I have been in Auckland for a little over two weeks now, and every day I have been blown away by the beauty of my surroundings. Auckland was not quite what I expected. I heard it was a big city so I assumed that would mean lots of tall buildings, very little nature, and streets that weren’t the cleanest. However, it has completely surprised me. There are parks all around and everywhere I look there are unique-looking trees that I would never see back home. The streets are very clean and it is easy to get around by walking. It is also very environmentally conscious. Recycling bins are easy to find, the University Auckland has reusable towels in the bathrooms and outlets with off switches to conserve power.
I am living in Carlaw Park Student Village housing. It is right next to a large park called the Auckland Domain and a smaller park called Albert park. It’s about a 15-minute walk to campus and it is in a convenient location. During the first week here, the residential advisors of Carlaw organized a hike to one of the mountains right in the city called Mt. Eden. We got there and hiked to the top just in time for the sunset. The views on the way up were beautiful! There was also a giant crater at the top, which was unlike anything I’d seen before. Watching the sun set over the city was incredible, and this hike was right in the middle of Auckland, making it unlike any other city I’ve been in. Looking at the view made me so excited for all the places in Auckland I’ve yet to explore.
I was also able to get out of the city. A few days after I arrived, all the IES Abroad participants going to the University of Auckland were taken to Waiheke Island, which was a 40-minute ferry ride away. It was expected to rain the entire time we were there but we got lucky and the sun came out on the second day. This island was stunning both with and without the rain. There were beautiful beaches everywhere and on our first day we went boogie boarding. On Sunday morning we were able to kayak. We bonded by doing some kayak races, and sharing some fun facts about ourselves. We were also exposed to the Maori culture. We stayed on the Piritahi Marae and learned the significance of some of the carvings on the Marae. It was eye-opening to learn about and a great way to first get acquainted with New Zealand.
The views so far have been more beautiful than I was expecting. It has been amazing to see them in person. I am so excited to be here for five more months and to get to know the other IES Abroad participants, who seem to love the outdoors as much as I do. Stay tuned for more updates on my adventures in Auckland.