The Homestay Process

Homestay is a cultural exchange between an individual or family of any cultural background (called a host) and a visiting international student (guest). A homestay allows an international guest the opportunity to stay in a warm, welcoming New Zealand household, rather than in an impersonal apartment, dorm, or hotel. It gives guests the opportunity to experience local culture and practice their English in a family setting.

When living in a homestay you will be provided with your own room, with a place to study and meals (if required), in a welcoming and friendly environment. Whilst living with your host family you will communicate and get to know each other. You will learn about the local area, community and customs. Your host family will also be eager to get to know you, learn about your family, country and culture.

Our processes ensure we prepare you to have the best experience homestay can offer.

We’re a little different than more direct, peer-to-peer services in that we provide a full service approach to homestay. Our policies are based on those of the Australian Homestay Network who have been the industry leaders in homestay standards since 2007. New Zealand Homestay processes, policies and comprehensive services also fulfil good practice standards such as those laid out in the The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021.

As a guest staying in an NZH homestay, you’ll know exactly who you are staying with and what their background is. You have our support 24 hours a day in case there is a problem or emergency. We also handle billing and most collection activities, so if there is a problem with your homestay, we will help you to fix it.

Homestay Matching Fee: This fee is paid to NZH to confirm that a placement is required. It covers the cost of host training and assessment, and the work associated with the matching process. This fee is usually paid in conjunction with the initial weekly fee of 4 weeks.
Weekly Fees (normally 28 nights minimum): Weekly fees will vary, depending on the level of service you choose for your homestay. We offer several packages for guests in homestay these include.

  • Full Board Homestay: host provides 3 meals, 7 days/week
  • Half Board Homestay: 2 meals Monday to Friday, 3 meals on weekends
  • Dinner Only Homestay: host provides dinner only, 7 days/week
  • No Meals: no meals provided by the host


Weekly Fees cover:

  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • Utilities
  • Internet
  • Insurance
  • Emergency telephone support
  • Administration fees

Weekly fees vary by region. Please see the locations page for more information.

This will depend on the city you are in as some cities are bigger than others, but the furthest you will be placed in a homestay is 1 hour on public transport. You may need to take a bus or train, or a combination of both. This will all be explained to you by your host when you arrive. Most hosts are happy to take the journey with you for the first time, to help you get familiar with the route. It is important to remember that the focus of living in a homestay is not about convenience but about the experience and support you have when living in a foreign country.

We offer homestay to all types of students in high schools, universities, English colleges and other private institutions. We accept both short and long term placements. Generally, we do not accept students under the age of 12 years unless travelling as part of a study tour (these will be reviewed on a case by case basis). All new students over 18 years old who are arriving for their first term of study are recommended to spend a minimum of 4 weeks in a properly managed NZH homestay prior to making longer term accommodation arrangements.

Click here to join as a student.

When you have lodged your application form and confirmed your email address you will be assigned to your local NZH office. A staff member will be in contact with you with a welcome email and initial invoice. If you have any questions you can contact them.

When you decide to proceed with your application you will need to make payment of your invoice. It is now a good time to log back into your profile and make sure that any preferences and requirements are listed, along with your arrival details and intended start date for homestay.

Once we receive your payment we will begin looking for a suitable host for you. When we have a host family that matches your preferences we will send to you their summary and your confirmation email. The earlier you make payment the earlier we will be able to begin looking for your family.

The majority of our placements are initially for 28 nights. Some students decide to extend, whilst others choose to move into their own accommodation. If you wish to extend you will need to make payment of your continuing invoice (this will be emailed to you 14 days before the end date of your paid placement). Once we receive your payment we will extend your placement accordingly.

All students must notify their host and local NZH office that they will be departing from their homestay at least 14 days beforehand. If 14 days’ notice is not given you will need to pay any fees due to honour the notice period. More information regarding departure and payments can be found in the NZH Refund Policy.

When you register with NZH you will have access to our 24/7 emergency contact centre. They will assist you with any urgent emergency issues you may have, including interpreter services. You will also have the support of your dedicated NZH office and our experienced team during business hours. Please see our Homestay Policy for more information.

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

Rules And Responsibilities

When living in a homestay your responsibilities include helping with household chores (as required) and keeping your bedroom and bathroom clean and tidy. You need to show respect for others and follow the house rules outlined to you. You should keep an open mind and be willing to try new foods and experiences. It is important that you communicate with your host family; any issues can generally be resolved be speaking directly with them. Extra information regarding your responsibilities can be found in our Homestay Policy.

It is best to speak with your host about using the internet. Different families have different internet packages: some may have limited data available, while others will have unlimited data. Usage should mainly be for study purposes. Make sure you are aware of any limitations before downloading or streaming content.

There are other ways you could help. You may be able to take out the rubbish, wipe down the table, or even prepare the table before the meal. It is always better to offer to help than not do anything.

Yes, it is polite to inform your host that you will be heading out and when you intend to return. You need to inform your host if you will not be home for any meals, and if you intend on staying out overnight. If you are under the age of 18 you need to be home for dinner each night and sleep at home.

Common Questions

Ask your host what they prefer to be called. Some hosts prefer to be called by their given name, whilst others may suggest you call them mum/dad.

This will be different in each homestay. It is important you speak with your host to clarify laundry rules and to avoid any issues. Ask your host where they would prefer you keep your dirty clothes. Some may prefer you keep it in a basket in your room, while others may ask you to place it in a basket elsewhere in the house. Some hosts will ask that you do your own washing and will teach you how to operate the washing machine. Other hosts will prefer to do your washing for you.

Ask your host to show you where the iron is located and how to operate it. Your host will be able to give you some guidance on how to iron clothes. Be sure to check the tags on your clothes for ironing instructions. YouTube will also offer some handy tips.

We recommend you limit your showers to no longer than 4-5 minutes.

Some households do not have a bath or do not use it, while others frequently use theirs. It is best to ask your host if you can use the bath (if there is one). If you can use the bath, it is wise to try and limit the amount of water used. If your host prefers that you do not use the bath you will need to respect this request.

This means that you may take something (a piece of food, or maybe a tissue) without asking.

This is referring to the time a specific meal will be served in the home.

You will need to ask your host if this is okay. If your host allows you to personalise your room, please make sure that nothing is permanently fixed. Only use temporary adhesives.

It is common to wish the person a happy birthday when you first see them for the day. Some people also like to give them a card and/or a gift. This is not expected or necessary when you are living in a homestay.

Peoples’ bedrooms are regarded as private areas. You should only enter if you are invited and it is always best to knock first. Common areas, such as the lounge room, are not normally private and can be enjoyed by everyone in the home.

There may be space for you to keep your luggage in your room, such as underneath the bed or in the wardrobe. You might also be able to store your extra belongings in the garage or shed. It is best to speak to your host; they will be able to assist you.

You will need to ask permission from your host first. Some families will be okay with this request, others may not. You will need to respect their preferences either way. You will also need to obey local drinking laws, including the minimum drinking age of 18.

Curfew and quiet times need to be discussed with your host as each family is different. Generally, noise after 10:00pm is not appreciated. You may need to negotiate call times if you are contacting family and friends back home. Always refer to the house rules your host will give you at the start of your visit.

If you prefer to stay up late in your room, this is okay, as long as you are quiet. No one appreciates being kept awake at night. Everyone has different sleep and study patterns so you need to work out what works best with your host.

You will need to ask your host if they are happy for you to have guests in their home. Some hosts are okay with you having guests over, as long as you give them some notice. Others may not allow guests and will prefer that you meet them outside, away from the home.

Please contact your local NZH office during work hours to discuss this issue.

You will need to inform your host as soon as you realise your key is missing. You may need to cover any costs associated with losing the key, such as getting a replacement key cut. Contact your local NZH office if this happens and they will be able to assist you.

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