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9 Things You Should Know About New Zealand

New Zealand is an absolutely beautiful country, but there are some things you should know if you plan to study here.

As an international student myself, I know how weird and hard it can be to figure things out when you arrive, so here are some tips and things I’ve learned to hopefully make the transition easier for you!

1. Cars drive on the left

For those of you in countries where cars drive on the right side of the road, NZ driving will take some getting used to. Whether you’re just crossing the road as a pedestrian or plan to get a car and drive yourself, be careful. 

2. Drinking

The drinking age in NZ is 18, so the atmosphere at Uni may be a bit different than what you’re used to if you come from a country where the drinking age is higher, like me.

3. Safety

NZ is a friendly and safe place, however don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Crime does still happen so always be smart and on guard.

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4. Wear sunscreen

Apparently there’s a hole in the ozone layer above NZ, which means the sun is extra bright and strong. If you don’t want to fry be sure to lather up in sunscreen, especially if you’re pale and pasty like me!

5. The Warehouse

This is a magical and lifesaving store very similar to Walmart, minus most of the food. Plus, there’s free Wi-Fi so if you’re desperate for internet go to the Warehouse!

6. Public transport

Compared to many parts of the world, the NZ bus system is a bit crappy. It can be hard or expensive to get to many fun places that you want to see in NZ solely using buses. I recommend making Kiwi friends with cars and joining groups that take trips to those hard to reach places.

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7. Sheep

NZ is home to around 30 million sheep, meaning that there are approximately 6 sheep for every person! I don’t know about you, but I love sheep and made it my personal NZ goal to pet a sheep – a goal which I fulfilled in just my third week of being here.

8. Bugs everywhere 

I have not seen screens on any windows so all sorts of creepy crawlies find their way inside - my flatmate complains about being attacked by crickets on a regular basis! Invest in some bug spray and to all of you concerned parents don’t worry because the Zika virus is not a thing in NZ.

9. Other random things

Light switches flip down to turn on, toilets flush in the opposite direction, dogs are allowed to be walked in public without leashes, and pizza tastes sweeter here. 


If you remember these little things, your time in New Zealand will be great. Good luck and safe travels!

Carrie Blazer

By Carrie BlazerUS Study Abroad Student

Updated 4 months ago

Carrie Blazer is from a small town in Missouri, USA, and is currently a third year biology major studying at the University of Waikato. She loves learning biology in New Zealand because the diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes are so different from what she knows at home.

*Views expressed are the blogger's own

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