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Homestay is an excellent way to make friends, learn about NZ culture and practise your English while living in a safe, comfortable environment. New Zealand families are typically kind, honest and friendly, and they enjoy meeting people from other cultures.

Geos NZ organises and inspects all our homestay families. We visit the family homes, interview the family members, and make sure that they are suitable for our students. We also ask our students to fill out questionnaires about their homestay, so that we can make sure our families are providing a good environment.

We have many kinds of families: young married couples, older married couples, families with younger children, families with older children, families with pets and without pets, families who work and families who are retired, families with all kinds of hobbies and lifestyles. On our application form, we ask students to specify what kind of family they would like. It is important to fill in this section so that the Geos NZ Homestay Department have all the necessary information and can match the student with the family he or she requests. We have over 300 families registered with Geos NZ.

Students get their own room furnished with a bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, desk and chair, linen and towels. Students are responsible for keeping their room neat and tidy. Laundry is included in homestay costs and usually the family will show the student how to use the washer and drier, although some families will do the student's laundry for them (especially younger students). During the week, students receive breakfast and dinner, and on the weekend, students receive breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Students are encouraged to help the family with everyday tasks, like setting and clearing the table, and to participate in the family lifestyle - whether it includes going sailing or fishing or to the rugby on the weekend, or after dinner conversations around the fire (in winter).

Our Homestay Officer is always available to meet with students and discuss their family. If students request a change of family, we can arrange it immediately, free of charge.

Some advice about family customs and courtesy in New Zealand

Every culture has its own set of
customs and etiquette. Here are a few tips to help foreign students better adapt to family life in New Zealand:

1. Always say "please" and "thank you" when asking for or receiving something.
e.g. Can you pass the salt please? May I use the phone please? Could I please have some more potatoes? Thanks very much.
2. If you want to use the telephone, please ask your host parents. Local calls are free. To make national or international phone calls you can buy an international calling card which you can use from any telephone or you can ask you Host Family if you can make a collect (reverse charges) call. Don't talk on the telephone for too long. More than 5 minutes may be considered impolite.

Dinnertime is conversation time in New Zealand. Your family will ask you questions about school, about your teacher, about your country - this is good manners. Of course you should answer these questions. It is a good way to practise English. However it is very important that you also ask your family questions. If you only answer questions, your family will get tired of asking. It is good manners to ask your family questions about their day, about their hobbies, about their lifestyle, etc. Don't make the mistake of keeping quiet. This is you chance to practise your English. Asking friendly questions is an essential skill.
e.g. Did you have a good day? What are you doing tomorrow? Where were you born? Did you go to university? What did you study? Have you ever been overseas? How do you spend your holidays? What are your hobbies, etc.

The more questions you ask your family about their lives, the friendlier they will become, and the more they will talk to you. In New Zealand, people usually spend about 5 or 10 minutes under the shower. Try not to spend too long in the bathroom, especially if other people are waiting to use it.

Find out what time your family eats dinner. Be home on time for dinner. If you make other plans, make sure that you tell them in the morning before you go to school or telephone your family in plenty of time before dinner time. Let them know that you will be late home for dinner or that you will be late home and please don’t keep dinner. Don't keep your family waiting.

Be adaptable, keep an open mind and a positive attitude. If you have any problems, talk to your family, or to the Geos NZ Homestay Officer.

Most host families have written Homestay rules. The house rules are normal routines which the family follows. They will help you adapt to the home and join in the family conversation and activities. When you arrive at your Homestay please ask to see the house rules. Your host family will read them with you and you can use your dictionary to ask questions about the rules. The rules are guidelines for use of the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, when meals are served and where and when to put out dirty clothes for washing.

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Hostels and Backpackers
There are many backpackers and hostels throughout New Zealand. There is a wide range of choice, price and quality. The Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand has many facilities, and there is a variety of other hostels and backpackers which offer budget accommodation for travellers. Students can choose and individual, shared room or dormitory. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are communal. Prices range from NZ$90 to NZ$220 per week, depending on the location and quality.

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Renting a flat or finding share accommodation
Some students prefer to rent an apartment, or to find someone who is looking for a flatmate. Advertisements for Flats to rent and roommates wanted can be found in the local newspapers or on the Geos NZ notice boards where accommodation notices are displayed. Finding a flat for short-term rental can be time-consuming and difficult. Students will often be required to pay a bond (one - three month’s rent in advance). It is often better to look for someone who needs a roommate.

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