Hosting an AFS international student is your family’s chance to experience a new culture in your own home. AFS friendships last a lifetime, expand your horizons and give you a new son or daughter. AFS offers support through the entire process.

AFS doesn’t pay host families. Instead our host families are volunteers, (AFS is a charity), inviting a student into their home, and making them part of the the family. Students are expected to do dishes, make their beds, everything a member of the household is expected to do! Additionally, AFS students are not international students, once in New Zealand they are domestic students. If you would like to find out more please feel free to call us, 0800 600 300.

‘I would like say a big thank you to everyone who has made this year the best of my life, especially all my amazing friends and wonderful host family.’ Frida from Sweden – her new host family in Opotiki

‘I had a lovely family and as I am an only child at home, I had for the first time the experience of having a (host) sister.’ Jonas from Switzerland – his new host family in Wellington

‘I reckon I have changed a lot in a positive way . I have the best host family ever and amazing friends.’ Linda from Finland – her new host family in Mahoenui

‘I seriously wish someone here could adopt me, so I can stay here forever. Maybe I should ask my host family?’ Nao from Japan – her new host family in Auckland

‘During my exchange I travelled around NZ with my lovely host family and I spent my time with friends and doing different things in my city.’ Agostina from Argentina – her new host family in Dunedin

AFS host families are as diverse as we are. We have…

  • Mum, dad and kids
  • Mum and dad
  • Nana and grandad
  • Mum and the cat
  • Mum and mum or
  • Dad and dad

Our families are very diverse, which simply reflects life here in NZ. This is what our host parents say…..

“You gain a lot more than you give and the more you put into making it work the better it works. It lets you grow as a family and gives you a new view on the world.”
Tania, AFS host mum, Christchurch

“Not only does the student become part of our family, but their family becomes part of ours and ours part of theirs. We’ve met our host son Edison’s parents and sister. It makes the events that happen in their part of the world more real. It makes the world a smaller place.”
Lucy Brown, AFS host mum, Greymouth

“We enjoy having another teenager around and you get the chance to learn about another culture. We’re a small family so we liked the idea of an other teenager. And there’s also the possibility that your kids pick up another language.”
Sue Ryall, AFS host mum, Wellington

“If you’re not going overseas yourself, it’s almost the same kind of experience in terms of having someone from somewhere else, the opposite side of the of the world, living in your house and bringing their own unique cultural identity to New Zealand.”
Matt Paterson, AFS host brother

If you have more questions call the Programme Team on 0800 600 300 or 04 903 2276 (or email [email protected])

Check out students arriving in early 2019

Check out the students here!

Quick inquiry about hosting

I'd like to know a bit more about hosting

Host family application form

Application form - I'm ready to host!

How to become an AFS host family


Learn more, then apply

Learn more by reading this website, or call AFS on 0800 600 300. You’re sure to have lots of questions and it’s better to get the answers straight from us!



Once you’ve talked it through with us and maybe your family or friends, then you’re ready to apply. We have students who are in the country for 10 months, 6 months other short term programmes, so there’s something for everyone.


Get ready to host

Once all the paperwork is done, you’ll be introduced to the trained volunteers and staff who will support your family and help you learn how to make your AFS experience rewarding and fun. And then you get to select your new son or daughter!


Welcome your AFSer

Exciting! Now you get to welcome your new family member. There will be laughs, challenges and lots of learning on both sides, as you learn from each other and evolve your family.

How does AFS support host families?


Experienced local AFS volunteers and staff will prepare your family for the challenges of welcoming a new member from another country.


24 hour local emergency contact and additional support from the AFS national office is available. AFS students have medical insurance, if health care is necessary. 


Trained volunteers and staff will support you throughout your hosting program, including meeting with you and your family at least once a month to make sure everything is working out.  


Your support volunteers will guide your family and student through the AFS Host Family Intercultural Learning Journey activities to help make the entire experience more meaningful and lasting. 

Who are AFS students?

AFS students come from more than 99 countries, and have demonstrated the maturity and motivation to study abroad. AFS students are screened and selected by the AFS Organization in their home country. AFS students are:

Usually between 15-18 years old on arrival

Committed to actively participate in their AFS program

Considered a good student in their home

In good general health

Curious, flexible and open-minded

It can't be described, it has to be experienced

“There are times in a life that you cannot describe, those you simply have to experience. It’s that feeling we as parents had when someone else’s child called us mom and dad when he called us from across the world to tell us he enrolled in a university or that he has a girlfriend. These things are indescribable, and only those who experience it can understand.”

–Alisa Salopek, host mother from Serbia