My First Week in Auckland, New Zealand

Lisa Penfield headshot
Lisa Penfield
February 23, 2024

Today marks one week in Auckland! It’s been quite hectic, making one week feel like a few months as I’m still slowly moving in, learning about the common stores in the central business district (CBD), trying new food, adjusting to transportation, and setting up various accounts. 

Carlaw Student Park Village

As a participant in the IES Abroad program, we’re either placed in Te Tirohanga o te Tōangaroa (TT) or the Carlaw Park Student Village. For this semester, I'm living in the Carlaw Park Student Village and the apartment is very nice! There’s a kitchen area, already equipped with common dishes such as plates, bowls, utensils, pots, pans, etc. The apartment also comes with a TV, two couches, and a coffee table. For the TV, it’s best to have an HDMI cord to connect a device. In our apartment, there are five people, each with a single room. For my room, sheets were not included, so I had to buy those in Auckland. The bed in the apartment is a king single size, but queen-size sheets will also work as they're the same length!

Common stores in CBD, Auckland

I arrived in Auckland a few days before the IES Abroad program began, allowing me to collect some necessary items (such as sunscreen, sheets, sandals/jandals, etc) before moving in and explore the central business district of Auckland. In Auckland, the Warehouse and Kmart are similar to Walmart or Target in the U.S. The Chemist Warehouse is like CVS Pharmacy. The common grocery chains include Countdown (now Woolworths), PAKn'SAVE, and New World. Also, Farmers is a common department store chain.

Food in Auckland

Apart from the logistics of settling in, there’s no shortage of places to eat at in Auckland. A few places I tried included YASO (Thai food), The Store (a café near the waterfront), Mezze Bar (Mediterranean food), Nahm (Thai food), Saigon Chill (Vietnamese food), Spice Club Indian Eatery, and The Jungle Parnell (which is very close to Carlaw). Every place was quite good and approximately US $12 - US $18 per meal. At restaurants, it is not common to tip and usually you pay at the front when you’re finished eating (which makes splitting bills a lot easier).


IES Abroad will provide AT Metro cards when moving in, which can be used for the buses, trains, and ferries around Auckland. There are also electric scooters, run by Beam and LIME, everywhere. I tried an electric scooter for the first time here! 

Banking, Phone Plans, and 18+/Kiwi Access Card

Other logistics of settling in include setting up a bank account, acquiring a phone plan, and applying for an 18+/Kiwi Access card. In Auckland, there is a surcharge for using a credit card for most transactions, even if your credit card has no foreign transaction fees, so applying for a bank account at a local bank is best to avoid those fees. I also got a New Zealand phone number last week! Although the international plan for my carrier in the U.S. works, I couldn’t easily text my flatmates or other people with New Zealand numbers. I ended up purchasing a phone plan and so far, it has worked seamlessly (just make sure your phone is unlocked first).

Overall, here are my last few thoughts about Auckland in my first week. The sun is intense and there are a lot of green spaces, at least compared to the suburbs of the east coast in the U.S. 

A few tips:

  • There are a lot of mosquitoes (I now have 10 new bug bites on my legs)
  • WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN (you can get burned by standing in the sun for seven minutes)
  • Pack your sheets (twin XL in the U.S. will work for a king single in Auckland)

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Lisa Penfield headshot

Lisa Penfield

At Tufts University I’m a Sustainable Solutions Fellow, a member of the Chinese Students Association, and a Volunteer Coordinator for the Food Rescue Collaborative. Outside of school, I enjoy running, baking, and learning to play frisbee!

Home University:
Tufts University
Engineering - Environmental
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