Discover New Zealand’s beautiful sights and scenery
For the past three months I have been studying abroad in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand at the Auckland University of Technology. Although I have spent limited time here, I have experienced many moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The Maori, the native people of New Zealand, call the land Aotearoa, which translates to “The land of the long white cloud.”
This land is characterized by unmistakable beauty in the form of soaring mountains, pristine blue lakes, rolling green hills, expansive forests, giant volcanoes, brilliant fjords and sandy beaches, to name a few. I have been lucky enough in my travels to see some of these magnificent sights.
New Zealand is separated into a northern island and a southern island. The North Island is home to Auckland, the nation’s most populated city with roughly 1.4 million people. New Zealand is only home to only about 4.4 million people, and Auckland is the nation’s most international city as well as its most urbanized.
Eight other USD students and I attend AUT, an inner-city campus that offers a wide range of courses for study abroad students.
At AUT, I am taking a courses in English literature, New Zealand public policy, Japanese religions and Noho Marae. All of my classes have been absolutely fascinating because I am learning things from an authentic New Zealand and international perspective, a point of view that is impossible to see back home.
One of the most memorable experiences I have had so far in New Zealand occurred during one of my first weekends at AUT. For my Noho Marae class, which translates into “staying at the Marae,” my classmates and I were welcomed into a traditional Maori house for the weekend.
During the weekend, several Maori came from all over New Zealand and shared some rich and fascinating elements of their culture to international students from around the world.
We learned many traditional Maori songs, games and arts as we reveled in the beauty of the Marae.
The male students learned and performed the Haka, an iconic Maori war dance that traces back its roots from the earliest people of New Zealand.
The Haka is pervasive throughout the nation and is performed by Kiwi sports teams before events, most famously by the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team and arguably the world’s best.
The Haka is also performed in many other situations throughout the country, and is an amazing act to witness, but is even more inspiring to be a part of.
The Noho Marae weekend was an unforgettable experience and allowed me to meet many wonderful friends and Whānau (Maori for “family,” pronounced ‘Fa No’).
A few weeks ago, AUT had its spring break (the Southern hemisphere has opposite seasons). For the break, two friends and I happily set down our books and traveled to New Zealand’s South Island, a land renowned for its remarkable landscapes.
We first flew to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, located at the southern tip of the North Island. Wellington is a beautiful city and is home to New Zealand’s government as well as its national museum, Te Papa. The museum is filled with amazing history, art, archeology and ecological items.
Wellington is also home to Zealandia, a sanctuary that is inhabited by many of New Zealand’s endangered species.
New Zealand’s native species are quite unique in that so many of them are endemic, meaning that they are only found in New Zealand. So many of these species are endangered today because they were killed off by predators such as possums and rats that were not native to the land and were brought over by people.
It was truly remarkable to see some of New Zealand’s beautiful birds and reptiles in person.
After visiting Wellington, my friends and I traveled to many breathtaking spots in the South Island. We visited Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city.
In 2011 Christchurch experienced a devastating earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed many of the city’s prized buildings and landscapes. Undaunted by the tragedy, it is evident today that the people of the city are determined to rebuild their city to its former beauty and glory, and a vibrant tourist culture has returned to the city.
The last stop my friends and I made during our vacation was the beautiful city of Queenstown.
Some of the most awe-inspiring lakes, mountains, and fjords found in the entire world can be found here, and it is a hotspot for tourists around the world.
We traveled to Milford Sound, an expansive fjord that was probably the most amazing place I have ever been to in my entire life. The fjord presented astounding mountains surrounding magnificent blue waters.
The mountains were adorned with huge waterfalls, which misted over our boat as rainbows appeared. It was truly a life-changing experience.
In addition to the South Island I have visited some impressive places in the North Island as well, particularly Raglan, a world-famous surf spot, and Hobbiton, the place where the Shire was set for the Lord of the Rings films!
So now I am back in Auckland and have two more months of studying to do before returning home.
I have been blessed with this great opportunity to see so many amazing places and meet many wonderful people.
New Zealand is a paradise for tourists and international students alike.
I highly recommend it as a destination for students thinking about studying abroad, or those just wanting to see a new part of the world.