Insights into Student Life in New Zealand

By Emma Colson, University of Auckland, New Zealand  

For me, one of the hardest parts of the application to study abroad was choosing the 10 countries/ universities to put down and even harder, to choose a top 3. The University of Auckland was my third choice, but having been here for over 3 months, I couldn’t be happier that I was allocated here. Having said that, before coming, I had little to no knowledge about the university or the country, so for those interested in what New Zealand has to offer I hope my experience will help you.

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Study v Abroad: How I’m balancing university and travelling

by Emma Colson, University of Auckland, New Zealand

If you’re anything like me, the main motivation to studying abroad is to travel and explore another country. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to do this, but being a student, the commitment to studying means we can’t run around the country free rein as much as we’d love to. It goes without saying that university has to take priority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t free some time to appreciate the country you’re in without falling behind. So, I thought I’d share my experience so far of how I’ve balanced the two, and some tips on how to get the best of both worlds. 

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Video Blog – The Positives and Negatives of Studying Abroad

Simon Hird  / /  Geography  / /  University of Auckland  / /  NZ

So as part of year abroad we were asked to produce a series of blogs for Geography. Each had to be a on a different topic and in a variety of formats (i.e.referenced essay, diary entry, video). This particular video blog entry was reflecting on the positives and negatives that I have experienced on my year abroad – it is slightly more personal and geography related than my other posts, due to it’s initial purpose, but hopefully you guys can take something from it:



🤘 🖖

P.S. If you guys want to see a few more photos feel free to check out my Instagram: @simonhird 


the Instagram run by study abroad students at The University of Auckland if you want more of an insight into day-to-day life of an exchange student @studyabroad_auckland 

10 things you should know about studying abroad in New Zealand

Simon Hird  / /  Geography  / /  University of Auckland  / /  NZ

Hope you guys have all had an awesome year at Uni and are enjoying your summer holidays. I’ve just got a couple of weeks left of my year abroad at Auckland so I thought I would put together a collection of advice and some important things I think you should know about, if you are going to or are considering studying abroad in New Zealand. Some of these are specific to the University of Auckland, but I am sure there are parallels to other Universities in NZ and studying abroad in general.

Alpenglow on Mt Cook

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Studying at the University of Auckland: what’s different?

Simon Hird  / /  Geography  / /  University of Auckland  / /  NZ


I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate one blog post specifically to academics and the differences I have experienced between Auckland and Manchester. New Zealand and the UK definitely have many parallels and it didn’t take much time to adjust to a relatively similar style of life and study that they have here. But there are some distinct differences in how university works here compared to Manchester and the UK in general.

One of the most resounding differences you will experience here is the way degrees are set up. Like many universities outside of the UK (US, Canada, Australia etc.), undergraduate students enrolled on a degree program at the University of Auckland will usually not be solely enrolled into courses on their discipline, but have the flexibility to take a variety of different courses. Take a Geography degree, for example: students will be enrolled on a Bachelor of Science programme in which they may choose Geography as a major and another subject as a minor, based on the courses they wish to take and allowing them to tailor their degree to their interests. Whilst this does not directly affect us as exchange students (we are enrolled on Certificate of Proficiency for Exchange) it does change the class dynamics noticeably. Continue reading “Studying at the University of Auckland: what’s different?”

A southern hemisphere summer

Simon Hird  / /  Geography  / /  University of Auckland  / /  NZ

This summer has been pretty special.

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Summit of Mt. Armstrong, Southern Alps

It’s been almost four months since the end of last semester but the time has absolutely flown by. It’s been a pretty full on summer and now that I am back in Auckland for the start of my next term, I thought it was time to write something down about it. I’ll try to keep it brief…

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Trans-Tasman Travelling Part II

After a short stop over back in Perth, it was time to fly to Auckland, to begin my dream travelling New Zealand. This trip is something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time and it finally arrived.

Whilst it was exciting to arrive in New Zealand, I was left a little underwhelmed by Auckland itself. The city i found to be rather small, with not much going on, however I’m sure those that were studying there themselves would tell me otherwise (sorry guys!).

But it wasn’t long till once again we were on our way. This time we had our trusty Wicked camper car which was to be our home for the next month. Anytime I’ve had to describe this car I get some seriously funny looks, its essentially a car with a tent attached to the top. So for the sake of this blog I’m going to attach a photo!

Yes that is a car with a tent on top!

The first part of the month saw us travelling around the North island. Stop one took us North  to the Bay of islands. Again I found myself on another boat, coasting around the wonders of Otehei bay.

Gateway to Otehei bay

We made our way down the North Island, stopping in Tauranga, to climb Mt. Maunganui and visit some relatives of one of the girls, who kindly took us out kayaking and provided us with some cheese and wine for the evening. This short stopover allowed us to rejuvenate from camping, so some washing and get a shower before moving on to visit the attraction Hobbiton. Hobbiton, as some may know is the movie set for the movies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Below are some of the pictures of this beautiful area, with its surrounded mountains and rolling hills.

Rotorua treated us to a Maori experience, in which the day involved the local tribe teaching and showing us the traditional lifestyles, artwork, dances and food (Hangi). We also had a bit of fun Zorbing beforehand –  Rolling down a big hill in a blow up ball.

Traditional Maori Tribe dress and dance

As my friends 21st birthday was fast approaching, she decided that she would like to had a crack black water rafting. This experience took us tubing through Waitomo’s cave systems, through small rapids and down small waterfalls, in almost complete darkness, to allow us to witness the beauty of the glow worms that reside inside. The next day saw venturing into Taupo, to take on the Tongaririo Crossing, a 8 hour, 19.4km hike through rocky volcanic terrain, with sulphur lakes and surrounding mountains. After an early start, we finished the walk around 6 hours later, a lot quicker than was originally anticipated. The one problem we found with freedom camping was after strenuous activities, it was hard to find showers to clean off. However this time we found ourself at a local swimming pool, enjoying a gentle swim and having a shower before moving on.

Glimpse of the Sulphur lakes on the Tongariro Crossing.

Wellington was our final stop on the North island before, making our way across the cook strait onto the South island.  There was an excitement within the city, when we quickly realised that it was the HSBC rugby 7’s series being played that weekend. Walking along the seafront, there were crowds of people in fancy dress and we even managed to bag ourselves some free ice cream, unfortunately due to time scales we didn’t actually get to attend.

Our trip South started off with some excitement. Our first stop was to Kaikoura, where we did a spot of whale watching. Normally you would only see 1 or 2 sperm whales whilst out on the water, but we got lucky and managed to get a glimpse of 4!

After a brief but thrilling stop over in Kaikoura, we thought it was only right that we experienced some of New Zealand finest wines, in the Marlborough region, before heading North to the Abel Tasman. We ventured to about 4 or 5 wineries, tasting a range of wines, grown and produced, as well as trying a few cheeky liquor shots. This was a chance to get into some nice clothing instead of our usual, walking and adventure gear.

The Abel Tasman was peaceful and allowed us to get out of the car and go for a walk around the bays that occupy the North of the South island. Here the sun was shining and people were out kayaking and trekking similar trails to the ones we were. We had a relaxing day walking, and at the end we even got to relaxing in some of the secluded bays situated here, with pristine sands and clear blue waters. Leaving such a beautiful area wasn’t favourable, but we had to move onto to the next place….. Queenstown.

Queenstown is where the action is happening. Hundreds of backpackers find themselves here, testing there own limits, bungy jumping and whitewater rafting, whilst hitting up the nightlife in the evening. Its easy to spend a small fortune here getting stuck into all that NZ has to offer. It was here we tried our hand at an unusual activity of river surfing. This essentially is like whitewater rafting, but the raft is replaced with a body board, where you travel down a stretch of the Kawarau river and through the rapid systems, with a cliff jump at the end. Whilst were were here we booked onto a Milford Sound cruise, the next destination on our trip.

Describing the Fiordlands of Milford sounds, is hard so for the sake of the blog I’m just going to upload a photo. All i can say is that it is stunning and so peaceful.

Milford Sound 

After a short visit to Milford sound, we made the journey to Dunedin, where there was only one place we could visit; Cadbury’s world. So much chocolate to be tried and tested, we even got free goody bag on the way. Before long we were onto Christchurch, the final stop on our 4 week journey. We experienced more than we hoped for in our visit to Christchurch. There was a mixed reception from the group regarding the city. The devastation of the 2011 earthquakes is still very much apparent. Many of the streets are still just rubble and the whole city looks like a construction ground. It was here however that again we all had our first experience of an earthquake. On February 13th Christchurch was hit with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. This was slightly scary as, the earthquake that caused so much devastation in 2011, was not much smaller than this. Once you’ve visited the city, you being to understand why not much construction is happening. There are still aftershocks occurring everyday, making building hard to undertake and regulate.

Lets just say New Zealand didn’t disappoint. I have already decided I will be returning to this stunning country, in the very near future, with the hope for one day moving over there. It is a truly magical country, in more ways than one. As I’m not much of a photographer, Im going to share and link my friend Neil’s site at the end. He hitchhiked the country and captured new Zealand in all its glory, and his pictures truly show off the country the way it should be.

There is never enough time to visit a county and see it all in it entirety. I could have stayed here for much longer than 4 weeks but I unfortunately had to make my way back to Perth.

New zealand
Montage of all the some of the beautiful landscapes New Zealand has to offer.

The travelling didn’t quite end there. My flight back to Perth, saw me have another 4 day break in Melbourne, Just enough time for me to travel the Great Ocean Road, a 243km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford.

So several plane, boat and car journeys later, now the sad time has come for me start back studying; these soils aren’t going to dig themselves.

Note: As part of my Geography placement, I had to make a video of all the trips and excursion taken on this trip. The video can be found here:

Link to Neal’s website:

NZ Time

Simon Hird  / /  Geography  / /  University of Auckland  / /  NZ

London Heathrow

This all feels very surreal.

Over the last two years study abroad has been the goal, the next big thing, the last thing written in my diary, the thing my conversations always seem to touch upon, so much chat it almost felt mundane.

Now it’s finally here I can’t really fathom that it is real.

But this is happening… I am going to New Zealand… for an entire year.

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Writing it down helps – the excitement is kicking in again.

The hardest bit up until now hasn’t been choosing where to go, or writing all those personal statements and applications, or applying for a visa, or accommodation, or choosing what to pack – it’s been saying goodbye and loosening my grip on my life in the UK.

Saying goodbye to friends and family is the worst. But that’s good. Sometimes you need something like this too realise how much it all matters. And anyway they all know that you are doing something pretty special.

My flight leaves in an hour or so (11:25 am), with a brief layover in Singapore. In total I think it is about 24 hours of flying/connection time and I am due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow at 22:20 local time (11:20 UK Time). From there I will be picked up by the uni and dropped off at Carlaw Park Student Village, the second year halls that I will be staying at for this semester at least. I will probably do a blog post on accommodation at some point, so keep an eye out for that if you are looking for some guidance.

I guess that is it for now. I will post another one up in a couple of weeks once I am somewhat settled in to life at Auckland.


🤘 🖖

Auckland pre-departure

By Megan Turner (The University of Auckland, New Zealand)

I have one day to go before I fly to New Zealand, a journey that will take twenty-six hours and include two planes, one layover and no comfortable sleeping positions. My suitcase is almost full, but I have only packed half of my things and it still feels like there are a million things left for me to sort out. It’s tricky to condense a year’s worth of stuff into 30kg of hold luggage, especially when I have to cover all seasons and I’m trying to think of everything that I could possibly need in a country that I have never been to before which really bombards you with shipping costs because it’s so far from everywhere else.

Continue reading “Auckland pre-departure”

New Zealand + Fiji!

By Chiara Davies (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia).

During the summer holidays and over Christmas, I thought I’d make the most of my time on this side of the world… time to visit New Zealand AND Fiji!!!!

I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible places around Australia so far, but there’s so much to say about all of them that I’ll have to save those for a different post…


We flew to Queenstown, New Zealand, immediately after our end of semester exams to be greeted by the surprisingly cold sunshine – I had adapted to Australia’s heat a lot more than I thought I had! The temperature dropped more than ten degrees Celsius, from Australia’s forty degrees to New Zealand’s high twenties – it was no wonder we felt freezing. Thankfully, I brought a jumper and a pair of jeans which became my one and only outfit for the duration of my New Zealand trip.

Queenstown was absolutely beautiful. My favourite town in the world and I would love to retire there. It strangely felt homely to be in a colder, greener climate, even though I was completely on the other side of the world. It had a very ski chalet vibe throughout the town with its wooden log-cabin-esque style buildings. This is probably because it doubles as a ski town during the winter months, but it felt equally awesome in the summer. The scenery was amazing.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

From Queenstown, we went stargazing at the top of one of the mountains and learned about the Southern Hemisphere’s astronomy. We also travelled to Milford Sound on a bus tour with more incredible scenery…

Mirror Lakes, the drive to Milford Sound

Under the waterfall at Milford Sound

Next stop: Auckland!

Auckland city

We stayed with one of my housemate’s school friends who had moved out there with her family. It was lovely to meet them and give us a local’s perspective of the city. From Auckland we visited Waiheke Island which was vastly different to Queenstown’s ski town as it was almost tropical and  complete with great weather, vineyards and beaches.

We then took a tour to Hobbiton, the movie set for the Lord of the Ring’s and Hobbit films! This was a LOT of fun and definitely worth visiting whilst in New Zealand!

Hobbiton Movie Set

We then took another flight to Fiji for a week of R’n’R. The sunsets were beautiful and the islands actually were like paradise.

Sunset in Fiji

An absolutely fantastic trip overall and I would recommend to anyone on this side of the world to check them out – especially New Zealand’s South Island (where Queenstown is). They’re worth saving up for!

Arrival in Auckland

By Thomas Chapman (University of Auckland, New Zealand).

I’m here! The world. Oceania. New Zealand. Auckland.


So far my reception of New Zealand has been great. The campus is right in the city centre and everything is right on hand. Things like setting-up mobiles and banking could not be more straight-forward, which is great when coming to the other side of the world (literally). I suppose it’s just the amount of smaller tasks and their time-consuming nature that is a little ‘boring’, but once you’ve done them then you’re free to begin a 6-month adventure and to study.


The hardest task of all by far though, has got to be finding accommodation. Although it’s exciting to wake up most days in my hostel with optimism in my heart and a full suitcase under my bunk bed, it is not a straight-forward process to find the right place. I have got to say though, the help has been great from the Uni; advice on prices, where to look and the whole process out here, has been thorough and entertaining. The speed-flatting (like dating) made me realise that I’m not the only one still without a house. It got me in touch with some really cool people who also have come looking for a base of operations in a foreign country.


Hopefully, the housing should sort itself out in the next few days, just as term starts; which is the main reason I’m in New Zealand I suppose. The courses I chose all sound interesting and I’m looking forward to starting them and getting a bit of structure to my time here.


Auckland itself is a beautiful city (and surprisingly hilly). It is New Zealand’s largest city and, although it’s no Manchester, it has all the features of a multicultural CBD. A large asian and polynesian influence can be seen around the city, which has left me keen to meet some more Kiwis between all the other international students I have become friends with, but there is plenty of time for that once the semester starts.

mt eden

The hills, as mentioned earlier, provide great backdrops of the city from a suburban surrounding, giving clear views of the iconic Sky Tower from almost all the surrounding regions. I’m keen to get out more, away from Auckland, and to see what New Zealand really has to offer outside of it’s largest city, but that will have to wait until the weekends and to when I have a house.


A quick note to anyone who might be interested in New Zealand’s military history – the War Museum is worth a visit. It has a full-sized spitfire – awesome, I know! It’s also a rather dramatic-looking building and worth a wonder up to.

War Musium Auckland domain


To anyone back home reading: Hi! I hope it’s all going okay. Also, congratulations to my sister, Hayley, who gets married next weekend. I hope it’s a magical day – you deserve one!


Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll keep you updated on everything as it happens so…. yeah…. watch this space!

Semester 2 weekend adventures

By Vanessa Maloney (University of Auckland, New Zealand).

I’ve just had my last exam and realised I should probably upload a blog about all the fun I’ve been having this semester.

This semester has been incredible. I feel like my first semester was good because everything was so novel and such an adventure as I was getting to know the country and meeting new people. However, this semester has been a whole different experience as I feel like I have been living more like a local and less like an exchange student – especially as I have a job and am no longer living in halls. I feel so settled in that I could definitely imagine coming back to live here for a while after my degree.

Joining AUCC (the University canoe club) has really defined this semester for me. I was going away on kayaking trips almost every weekend for the first half of this semester. In fact, it has taken up so much of my time that I am going to dedicate a whole post to it rather than trying to squeeze it into this one.

So first of all, here are a couple of my favorite non-kayaking adventures…


Bungee !

At the museum where I work, we sell tickets for Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungee, so my boss managed to get some of us a free bungee as a familiarization experience.

I’m so glad I did it through work, because I’m not sure I would have had the guts to sign up myself without any prompts!




I was the first to jump out of our group and I’m not going to lie… my heart was literally in my stomach.  But, after the initial scariness of jumping, it was just surreal – I just remember kind of zoning out and watching the water moving in and out. After that it was just a huge adrenaline rush which left me on a constant high for the next week or so. On the whole I’m so proud of myself and so glad my boss signed me up!


Sailing to Waiheke

Another great experience that I got through work was a surprise staff day out organised by my boss. We sailed one of the Museum’s heritage vessels to Waiheke Island. It was pretty hands on as I had the opportunity to hoist the sails and climb the rigging. The sea was very choppy at some points, to the point where half of the passengers were sea sick, but luckily I don’t get sea sick and actually thought the choppy bit was the most fun. When we got to Waiheke we visited a vineyard where we had an amazing lunch, a wine tasting session and enjoyed the view.





Bach weekend

Another awesome weekend I had was one spent at my friend’s bach 3 hours north of Auckland. A ‘bach’ is basically a Kiwi holiday home by the seaside. A surprisingly high proportion of New Zealanders own family baches  – they are usually a pretty basic house on a beach somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

I love the fact that in New Zealand (partly because the weather and landscape is so incredible) you don’t really need to plan anything extravagant to have a really memorable time. All you need is a car, some meat for the BBQ, a few beers and some good mates (and maybe a Ukulele if you’re pushing it…).

My friend’s bach was in such a remote, untouched place that we had to arrive during low tide so that we could drive along the beach to get to it! The first evening dolphins came so far in that we could watch them from the deck of the house. The weekend basically consisted of eating, swimming, walking on the beach and campfire in the evening. Perfect.