Bernard Spragg. NZ© Bernard Spragg. NZ
Bernard Spragg. NZ

5 Best Universities in New Zealand

© Bernard Spragg. NZ

The Best Places to Study in New Zealand – Ranking the New Zealand Universities

Studying in New Zealand is a unique opportunity to further your career prospects while experiencing a country of stunning landscapes, fascinating culture and wildlife. All eight of New Zealand’s universities rank on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and we have listed the best universities in New Zealand below. If English is not your first language, then New Zealand is the perfect place to improve your English not only by using it every day but there are plenty of resources offering English classes inside and outside your university. Find out more about Studying English in New Zealand here. Studying in New Zealand also puts you in a good place to continue further study or get a job all over the world, with fantastic opportunities like teaching in Asia, or why not continue to work and travel in New Zealand on a working holiday visa? The opportunities are endless.

So here are the five best universities in New Zealand based on their international ranking, student quality of life and program offerings.

1. University of Auckland

Kicking off our list of the best universities in New Zealand is Auckland University. The largest university and one of the most prestigious in New Zealand is the University of Auckland. Based among several campuses across New Zealand’s largest city, the University of Auckland ranks highly in many of the top international university rankings including being 82nd in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings and 165nd in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. The university was founded in 1883 and has made many contributions to world research such as the discovery of fighting antibacterial resistance by the team of Dr. Siouxsie Wiles who used the genes of glowworms in microbes so they were able to identify when they are killed when their light goes out.

To learn more about Auckland and what there is to do there, check out The Guide to Auckland on a Budget.

University of Auckland on Flickr© University of Auckland on Flickr

2. University of Otago

The next best university in New Zealand on this list is the University of Otago. Based in the bustling South Island city of Dunedin, the University of Otago is New Zealand’s first university. The university is famous for its grand gothic-style architecture and is said to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. The University of Otago particularly excels in health sciences and ranks highly in multiple international university rankings such as 151st in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. Fostering a good student lifestyle is a main priority at the university with more than 150 clubs and societies to join, plus major annual events for students.

Find out more about Dunedin in The Guide to Dunedin on a Budget.

Bernard Spragg. NZ© Bernard Spragg. NZ

3. University of Waikato

Ranked amongst top universities in New Zealand, the University of Waikato is our next entry. In the centre of the North Island, the University of Waikato has campuses in Hamilton and in the coastal city of Tauranga. The university gives international students a unique opportunity to spend time with locals as it has the highest proportion of Maori students in the country. The new student centre at the University of Waikato is modern in design and has received multiple awards for its sustainable design.

Find out more about the Hamilton and Tauranga in The Guide to Hamilton on a Budget and The Guide to Tauranga on a Budget.

Waikato Wordwizard© Waikato Wordwizard

4. University of Canterbury

Another great university in New Zealand is the University of Canterbury, which is based in the South Island city of Christchurch. Not only does the university have a vibrant student life with over 130 clubs and societies, but the campus is also based in a green suburb of Christchurch with lots of open spaces, modern facilities and close to bars and eateries. It’s an exciting city to be in during this period of renewal after the Canterbury earthquakes. There are a lot of projects to get involved with and contribute to a reviving city. The university is particularly recognised for its fine arts programs and was the first fine art school in New Zealand.

Want to learn more about Christchurch? Check out The Guide to Christchurch on a Budget.

Zoltan Gaal© Zoltan Gaal

5. Victoria University of Wellington

Rounding up our list of the top universities in New Zealand is Victoria University. In the heart of New Zealand’s capital city, the Victoria University of Wellington is the highest-ranked university for its research quality. It has good connections with government bodies, organisations and international agencies, being in the capital city of Wellington. The university follows a highly-successful British framework of education.

Find out more about Wellington in The Guide to Wellington on a Budget.

Shimaje© Shimaje


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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