North or South Island: 3 Tips for Choosing a Site in New Zealand

Sierra DeWalt studied abroad with ISA in Wellington, New Zealand in Spring 2020 and is a student at Chapman University. Sierra gives us her tips on how to decide where to study abroad in New Zealand!

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New Zealand contains two separate islands: the North, with the cities of Auckland and Wellington, and the South, with Christchurch and Queenstown. While in New Zealand, I was lucky enough to visit Auckland, Matamata, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. Each city has it’s own unique feel and personality of it’s own. So, how do you find the one that best suits you? Here are 3 recommendations for how to find the city of your dreams in New Zealand!

#1. Look at Pictures Before You Go

A quick Google search will bring up key images of the city. However, you’ll want to go beyond the initial pictures. Scroll down. Look at pictures of the university where you’re thinking of studying. If you really want to be prepared, look at a campus map. Read through blog posts, magazine articles and travel blogs. Also, keep in mind that no place is exactly as it looks on those first Google image photos. However, your experience will outshine any of the photos in a landslide!

One of the buildings at Victoria University of Wellington

#2. Think About Your Hobbies and Interests

What do you like to do with friends? What do you like to do alone? If your favorite activity with friends is trying new restaurants, Christchurch might be the place for you. If you’re an adrenaline lover, you might want to be closer to Queenstown. If you’re a film fanatic, maybe you would love The Light House Cinema or the Empire Cinema in Wellington. Regardless, there will be many place in each of the cities where you can play your favorite sport or eat your favorite foods. However, choosing a site that aligns closely with your hobbies and interests will enhance your experience. Your favorite activities might also remind you of home, which can help your host city become a home away from home!

I’m really interested in film, so I enjoyed going to Weta Workshop in Wellington.

#3. Consider the Climate

This may seem like a given, but it’s definitely something to consider when choosing a location in New Zealand. In the winter, the South Island is much colder than the North. It is helpful to check average weather temperatures and conditions when choosing a city to make sure you pack correctly. For example, I did not realize how cold Wellington could get in June, which is their winter, so I ended up needing to buy a hat and gloves there. Wellington is also known for being super windy, so it’s important to bring clothes for all seasons. Knowing what to expect and choosing a place with the climate you enjoy will make your experience go much more smoothly!

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My roommate Shoko and I put on a lot of layers when we went to Queenstown!

I hope these tips were helpful and good luck choosing a New Zealand city for your study abroad journey!

Inspired by Sierra’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in an abroad experience? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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