The Student's Guide to Everything

The Student's Guide to Everything: university student and graduate life from a New Zealand perspective

My Photo
Location: London, United Kingdom

I'm a marketing communications professional, writer and blogger. I can't live without the internet, I love to travel and I'm a photography nut.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seven awesome weekend trips on a student budget

Now that it's getting closer to summer, it's time to think about holidays! Here are some short weekend breaks that shouldn't break the student bank or force you to get another overdraft.

1. Wellington: Days Bay, Eastbourne

Days Bay in Eastbourne features a fantastic swimming beach, golden sand to park your towel and Williams Park across the road for icecreams and shade.

Getting there: Take the ferry across from Wellington (or for the truly budget-minded, the bus).

What to do: Jump off the wharf at high tide, or fish there. Look for the 'Kleinjan Brothers' inscription on the first step - my grandfather built it.

Walk south along the beach to Eastbourne itself. If you're a bit more adventurous, take your mountain bike and ride the gravel road along the coast towards Pencarrow lighthouse. Watch out if it's windy! Look out for large spiral Cook's Turban sea shells.

If you're into tramping, walk to Butterfly Creek in the next valley, for a gorgeous bush walk.

2. Wairarapa: Martinborough/ Greytown

Greytown and Martinborough are cute small towns in the Wairarapa, with interesting shops and vineyards.

Getting there: By train from Wellington (station Woodside), then by bus to the towns. Or get off the train at Featherston and take a bus from there. By bus from Palmerston North.

What to do: Lunch at the Deli Cafe on Main St, Greytown. Browse Greytown's antique shops and art galleries (try not to buy anything). If you have a car, a few kilometres north of Greytown are orchards and berry-picking in summer.

Visit Martinborough's vineyards and the shops around the Square in the centre of town. Kitchener Street (next to the big white hotel) has the best shops. Hang out in the Square. (Avoid the Toast Martinborough wine and food festival unless you have tickets. Which usually sell out in minutes each year.)

If you have a car and some extra time, head to the ocean at Lake Ferry, 30 minutes south of Martinborough. Don't go swimming, there are rips! Watch the sun set over the South Island at the Lake Ferry Hotel with a beer or a coffee.

3. Auckland: Devonport

Devonport is a suburb of Auckland featuring fantastic beaches, green spaces and naval history.

Getting there: Take the ferry from downtown Auckland, or the bus.

What to do:Devonport Beach and Cheltenham Beach are great places to park your towel and sunglasses. Torpedo Bay is a good swimming beach at high tide.

Walk up Mt. Victoria for a spectacular view of Auckland. Check out the fortifications there. Look out for the 'mushroom' air vents at the top.

If you're a history buff, check out the Devonport Museum and Navy Museum. (Ladies: as a bonus, the Naval Base is nearby... be on the lookout for hot Navy guys.) Book a free tour at the Navy Museum.

4. Nelson: Nelson City

Nelson has it all: amazing beaches, craft markets, sunshine and incredible scenery.

Getting there: From Wellington, fly or take the ferry to Picton and a two-hour Intercity bus / drive. (Hopefully you won't get the lecture on pine trees.)

What to do: One of the 'hippy hotspots' of New Zealand, Nelson city has lots of quirky shops. Check out the glassblowing studios if you have a car, or the World of Wearable Arts and car museum.

The Saturday morning Nelson Market has free entry. Spend as much or as little as you want on locally made food, jewellery, clothing and crafts.

Hang out at Tahunanui Beach or wade/ swim out to Rabbit Island.

If you're in Motueka and it's raining, visit the Gecko movie theatre. It's like movie night at your friend's house.

5. Nelson: National Parks

Source (I would use my own photos, which are better, but they're on the other hard drive and I can't get to them.)
If you're a bit more adventurous, the fantastic beaches and spectacular golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park, Takaka and Golden Bay await.

Getting there: Because it's on the tourist track, there are frequent buses to Abel Tasman National Park, Takaka and Golden Bay from Nelson. For Nelson Lakes, you'll need to drive (approx an hour from Nelson) or take the shuttle.

What to do: Walk to one of the numerous sheltered bays and hang out on the beach, or take a sea kayak for a different view. (Be warned: it's hard work.)

For something different, Nelson Lakes National Park is a gorgeous series of inland lakes and mountains. You can go boating, fish or walk one of the numerous walking tracks.

6. Christchurch: Akaroa


Akaroa is on scenic Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, with numerous small bays.

Getting there: A 90-minute drive from Christchurch. Alternatively you can take the shuttle, or the 28 or 30 bus from the Christchurch bus exchange.

What to do: Historically French (who sailed only days before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed - imagine their dismay when they arrived, to discover the British had claimed all of the South Island), Akaroa's heritage is reflected in the street names and cute colonial houses. History buffs should check out the Akaroa Museum, including the tiny Langlois-Eteveneaux House. (Use your student ID card to get a discount on the entry.)

Walk from the Akaroa lighthouse to Britomart Monument, where the British raised the Union Jack just before the French settlers arrived.

Explore the many hills, bays and beaches of Banks Peninsula, two extinct volcanoes.

Look out for Hector's Dolphins, with their distinctive rounded fin. Akaroa is one of the best places to see the world's rarest dolphins, only found in NZ.

7. Otago: Wanaka

Getting there: Drive the Crown Range from Queenstown, the highest main road in New Zealand, for scenic views.

What to do: Walk by Lake Wanaka and enjoy the view of Mt. Aspiring, or walk down to the lake's outlet to the source of the Clutha River, the largest volume river in NZ.

Tramp one of the popular tracks at Mount Aspiring National Park. (Make sure you follow the usual safety precautions if you're going on a longer trip.)

Visit Wanaka Puzzling World and play with the mazes and optical illusions. Visit local orchards and eat yummy fruit in summer.

If it's raining, catch a movie at Cinema Paradiso, which was mentioned in Lonely Planet (travel guide) and features an old Morris Minor!

Camp in the camping grounds to save money on accommodation, since Wanaka can be pricey.

Where else do you go on a cheap weekend break? Leave a comment! (Thanks to all my friends who made suggestions for this post - I'm keeping the unused suggestions for the next one.)



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home