Life as usual during a pandemic in New Zealand?

G’day readers, I’m Addy! In my last post, I explained how on earth I ended up in New Zealand (check that out if you haven’t). 

But today! I will be delving into what it’s been like moving to NZ in a pandemic and my experience working abroad.

A girl smiling at the camera, with a harbour in the background.
Having a glass of orange juice at the Viaduct in Auckland Central

Face masks, Covid tests and 14 days of room service

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, New Zealand closed its borders to most travellers. Luckily for me, however, I’m classed as a citizen by descent (thanks, mum) and managed to sneak in.

After an exhausting 30-hour journey of face masks, face shields and hand sanitiser, I arrived in Auckland and was promptly whisked away to my ‘Managed Isolation and Quarantine’ (MIQ) Hotel.

As a self-confessed homebody, MIQ felt like a vacation to me. A double room, fast Wi-Fi and three-square meals delivered to your door every day – luxury, no? Sure, we had morning temperature checks, two Covid tests and only a fenced-off car park to get fresh air. But overall, it was a pleasurable stay. In fact, after my release, I joked to my friends that rather than feeling home-sick, I felt MIQ-sick.

Covid? What Covid?

Stepping out into civilisation was bizarre. Restaurants were open, no one was wearing face masks or social distancing. The only sign anything was amiss was the QR codes plastered on the entrances of businesses. With only a handful of community case scares, everything has felt highly ‘normal’ (excluding the face masks on public transport).

A waterfall spilling into a large body of water, surrounded by trees.
Huka Falls (yes, the water really is turquoise!)

Small pieces of culture shock

Thanks to my mum being a Kiwi, I mostly know the NZ slang being thrown around: I know togs means swimsuit and jandals are flip-flops (a truly common sight over here). One that did surprise me was the word ‘dairy’ (pronounced: deary) to mean the local corner shop and not a place that produces milk. 

FYI: Most products are more expensive here (weekday vegetarian is the way to go when meat costs this much), but I did discover that Domino’s is only $5 (≈ £2.50)!

Working in finance, I had to quickly adapt to “dollars and cents” instead of “pounds and pence” – which admittedly still surfaces on occasion. Interestingly, our 10-person finance team has only one Kiwi, so I’ve been able to get lots of advice about living in NZ from the other foreigners.

The warm summer days seem never-ending. Instead of spending Christmas Day huddled around the fire, we took a stroll in the sunshine (resulting in a certain ‘rosying’ of my forehead). It’s supposedly autumn now, but I still relish sitting by the beach before work (a 3 min walk away).

Due to the time difference, contacting family and friends back home can only happen in the morning or evening. Though, one friend and I do enjoy messaging each other throughout our respective days before catching up once we’re both awake. 

A beach with the tide in. Grass in the foreground and a volcano in the background.
The view from my morning trips to the beach

Final thoughts

I don’t think anyone (not even myself) anticipated my move abroad. But it’s been the best decision I could have made. I’m experiencing working in a company whilst gaining the confidence to live independently. Yes, I may still be hesitant to strike up conversations, but I know that when I need to, I can.

I would 100% recommend doing a placement abroad. Not only will it look great on your CV, but you will grow as a person, make unforgettable memories, and, let’s face it, collect some awesome photos.

A girl standing on a rock, posing in front of the ocean and a volcano in the background.
Myself in front of Rangitoto Island during an afternoon of exploring

How you can explore working abroad

If you would like to explore working abroad the University has some great resources on their Going Global site. Click the Explore GoinGlobal box on this web page.

You should also read the Government advice for travelling abroad here.

If you’ve got any questions about doing a placement abroad you can email the placement team on