It’s been a bit of whirlwind since I set off for Auckland from Manchester on the 14th of Feb up until now. I can easily say that so far, it’s been an unforgettable experience.
Saying bye to friends and family for six months was surreal for me as I have never been away from those closest to me for longer than two or three weeks. My mum was upset when I moved out half an hour down the road to Manchester, so you can imagine the scenes in Manchester airport!
The flights and transfers were grim to say the least. Everything was on time fortunately but the whole journey was about 40 hours in total. Although it is difficult to complain when you know that your destination is Auckland.
Arriving at my accommodation, having not seen it, couldn’t have been better. I’m living on the road adjacent to the city centre in a brand new student high rise. There’s a lot of internationals in the building, which I think helps to begin with because everyone is very social and keen to plan to see things in the city and further afield. After a couple of days of just trying to catch up on sleep I was off with a group from my building seeing the sights in Auckland. We’ve been on a ferry trip to some islands just off the city, I’ve seen the sun set behind the skyline up Mt. Eden, soaked up a bit of the night life (though it’s quite expensive). The first few days alleviated any worries I had about making friends or meeting people, and I think that anyone that is uncertain about studying was abroad for this reason should definitely not worry about meeting new people.
Given that I’m only three days into the semester, I managed to squeeze in a couple of road trips before uni started. The first was a three day road trip north of Auckland which was unbelievable, revealing what this amazing country has to offer. Ten of us drove up the East coast, via the Bay of Islands, to the most northern point at Cape Reinga and then back down the West coast through a couple of national parks. New Zealand is not highly populated and this becomes very apparent when you drive out of Auckland. The country is just green. As it’s summer here we got a few beaches in, did a bit of kayaking, waterfall swimming, cliff diving, sand dune boarding, camping. Safe to say I’ve not been on a trip like it.
The second trip, 13 of us went south of Auckland for four days. We went to the famous Waitomo glow-worm caves, a bit of a tourist trap but still very cool to see. The highlight of this trip was definitely the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a six hour hike over the most amazing scenery I’ve experienced. Also at the crossing we summited Mount Ngauruhoe (known as Mount Doom if you’ve seen LOTR) which has to be the most physically difficult thing I’ve ever done. It was definitely worth it though. The rest of the trip we basically just recovering from Mount Doom at a few waterfalls and natural hot springs. It’s ridiculous how much there is to do and see here.
It’s going to be difficult to get back into the swing of uni life having had so much time off and having been able to do so much, but I’m sure I’ll get into it soon enough. I’ll be posting again soon once uni properly gets going to tell you about academic life at UoA.