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The basics
New Zealand: Once you arrive

Five things to do in New Zealand

Our guide to the best things to do in your spare time during your study abroad journey in New Zealand.

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Image Credit: Unsplash


This article was written by Johanna Cider. Johanna rekindled her childhood love for writing and literature while writing a first-year essay in university. She now happily works as a freelance writer in her beautiful hometown of Wellington, New Zealand. Discover more of Johanna’s work on Tumblr.


Work, then play – we know that much of your time will be spent poring over library books and online articles, but it’s also important when studying abroad to explore your new home and plan for exciting activities to try during your precious days and hours off. Between exams and study time, make sure you get around to experiencing some of these absolute best things to do in New Zealand:


Go hiking

New Zealand’s Great Walks are the most well-known to tourists, and if you’re an avid hiker they’re certainly worth the journey, but if you’d prefer to stick to quieter trails, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you, too. For a country of its size, New Zealand is sparsely populated. This lack of crowds, together with its incredible natural environment means there are virtually thousands of places to explore, from snowy mountains to dense bushland.


Visit the capital

New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is best known for its picturesque scenery, its relaxing vibe, and its killer coffee. If politics intrigue you, check out the Beehive, New Zealand’s aptly-named parliament building. You can take a free tour, or just snap a photo in front of the iconic structure. Wellington is also home to New Zealand’s national museum: Te Papa, which is free to enter, is full of history, contemporary exhibitions, and art, promising a great day out for adults and kids alike. Strolling - or going for a run - along the waterfront is another quintessential Wellington activity, and if you can manage to catch a sunset while you’re there, you’ll see why Wellington has a reputation among locals for being so magical.


Image source: Unsplash


Head to the beach

No trip to New Zealand is complete without a trip (or ten) to its shores, but don’t just sunbathe! With warm temperatures in summer and far fewer dangerous sea creatures than neighbouring Australia, you can’t miss a bathe in New Zealand’s idyllic waters. If you’d like to get up close and personal with the sea life, visit Goat Island Marine Reserve north of Auckland, where you’ll be able to see plenty of colourful fish and other fascinating creatures. If scuba diving’s more your thing, try the Bay of Islands, where you’ll be able to wreck dive to your heart’s content. If you’re interested in surfing, head to Gisborne, a welcoming town on the North Island’s east coast. The area is full of beaches ideal for catching a break, and the scenery’s second-to-none, too.


Learn about the culture

New Zealanders are proud of their culture and history, and anyone interested in spending time in the country should learn at least a little about these topics. To get a sense of the importance of Maori culture, visit Rotorua, where you can take a tour of a Maori village or take a trip out onto the lake in a traditional canoe. Waitangi, where New Zealand’s founding treaty was signed, is also well worth a visit. Explore the Treaty Grounds, watch a cultural show, and indulge in a hangi, a traditional Maori meal that involves cooking meat and vegetables in the ground.



Go to the Shire

New Zealand has embraced the global fame earned from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies – with thousands of people coming to visit the country every year especially to see the gorgeous natural scenery used in director Peter Jackson’s famous films.  You can visit the beautiful farm location of the ‘Shire’ at Hobbiton in Matamata, choose from several guided tour options and even enjoy a Hobbit-worthy evening banquet. The brilliance doesn’t stop there: you can also go on a guided tour of New Zealand’s Weta Workshop, the award-winning creative digital studio that created the special effects for the Hobbit trilogy and many other films.