Weekends are for the… Road Trips!

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga










The semester here in New Zealand is almost over, and I am getting ready for final exams. There is nothing too incredibly exciting to say about classes here at AUT. They are structured a little differently than they are at state however. Classes are scheduled on the hour, the ones in the morning start on the hour – so if it say 9 am, class starts at 9am – but the classes in the afternoon start 10 minutes past the hour, so a 2pm class really starts at 2:10pm. Also there is more group work and discussion in the small sections/workshops here. In terms of finals, percentage wise they are worth a lot more than they are at home. Instead of 10-20% of the overall grade, the finals here can be worth upwards of 40% of the overall grade or marks. But classes are not what this post is about. It’s about the road trips!

One of the caves you can explore on Rangitoto

Going on road trips, particularly day trips or weekend trips are some of the most fun that I’ve had since I’ve been in New Zealand. I’ve gotten to explore some really cool places, see some things that don’t have a lot of visitors because they aren’t the touristy spots (I did love those places too though :)). I’ve also enjoyed spending quality time with the friends that I’ve made here, where we all aren’t having to meet up between classes and assignments.

Some of the day trips that I’ve been on are hiking on Rangitoto Island and going to Rotorua. Rangitoto is a volcanic island a short ferry ride away from Auckland. It is a pretty nice hike, that you can finish in about a ½ day. When you get to the top you can look down into the crater on one side, and see the Auckland skyline on the other. There are also lava caves that you can explore.

At one of the lookout points at Skyline Rotorua.

Rotorua was also a fun full day trip that was organised by a club on campus. We left early in the morning and spent part of the day at Skyline Rotorua. We went up to the adventure center area on a gondola, and went luging- it was what I think playing Mario Kart in real life would feel like. There were also look-out spots where you could take in the views from on the higher end of a mountain.

waterfall at Whangarei Scenic Reserve

The other part of the day was spent at some hot water pools. It was a lot of fun, but Rotorua is famous for the sulfur smelling air, and the water from the creek the pools were located in were no different- it was really relaxing being in the warm water, but beware, whatever you wear into the creek will smell like sulfur, and may or may not still smell like sulfur after you wash them.

Weekend trips no doubt have been my favorite way to see the North Island. During the first weekend of semester break I went on a trip with a group of friends to Cape Reinga. It’s located at the tip of New Zealand, and you can see the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean. It was an awesome place to visit, and the walk down to the lighthouse was beautiful. On the way to the cape, we stopped by the Whangarei Scenic reserve and walked down to the waterfall there.

beach near Paihia

Further on our drive we stopped at beaches and smalls towns like Paihia

on our way to our AirBnB for the night. On the way home, we spent some time at the Te Paki Sand Dunes. It was amazing, and it didn’t feel like I was in New Zealand.

At the sand dunes

The other weekend trip that I’ve been on so far, and probably my favourite weekend in New Zealand over all was my trip to Taupo. We went to Rotorua (different part from where I had been before), and walked around some of the thermal pools. Then we went to the Craters of the Moon. That was a really interesting place to see, and it felt like a movie set almost with the way steam rose from craters in the park.

Craters of the Moon
The natural bridge that we found on the drive back to Auckland

After that we drove to Huka falls, the water was a beautiful clear blue colour. We continued on and had dinner and drinks in Taupo, where we stayed for the night. The following day we had breakfast and got coffee at McDonalds, then headed home back to Auckland. On the drive back we stopped at Tongariro, to see the peaks, but we didn’t hike as there was still a lot of snow and ice on the mountain. I plan to go back in summer to hike it. Our final main stop was the Waitomo glow worm caves. we took a tour of the caves and a boat ride to see the glow worms. it was like seeing a bunch of stars in the night sky, definitely a place I recommend some go to when coming to New Zealand. On the rest of the way back to Auckland we stopped at little hidden gem stops on the side of the roads we were on. We got to explore a natural bridge, caves, and more waterfalls.

Fun Facts:

  • Taupo has the only McDonalds where you can sit inside a plane and eat your meal.
  • Make friends and go on road trips!
  • Semester breaks at AUT (think spring break) are 2 weeks long, so plan on taking trips during this time- besides going to Cape Reinga, I went to Fiji!
The McDonald’s Plane

Version 2Kiyomi Nomura is a fourth-year business marketing major at SDSU abroad studying at the  Auckland University of Technology for the 2019-2020 academic year.

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