Do NZ unis close over Christmas beyond the public holidays (Xmas/Boxing/2 NY's Days), or are we expected to use annual leave time to enjoy the break
Yes to both. That is, the uni will be closed from Dec 24-Jan 2 inclusive. Dec 25, Dec 26, Jan 1, and Jan 2 are public holidays. If those days fall on weekends, you get the following Monday/Monday and Tuesday as public holidays instead. So you will have to use three days annual leave during that period. In practice, you'll probably want to take an extra week or two.
Any experience with PHOs?[/li][/list]
Depends what type of visa you're on whether it's worth joining one. Their economic advantage to the consumer comes from a subsidy they receive from the government. Most likely your visa allows you access to the health system and therefore entitlement to join a PHO. A PHO typically has several practices (i.e. several different businesses each of which is likely to have a range of health services) and it is at this level that variation in quality happens. That is, several practices serving a geographic area are likely to have formed a PHO, but Practice A is better (by whatever measure) than Practice B. So ask around for recommendations of either doctors or practices, not PHOs. But, the most popular doctors/practices may not be taking new patients. Depending on your health needs, you can then either join the waiting list to be enrolled with that practice or enroll elsewhere in the same or a different PHO.
You don't have
to join a PHO and you'll have no problem getting appointments etc if you don't, but you probably won't get to see the same doctor each time and you'll pay more.
What premiums approximately might one pay for supplemental health and dentail insurance, since the uni doesn't seem to pay anything towards these.
No idea. Health benefits through employment are not at all the norm in New Zealand. Google should be able to help you, though.
Where's the best flat white in Auckland? ;)
Adaptation like that will take you far! I'm not from Auckland but coffee in New Zealand is almost always good. If there's a place that does it badly you'll quickly hear about it.