotiate the specifics with your guest so that it works for you.

If you are hosting an Under 18 student, the student will need to have permission from their school or guardian to have overnight guests. NZH must be provided with a copy of written confirmation before any overnight stays will be approved.

NZH do not encourage parents staying in homestay. Homestay is for the student only. Parents must stay at a nearby hotel. NZH always advise students to travel to the homestay alone, meet the host family and settle in, then speak to you about meeting their parents at a time that suits you. You are not expected to have the parents at your home unless you feel comfortable doing so. It’s important to have clear boundaries about whether you are comfortable having parents visit or not.

Notify your local NZH office and we’ll work with the guest to make arrangements. We require guests to provide 2 weeks’ notice before leaving a homestay. This isn’t always possible, but we will do our best to ensure a smooth transition for you and the guest.

Before they leave, ask them for their forwarding address so you can send on any mail that arrives for them. Also check how they will get to their new accommodation and assist them if they need help. This does not mean that you have to transport them but they may need assistance in calling a taxi or getting to the train or bus.

Please see the NZH Refund Policy for more detail.

NZH does not, but their visa requires they are actively attending school. If this isn’t the case, the school will follow up on it. The student will be sent home if they violate the terms of their visa by not attending school. If your student is ill or if you find your student is not attending school as you think they should be, please contact your local NZH office or school.

This is your choice. It can be formal e.g. Mr. or Ms. or you might like them to call you by your given name or simply Mum and Dad.

Privacy is important. The guest’s room should be private to them during their stay with you. If you plan to clean the room then let the guest know when you will do this.

Make sure that the guest has paid any outstanding balance of monies to NZH and advise the guest has left. Assist your guest to move to their next destination or airport (if required). Update your NZH availability, making sure you indicate that your home is free to receive another guest if you wish.

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