Sarah Vetsch – Studying in Dunedin, New Zealand

Name: Sarah Vetsch

Hometown: Durand, WI

Year: Junior

Major: Early Childhood Education

Study Location: University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand


Name: Hunter Adler

Hometown: Durand, WI

Year: Sophomore

Major: Manufacturing Engineering

Study Location: University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand


Hi everyone, I’m Sarah and this semester my boyfriend Hunter and I are studying at the University of Otago in New Zealand. We arrived in New Zealand in the beginning of July and have had so many wonderful experiences since then!  As I write this we are in our last week of classes for the semester- its crazy how fast time has gone!

Our experience at the University of Otago has been great. Upon arriving in Dunedin, we were taken to our flat (apartment), which is nicely furnished, in a great location, and very quickly became our home.  The city of Dunedin is beautiful and with its gothic architecture it is rightly known as the “Edinburgh of the South.”  While at Otago were are each taking three classes, or papers as they are called here.  I am taking two education courses and an introductory course on New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people, which Hunter is also taking. Hunter is also taking a New Zealand history course and an engineering related class. Classes here are much different than at Stout.  Here your grade is based on about two papers and an exam, and learning is much more self-directed.  Although at first this was a bit overwhelming, we quickly adjusted and it ended up leaving us with more free time to explore the country.  I really enjoyed my education courses as well because learning more about education while also experiencing education in another country has really been eye-opening.  New Zealand is a diverse country, and through my classes I have had the opportunity to learn about many parts and people of the world.  New Zealand is a country that is proud of its Māori heritage and its diverse population.


Over the past three months we have seen and done so much in the South Island of New Zealand.  Here are some of the highlights:


Queenstown: One of our first trips we had while in New Zealand was to Queenstown, a beautiful, vibrant city nestled between mountains and a lake.  Because it was winter, we went skiing/snowboarding at a local resort, which was a great experience. While in Queenstown we also hiked up Queenstown Hill, which had amazing 360 degree views.



Otago Peninsula: The Otago Peninsula is the highlight of Dunedin and is the wildlife capital of New Zealand. Located only about 15 minutes from Dunedin, the peninsula has amazing hikes as well as seals, sea lions, and penguins!



Seal Pups!: During our mid-semester break, we took a road-trip around the South Island. One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing seal pups.  In a small, ocean-side town we discovered a seal on the path who liked to sniff our shoes and follow us. They had the biggest, cutest eyes! We also visited a waterfall where about 30 seal pups were all playing.  They were playing with sticks, leaves, doing flips, lounging on the rocks, or fighting with each other. It was incredible!



Abel Tasman Great Walk: Another highlight of our time in New Zealand was completing the Abel Tasman Great Walk. New Zealand has 9 “Great Walks” which are the best multi-day hikes in the country. The Abel Tasman track is located on the northern tip of the South Island and is a coastal hike that takes you across pristine beaches. We hiked about 35 miles and camped three nights- It was sunny, beautiful, and a great break place to take in the beauty of New Zealand.



Wanaka: A couple weekends ago we drove to Wanaka, a beautiful, small lakeside town. In Wanaka we hiked up Roy’s Peak. It was a hard, steep, five mile hike to the top, but were rewarded with incredible, breathtaking views.  This was one of the best views of New Zealand so far and it was completely awe-inspiring.


So far our experience abroad has been amazing.  New Zealand is beautiful country with amazingly kind people, and outdoor recreation activities that are unparalleled to anywhere else.  Besides the amazing country that we have had the opportunity to explore, education at the University of Otago has also been a wonderful experience that has opened our eyes to other worldviews and new ways of thinking.  We are in New Zealand until the middle of December and until that time we have exams to take and many more adventures to have- we plan on making the most of the time we have left in this special place in the world.


If anyone wants to read more in depth about our study abroad experience in New Zealand, feel free to check out my personal blog too:


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