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Top Universities in New Zealand 2016/17

By Sabrina Collier

Updated June 25, 2019 Updated June 25, 2019

Click here to discover the top universities in New Zealand in 2020.

Eight top universities in New Zealand feature among the world’s best in the 2016-2017 edition of the QS World University Rankings®, all of which are ranked in the global top 450. Read on for more information on each of these…

1. University of Auckland

University of Auckland

Consistently ranked in the global top 100, the University of Auckland is the highest ranked of these top universities in New Zealand, up one place this year at 81st. It also achieves 5+ stars in the QS Stars opt-in rating system, attaining five stars in every category. It’s located in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, and is the country’s largest university, educating more than 40,000 students spread across six campuses.

2. University of Otago

University of Otago

Ranked 169th this year, the University of Otago is the oldest of these top universities in New Zealand, having been founded in 1869. It’s located on the South Island in the city of Dunedin and has around 20,600 students enrolled. Otago’s beautiful architecture and gardens have led it to be included among lists of the world’s most beautiful universities.

3. University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury

The University of Canterbury is ranked joint 214th in the world this year, sharing this spot with the US’s Georgetown University. Originally founded in 1873 as Canterbury College, it’s located in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, and has about 14,900 students, of which over 1,000 are from outside New Zealand. 

4. Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington

The highest ranked university in New Zealand’s capital (Wellington), Victoria University of Wellington is placed joint 228th this year, sharing this position with two other institutions. Established in 1897, it has around 21,000 students, including over 3,000 international students from more than 100 countries.

5. University of Waikato

University of Waikato

Ranked 324th in the world in 2016, the University of Waikato is located mainly in the city of Hamilton on the North Island, with another campus in Tauranga. It was founded in 1964 as the first university in New Zealand to be designed from a blank canvas, and has a total of 12,300 students.

6. Massey University

Massey University

Massey University is ranked joint 340th this year and has campuses in Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland. It’s the highest-ranked university in New Zealand for agriculture and forestry, as well as the only university in the country to offer degrees in aviation, dispute resolution, veterinary medicine, and nanoscience.

7. Lincoln University

Lincoln University

Climbing 30 places this year is Lincoln University, up from joint 373rd to joint 343rd in 2016. It’s the oldest agricultural tertiary university in the Southern Hemisphere, originally founded in 1878 as a school of agriculture, and specializes in improving New Zealand’s land-based knowledge, wealth and productivity.

8. Auckland University of Technology

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Also up this year is Auckland University of Technology (AUT), climbing from 481-490 to 441-450 this year. Although originally founded as Auckland Technical School in 1895, it only recently gained university status (in 2000); making it the youngest of these top universities in New Zealand, as well as the fastest-growing. 

This article was originally published in September 2016 . It was last updated in June 2019

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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