Our goal is to give each international student a personalised educational experience that will allow them to be educated holistically and to achieve their potential in all aspects of school life.  Each year a trip away is planned to promote team building for our international students and introduce them to the New Zealand culture so they can experience it first-hand.

International student reflection of Far North experience

The International student’s Northland trip was one of the events I was looking forward to most in Term 2. I was apprehensive to go at first but was a ‘once in a blue moon’ journey for me. I was delighted to venture outside of Auckland for the first time the day we left for Northland as it was an opportunity for us to take in the stunning sights of New Zealand. On the first day, we drove for around 3 hours before arriving in Parry Kauri Park, which is home to some of New Zealand’s oldest and tallest native Kauri trees. We had a brief look at the wonderful area which was an unforgettable experience for all of us. Proceeding to our next destination, we stopped in Whangārei and toured the Hundertwasser Art Centre, is an exquisite landmark. The place itself was the most unique I’d seen in New Zealand an inventive structure; it has left us all in awe. When my fellow international students and I were wandering around the site, all I could hear was people marvelling at the authenticity and beauty of the building’s exterior. The art centre holds such significance in Whangārei, and we were so grateful to have been given the chance to see it in person.

Following this, we immediately headed off to the Bay of Islands, where our hotel was located. We left our bags in the hotel and got ready to go on the water. After another long drive, we were finally able to rest in the boat and enjoy the beauty of the ocean view. We saw Motukokako/Piercy Island, often known as “The Hole in The Rock” (its Māori name, Motu Kōkako), which is located off the north coast of New Zealand’s North Island, at the very northern tip of Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands. We wrapped up our first day with a delicious buffet dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel. It was a very fulfilling day.

We all got up early the next morning.  This was my favourite day because the weather was wonderful, and our tour destinations was Cape Reinga. Our bus left at 7:20 a.m., with a very humorous bus driver, his stories kept me entertained throughout the journey. We initially went to 90 Mile Beach to see the rugged views of the West Coast and then enjoyed sandboarding at Te Paki’s enormous sand dunes. It was my first-time sandboarding, and to be honest, it was a lot more fun than I thought. It was dusty, but it was definitely worth it because everyone had a blast falling and playing in the sand dunes. Afterward, we travelled down Te Rerenga Wairua, which is the northernmost tip of New Zealand’s Aupouri Peninsula. The view from here was breath-taking. We all had an amazing time exploring the area, and it was incredible to think that we were on the northernmost tip of New Zealand. While the sun radiated brightly, we enjoyed the cool breeze from the peak. It was a nice spot to see the clean and blue ocean, as well as the green trees and grass. We ate our lunch here while sitting on the grass and gushing about how splendid this place is. This was our final stop for the day, and our second day concluded with us returning to the hotel and enjoying dinner together.

Our final day in the North Island. We got up extra early because we needed to pack our belongings and leave the hotel. We destined for our final stop for this trip, the Waitangi grounds, where we had a tour (New Zealand’s most important historical site, the Waitangi Museum). We were treated to an authentic Māori traditional performance, which was followed by a scrumptious hāngi. The day was loaded with knowledge, experiences and fun as we got to see New Zealand’s cultural personality.

It was a thrilling experience for everyone, and we had the time of our lives. Not only have the team bonded together but we have been lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world.  This trip will be treasured and remembered by all of us. Special thanks to the staff in the international department who helped make such a memorable trip possible; we couldn’t have had as much fun without your assistance.  Thank you for organising everything for us, and we hope you had a good time with us as well.

International Student Experience – Central North Island

After postponing the annual international student trip in 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic, on the 8 August 2021 international students left Sancta Maria College early for a three-day trip to the central North Island of New Zealand.

Travelling by bus to Matamata, we visited Hobbiton, movie set of the Lord of the Rings.  Rain was forecast however as we began the tour the weather held, and we were able to walk among the “Hobbit Holes”.  We finished our tour of the movie set with a visit to the famous Green Dragon Inn.

In Taupo we visited the Honey Hive which is New Zealand’s largest selection of artisan honey products. We were tempted by an amazing array of 100% pure New Zealand and mānuka honey. Students had fun making purchases before we headed off to De Bretts Spa Resort.

On Day 2 we had a guided walk through Waimaungu Volcanic Valley where we had views of the mysterious and beautiful Inferno Crater which rises and falls as it heats and cools. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to Frying Pan Lake, one of the largest hot water springs in the world. We saw geysers and springs where water had reached boiling point.

On our way back to Taupo we stopped at Aratiatia Rapids, one of the most popular natural attractions in the North Island.  The water is released from the dam at certain times and sirens sounded to alert of us of the release.  It was incredible to see the volume of water fill the gorge.

We then visited Huka Falls before heading back to the accommodation where students enjoyed a soak in the hot pools and hydroslides.  The challenges were on to see who could get to the bottom first speeding down one of the two curved racing slides.

After a photo shoot at the ‘Love Taupo’ sign our final day took the students to the top of Mt Ngongataha on gondolas to experience the Rotorua luge.  On a blue-sky day, students enjoyed racing down the slopes of the mountain in the part go-cart, part toboggan, gravity fuelled carts.  Students then took the scenic chairlift ride through the redwood forest to the top to do it all again.  The spectacular views of Lake Rotorua from the top were another perfect photo opportunity.

International Student Experience – reflection

“This is my first time going to Hobbiton village, everything there is very new to me. When I walked in the village, I found that although the buildings there are all really tiny, they are still vivid and detailed. You even can see the washed clothes hanging on the clothesline. To be honest I never saw the films before, however it makes me feel as if someone really lived here and lets me imagine the story they may have experienced in this village. This was really a wonderful trip. Because last year is covid-19, we didn’t have an international trip. Also, this is my last year at Sancta Maria College, so I think this will be a good memory that reminds me many times. Whenever I think of this trip, I will think of the good times that I spent in this school.”
Jasmine Liu – Year 13

International Students Experience – Queenstown

Before the sunlight had climbed up from behind the hill, a group of international students gathered in front of the school entrance, excited about the trip that was ahead of them. The international students were heading towards the lovely city of Queenstown, to expand their experience and knowledge of New Zealand and its culture.

First, the group visited Arrowtown, which is a famous historical gold-mining town. There are several old buildings and luxuriant trees set beside the sidewalk. The students had some good details about the history of NZ gold mining, after listening to the guide’s interesting explanation at the Goldfields Mining Centre beside the Kawarau River.

Later in the day, the group took the iconic scenic ride ‘Skyline Gondola’ giving a magnificent view of the beautiful outline of Queenstown, followed by a delicious buffet dinner in the Stratosfare Restaurant.

The next day, the students were taken by bus to Wanaka, where the clear-blue lake is connected with the snowcapped mountains. After free time for lunch in the town, the group went on the bus again to go to the puzzling World Great Maze and Illusion Rooms. It is a unique attraction specialising in puzzling eccentricity. There are the modern-styled Great Maze, and the remarkable illusions rooms which show different aspect of space, shape and dimension in the design of visual art.

Leaving Wanaka and back in Queenstown, the international students gathered in the city centre for a delicious dinner- Fergburger. Students could taste the warm and juicy hamburger while viewing the sunset beside Lake Wakatipu.

Another exciting day started as the students gathered at the Queenstown wharf to get their ticket for the steamship TSS Earnslaw – one of the last remaining fully functional coal-fired passenger ships in the southern hemisphere. On this trip the students were heading toward the Walter Peak High Country Farm, where they received a fascinating farm tour and a tasty gourmet BBQ lunch.

During the trip, the international students bonded together as a group. As there are numerous students who are new to our community, it is a heart-warming experience for all the international students to get to know each other better.
By Jolin Chen

International Students Experience Northland

It is simply fascinating how people from different countries could all just stand on the land where a significant New Zealand historical event took place. With a friendly guide, we visited Waitangi and walked in the footsteps of the people who changed the history. On the same day, we ferried to Russell, Bay of Islands today, and luckily got another tour guide to witness some still-intact architectural works and feature historical buildings from 1843.

On the next day, we rose up early and travelled all the way up north to Cape Reinga. From there, we drove along the sand and surfed on Ninety Mile Beach. We also got to do sand surfing, a favourite among the students. For most of us coming from countries where natural landscape is all covered up with tarmac and tall buildings, it was refreshing and almost otherworldly to have such an experience. We were even able to experience that same “100% pure New Zealand” feeling, like the local little kids in New Zealand, of being able to walk on the ground freely without the need for footwear.

On the last day, we took hold of our final few moments in Northland. The international students boarded a ferry and were met with all the top Bay of Islands attractions. We spotted the famous Hole in the Rock, had a simple and relaxing picnic on Urupukapuka Island, and luckily we had the opportunity to see seals.

During this trip, we built up stronger connections as we were all learning and experiencing a new culture on top our different backgrounds. People from all sorts of different places in the world were speaking in the same language, New Zealand as the temporary stop of our lives had brought us all together.

‘And the whole earth was of one language, and of the one speech.’  Genesis 11:1

By Eileen Chen

International Students Experience – Rotorua

On 30 and 31 March, we (international students) had our first overnight trip to Rotorua. We all gathered at school in the early morning and everyone was so excited. We went to a lot of places, including Hobbiton, Te Puia, Maori Village, Agrodome Farm and Gondola. Through this trip, we had a chance to explore New Zealand more, got to know more about the Maori culture and got closer with each other. All of us thought that this was a great and memorable trip, and some people even said they can’t wait for the next international students’ trip.

By Yoyo Cheng


Bo Jun (Kelly) Qi – International Student Year 12 & Year 13

“As one of the previous international students, I’m more than happy to share my experience and journey after graduating from Sancta Maria College.

As I stepped into the United States after leaving Sancta Maria, I started my undergraduate study in the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I chose Music to be my major because I know music has been part of my life since I was young. During years of studying, I have acquired many opportunities to perform music as a vocalist. Meanwhile, I was offered some working positions such as Teaching Assistant in Stony Brook and Assistant Director of the Albert Herring Opera. While Covid is influencing world-wide, I had to change my plan regarding my career and working place. I decided to continue studying in the U.S after earning a degree in Bachelor of Arts in May. I was accepted as a graduate student by Tufts University to their Education program and will take my next step to Boston in two months. My goal is to be a professional music educator and thought leader, I believe I can achieve this goal through future studying.

Sancta Maria was a place that changed my life in a short period. Because I have gained a variety of academic knowledge and opportunities which I might not acquire from other places. It gave me a nice environment to study, where I was able to learn and speak English confidently. The flexibility of the curriculum allows students to select courses based on their interest. More importantly, I met many friends from different countries and we kept in touch after graduating. Overall, I appreciate everything that Sancta Maria College has brought to me. I look forward to visiting there again in the future.”

Yau (Yoyo) Cheng – International Student Year 10 – Year 13

“Sancta Maria College marked the beginning and the end of my journey in New Zealand. The teachers and friends I met there helped me become a more confident and courageous person. The skills I obtained in classes also enabled me to learn things faster and smarter, and this helped me a lot with my study at university as well.

After leaving Sancta Maria College in 2017, I returned to Hong Kong and studied accounting and finance at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. During my study at university, I was on the Dean’s List for most of the semesters and received two scholarships. I have completed my bachelor’s degree recently and will be graduating with first class honours in June. I will be working at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms in the world, starting from September. Since I have chosen accountancy as my career, my coming goal is to become a certified public accountant.

I will definitely come back to visit Sancta Maria College when I go to New Zealand in the future.”

Zimu (Cindy) Liu – International Student Year 10 – Year 13

“I am very pleased to have had my high school life overseas at Sancta Maria College and get into the University of Auckland following my NCEA success at the college. I had a very precious and unique study experience by studying at a QS top 100 ranked university and this will give me an advantage when seeking a job for the future.

Having started my university study journey in March 2020, I spent one year of onshore study in the Auckland city campus I decided to return to my hometown and continue my studies as an offshore student. I am currently doing the last semester of my bachelor’s progress in finance and information system majors.

While I look for a position, I am continuing with self-study to prepare for the postgraduate test in China. This will give me an opportunity begin my post-study at a Chinese university.”