Maximising your semester break

Maximising your semester break

When the end of the semester comes around, we often feel like running off to a holiday destination with friends to help our brain recover from months of information. Some of us enjoy keeping our brains active with short online courses or working on side projects, and then there are others who have no idea what kind of semester break activities they can get up to aside from sleeping, and prefer to rest. Whatever you feel like doing as break activities, make sure you consider how much you could actually gain from your time off, before you decide to be a couch potato.

Botanical Gardens

It’s proven that nature is beneficial for us both mentally and spiritually. It has a calming influence and can help refocus your energy. Taking time to learn about and appreciate different kinds of plants and plant species’ is a great way to expand and relax your mind at the same time. Get lost in all kinds of colours and scents as you take time out in the botanical gardens, the Hamilton Gardens, or perhaps the Christchurch botanical gardens.

Bush/beach/nature walks

If you prefer a bit more spontaneity when it comes to nature, why not close your eyes and pick a random place on a list of local (or further away) bush walks and/or beaches, then head there with your friends? You never know what you might find along the way, and you will most likely encounter some terrain that will challenge you in more ways than a day at the park would.

Quirky cafes

There’s nothing quite like spending time in a cool cafe. Whether you’re catching up with friends over a latte, brewing up your business idea over a cool beverage, or taking time out to read your favourite book - there are cafes all over the place that cater to different people. Cat cafes, book cafes, or quaint old homestead cafes are just some of the types of venues you could spend some time. See if you can suss out the hidden gems that nobody’s heard of, or build up your Instagram taking photos at a well-known coffee shop.

Theatre shows and local performances

Often, for students, going to high-end musical stage shows or concerts can be too much of a stretch in the budget, but that’s not to say you should miss out completely. In Auckland, there are numerous smaller theatres (such as Q Theatre and The Basement Theatre) that host all kinds of performances and locally-produced theatre shows for the same ticket price as you’d pay for a night at the pub - or less! Check out websites such as to see what shows you can go to with your friends over the semester break, and go back to uni feeling creatively nourished!

Taking up a hobby community classes

Education doesn’t mean you have to be in a classroom or lecture hall. Have you ever had a hobby that you wanted to get better at? Or perhaps you’re interested in something that you don’t want to master but are keen to tap into or learn about? This could be anything from cookery, to languages, to sewing, to dancing, to acting, to art, to jewelry making, to woodwork. The possibilities are endless. Not only do community classes help you learn or improve skills, but they get you networking with new people, and give you insights into other avenues you could pursue in the future.

Upskilling with Online learning

If you’re in the mood to learn more about technology and digital tools, or more complex subjects that you want to complete in your own time, there are plenty of online platforms where you can learn about them for free. Take yourself to a cafe, a library, or even stay home in the comfort of your own bed, and get super savvy with new ideas and concepts that are feeding into the modern working world.

2. Khanacademy
3. EdX
4. Free Google ad word certification courses

Get a head start on assignments

You might not want to hear this, but semester breaks are actually a great time to study and get ahead on assignments. Imagine the stress you could save yourself if you could halve your workload before you head into a new semester! Even one hour per day can drastically minimise the amount of work you need to get through for bigger assignments later on, which means more time for relaxing, going out, and trying new activities. Win-win!

Explore NZ

We are really lucky to live in New Zealand. It’s full of natural beauty. You’re never far from a beach in this country, and for many of us in wintertime, the snow is only a few hours’ drive, or a short plane ride away. Play tourist and see places from a fresh perspective. Hostels all around the country cater to travelers on budgets, so why not jump on that bandwagon and get the chance to meet people from all over the world while you take time out from studying.


If you’re looking for something rewarding and even a little bit challenging to do over the semester break, consider the possibility of volunteering. See our volunteering blog for more insights into the types of things you could do in the volunteer sphere!

What are you waiting for?

The holidays can be used for all kinds of activities. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve wasted all of your free time, especially considering once you hit the real world, extended regular holidays don’t happen. There are endless types of break activities for students out there, so find a comfy spot and do a little bit of brainstorming about how you can really make the most of those golden hours!

Written by Ellie Bambury, Auckland