Commencement Dates In New Zealand

New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, so the academic year is in sync with the calendar year.

Secondary schools have four ten-week terms, beginning in February and ending in mid-December. Some of the qualifications in the last three years of secondary school are dependent on assessment of the whole year’s work, so students enrolling late may not be eligible. There are two-week holiday breaks in April, July and September. Classes are held from Monday to Friday, from approximately 08.45 am to 03.15 pm, with an hour for lunch. Sport and other extra-curricular activities take place after school and on Saturday mornings.

The University year begins in late February or early March with an orientation week, and ends in October. Each university has its own timetable but generally the year is divided into two semesters of about 12 weeks each, with a two-week break during the semester and a six-week break in the middle of the year. The breaks are not always holidays – you may find you need some of the extra time for research and study.

Most courses are “annual” courses, i.e. they last through both semesters, but some courses only take one semester, so that it is sometimes possible to start university study in July. Classes are held from Monday to Friday, with libraries and some other support services open over the weekend. The exam timetable sometimes makes it necessary for exams to take place on a Saturday. Some universities offer “summer school” credit courses from November to February, which lessens the total number of years it takes to complete a degree.

Institute of Technology and Polytechnics classes have two semesters, February to June and July to November, with holidays similar to secondary schools. Some half-year courses may start in July.

Language schools run throughout the year. The courses may be as short as one or two weeks or as long as a whole academic year. Classes run from Monday to Friday. Sometimes there are extra-curricular activities and outings at the weekend.

Daylight Saving

Daylight Saving time starts on the first Sunday in October each year, when the clocks are put forward by one hour, and ends on the third Sunday in March when they are put back one hour.


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