I figured that I'd start a new thread for 2020. Even though many students have had their plans derailed by COVID and NZ's border closure, not all is lost.
One of the interesting turn of events is that some NZ education providers now have options for blended learning available to overseas students. This means that you could start your course online then complete it in NZ. Your life doesn't stay on hold, fees are cheaper, and (in some cases) post-study work visa eligibility is maintained.