Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Find our most frequently asked questions below. If you have any other questions, please send us an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form.
- What should I bring with me?
We recommend that you bring warm clothes with you as the weather is changeable. You should also bring a raincoat, swimwear and a hat. It can sometimes be windy and rainy in both winter and summer.
- Who will look after me when I get sick?
Your host family and Evakona staff will look after you.
- When will I know the details of my homestay?
You will receive information about your host family shortly after sending your application form.
- I have a drivers licence from my home country. Is this valid in NZ (if I want to rent or buy a car)?
New Zealand accepts drivers licences from many overseas countries. Check here for your country: www.nzta.govt.nz/licence/residents-visitors/driving-nz.html
- Do I need health or travel insurance?
Yes. Please go to our Fees page to find out more about travel, health and accident insurance.
- What is the power supply in New Zealand?
In New Zealand the voltage is 240V. You can use any electrical goods with stickers saying 100-240V here. However, you will need a TYPE “O” plug. For overseas appliances of 240V or less you will need to use an adaptor, which can be purchased in New Zealand.
- Can somebody help me in my own language if I have a problem?
Yes. We have counsellors available (both on site and off) to deal with any issues you may have in your own language.
- Can I send some of my luggage to New Zealand before I arrive?
Yes. You can forward your luggage by mail or courier to the school address (see bottom of this page).
- What sports are popular in New Zealand?
New Zealanders enjoy outdoor activities. The following are very popular: golf, rugby, netball, soccer, tennis, sailing, surfing, scuba diving, horse riding, hiking, bowls… If you are interested, you can join one of the local clubs; the fees are relatively low.
- Will my mobile phone work in New Zealand?
This depends on the system in your home country. Please ask your phone company before you leave. Most students bring their phone and use a New Zealand sim-card on a New Zealand network. Mobile phone companies in New Zealand include Telecom, Vodafone and 2-Degrees. Check their websites.
- What if I don’t like the food?
Your host family would appreciate it if you told them what you like to eat. If you can tell them what food you really like (or don’t like) when you first arrive, this will help. If you are happy, they are happy. You can also tell the homestay manager, who will help you.
- I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat pork. Is that a problem?
No, it’s not a problem. Please tell us about any dietary requirements when you apply for a course, so we can place you with a suitable family.
- When will I know who my Host Family will be?
You will receive information about your Host Family soon after sending your application.
- What if I take a holiday?
It is generally no problem to leave school for a week or two. Please inform us about your holiday plans early.
- My friend is coming to visit. Can he/she stay with me in my homestay for a few days?
You should discuss this with your host family. If it is not possible, we can help you to find alternative accommodation while your friend is here.
- How far away from the school is my homestay?
Whitianga is a small town. Most homestays are within walking distance or a short bicycle ride from school. Many host families can provide a bicycle. Transport can be arranged if your homestay is outside the town.
- Can I change my homestay or move into a different type of accommodation?
Yes, but you must give at least one week’s notice if you want to move. The accommodation arrangement fee will apply each time you change.
- What type of clothes should I bring?
We recommend you bring warm clothes to wear inside the house and some house slippers. Houses in New Zealand are sometimes not very well insulated. Homestay families usually keep the lounge warm but sometimes the bedrooms can be cold. Bring a raincoat as it often rains in New Zealand.
- Who are my teachers?
Evakona teachers are all experienced and highly qualified. Many have lived overseas and learned other languages so they understand what it feels like to be a student. We have teachers who have taught English in Japan, Korea, China, England and South America.
- Is Evakona closed for school holidays?
Evakona is open ALL YEAR except 2 weeks over Christmas and National Holidays such as Queen’s Birthday. Please check the school calendar.
- Can I continue studying after my course has finished?
Yes. We can help you with your visa application if necessary.
- Can I change my class?
Yes. If you think that you are not the same level as the rest of the class we will reassess your English abilities.
- How old are the students?
Most of them are aged between 16 and 30. However, we accept students of any age, including entire families.
- Where are the students from?
Our students come from all over the world. The majority are from Asian countries (in particular Japan). However, there are also students from the Middle East, Europe, the Pacific Rim and South America.
- How many students are there in a class?
The average class size is five to seven students. There will never be more than ten students in one class. A small class means that you receive more personal attention and there are more opportunities to participate in class. It is great for developing conversation skills.
- Do the teachers join in the activities too?
Yes. One or more teachers will join every activity depending on the size of the group.
- Can I go snow boarding or skiing?
During the winter months (June to September) skiing and snowboarding are possible on Mt Ruapehu which is about 3-4 hours drive from Whitianga. We can help you to organise your own weekend trip. Alternatively, Evakona organises a skiing trip every year during the winter months especially for our students.
- Can I choose the activities that I would like to do?
Yes, if you have booked an activity course with privately arranged activities. Please tell us about your plans before the start of your course, so we can organise this for you. If you join the Friday afternoon activities as part of the English course, activities will change every week. The longer you stay, the greater the variety of activities you can try!
- What do I need for activities?
Depending on what activity you do, you will need a raincoat, a bottle of water and sneakers. We also recommend you bring swim wear and a hat, even in winter. It’s good to have a backpack to carry your things in.
- Can I buy food from my country in Whitianga or Thames?
The supermarkets in Whitianga and Thames have a selection of foreign foods. You can purchase all you need to make sushi rolls for example. There are also a number of smaller stores that sell various ethnic food and organic food.
- What can I do in the evenings?
There are many cafes, pubs, bars and a cinema in town. Students often go to the cafes and takeaway shops in order to meet their friends in town. There is a gym and sports club which students can join. In summer, students can use the High School outdoor swimming pool for a small fee. On some weekends, Evakona holds events such as ‘Volleyball on the Beach’ or ‘Beach BBQ’ where students can get together socially and have fun. Students often organise their own parties, of course. If you are looking for nightlife, you can find it at one of the bars or pubs in town (but you must be at least 18 years old to go there and ID is required). Often there are live bands or DJ music at weekends.
- How far is it from Auckland to Whitianga?
It is about 200 kms. It takes about 2.5 hours by car and about 3.5 hours by shuttle-bus (under normal conditions). During summer there are three bus connections from Whitianga to Auckland every day.
- How far is it from Auckland to Thames?
It is about 120 kms. It takes about about 1.5 hours by car and about 2 hours by shuttle-bus (under normal conditions).
- How can I get around? Is there public transport?
The public transport is limited. Through joining Friday afternoon activities you can visit places where it is otherwise difficult to get (beautiful beaches, mountains etc.). Many host families provide bicycles or even take you on weekend trips. There is also a taxi company in town. Sometimes, students or teachers also organise extra activities with private or rental cars at weekends. Regular bus services connect Whitianga with other towns (GO KIWI SHUTTLE, INTERCITY BUS, etc.).
- Can I swim in the sea?
Yes, you will love it! Many people enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving because the water is very clear. Surfing and bodyboarding are also very popular, and of course, simply swimming. The water temperature in summer is normally between 20°C and 25°C. In winter it cools down though.The best season for swimming is from December to March.
- What clothing should I bring?
The weather here is very changeable. People say that we have four seasons in one day.
For summer (December – March) we recommend shorts, T-Shirt and a light jacket. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit! However, the evenings are a little cold, so you will also need long pants and a warm sweater.
Although it never snows here, winters (May – September) are cold, and it often rains. If you come here in winter you should bring thermal wear, a woolen hat and a scarf. For the rain, you should bring a rain jacket and suitable shoes or boots.
- How is the weather in Whitianga and Thames?
Summer: the sun is strong and it can get very warm, but rarely above 30°C. Sometimes it is very windy and it can rain too. It gets cool at night.
Winter: the weather can be very mixed. Sun, wind, rain…but no snow. We sometimes get frost at night. Sunny days can be beautiful and warm, but it often rains. The average daytime temperature is usually around 15°C.