International Students

International Students

Farm visits are popular with the children

The Motueka Steiner School is a small Steiner/ Waldorf School in a rural town in New Zealand.  We accept international students into our classes 1-7 (ages 7 to 13). Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, exceptions are possible in class 7.

The Motueka Steiner School looks back on a long history of hosting international students. We have had many German, Dutch, Japanese, British and  American students here, typically staying for 3 to 12 months.

Motueka is in the sunniest part of New Zealand, on the north coast of the South Island: ‘Top of the South’ as we say.  Motueka is surrounded by orchards, forests, farmlands, national parks, beautiful beaches and Tasman Bay. The world famous Abel Tasman National Park is only 20 minutes drive from the school. A feature of our school is the strong support community that surrounds us. Visiting families do not just come to a school, they join a community.

Abel Tasman National Park

The Motueka/Tasman/Nelson region is known to attract many people from Central Europe, in particular from German speaking countries.  Our school reflects this diversity and many students have a second language.  Non-English speaking students usually “buddy up” with another student from their home country which helps the transition. We are always surprised how quickly students learn English when supported at home and school.

Join us for summer, two terms, or even better come for a full year. Here is a “How to” guide from a Family that visited us for one year  (German version:

A stay, short or long, allows families to get a taste of our school, our community, and the way of life in NZ.  It will also provide children (and their parents) the best imaginable real life opportunity to improve their English as a second language.   You will need to come as a family to care for your children while they are attending our school.  An exception can be made for class 7 children if you have close contact with a family in or near Motueka who are able to care for your children while they are here and this arrangement is approved by the Motueka Steiner School.

Welcome to the school

For 35 years our kindergarten has been a part of Motueka and led to the establishment of the primary school in 2002.  About 100 children attend our playgroups, kindergarten and school.  In this community everybody knows everybody – but with a lot of space for individuality. There are many opportunities for involvement in the school community: gardens, festivals, building, curriculum, administration, arts & crafts, anthroposophical reading groups, etc.  In Motueka there are many sports clubs, dancing, acting, hiking, and singing groups. Three national parks are located nearby, providing an abundance of outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, climbing and much more.

Around Motueka - Fun on the river

Visiting children are fully integrated into the class, including sport and outdoor activities.  There is a large cultural awareness in our school and we encourage the multi– cultural exchange between children.

Every student and their family are welcomed with open arms and invited to be part of our vibrant and committed community, where people from various backgrounds and nationalities are united. Visitors can get involved in our community groups, for example help organising festivals, sports and events or get creative with the Dollmakers.

We have hosted students from many countries, English and non-English speaking.  Both children with their families and our community have enjoyed this enriching experience and long-term friendships have developed between families. We are very happy to send you reports from previous international student families, please request information under [email protected]

Enrollment Procedure

School gathering

Our academic year starts in February and finishes in December, just before Christmas and our 6 week long summer holidays.  The school year is divided into 4 terms of about 10 weeks each.

For all inquiries please contact our international student liaison under [email protected]
You will receive a personal contact person to answer all your questions and insure your needs are met.  Please ask us for support if you need to find accommodation transport etc.

Guidance and support will be given for the enrollment procedure and you will receive an International Student Information Pack which includes a provisional offer of place and an invoice for your chosen period of attendance.

Immigration Requirements

Children with NZ or Australian residency or those having a parent with NZ work permit or residency can attend the school as domestic students. All others are international students. Our school is registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to accept international students.

For attendance beyond three months an international student needs a student visa and permit from Immigration NZ. Full details of visa and permit requirements can be viewed at



International student fees are charged depending on the length of your stay. A school year is made up of four terms. Term 1 starts around February 1st. View upcoming school term dates.

Our current international student fee for the school year 2020 is $2,900 (NZD) per term. Please note that the minimum stay is 2 terms. If you have 2 children at our school, you are eligible for a discount of 5% for both, with 3 or more children at our school for a discount of 10%. Fees for 2021 will be $3,000 (NZD) per term.  Fees for 2022 will be $3,200 (NZD) per term.  Fees are reviewed annually and subject to change.

These fees also pay for our international student package that includes all admin costs, stationery items like crayons, pencils and other utensils that are needed by the students.

Additional payment for extracurricular activities such as school excursions, camps, and transport to sports activities may apply.

About Motueka

Local beaches have safe swimming

Motueka is a small town in the top of the South Island at the Entrance to the popular Abel Tasman National Park.  Surrounded by mountain ranges, beautiful bush and blue sea with sandy beaches.  The area offers lots of opportunity for recreational outdoor experiences.  Also, Motueka is centered in the middle of NZ, therefore providing an excellent base for exploring both Islands.

The closest city is Nelson, 45km southeast of Motueka.  The Abel Tasman National Park separates Tasman Bay from Golden Bay, also a highly popular holiday spot. Our area is especially attractive with the most sunshine hours in NZ.  The mild climate provides for an abundance of agricultural produce and some of the best wine in NZ.

The Motueka lifestyle is relaxed and outdoors focused.  Fortunately there is no dangerous wildlife so it is easy to explore the great outdoors.

A look into the school year/ a day at school

The school year starts beginning of February and ends about a week before Christmas. It is divided into 4 terms, approximate 3 month each, with holidays for 2-3 weeks in autumn, winter, spring and summer. The latter ones last for about 6 weeks, including Christmas.

Each term is accompanied by seasonal festivals which highlights the special character of the yearly rhythms.

* Term 1: Includes the Easter celebration, as well as our new Autumn Fair celebration.
* Term 2: Lantern Festival, Midwinter celebration,
* Term 3: Our Spring Festival,
* Term 4: Advent, end of the year plays, our Christmas Market.

The school day starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm (1 pm on Fridays). Class 1 children also finish at 1pm on Wednesday.
There is a morning tea break after the main lesson and a half an hour lunch break at 1pm.
The children are encouraged to spend these breaks outside and get engaged in team games or similar.
The weekend starts on Friday with a 1 o’clock school finish.

Lear more from another families experience

We are a community organisation with a focus on Steiner Education.

We foster people, projects and social enterprises that embrace a positive vision of the future. We look to Anthroposophy, as a world conception, with its description of the universe and the Human being, to guide our endeavours. Our current projects and enterprises include the Motueka Steiner School, playgroups, kindergarten, farming and community living.

We  deliver holistic education that focuses on child development, engages the whole family, connects children to nature and fosters personal uniqueness. We value creativity over conformity, imagination over predictability, and critical thinking over standardised testing. These goals and values are at the heart of Steiner Education and our work on the farm. We are developing a biodynamic farm as a learning environment, a source of organic food, a place for nature, and an example of restorative agriculture.  The farm is a fantastic teaching resource for all children and their families, and strengthens the connection between farming, people, food and the natural world.

The farm is a classroom

The farm offers many land-based outdoor classroom opportunities for students.  Practical hands-on activities are being developed that are age appropriate and give rise to diverse learning opportunities.  Outdoor classroom activities include; gardening, compost making, animal care, beekeeping, tool making, woodwork, working with wool, cooking, clay and wax modelling, building, managing fruit trees, working with fire, metal work and weaving.

Dr Rudolf Steiner (1961-25) was an Austrian philosopher and social reformer who developed Steiner Education in 1919 and biodynamic farming in 1924. His ideas and methods have been further developed, tested and proven for almost 100 years.  Awareness and understanding of holistic education and sustainable agriculture have grown in that time and we are growing to meet the increasing demand.

Our kindergarten opened in 1984, and the primary school opened in 2002.  The kindergarten is mostly state funded but the school is independent and self funded.  School tuition fees are intentionally low to enable local families to attend.  The extra money needed is raised by donations and fundraising.  The whole school community take the responsibility to raise the funds and resources needed so all can attend.

Learning through doing

The school community are working toward relocating the school and kindergarten onto the farm.  The new farm campus will be designed and built to reflect our values.   The aim is to have beautiful, eco-friendly buildings that inspire learning and demonstrate respect for the environment.  Where possible they will be hand crafted from natural materials such as timber, clay and straw.  Some key aspects are the use of natural on-site materials, placing 20% of the farm into nature reserve, restoring the soils to capture carbon and increase fertility, increasing biodiversity, generating electric power on-site, treating and using wastewater on-site, and avoiding toxic products and materials.  We are creating a permanent home for Steiner education and biodynamic farming in the Nelson-Tasman region, a home to be proud of.

The school is co-educational and non-denominational.  We follow and engage with the latest research in child development and learning.  We are open to all families who are willing to engage with our curriculum and methods. Click here to learn more about Steiner Education.

Motueka Steiner School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin in its admission policies or in the conduct of educational, recreational, athletic or scholarship programs.  See Equity Statement.

Community gathering on the farm

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