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Auckland Student Dos and Don'ts

Illustration by Hope McConnell.

I’m from a small town named Cambridge. We wear gumboots in winter and no shoes in summer. So when this bright-eyed, small town girl arrived in the Big Smoke three years ago, I had to learn the ‘dos and don'ts' of Auckland pretty quick. Here’s some knowledge I’ve picked up over the years.

Do: Buy yourself a good umbrella and always keep it handy. You never know when it’ll rain in Auckland and whatever you do; don’t use your laptop to deflect the rain. Believe or not, this happens in Auckland.

Don't: Think you have the right of way just because you are a pedestrian. I will run you over. I’m sorry.

Do: Explore. Auckland is such a diverse and amazing city; there is more than just the Sky Tower to it. Go to the Auckland Art Gallery, it’s just down the bend from the City Campus. Go to the Auckland Museum and go to the numerous beaches and bays. If you are looking to get your ‘Gram feed looking aesthetically pleasing, wander along to the Auckland Domain Wintergardens. Requirements: photoshoot on entry. Bonus point: it's all free!

Don’t: Be a dick on the road, it’s a common occurrence that road rage = crashes. So just take your time and use your honker wisely. Everyone is in a rush, and a broken bumper will break your bank account. If you are anything like me, you are one to get a few dings and scratches magically appear on your car, so always make sure you have some pretty pennies kept aside for your car mishaps.

Do: Budget. I know this word seems frightening to say the least but Auckland is expensive. The best way to budget is the 50-30-20 rule. 50 percent of your income goes toward necessities, bills, rent, transport and food. 30 percent of your income goes to allocated wants, like a pack of beersies, Ubers to get you places after the beersies, and the finale, the Maccas run in the early morning. The 20 percent goes to your financial goals, saving up for that overseas trip or to start paying off your student loan. Bonus point: always ask if there is a student discount, or if you are buying online check out UNiDAYS before you hit spend; this will save you a lot of moolah.

Don’t: Buy a takeaway coffee every single day. If you’re trying to budget this is a huge money muncher. If you cannot part with your IV drip of daily coffee, then scope your closest ‘Coffix’ (there’s one on Symonds street). This hot brew is only $2.50. Score!

Do: Get yourself a job. Even if it’s just taking up casual work from Student Job Search, or using your body as a guinea pig for medical research (you get paid bloody good). It’s good for future employers to see that you have worked as much as you can throughout university. Bonus point: make yourself a LinkedIn profile. This is so worthwhile for future employers to see that you have the initiative to put yourself out there and start to network your way into the world.

Don’t: Use your car to go to places you could have easily got to on public transport. Look, parking is expensive, parking tickets suck, fuel is expensive and traffic is a nightmare. It’s common sense, sorry to be a ‘Debby car downer’.

Do: Ask your waiter for ‘tap water’, or else you will be served tasteless sprite, otherwise known as sparkling water. In saying this, sparkling water is a fantastic hangover cure. This is a trick you will need to keep up your sleeve.

Don’t: Use cash on the bus or train. Get yourself an AT HOP Card and get the student concession loaded onto it; it’ll save you so much on your fare. If you hate public transport more than Donald Trump, find an Onzo and peddle it out. Onzos are the bumblebee looking bikes, which are posted up all over the city. All you need to do is download the Onzo app, and you are underway. Like everything in Auckland, they do cost a few bucks to use, but it’s a cheap and fast way to get around.

Do: Walk up Mt Eden Reserve and take an Insta story, or how else will everyone know that you conquered Auckland’s cheap Sky Tower? After this, you definitely deserve something sweet and you will be happy to know you can treat yo’self to a ‘Walt’s Real Fruit Icecream’, located smack bang up the middle of the mountain. This real fruit goodness is for everyone, with vegan options available, you really can’t go wrong.

Don’t: Eat everything you see down Queen Street. If you are fresh into University, you will get caught in this trap, because there are so many treats down the infamous Queen. Trust me, you will gain 5kgs, the ‘fresher five’ is real.

Do: Pre-drink. You don’t want to be paying a hefty $10 for a single Smirnoff Ice in a bar, just for it to be tipped over you. If pre-loading isn’t your game, look out for your local’s happy hour. Our student bar, Vesbar, has pretty $12 cocktails that will make your heart and head sing.

Don’t: Be close-minded. There are a tonne of cultures in Auckland, so if you come from a small town you may be surprised. Learn about the different cultures and immerse yourself in them. If you want to immerse yourself from a foodie perspective, your taste buds are in luck. Dominion Road is where dreams are made of, with every cuisine imaginable littering the streets. Eden Noodles is renowned for its dumplings, with people lining up all down the side of the street just to get a taste. If you’re impatient like me, try visiting Barilla Dumpling, with two restaurants located on Dominion Rd, you will be sure to get a table.

Do: Go do shit. There’s always something going on in Auckland, so find your way out of your mouldy icebox of a flat and go see theatre, buy tickets to the rugby, go to live music gigs, quiz nights and comedy shows. If you want to laugh until you have rock hard abs, then head along to the must-see improv show, ‘Snort’, shown at the Basement Theatre every Friday night. It’s only $15 for a ticket, and you are assured to come out with a rock hard 6-pack… sign me up.

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