When planning to study abroad in the Southern Hemisphere, many students have their hearts set on Australia. But there’s another top destination in town: New Zealand. And guess what? It’s 100% as inviting, memorable, beautiful, and downright Instagrammable as its larger neighbor. And the study options are great too.
Here are just a few reasons why New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to study English – or anything else, really:
1. Two islands, two worlds
New Zealand is made up of two islands with two completely different personalities. On the North Island you’ll find a student-friendly, cosmopolitan lifestyle in lovelyAuckland and Wellington, plus ample locations to experience indigenous Maori culture, such as in geyser-dotted Rotorua. An added bonus is the north’s warmer climate – and the tempting swimming and diving holes that come with it.
On the other hand, the South Island is an outdoor lover’s dream destination, boasting scenery worthy of applause, amazing trekking and hiking, plus ski and adventure capital Queenstown.
2. Say goodbye to extreme climates
Those packing for the North Island can leave their 15 woollen sweaters at home: though muggier than the south, its climate is typically mild at 20-30oC in summer and 14-22oC in winter. The South Island can be a little more intense, though not as unforgiving as the Northern Hemisphere. Expect 1-12oC in winter with summer averages of 16-22oC.
3. Small and relaxed
New Zealand is roughly the same size as Britain, yet has a population of just over four million. It’s no wonder the locals are so relaxed – they don’t have to run around at a million miles an hour or elbow each other out of the way. The Kiwis live a slower, healthier life with great work/life balance.
4. The Kiwi attitude
In addition to being chilled out, Kiwis are humble, self-deprecating, hilarious, down to earth, loyal, helpful, generous, non-confrontational, and have an collective “can do” attitude you’ll definitely take back home with you. (If the people themselves aren’t a reason to give New Zealand a go, we don’t know what is!)
This New Zealand city was recently voted the world’s third best for quality of life – and we can absolutely see why. Auckland is relaxed, welcoming, safe, and small enough to get to know quickly. There are numerous cultural festivals throughout the year, plus great food, wine, coffee, and an increasingly busy nightlife. Outdoorsy expats love exploring the nearby islands, harbours, beaches, as well as the city’s 48 “maunga” (or volcanic cones).
6. Kiwi English rocks
Yep, we’re calling it: we love New Zealand English. While there, enjoy their interchanged vowels and novel colloquialisms; such as “chilly bin” (cooler), “cuz/bro” (friend), “she’ll be right” (it’ll be OK), “choice” (awesome, great, thanks), “chur bro” (thanks, man), “flat tack” (at top speed), “hard case” (a difficult person), and “beached as” (stuck somewhere).
7. Beaches upon beaches
With 15,000 kilometers of coastline, lucky Kiwis spend their lives no farther than 128 kilometers from the beach (and many far closer). Northern Hemisphere visitors craving a little winter seaside adventure won’t have to travel far for their beach fix. Besides awesome spots for surfing, New Zealand’s beaches cover all tastes: think rocky outcrops, massive sand dunes, lagoons, black and white sands, and hot springs. Visit Hot Water Beach on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula or slide down the sand dunes at Ninety Mile Beach (which, though not actually 90 miles is still a knockout). Later, sample the Abel Tasman National Park’s many standout beaches; such as Medlands Beach, Torrent Bay, Awaroa Inlet, and Sandfly Bay.
8. A foodie favorite
While a newbie on the international food tour, New Zealand is working it. Fill your plate with a Maori hāngī, pavlova, lamb, mussels, crayfish, sea urchins, kumara sweet potatoes, and manuka honey.
9. Adventure sports and the outdoors
New Zealand is a famous haven for the adventurous, with bungy jumping, kayaking, caving, skydiving, ziplining, parasailing, off-road driving, paragliding, hang gliding, snowboarding, and so many more heart-thumping activities on offer. Those who prefer their adventure with their feet safe on the ground can walk its countless treks and hikes: the Ball Park Crossing, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Whanganui Journey, Milford Track and Routeurn Track – two of the country’s “Great Walks” – are just a few of those.
10. Mini breaks and bike-friendly travels
Cyclists are 100% catered for with the New Zealand Cycle Trail (a 2,500 kilometer national network of bike-friendly paths), including sections such as the South Island’s 100 mile Otago Rail Trail from Clyde to Dunedin. Besides cycling, this snack-sized country lends itself to weekend getaways of all kinds. Try whale watching at Kaikoura; explore the Bay of Islands; trek or kayak at the Catlins Coast; get a pampering at Waiheke Island; and wine and dine yourself in Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, and Wellington.