How to Spend Your Midterm Break in New Zealand - Part I

Nov 3, 2019 9:15:00 AM / by Minh Ta

Follow along with Sydney blogger Minh on his jam-packed trip to New Zealand, where he explores a gallery with local art, beautiful parks, and the movie set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Auckland to HobbitonAuckland to Hobbiton.

Hello everyone, it’s me again! From exploring Sydney’s finest destinations, now I am writing this blog under the lovely arvo sunshine in Rotorua, New Zealand. I know this one is going to be exciting, but don’t forget to check out my other blogs, they are as much fun as this one. Alright, let’s cut through the chase and get explore the Kiwi nation!

Prior to Departure

This one goes right back to my very first blog, How to prepare for your first time abroad. If you want to know more about how I prepare for my trips, check that one out!

Visa and other legal documents

First off, I am not an American citizen. In order to get through New Zealand immigration, I had to obtain a visitor visa which cost me about 220 AUD and almost a whole month of waiting. If you are an American passport holder (or other eligible passports, you’ll need to Google them up), there is no need for a traditional visa. All you need to do is apply for a digital visa (or NZeTA) which only takes up to 3 days and costs you as much as NZ$35 at the moment of writing. The New Zealand government has a website in which you can apply for a visa and do all the fun stuff. Click here if you want to know more.

I got my visa really late. It came just about 4 days prior to traveling. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you ever want to apply for any countries’ visa. Once you get your visa, remember to check all the conditions before any further planning. In my case, my visa only allows for a single entrance so I must not leave New Zealand any time in my trip. Just make sure you don’t get caught in any troubles.

New Zealand!

Progress: Auckland—Hobbiton—Rotorua - - Queenstown - - Mt Cook - - TBD

I have just spent my first 1.5 days in New Zealand. My schedule is very tight since I want to get the most out of New Zealand so I planned as many destinations as I can. Let’s see what the Kiwi nation has to offer!


CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_A Corner of AucklandA Corner of Auckland.

I arrived in Auckland at 3am in the morning. Yep, you heard me right. The flight got delayed for about an hour and it took me another hour to get through immigration and to travel to my accommodation. I slept until 10 am and headed out for Auckland Domain. It is such a unique park and I don’t have any good way to describe it through words. It is so unique because the flowers and plants are beautiful and there are houses in the area that fuse perfectly with the natural settings surrounding them. Let me show you a picture.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Auckland DomainAuckland Domain.

After a bit, I stopped for an Italian lunch nearby. My next stop was Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Here you can find works by many famous New Zealand artists along with some great international artworks and sculptures.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Auckland Art Gallery Toi o TāmakiAuckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

We then departed again, this time to reach the astonishing One Tree Hill. I originally planned to capture the sunset at the hill, but I did not reach the top on time so I captured a great view of Auckland from above instead. Exhausted from a big day, I came back to my accommodation to have a good night’s sleep.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Auckland from AboveAuckland from Above.

Matamata - Hobbiton

I’ll have to say Hobbiton is the highlight of my Kiwi trip so far. For those who might not know, Hobbiton is the movie set for the two film series The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Located on a 1200 acres farm, the movie set really brings the Shire to life. For the LOTR and The Hobbit fans out there: please add Hobbiton to your bucket list. There is nothing like walking around middle-earth with a fresh beer from the Green Dragon Inn in your hand.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Hobbiton - The Shire in Real LifeHobbiton - The Shire in Real Life.

Next Stop: Rotorua

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_My Accommodation in RotoruaMy Accommodation in Rotorua.

The tour through Hobbiton was great, but it was time to go. I took a one-hour bus from Matamata to Rotorua and my plan is to enjoy the thermal activities there. I will be sure to visit the geysers as well as relax as I dive myself into the hot pools. I’ll see you guys in the next blog for an update of the rest of my trip.

Thanks, Minh!

Minh Ta


Minh Ta is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2019, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Computer Science and Applied Math major at Augustana College, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Minh's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Local Culture