Pre-departure and Arrival Information


  • Passport and current visa to study in new Zealand
  • Travel/medical insurance policy
  • Return airline ticket
  • Any prescriptions for necessary medications
  • Laptop/Mobile/device chargers
  • Adaptor plug for electrical products
  • Personal items and clothes. Make sure you have plain black leather shoes for school
  • Spending money


  • Make sure we know your flight and arrival details and notify us immediately if there are any changes. We need this to make sure you are met at the airport.
  • Pack your own bags. DO NOT carry anything for another person.
  • When you arrive at Auckland Airport you should have completed a passenger Arrival card (these are usually given out to you on the plane). You MUST declare all food even if it is packaged. You are not allowed to bring fresh food into N.Z. You may be charged a fine if you do.
  • You should not carry a large amount of cash.
  • You will go through Passport Control, Baggage Claim and Customs.
  •  After this you will see a shuttle driver with your name on a sign. Please identify yourself to the Driver. If you are hungry or need to use the bathroom, advise the driver of this.
  • The driver will then drive you to Rotorua, approximately 2.5 hours away. The driver will deliver you to your Homestay family.
  • If you get lost or cannot see your name on a sign, please ring the International Director, Renee Millner on +6427 210 9544.  DO NOT LEAVE THE AIRPORT- we will always find you
  • If you do have money with you, it is easy to change it at the airport although the fees charged there are higher.
  • $200 NZD is plenty to see you through the first few days.


  • Please arrive in NZ at least a couple of days before school starts. This will help you recover from jetlag, settle into your new homestay and get ready for school.
  • We run an orientation for all new students, to introduce you to our school and it will include an information booklet
  • We will introduce you to a buddy who will show you around in the first few days
  • You will be expected to wear a school uniform. You will need to buy this before you arrive at school if possible. Allow $500 NZD. You will need a pair of plain black leather shoes. This has not been invoiced and you will need to pay for this yourself.
  • Your English and Math will be assessed on your arrival at school to ensure the correct placement for you.
  • You will also meet with the International Director individually to discuss your final subject selection to make sure you are doing the subjects that you need or want to do at the required level. You will be given a timetable. There are 5 classes a day, each lasting one hour.
  • If you are doing Outdoor Education please make sure you bring some strong shoes or sports shoes and clothing suitable for all weather conditions.
  • School begins at 8.40am and finishes at 3.10pm
  • Western Heights has free school lunches paid for by the government.  However your host parents can make your lunch as requested, or you can purchase food from the school canteen with your own money.
  • If you are late you must sign in at student reception. If you are absent for any reason your homestay must notify the school by phone.
  • If you are sick during the day, you should see the nurse.
  • There is a huge range of sports and cultural activities. Listen to the Daily Notices to find out about their meetings. We highly recommend you join a club or team – it is the best way to get to know other students.
  • Your homestay family in NZ and your family at home will be given a Login to our parent Portal on our website so they can keep up to date with your progress
  • Like us on Instagram and Facebook @whhsrotorua.  These social media networks are regularly updated with the latest and greatest happenings at Western Heights High School.  A lot of international activities are posted here so it is a good way for your family and friends back home to stay updated. 


  • Your family has been especially chosen for you. They will act in place of your parents while you are in NZ
  • All families have different habits and customs and it is important to find out what your new family expects of you. You will be given a booklet called Homestay Information for Students. You should read this and discuss it with your homestay family.
  • You will have your own room and usually share a bathroom. 
  • Your homestay family will feed you 7 days a week, 3 meals per day. In NZ we tend to eat light meals for lunch and larger, cooked meals at dinner. Food in NZ may be different to what you are used to.
  • You will need a NZ Sim Card for your phone. We provide you with one on your first day at school. Make sure you check that you can use your phone while here. Some phones need to be especially programmed while you are still at home.  We regularly communicate with you via ‘WhatsApp’ and your school email (gmail).
  • Most students open a bank account while they are here and an EFTPOS or debit card is convenient and safe. Your host family and International Director can help you with this.
  • Your host family will show you how to get to school. You are not allowed to drive a car or own a car while you are an international student at Western Heights High School.
  • Some host families can be solo parents and most parents work.
  • If you are unhappy about your homestay family please talk to us about it.
  • Our international Director can be contacted in an emergency and you are given a card with all emergency numbers on your arrival.  The emergency number is:  0800 944 700


All international students are given the opportunity to do a number of extra activities such as surfing, visiting Hobbiton, kayaking and Stand Up paddle Boarding, doing many of the tourist activities. There are some trips offered at the start of the year and some offered as part of the November summer programme.


  • In the first fortnight you will also be given a one day orientation around Rotorua.
  • We are the heart of Maori Culture in NZ, a top adventure tourism destination, a geothermal region and one of the World’s best mountain biking destinations
  • Small city of 70,000 people, mainly of Māori and European descent but also with many international ethnicities.
  • The economy is based on Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry.
  • There is a bus service throughout Rotorua
  • There are a range of sports grounds
  • There are many different ethnic foods available in Rotorua
  • We have a Thursday night market selling mainly food from around the World, a Saturday market with a range of products, a Sunday market concentrating on mainly organic items and once a month a large craft market.
  • 18 lakes in the district so many are keen on water sports
  • NZ Mountain biking hub and the biggest activity in Rotorua. Red Bull named it one of the top 10 Mountain biking destinations in the World and we host many international events including Crankworx.
  • Many hot and cold water springs around Rotorua, some are free and some are part of spa and swimming complexes.
  • Weather is moderate with few extremes. In Winter ( June- August) we can have some frosts and the average daily temperature can be around 9C. In Summer(December-March) it can get to 30C with some extremes also. Some people find our homes cold in winter so bring warm clothing. You should also always wear sunblock in summer


  • In NZ it is illegal to buy cigarettes and vaping products under the age of 18.
  • In NZ it is illegal to drink alcohol under 18 years.
  • In NZ we drive on the left hand side of the road- be very careful crossing the road. LOOK BOTH WAYS!
  • You may not drive a car while an international student enrolled  at Western Heights High School
  • In NZ the emergency number is 111 for ambulance, fire and police
  • If you are in need of a Doctor or dentist you must pay. You can claim the cost back on your insurance and the International department is happy to help you with this.
  • For all minor health concerns we recommend you utilize the school health and wellness center first (this is a free service).
  • You are able to work part time (You must declare this on your Student-Visa application if you wish to do this).  This must be approved by the Department of Immigration, Western Heights High School and your parents.

If you have any questions, we are here to help you.

We want to keep you safe and happy and for you to enjoy every experience, every opportunity.

We look forward to welcoming you into our family, our school and our community.