Semester break. Easter break. Mid-semester break. Call it what you want, but a glorious long break from all the studying and exams is coming up in New Zealand.
Now is the time to catch up with those internship applications, reconnect with friends you’ve ditched for the books or even volunteer in your local community.
And if you’re an international student planning to stay put in good old Middle Earth during this time, it’s the best time to explore the country as well.
Here are some ideas to satisfy everyone from nature lovers to the adrenaline junkies:
1. Go back to nature
This is the country where the Lord of the Rings country was filmed in. In other words, it’s awe-inspiringly gorgeous. After you’ve visited Hobbiton in Matamata or trekked through the capital of Rohan in Edoras, there are 13 national parks covering nearly a third of the country for you to discover still.
For those looking for a short weekend trip, there’s the Waitakere Ranges, just 45 minutes west of Auckland. Look for the Buck Taylor Track Loop at the Ranges, where the sloping dunes and emerald cliffs will take your breath away.
2. Skydive in Queenstown
Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Here’s where you can bungee-jump and skydive to your heart’s content. If that’s too tame for you, try canyon swinging (that’s free falling down a steep rocky cliff face) and heliskiing (that’s snowboarding or skiing while being tied to a helicopter).
Cyclists, mountain bikers and marathon runners can also take advantage of the great trails and hiking gems such as the Milford, Routeburn or Hollyford tracks.
If you’d rather be adventurous through your taste buds, go for the Wildfood Festival in Hokitika (March 10) where you can, if you dare, try all the huhu grubs, bats and chicken legs you want.
3. Festivals, festivals, festivals
New Zealand is home to some of best music festivals in the world, where big names like Public Enemy and Moby have headlined previous gigs here.
This year, there’s the Pasifika Festival in Western Springs, Auckland (March 24-25) and WOMAD, the World of Music, Arts and Dance (16-18 March).
Another big event is the annual Balloons over Waikato (21-25 March) happening at Innes Common, Hamilton where you can see the skies fill up with hot air balloons, from the traditional to the strange, bizarre and wonderful.
Say goodbye to the frozen meals and instant ramen you’ve been surviving on. You’ve worked hard for the semester, you deserve a little treat or two.
Lucky for you, the options are crazily diverse for you to pick and choose as you like. There’s fresh farm/ocean-to-table produce to try first-hand. Cheese lovers, check out these eight spots serving everything from creamy fresh ricotta with honey to an elevated mac and cheese – they’re all right here in Auckland itself.
The country is also home to a thriving coffee culture so you can truly savour your favourite black beverage as a true connoisseur, instead of gulping them down just to stay awake during those late night study sessions.