August 2010 issue

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Auckland’s natural diversity

Beautiful beaches, fantastic natural scenery and a thriving nightlife are all elements that go towards making Auckland a desirable place to visit and study. Jane Vernon Smith finds out what’s on offer.

Auckland is a cosmopolitan city and, as New Zealand’s largest,” says Brodie Croucher, Market Manager for Asia at Crown English Language Academy in the city, “it offers many opportunities that one might expect from a much larger international city.”

He adds, “With a mild climate and great access to the outdoors, you can have the best of what you’d expect from a metropolitan centre and still have easy access to the things that our country is famous for: fresh air, natural beauty, friendly people and action-packed adventure activities.”

At New Zealand Management Academies, Group Marketing Advisor, Anita Collins, is equally enthusiastic. “From world-class educational facilities and metropolitan shops, cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs to adventure sports, pristine native forests, unpolluted rivers and beaches – we have it all at our front door in Auckland,” she asserts.

For Stuart Binnie of Auckland Language Centre, the city holds its attraction for language students, “because it offers such a wide variety of lifestyles condensed into one easily accessible area”. Furthermore, he points out, it is conveniently accessible, being within 30 minutes of an international airport hub.

Another important factor is the city’s friendly atmosphere. “Students are often commenting on just how friendly people are here,” observes Croucher. “I guess this is because, despite being a city with over a million inhabitants, New Zealanders still often say ‘Hi’ or ‘G’day’ to strangers when they pass in the street.” At the same time, as Larissa Merz, Regional Marketing Manager at Auckland’s Languages International language school highlights, the cost of living in Auckland is relatively low, when compared with the main cities of the USA, Europe or Australia.

The city’s character is also influenced by its cultural diversity. As Giuliana Silveira, Principal of Kaplan International College in Auckland, notes, “Auckland is the epicentre of New Zealand activity, with a diverse urban population that can only be found here. Students have the opportunity to hear many different accents of English, as many international English speakers from Australia to Ireland can all be found on our business-oriented streets.” She also notes that international students have the support of immigration services on Queen Street close at hand, as well as many embassies. Furthermore, students with special dietary needs, such as halal or vegetarian, can easily find options in Auckland.

For eating and drinking, the city indeed offers “a wide variety of international cuisine of a very high standard, at reasonable prices”, as Croucher testifies, and “The excellent fresh produce means that restaurants in all parts of the price spectrum can offer great meals.”

He adds, “Something I recommend to students is that they don’t only hang out only in the central city. Some of Auckland’s best cafés, restaurants and bars can be found in various suburbs, each with its own feel. For example, a 20-minute train or bus ride to Kingsland will allow you to experience some great food and local atmosphere. Other spots worth checking out are Ponsonby Road, Parnell, Newmarket, Devonport [and] Mount Eden.”

“Our students enjoy the Viaduct, where an abundance of fresh seafood is shipped fresh into the city,” contributes Silveira, who also recommends the bars and restaurants in the harbour area, which “offer specials on New Zealand favourites, such as green-shelled mussels, paua [an edible sea snail] and scallops”. For lovers of seafood, the Auckland Seafood Festival at the end of January is an annual highlight.

There is plenty within Auckland for students to explore in their free time. Top of the list for many would be the Sky Tower. Claimed to be the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere, this Auckland landmark has three public observation decks from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city. Meanwhile, those in search of adventure may wish to “take a plunge with a ‘so very New Zealand’ bungee jump, or even walk around the Sky Tower’s perimeter,” says Merz.

Another popular destination is Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World. “Visiting Kelly Tarlton’s is a great way to discover fascinating sea life, see penguins and watch stingrays and sharks being fed,” comments Merz. The Auckland Museum provides a more sedate afternoon’s entertainment. Ten minutes from the city centre, this is, according to Bronwen McKay Director of Studies at Bridge International College in the city, “really the best museum in New Zealand”, offering “a great Maori exhibition” and demonstration of haka and dancing. For further insight into the Maori culture, students can also visit a marae, [Maori meeting house] and take part in a hungi [Maori feast that is cooked in the ground], as well as learn about traditional customs and crafts.

Auckland also offers modern culture in abundance. Numerous art galleries exhibit works ranging from 19th- and 20th-Century English and European paintings through to contemporary Antipodean works, notes Merz. Meanwhile, Croucher points out, “There are always great international music acts visiting Auckland, so students should check out who is coming while they are here. It’s often easier to get tickets for an American or European star here than it is in the Northern hemisphere,” she advises.

It is, however, the area’s natural attractions that must be top priority for many of Auckland’s student visitors. As McKay highlights, Auckland is a city of water, hills – the lasting remains of 27 extinct volcanoes – parks, beaches and islands. No student should leave Auckland without taking a harbour cruise or boat/ferry trip, and Cleve Brown, Director of Auckland’s Worldwide School of English, recommends a ferry ride to the seaside suburb of Devonport and climbing to the top of Mount Victoria for the best Auckland views, or exploring the old war tunnels around North Head, before taking a walk along the beach.

Known as the City of Sails, on account of its unique location on the edge of two harbours and the number of people who own boats or yachts here, says McKay, Auckland attracts those with a keen interest in water-based activities. “The Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf provide an unparalleled location for sailing and other water-sports including

Agent viewpoint

“Most Colombian students, when asked about Auckland, will mention two major impressions. First, the incredible natural beauty of the city and its surroundings, and, second, the warm welcome they get when they arrive. Colombians…love the fact that Auckland is surrounded by the sea. They are impressed by the green face of the city, the parks, the gardens and the spaces to explore…[they] say that Auckland is a safe city, where you can go out and enjoy the nightlife without worrying.”
Shane Ball, Study New Zealand, Colombia

“[Our clients] love how people use the public areas for many activities, like barbecues, or play sports. They enjoy the feeling that these areas are available for anyone that wants to use them – especially in summer time, with many free shows and concerts at the Albert Park…The students find Auckland a city that suits everyone – young students and adults.”
Javiera Visedo, New Zealand Global, Chile

“Upon arrival, students first of all admire Kiwi hospitality. Most of the students stay with host families, and that is where their Kiwi experience starts. [There is a] laid-back and friendly atmosphere. The most comments will probably be about public transportation – that the buses are always on time and clean.”
Dmitry Piven, Immigrant Ltd, Russia

“Auckland offers a unique atmosphere to European language students. They are always very impressed by the cultural diversity and the Kiwi hospitality this metropolis offers…Furthermore, you can enjoy all the advantages of a big city: like a pulsing nightlife, fantastic shopping facilities and a wide range of cultural activities. The surroundings of Auckland offer great destinations for day or weekend trips, such as the volcanic island of Rangitoto or Waiheke Island.”
Kathy Halisch, Practigo, Germany

“Students tell us that Auckland is an easy city to get around, is dynamic and has lots of activity for everybody, regardless of age. The weather is nice and New Zealand people love sports and nature. They tell us that being in Auckland is really nice, and you can have the opportunities of a big city in a small city with quality.”
Emilia Miguel, Experimento, Brazil

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English Australia
Groupement FLE
IALC International
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EF Language
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