Author: Lydia Kendrick, 3rd Year MEng Chemical Engineering
For those of you that aren’t aware, in third year, Chem Eng students at Bath have the chance to do a semester abroad. Personally, I love Bath, and 12 months ago, had absolutely no intention to apply. Now, having just finished my 4 month research project in New Zealand, I’m sat on a plane to Australia, so thankful that I didn’t pass up the opportunity.
I arrived in New Zealand back in February and was lucky to be joined by 3 friends – Alasdair, George and Aaron. I was based at the University of Auckland, researching into how the shape of chocolate effects flavour perception. Sounds more like food science than Chem Eng I know, but labs for me involved making chocolate (and eating it), so you can see why I wasn’t complaining. I actually got to make up the entirety of my project, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do in Bath. We had a good routine; most week days were spent in uni, either in the labs or working on our projects, and then the weekends we took off to travel.
Auckland itself was perfect. It has a very ‘big city’ kind of vibe; high rise offices, parks, some funky bars, you get the idea. There’s also a beautiful harbour with a strip of restaurants and port terminals where you can catch a ferry to the local islands. Thinking back to when we first arrived, we were actually living out of a hostel for two weeks while we found somewhere to live, so we had plenty of time to explore the city. Within the first week we’d already tripped to both Waiheke island and Devonport, spent multiple days at the beach and tasted our fair share of Auckland cuisine. It was basically just a holiday. Saying that, we had the excuse of it still being 26°C outside and wanting to enjoy the last of New Zealand’s summer. The boys took me to my first ever rugby game, I tried my first ever oyster (which I hated) and I tasted Auckland’s most famous ice-cream (which comes in a Yorkshire pudding if you want it). The Chinese New Year celebrations were also taking place in February and we went to the annual light festival- there was food stalls, live music and fireworks on the closing night. We were never short of things to do in Auckland, put it that way.
One of the coolest things we did was invest in a tent and trip over to a nearby volcanic island, Rangitoto. The island itself is pest free, with no running power, and ferries to and from the island stopped running after 5pm. We decided, albeit the thundery weather forecast, to trek from Rangitoto to the neighbouring island, Montaupo, and camp overnight. We camped in the only registered site on the island, in a secluded spot right next to the sea.
Since then we’ve ventured much further afield. On the weekends we hired a car and tripped to places around the North Island, including Taupo, the Coromandel Peninsula and Rotorua. In Rotorua we went white water rafting and rafted the world’s tallest commercially rafted waterfall; that was super fun. Another highlight of mine was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, it was a 19.4 km trek through a multi-cratered active volcano and the views were incredible.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The main part of our travels however was the 14 days we took out over Easter to explore the South Island. We started off our trip in Christchurch and did a clockwise route, ticking off all the main stops. The Mount Cook Hooker Valley track was particularly breath-taking, the photos looked like scenes from a movie.
Other highlights include our Milford Sound day trip, sea lion watching in the Otago Peninsula, seeing glow-worms in Abel Tasman National park and wine tasting in Marlborough Sounds. Oh and Queenstown itself was just awesome.
When we got back to Auckland, our projects were in full swing. The workload was pretty intense near the end but it was worth taking the time out for travelling – New Zealand had so much to see. The time has absolutely flown by but we’re now off to Australia for another month of travelling, which is a rather convenient stop before we head home for placement. I couldn’t have asked for a better semester, or a better bunch of friends to share it with. If you’re considering a semester abroad, I couldn’t recommend it more!
Group picture in Queenstown