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Top 10 Things to Experience in New Zealand

New Zealand is a small island nation, with a population of 4,5 million people, located in the Pacific. It’s well-known for its national Rugby team, Maori culture and stunning scenery. If you’re an international student looking to study abroad in New Zealand, it may seem like a long way away. But the hours – and maybe even days – you’ll spend travelling to get to New Zealand will be worth it.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you should know about New Zealand if you’re planning to study there. We’ve also included some of the closest universities to each activity. You can see the full list of New Zealand’s top universities here.

1. Visit Auckland – “City of Sails”

Auckland may not be the capital of New Zealand, but it is the country’s largest and most diverse city. It is built on a volcanic plain bordered by the famous Waitemata and Manukau harbours (hence its nickname, the City of Sails). Not only is it a boating paradise, but it is also a great place to visit as a student. If you are a culture, then Auckland is the place for you. There are international music concerts, art galleries, retail therapy, and entertainment. And if you are a thrill-seeker, Auckland Sky Tower is the tallest single-storey structure in the southern hemisphere. Ahead of you is the bustling metropolitan city, within easy walking, biking or driving distance of stunning beaches, mountain bike tracks, coastal walks, and native bush. It is the perfect place to start your itinerary!

2. Watch a game of rugby–New Zealand’s national sport

New Zealanders are highly passionate about rugby, and the country’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, is a well-known symbol of this passion. Rugby rivalry between different regions of the country is also famous, and with a stadium in each major university city, there is plenty of opportunities to attend a game. To capture the atmosphere, students can dress in the colours of their local team and attend a match of New Zealand’s national sport with their classmates (although it may be necessary to bring some local people if they need clarification on the rules or spectator etiquette). Did you know that the All Blacks are renowned for performing the traditional Maori battle dance, the Haka, at the beginning of each international match?

3. Hit the slopes, the beach or the lakes

All the major cities in New Zealand are on the coast, and most of the rest are less than half an hour inland. However, one city, in particular, offers all the best elements of the country’s natural beauty in a single day. If you’re in New Zealand and visiting Hamilton on the North Island, a little over an hour from Auckland, you’re sure to have an action-packed weekend. The best things to do in Hamilton are:

  • Surfing: Raglan is New Zealand’s number-one surfing spot and has one of the world’s best left-handed breaks.
  • Mount Maunganui: A famous east coast beach with many sporting and music events.
  • Bungee jumping: Taupo.
  • Jet boat and skydive: Great for bungee jumping and sky diving.
  • Whakapapa skifields: Great for skiing.

4. Wine and dine your way around New Zealand

Some people said that there are more sheep in New Zealand than people. Agriculture is the primary export industry in the country, and you’ll see many cows and sheep grazing and many dairy farms during your time in New Zealand. You’ll also eat much meat and eat a lot of ice cream while you’re there.

After all that delicious food, you’ll want to wash it all down with some of New Zealand’s best wine. We’re just starting to make a name for ourselves in the world of viticulture, and we’re proud to say that we’re doing it in a big way in New Zealand. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway – or maybe it’s a reward for passing your exams – why not treat yourself to a wine tour in Marlborough? 

5. Explore Middle Earth

The iconic Lord of the Rings trilogy, created by Peter Jackson, and its prequel, The Hobbit, has become one of New Zealand’s most renowned Hollywood legacies. Visitors to New Zealand can experience Middle Earth in various ways, from visiting Hobbiton in Matamata on the North Island’s North Coast to tiptoeing through Mordor along Tongariro Crossing or exploring Isengard’s fortress near Queenstown. More than 150 locations were used in the films, and many tourists still visit major landmarks on organised tours and solo excursions. For those more interested in the actual filming of the movie, Wellington, the capital, was the location of most of the cast and crew.

6. Visit Wellington, New Zealand’s capital

New Zealanders are creative people, so it’s no surprise their government is too. Part of the country’s parliamentary business occurs in an architecturally unusual building called The Beehive, but other exciting facilities exist in the city.

One of the best things to do in Wellington is visit Te Papa, the national museum. It’s located on the city’s beautiful waterfront and hosts various permanent and touring exhibitions. You can admire Maori traditional cloaks, visit a conventional marae, get close to a giant octopus, or even experience what an earthquake feels like. Te Papa is located in downtown Wellington, and after visiting the exhibitions, take a stroll down Cuba Street, where you’ll find a wide variety of shops and cafes. Did You Know? Wellington and its harbour are part of the active geological fault line known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. As a result, earthquakes are common in the city – though they’re usually so far underground that most people don’t feel them.

7. “Go bush”… on one of New Zealand’s great walks

Camping and ‘tramping’ are two of the most popular activities for visitors and residents of New Zealand. These activities involve venturing into remote bushland areas, camping in canvas tents, or journeying with a backpack on one’s back for extended periods.

It is a popular holiday activity for many New Zealanders, and there is something unique and liberating about being away from the hustle and bustle of the home world for some time. Many, if not most, New Zealanders will have a tramping club, so visitors to the country, renowned for its lush green landscape and picturesque scenery, will want to take advantage of the opportunity to take part in this activity. Some of the most popular tramping routes in New Zealand include Milford Track and Heaphy, Routeburn, and Queen Charlotte.

8. Take in a performance at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

The Court Theatre, located in the stunning stone buildings that housed the city as it was once known, is New Zealand’s leading (and Christchurch’s only) theatre company. Established in 1971 and now the most successful arts organisation in New Zealand, it will be at the top of your New Zealand bucket list if you are an arts student or love the arts.

The second largest city in New Zealand is also home to New Zealand’s International Antarctic Centre, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and one of New Zealand’s greatest provincial rugby teams, the Canterbury Crusaders. It is also home to an eccentric public figure known as the ‘Wizard of Canterbury’. The city is also a great place to visit from which to go whale watching in Kaikoura. Hanmer Springs is a thermal pool and a spa resort, Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak, and Akaroa is a small corner of France in the southern hemisphere.

Did you know that the name “Christchurch” was proposed for the town in 1848 by one of its members in the Canterbury Association? The name was initially meant to be “The Church of England”, after the famous College at Oxford University, but was accidentally recorded as “The Church” in one of the minutes of that meeting. The name Christchurch has remained in use ever since. The River Avon, which cuts through the town, has been named after the church, as has Brighton Beach, as well as several other street names, including “Hereford”, “Worcester, “Manchester”, and “Oxford”.

9. Get high on adrenaline 

There are plenty of activities in New Zealand that raise your adrenaline levels, which will please you if you enjoy adventure. These include fantastic activities to celebrate the end of the day, such as jet boating, white water rafting, sky diving, and bungee leaping.

What do you know? A. J. Hackett, a businessman from New Zealand, created bungee leaping. So what better spot to jump off a bridge while wearing a flexible rope around your ankles than where it all started?

10. Explore New Zealand’s National Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa

Discover rich history, art and culture at the Wellington Museum in New Zealand. Discover the identity of New Zealand through engaging exhibits and striking displays.

With its stunning beauty and diverse experiences, New Zealand offers something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure, peace, culture or nature, New Zealand is a land of wonders that will enrich your life. So pack your bags, get ready to explore and let New Zealand charm you.

If you want to explore more and to know more about any New Zealand Visa, you can visit our official website NZeTA!