Fun Things to Do in The Major Cities of NZ for International Students (2019 Edition)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Our picks for things to do and places to go across the country’s main centres in 2019. We’ve selected our top three things for each place. Option 1 is a place to visit. Option 2 is a top-rated restaurant or café. Option 3 is a free activity that will get you outdoors.





1. Holey Moley
Opened in 2018, this mini-putt course/cocktail bar/food joint is a great place to go for fun with friends, a break from Uni study or to host a work-do. Situated on the Viaduct, the unique selection of crazy holes and photo opportunities on offer will keep you entertained until your round is complete and you can stop for post-game refreshments at The Caddyshack bar. As the spot is new and incredibly popular, it is recommended you book your session in advance. You can play up to 27 holes and each hole has a different, zany, theme (whether it be sharks, Simpsons or table football, Holey Moley has it all). Costs are: 9 holes = $15 per person, 18 holes = $25 per person and 27 holes = $37 per person. Each set of nine holes will last 25-40 minutes. So, if you are doing all 27 holes, be prepared to spend up to two hours in the course/labyrinth.

2. Vivace
Vivace is a classic restaurant with a new location in 2019. Although Vivace has been around for over 25 years, it made the move to Fort Street in Auckland’s City centre in late 2018. The restaurant serves Mediterranean food and is known for its large list of wines and wide-range of meals. Choose from hot & cold tapas, salads, pizza, pasta, risotto, mains, sides, desserts and set menus that cost $55, $65 and $75. Make this Multi-Cuisine restaurant the top of your priority list to head to in Auckland this year for any meal from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner. It’s a great place to go for large groups of people as there is plenty of space for all.

3. Waitakere Ranges
For an incredible experience that won’t cost a cent, head out to Auckland’s West Coast and explore the sprawling Waitakere Ranges. Only 40 minutes’ drive from central Auckland, the Ranges provide over 250km’s of walking tracks, with plenty of waterfalls, views and places to see along the way. With plenty of streams, waterfalls, bush and pools to visit along the way, you can go to the Ranges for a day, a weekend or even an entire week camping trip. Make sure to not spread Kauri die-back and check the tracks you are walking on are open! Prepare correctly before you go, especially if you are planning an overnight trip. Plan your trip here.



1. Hobbiton Movie Set
A short 45-minute drive from Hamilton, Hobbiton has been putting Matamata on the map since 2002. Since then, people from across the world have visited the little town for a true middle earth experience. Hobbiton is an absolute must-see for all Tolkien, Hobbit and Lord of The Rings fans. Experience the shire, re-live some of your favourite’s scenes from the films and step inside some of the 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes. Finish your tour with a beverage at The Green Dragon Inn and a bite to eat at The Shires Rest café.

2. Gothenburg
No, it’s not the capital of Sweden, but the owners of this fine-dining establishment spent considerable time there before settling down in the Waikato region and setting up next to the Waikato river. This Hamilton restaurant has been around since 2009 but made a move from Hood Street to a new riverside location at 17 Grantham Street in 2014. Gothenburg is Hamilton city’s top-rated restaurant, with its location and delicious food ensuring it is a must-visit if it is your first time in Hamilton central.

3. Hakarimata Scenic Reserve
A totally free trip into the outdoors, this scenic reserve near Ngaruawhaia is a great place to visit near Hamilton if you want to take a walk through beautiful native bush. Take a break from the city noises and check out the Kauri, fish and waterfalls among the 1,850ha native forest. For a proper challenge you can climb the 1,349 steps to the summit, located 374 metres above sea level. Start from Brownlee Avenue and climb 335 metres to the top. You’ll know you’ve made it when you reach the summit tower and take in the spectacular view. The whole trip should take you two-three hours to the top and two-three hours back, so plan and pack accordingly.


1. Te Papa Museum
New Zealand’s national museum is known as Te Papa Tongarewa, which means container of treasures. With free general admission, the museum is a great place to visit to learn about the history of the country, see one-off special exhibits and experience something different to the usual! Located on Wellington’s beautiful waterfront, the museum draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

2. Rogue Burger
Wellington city’s latest burger joint, from the team that brought you Egmont Street Eatery, The Catering Studio and Sterling Woodfire Eatery. The latest on a long-list of delicious places to eat in Wellington, stopping to eat at Rogue Burger is a tasty way to spend a lunchtime or afternoon. Located on the Terrace (next to Sterling), the location is ideal if you are on your way back to the Kelburn University campus or heading down to the Pipitea campus halls.

3. Mount Victoria
196m above Wellington city, Mount Victoria is the perfect place to go for a fantastic vantage point of the entire city-scape. Follow the Summit Walkway track all the way up to the top (this starts at the end of Majoribanks street, after you see the Southern Walkway sign). We recommend going during a sunny, clear day, so that you can fully enjoy the view on offer. Please note that cars use the roads that head up the mountain often, and the forested areas are slippery after rain. Make sure you look out for some Lord of the Rings filming locations on your way up – here’s a handy guide to help you find them.




1. International Antarctic Centre
If you can’t make a trip from New Zealand to the worlds coldest continent, you can get there by taking a trip to The International Antarctic Centre instead! Offering an Antarctic weather simulator, Antarctic vehicle (Hagglund) rides, 4D theatres, rescued penguins and Husky pats! A great place to go if you want to experience the adventure and thrill of Antarctica and be able to head home at the end of the day.

2. Nobanno
Nobanno offers fresh and healthy Bangladeshi meals that have quickly become a favourite in Christchurch. Located at 91 Riccarton Road, Christchurch, head chef Christopher has been running his award-winning restaurant since 2007, with a re-opening at the current location in 2013, following the Christchurch earthquake. Nobanno is the only modern Bangladeshi restaurant in NZ and is one of the highest-rated places to eat across the country on TripAdvisor.

3. Botanic Gardens
One does not simply go to the garden city without visiting the Botanic Gardens! Christchurch Botanic Gardens, known also as ‘Te Māra Huaota o Waipapa’, Botanical Gardens of Waipapa, is a place that has been around since the early 1860s. It has enchanted travellers from all around the world with its beautiful flowers, water features, conservatories and public buildings (including the Visitor Centre & ilex Café). The garden is 21 hectares and is surrounded by the Avon River.



1. Dunedin Railway station, Taieri Gorge, Otago Peninsula & Coastal train trip & tour
Okay, so this is more of a three-in-one deal, and will cost a bit of money, but we think the trip will be worth your while. Starting from the iconic Dunedin Railway station, this is a full day trip, which includes a four-hour train ride, as well as a trip to the Otago Peninsula. Once on the coast you will visit Portobello and Tidal inlets and stop by a wildlife reserve to see the world’s rarest sea-lion & fur seal.

2. Ironic Café
The iconic Ironic Café on ANZAC Avenue is known for its friendly and warm setting, as well as its many different options for all sorts of people, whether they have different dietary requirements, accessibility issues (no stairs) or young children (high chairs available). There is an inside seating area that can fit up to 80 people and a sunny outside seated area that can fit 50/60 people. The café can also be booked for functions. Handily located five minutes from ‘The Octagon’, Ironic is a very popular place for both locals and out-of-towners. Co-owners Sue Moller and Steve Wilson also have expanded their Ironic business to venues at the Ironic Café at Toitu Settlers museum and the Ironic on George (right at the heart of the Octagon). Visit one or visit all!

3. Tunnel Beach
An easy return track, less than an hour of walking and an incredible wind and sea-shaped coastline. Not to mention the tunnel, shaped by hand in the 1870’s, that leads you to a secluded beach (known as the most romantic spot in Dunedin). You will find this spot 30 minutes out of the town centre, take state-highway one and exit at Green Island and continue onto Brighton Road and turn-off onto Blackhead road. Once there you can turn onto Tunnel Beach road.

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