Southland boasts a high quality choice of schools and unrivalled education opportunities from early childhood right through to tertiary studies.

Southland has a range of education options for your family. Southlanders place a high priority on education and we pride ourselves on our educational facilities and student achievements.

Education is compulsory for all children from age 6 to 16 years. Most children start school when they are 5 years of age and continue with their education through to tertiary level.  However, under New Zealand law, students can make a choice to leave school when they reach the age of 17-18 years. New Zealand's education system has five levels:

  • Early childhood (ages 0-4)
  • Primary, Years 1-6 (ages 5-10)
  • Intermediate/Junior College, Years 7-8 (ages 10-13)
  • Secondary/College, Years 9-13 (ages 13-19)
  • Further Education (age 18+)
Baby in the daffodils at Queens Park

Early childhood education

Early Childhood Education is not compulsory, but is available for children up to 5 years of age. The main providers are kindergartens, play centres, child-care centres, home-based networks, correspondence school and playgroups. Most early childhood providers will have a varying payment schedule for their services and you could qualify for 20 free hours per week if your child is between three and four years old.

Click here for a list of Early Childhood Services in Southland or visit the Ministry of Education website.

Schools in Southland

Southland has schools to suit most educational preferences. Excellent student/teacher ratios ensure students receive the attention required to maximise their learning potential, while the use of state-of-the-art interactive technology in many schools enables students to participate in specialised and extra-curricular subjects. Southland's exceptional outdoor educational opportunities complement the academic, cultural and sporting educational curriculum. In Southland there are choices between single sex, co-educational or specific religious schooling.

Southland secondary school children

All schools offer a comprehensive extra-curricular programme, including arts, cultural activities and a variety of sports. Most schools offer annual camps where children and teachers usually go away for several nights to undertake outdoor pursuits or to participate in cultural experiences.

The school year begins in late January and ends late November for secondary schools, and mid-December for primary schools. The school year is divided into four terms. To find out the school terms and holidays dates, please visit the Ministry of Education website. 

Tertiary education

Southland has a range of options for personal development and advanced education. Tertiary education programmes in the region are offered at masters, post-graduate diploma, bachelor degree, diploma and certificate levels, as well as vocational preparation and personal development courses.

English as a second language

International students and migrants are looking beyond the larger cities and recognise Southland as an ideal place to learn English while experiencing New Zealand life and culture.

Tertiary Education

Southland has some excellent tertiary options, including the Southern Institute of Technology.

The Southern Institute of Technology has many programmes to choose from

English language for speakers of other languages (ESOL)

A variety of ESOL training options exist to assist in the study of English as a second language.

International student group

Find schools in Southland

Find a list and locations of schools in the Southland region.

Southland Girls High School students

Find Early Learning Centres in Southland

Early Childhood Education is not compulsory, but is available for children up to 5 years of age.

Southland has many early learning centres and services for young children

Ministry of Education

Find information about education in New Zealand.

Southland is a great place for children to learn and develop