Anyone looking for adventure, exhilaration, beautifully diverse landscapes and fascinating history need look no further than New Zealand.
New Zealand, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, was first settled by humans between 1250 and 1300; some 700 years before I first visited this incredible country. Having just graduated from University, I had an urge to travel the world, seek out new experiences and take advantage of the freedom of my youth.
Twenty years later, I now have the privilege of working in an industry which enriches people’s lives through travelling and learning. We work with four wonderful schools in New Zealand, namely Languages International, Worldwide School of English and the International Travel College of New Zealand in Auckland, and RELA in Rotorua. Whilst our job at Quality English is to seek out the best independent English Language schools and colleges teaching courses in English, your job is to choose the right one for you and have a life-changing experience.
Let’s start our journey in Auckland, home to the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the Sky Tower. The country’s capital city is the perfect base from which to explore the countless volcanic islands that surround the North Island. The Disappointment Islands (so called because a British explorer apparently received an unfriendly welcome in 1765) surely win the award for best name, but my personal favourite excursion from Auckland has been Rangitoto Island, which was anything but a disappointment!
There are various options to get you to the island and up the volcano but I chose to take the ferry from the Downtown Ferry Terminal and climb to the summit by foot. The ferry ride is a joy in itself as it takes you out of the harbour and towards this mysterious looking mountain emerging from the sea. A boardwalk leads you towards the moon-like base of the volcano with exotic vegetation lining the lava footpath. There were very few other tourists on the island when I visited which made for an exciting yet strenuous hike up to the top. The cool mist at the summit may have restricted the view back towards Auckland, but I felt like I was on top of a completely different world. Truly an experience I will never forget.
There are too many sights and experiences in the North Island to mention including the Bay of Islands, black water rafting in the Waitomo Caves, the Lord of the Rings experience at Matamata and extreme sports activities such as the ski-diving I did almost 20 years ago at Lake Taupo (when I was much more fearless!)
The next stop of this brief insight into my experiences of New Zealand is the geothermal town of Rotorua, home to the Rotorua English Language Academy (RELA). A short flight from Auckland takes you to this unique place with its Maori culture, mud pools and geezers.
I can honestly say I have never seen or heard of anything like this region with its invigorating sights and smells. The hot thermal baths offer a chance to unwind whilst taking in the scenery and the Maori Village combines a fascinating insight into their traditions and way of life, set in the wilderness of the Tawa Forest.
My two visits to New Zealand, from the different perspectives of being a student and more recently a business traveller, left me with a desire to return again and again. The South Island is another world waiting to be discovered with its glaciers, fjords and the spectacular setting and outdoor pursuits offered by Queenstown.
For now I’ll leave you with this taster of one of my favourite countries in the world and urge you to use it as an incredible backdrop to studying the course that suits you at one of our high-quality independent schools.