Sir Peter Jackson, Hollywood and Tourism New Zealand's "100 per cent Pure" marketing has turned New Zealand into a "cool place" to study film-making, IT and natural medicine.

Last year, the number of international students enrolled at private training establishments (17,187) exceeded those who registered in universities (16,909) in New Zealand.

About a third of private students are not here for English studies, Education New Zealand says.

New Zealand College of Massage student Isobel Pelly, from Britain, says our "100 per cent pure" image played a major part in her decision to do a massage course in New Zealand.

"It's also because the courses here are more thorough, but New Zealand's environment makes it just right to do a course like massage or natural healing," said Miss Pelly.

Esther Chang, from Taiwan, is looking for a school to study digital film making after completing her English language studies in Australia.

Miss Chang says she was drawn to New Zealand after watching Avatar, because she thinks it would be "cool" to follow in the footsteps of Sir Peter Jackson and James Cameron.

"I loved Lord of the Rings, but I think Avatar confirmed [Sir] Peter Jackson's movie was no fluke and that New Zealand can really produce quality digital imaging and special effects," she said.

Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne says this is also because of New Zealand diversifying its marketing. Students from new markets like India and the Middle East generally don't come here to learn English, but do courses such as IT and business, said Mr Osborne.