Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Rotorua?

Rotorua is conveniently located in the centre of the North Island. It is 2 and a half hours by car from Auckland International Airport, an hour from the beautiful Bay of Plenty beaches and 2 hours to the North Island ski fields.  Rotorua offers some of New Zealand’s most iconic natural attractions and experiences. With geothermal wonders, refreshing spa offerings, pristine lakes, spectacular forests, fascinating Māori culture and an abundance of adventure activities – including world-class mountain biking – Rotorua is New Zealand’s must-visit destination.

What is the population of Rotorua?

Rotorua’s population is approximately 72,500 (Stats NZ June 2018)
63.3% of our residents are of European ethnicity, and 40.1% belong to the Māori ethnic group; the remaining population is comprised of Pacific, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African and other ethnicities
At least 14 different languages are spoken by our residents

What is Rotorua famous for?

Rotorua is like a world within a world. A region with some of New Zealand’s most iconic natural attractions, from dormant volcanoes and geothermal wonders to pristine lakes and magical forests. A place that offers an incredible array of experiences, from adrenaline and adventure to enrichment and relaxation. A warm and welcoming people who are proud of sharing their rich Māori culture with you.

A lot more information about our region can be found at

What can I do at the weekends?

So much! Fun fact: there’s more to do in Rotorua than any other destination in New Zealand!

Rotorua is beautiful. You will experience nature at its best in stunning forests, lakes and geothermal landscapes. As New Zealand’s natural spa capital, there’s an abundance of wellbeing options from luxury spas to natural lakeside hot pools.

If you are looking for adventure, Rotorua is New Zealand’s home of outdoor adventure. Mountain biking is particularly spectacular and is the world’s best year-round mountain biking destination with Whakarewarewa Forest offering nearly 200 kilometres of mountain bike trails.

With a deep Māori heritage and strong connection to the Māori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the land), Rotorua is the best place to experience New Zealand’s indigenous culture.

Because of our central location, you can easily travel to Hobbition, some of the best beaches in New Zealand, the North Island Ski fields and New Zealand’s largest lake. We run regular school activities at the weekends, so keep an eye on our weekly notices

Why should I come to Rotorua?

Coming to a smaller city, like Rotorua gives you a real New Zealand experience. An experience that is probably quite different from any you have had before if you have grown up in a big city.  You will have more opportunities to interact with local people. There is less chance that you will find yourself mixing with only people of your own culture.

The centrality of Rotorua to so many places in the North Island and the number of activities there are to do in the area means you will never be bored.

The size of the city means that it is also much easier to concentrate on your studies and to lead a more healthy and active lifestyle.

Does it smell in Rotorua?

Rotorua has a fascinating geothermal environment, dotted with bubbling mud pools, steaming hot mineral pools and erupting geyser. Because of all this natural goodness, there is a sulphur smell, a little like rotten eggs, thanks to the hydrogen sulphide emitted with all the geothermal activity. The intensity of the odour can change with the weather, some days it’s not at all noticeable, and some days, well, let’s just say the smell is a novel phenomenon that locals are proud of!

It is a smell you get used to and grow to love. While our student often comment on the smell in their first few days, they soon stop noticing it.

What’s the weather like in Rotorua?

Rotorua enjoys a mostly warm and mild climate, making it a great travel destination, any time of the year

The region has an annual average of 2,117 sunshine hours and an average annual rainfall of 1,500mm. Much of the rainfall happens throughout winter – with the month of August receiving the most. The driest month is January.

Season Months Average Temperature Range
Summer December - February 21° to 29°C (69 to 84°F)
Autumn March - May 15° to 26°C (59° and 78°F)
Winter June - August 9° to 13°C (50° to 55°F)
Spring September - November 13° to 21°C (55° and 69°F)

How much are the school fees?

Our most up-to-date fees can be found here

How do I enrol?

You can enrol online at

Do I need a visa to study at your school?

The most up-to-date information about visas can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website.

You can come to New Zealand to study with a Visitor Visa, a Student Visa or a Working Holiday Visa. If you are only planning to study for 3 months or less, you need only apply for a Visitor Visa or a Working Holiday Visa.  If you are planning to study for more than 3 months, you will need to apply for a Student Visa.

Can I study for a longer if I want to?

If you are a good student and you have good attendance, then yes, you can study longer with us. You might need to get a new student visa to do this and we can help you.

Why should I choose RELA?

You should choose RELA because quality matters to you. Quality in your educational programme, your accommodation, your experience and in the relationships you will build.

RELA is one of the longest running language schools in New Zealand. We are a school with a unique character. We offer a very strong, supportive academic structure, but that structure is always flexible. Our flexibility, and our responsiveness to our students, is one of our main selling points. We understand that every student is a unique individual. Different people need different kinds of support in order to succeed. So at RELA we listen to our students carefully, and we respond.

Our location is also unique, so studying at RELA is like nowhere else in the world.

What if I have a problem when I am studying with you?

We are here to help you no matter how big or small your problem may be. On your first day at the school we will introduce you to our School Support Services staff who can help you with any problems you have and if they don’t know the answer, they will introduce you to the people who do know.

Our student handbook has lot of information about where you can get help.

You have lots of activities, does this mean it’s just a school for fun or young people?

Definitely not. Our students are very focussed on their studies during school hours. However, we believe that students should have a balanced lifestyle, so we like to reward our students on a Friday afternoon with a FREE activity to one of Rotorua’s many wonderful attractions.

This means students not only get to relax, but they also get to use their English in the real world and often experience things unique to our country and city. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see what our current students are up to.

At certain times of the year (January and June – August) we do offer an Activities programme where you can chose to study English in the mornings and do activities in the afternoons. More information about this can be found at

What age do you accept?

Our policy on the Age of Students can be found at

How do I know your school is good?

At RELA,  you can be assured of getting quality in all aspects of the teaching, activities and homestay. We are regularly audited and belong to associations which permit only the highest quality schools.

RELA has a number of points of Quality Difference.

We survey all our students when they finish their time with us. Since 2014, 99.8% of these students have said that they would recommend our school to their family and friends, and 99% have rated their time at the school as either better than or as good as they had expected.

Can I study for an exam at your school?

Yes, you can. We offer classes to help you prepare for IELTS exam all year and at certain times of the year we also help students prepare for the B2 First (formerly known as Cambridge English: First (FCE))  and C1 Advanced (formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE))  exams. Please note: Exam classes are only offered if we have demand. Contact us for more information. 

Can I go from your school to high school, Polytechnic or university?

Yes, you can. Our students have gone from RELA to study at high schools, universities, ITPs and Polytechnics all around New Zealand and the world.

We will help you enrol at the institute of your choice. If you choose a high school in Rotorua, we will take you to visit the school and to meet the key people. If you choose to study outside of Rotorua, we will help put you in contact with the right people to help you on the next stage of our journey.

When do your classes start?

You are welcome to join our General English classes on any Monday, unless it is a Public Holiday. Some courses have specific start dates, please refer to your chosen course to see these.

Will I get a certificate at the end of my course?

Yes, you will. For courses over 6 weeks you will receive a detailed report on your ability in different areas of language use.

How many levels do you have?

We have classes at multiple levels. Some classes are subject to numbers, please contact the school for more information about these.

Before you arrive at the school, you will do an online test to find out your correct level of English. This test will check your Use of English (Grammar) and listening. On your first day at school, we will give you an interview to check you spoken English. Based on the results of these tests, we will put you in a class at your level. You will study with other students of a similar level to you but from many different countries. At the end of your first week with us, we will talk to you to find out how the class is. If it is too easy, we will move you up a level, if it is too hard we can move you down.

How big are your classes?

The average number of students in a class is 7 – 8. We have a maximum of 16 students in a class.

How do I move from level to level?

Every 6 weeks you will do a test. Our courses are structured in 12 weekly cycles.

At the 6 weekly, mid-course stage a student will be considered for promotion to the next level if he or she has achieved at least 80% in all areas, has proven in class to be performing above the level of the majority, and the teacher, student and DOS believe it is in his or her best interests.

At the 12 weekly, end of course stage a student will be promoted to the next level if he or she has achieved at least 60% in all areas, has proven in class to be able to perform competently at that level overall, and displays no major ‘gaps’ in understanding or skill set. If a student has not achieved adequate test results, they may still be promoted if the teacher and DOS feel that overall their performance and abilities justify promotion.

Please email us for the test week schedule.

Where are the students from?

It varies from month to month but in any one year we normally welcome students from more than 25 different countries.

How big is the school?

This varies according to the time of the year but it is usually between 30 – 40 students. RELA is a “boutique” school where the teachers know every student. It is like a big multi-cultural family.

What is the school’s location like?

For information about our location, facilities and extras have a look at

What happens on my first day at school? What should I bring?

All the information you need about your first day at the school can be found at

How can I learn faster?

You can learn faster if you:

  • study full-time
  • stay in a homestay with a New Zealand family
  • do 1 hour of homework and learn at least 10 new words every day
  • study after school
  • speak English as often as possible out of the classroom. You must speak English in the class. You might also like to become an ‘English Only Ambassador’. This means that you agree to speak only English at all times in the school grounds. It is hard work but ambassadors find it very rewarding, and their English improves quickly. If you would like to become an ‘English Only Ambassador’, please talk to the Student Services desk.
  • read for pleasure – use our free library of graded readers, many with audio
  • come to self-study for advice on study skills and practice materials

Your progress will sometimes be fast and sometimes a little slower. Don’t worry. This is natural, and sometimes students don’t realise how much their English is improving all the time.

Is there someone in the school who speaks my own language?

Yes we have a number of language counsellors. If you would like to come and talk to one of them please see our Student Services desk.

Are you open all year?

We are only closed for New Zealand Public holidays and for two weeks at Christmas and New Year. Our holiday dates can be found at

Can I use Wi-Fi at school?

Yes, Wi-Fi is available free of charge at school. You will be issued with a password at orientation.

How do I get from Auckland to Rotorua?

If you pay for our Airport Shuttle service, then one of our friendly driver’s will meet you at Auckland Airport arrivals hall and drive you to Rotorua. Depending on the time of day, they will either deliver you to the school or directly to your chosen accommodation. The trip usually takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours.

Other Options:

Plane: You can also choose to travel by plane. For schedules and fares see the Air New Zealand website

Public Bus: This is the cheapest option but the most indirect too. Information on Public Buses can be found here.

How will I get to school each day?

Rotorua has a public bus system which covers most of the city. Some students choose to buy their own cars, while others bike or walk to school. Some homestay families will drop students off at school and pick them up at the end of the day too.

Where can I stay?

Nearly all our students stay with in a New Zealand home at first. This is called living in a homestay. This will give you the chance to experience New Zealand culture with typical Kiwi host families. You can read more information about living in homestay in your language at

Usually there are one or two students in each home. When there is more than one student, they are never of the same nationality, unless this is requested. You will always have your own bedroom.

How do you choose your homestays?

The families are carefully selected by our accommodation staff. All our families are friendly and welcoming. The approval process involves a police clearance of all adults over the age of 18 living at the homestay.

At the end of your first week with us we will talk to you to make sure things are okay in your homestay, and every 6 weeks we will talk to you again about the homestay to make sure you are happy.

What is living in a homestay like?

A homestay experience can be very rewarding and many of our students have stayed life-long friends with their homestay families. It is certainly the best way to improve your English more quickly.

Homestay means that you live in a New Zealand home and are treated as one of the family. The host family will be friendly and helpful.  If you are going to enjoy the experience, it is important that you are friendly and positive too.

Your host family will provide you with:

  • Breakfast and dinner from Monday to Friday
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays
  • A room of your own
  • Towels, bed linen and bed covers
  • A key to your home if you are a mature student.

It is important that you understand that your homestay is not a hotel. You need to have a flexible attitude and be very adaptable. When you move into a family you have to accept the family’s lifestyle and help with the chores. Your homestay mother is not your maid or your servant. You must respect her and help her.

You can read more information about living in homestay in your language at

What sort of family will I have?

New Zealand families come in many different forms and sizes, and this is also true for RELA’s host families. The RELA management team has carefully selected and visited all of our wonderful homestay families. Some host families will have two parents living in the home while only one parent will be present in others. There may be young children, teenagers, no children at all, or children who are now grown and have moved out. New Zealanders also come from many different countries. A New Zealander can be European, Maori, Pacific Islander, Asian, European or a mix of two or more of these ethnicities.

Our host families are middle-class New Zealanders, most of whom live in simple homes and neighbourhoods. What is important is that your host family has offered to open their home and is excited to share their lives with you. During your stay you will not only be considered a welcome guest in their home, but also a member of the host family. This day-to-day interaction creates a unique situation of closeness and strong bonds that can only come from sharing the special space of another family’s home.

How far are the homestays from the school?

Most homestay accommodation is within 10-15 minutes’ drive of RELA. Some homestays are closer, within walking distance.

How will I get to school each day?

Rotorua has a public bus system which covers most of the city. Some students choose to buy their own cars, while others bike or walk to school. Some homestay families will drop students off at school and pick them up at the end of the day too.

Do I get food in my homestay?

Yes, you will get breakfast and dinner everyday and at the weekends, you will also get lunch. Please note, that in New Zealand we have a tradition of “help yourself” this means that in most homes you will not be served breakfast but you will be able to help yourself to the food in the house.

You will need to buy your own weekday lunches. There are many restaurants within a short walk of the school.

Can I change my homestay if I do not like it?

Yes, if you have a good reason for doing so. However,  you have to tell us at least 1 week before. We will then start to try and find you a new homestay.  This process may take longer than one week but we will move as quickly as we can. Before we decide to move you, we will spend time talking to you to see if we can work through the problem.  Our homestay team is available 24/7 to help you with any problems you may have in your homestay. Part of living in a new home is learning to be adaptable. Things in the home will be different to what you are used to and sometimes it is just a matter of taking time to understand your homestay and their ways and for you to get to know one another.

What if I don’t want to stay in a homestay?

After you arrive in NZ, you might decide to find your own place to live, either alone or with other students. You can find a lot of information about how to do this at If you have any questions, you should come to Reception and talk to the Student Services team.

How expensive is it to live in Rotorua?

New Zealand is cheaper than many other countries and Rotorua is cheaper than the bigger cities to live in.

You can see the prices for things you regularly buy at: and

The following two links are also very useful:

What other costs will I have after paying for my course and my accommodation?

  • Lunches if you are in a homestay and all meals if you chose to live in a flat
  • Transport to and from school each day. More information about bus prices can be found at
  • Optional weekend activities
  • Transport from Auckland airport if you do not prepay our shuttle service.
  • Exam fees if you choose to sit an external exam

The following things are included in your course fees:

  • Textbook and materials
  • Wifi access in the school
  • A free Friday afternoon activity (Full-time students only)
  • Access to our after-school self-study centre

Can I open a bank account?

You can open a bank account in New Zealand if you have a visa that allows you to stay in the country for some time—this could be a work or student visa.

Our Student Services team can help you to open an account but it is often easier to start the process from your home country. There is a lot of information at the following links from New Zealand’s five main banks.

Can I work while I study with you?

Yes. RELA is a Category 1 school which means if you study full-time for 14 weeks or more you can apply to get a student visa which will allow you to work for 20 hours per week.

Does the school help me find a job? What kind of work is there in Rotorua?

We don’t find our students jobs. However, we do offer a Job Club for student after school. The Job Club will give you the tools needed to look for work in New Zealand. We will help you to prepare a CV, get an IRD number and open a bank account. We will teach you about your legal rights as an employee in New Zealand and we will show you the different places to look for a job. We will also help you with the language you need for interviews, filling in forms and when door knocking.

Rotorua is a one of the most popular places to visit and holiday in New Zealand so there are always jobs here in the hospitality and tourism industries. A number of our students also work at the weekends in the kiwifruit industry. If you are willing to work and have a good enough level of English, there will be job opportunities for you in the community.

What are my legal rights as a worker in New Zealand?

You can find these at