If you’re considering studying abroad to expand your horizons and experience an unforgettable semester away, New Zealand needs to be at the top of your list.
Why New Zealand you might ask? Is it their infamous wine country or world-class coffee? Their massive sheep population that boasts a sheep to human ratio of six sheep for every one person (holy sheep!)? Or maybe, New Zealand being the true “Middle Earth” from Lord of The Rings is what sparks your interest (guilty!).
Just googling photos of New Zealand alone will make you want to pack your bags and book a one-way flight, so keep reading for our student guide to conquering New Zealand for one hell of a semester abroad!
See some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse scenery
If there’s just one reason to visit New Zealand, it’s the unique scenery: it’s gonna blow your mind. Where else can you hang out on the beach, explore caves, hike mountains, kayak across lakes, trek icy glaciers in one weekend? Whatever you’re into, you will find it here.
Aoraki/Mount Cook, Canterbury
Mount Cook is the alpine wonderland located on the South Island in Canterbury. With skyscraping mountain tops and captivating glaciers, Mount Cook holds the title of being the highest mountain in NZ at a generous 3,724 meters (12,218 ft). Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or just up for strapping your walking boots on, there’s an alpine activity here for you.
Awaroa Beach, Abel Tasman National Park
This slice of paradise is publicly owned by over 40,000 Kiwis who came together to buy this once private plot. Think lush forest, golden sand and turquoise water, this beautiful beach is nestled in the equally beautiful Abel Tasman National Park.
The Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest
Located on the North Island in Rotorua, the Whakaraewarewa Forest offers lush and scenic trails full of native trees and exotic plants. Mountain bike, hike, cross the suspension bridges or just admire the mighty Redwoods that grow up to 110 meters (360 ft) and have the average lifespan of 600 years!
Taste New Zealand’s Cuisine and Local Favorites
One of the best things about traveling somewhere new is trying the local cuisine! New Zealanders have their own special dishes unique to their rich Māori culture along with a wide variety of seafood.
Lockies Takeaways (Hampden)
Check out this seafood shack on the South Island in Hampden for the supposed “best fish and chips!” Try the paua patties for a New Zealand specialty!
Want the best burger in New Zealand, heck, maybe even the world?! Get ready to line up to feast on the lusty-worthy burgers. Eat like a local and try the “Little Lamby” (Prime NZ lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and tomato relish) for a fresh and authentic taste of New Zealand.
Bowl and Arrow (Auckland)
Need something fresh and healthy, but don’t want to sacrifice the delicious taste? Check out Bowl and Arrow for all your superfood needs. They offer healthy and delicious options like smoothie bowls filled with fresh superfoods to fuel your day and satisfy your taste buds. With a wide variety of toppings from coconut flakes to mango, you can’t really go wrong…
Giapo is no average ice cream parlor. This modern gourmet parlor offers more than just your average ice cream cone and toppings; it showcases the art in recreating a popular dessert and experimenting with different flavors and combinations. The prices are a bit on the higher side, but your taste buds will thank you and agree it’s well worth the money.
Experience New Zealand After Hours
New Zealand might be known for its magical scenery and culture, but the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Give yourself a break from studying and venture out with friends to see how Kiwis get down after hours!
Queenstown has been considered the leader in afterhours playgrounds in New Zealand due to its more developed and saturated nightlife favored by locals and travelers. Bring on the bar hopping!
For dancing the night away: Check out Vinyl Underground- an underground bar with great drinks and eats.
Auckland is home to some of the best universities in New Zealand, so it should come as no surprise the college town vibes are reflected well into its nightlife scene. Along the waterfront in the Brittomart Precinct, many old warehouses and packing sheds have been converted into some of the coolest restaurants and bars you’ll find in New Zealand.
For a taste of the student life: Check out The Ferguson- a music venue located in the heart of Massey University.
Having the highest amount of 20-34-year-old’s per capita in all of New Zealand, Wellington has plenty of options when it comes to late night ventures. Think clubs, bars, late night bites and live music while staying centrally located and in walking distance to hotels and hostels.
For a chill environment and craft beer: Check out The Rogue and Vagabond for craft brews and cheap eats that you can enjoy on their outside area or on a bean bag! Yes, a bean bag!
For a hidden gem with craft cocktails: Check out Foxtail for a special treat. This hidden bar may not be the entrance to Narnia, but we think this bar may be even cooler.
No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience. There is nothing quite like New Zealand’s beauty, culture, and charm. One semester abroad here and you’ll find yourself not wanting to check in for your flight back home.
Take in the views, try new food, and meet new people. Your adventure awaits in New Zealand… Find out more on our NZ destination guide!
This student guide to New Zealand has been compiled based on student recommendations at Rayka! Seeking travel advice from study abroad travelers just like you? Then check out Rayka, the first student-only review platform! Explore rankings in cities worldwide based on student-only favorites and more easily find the best places to go, things to do and more!