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Crater Rim Walkway

Summer holiday fun

By Kim Searle, Student Engagement Adviser on 21 Dec 2018

With the end of the academic year at Ara comes the start of summer (allegedly – is it usually this wet??) and a good chance to get out, explore and reacquaint yourself with the outside world. You know, do those things you didn’t have time for while you were desperately trying to finish all those assignments. See, the thing about Christchurch is that if you like nature there are a million things you can do and most of them are free:

  1. Sumner beach. Sumner is an awesome little seaside community with two gorgeous beaches and cave rock. The lifeguards put their flags up for Clifton beach, so you can enjoy a swim. There’s also a track (the Flowers track) that will take you up over Scarborough hill so you can make your way down to Taylor’s Mistake. If transport is an issue then worry not – the P bus line goes direct from the city exchange to Sumner and runs regularly throughout the day so you don’t have to worry about parking. There’s a variety of cafes, restaurants and really good fish n’ chips available.
  2. Taylor’s Mistake/Godley Head. Just over the hill from Sumner is Taylor’s Mistake, a smaller beach popular with surfers and those who just want to lie in the sun (please wear sunscreen!!). Accessible from the beach is the Godley Head track – an 11km return walk, if you go right to the carpark at the top. Along the way you’ll see old gun emplacements and buildings that were constructed for defence during World War Two. It’s well maintained track and a beautiful walk – just be prepared for some good climbs and take plenty of water if it’s warm: For those of you that enjoy hurtling down the side of a hill, check out the Anaconda mountain bike track.
  3. Bottle Lake Forest. In north-east Christchurch, Bottle Lake forest is a good spot to walk, bike or run off all that holiday chocolate. There’s a variety of trails and tracks weaving through the forest and onto the nearby beach. Covering 1000 hectares you have plenty to explore:
  4. Crater Rim. As many of you probably know, Lyttelton was once a volcano that blew its top. Thankfully it’s now extinct, but the explosion created the Lyttelton/Port Hills that we know today. I highly recommend lacing up a sturdy pair of shoes and picking your way along the trails that run from Godley Head alllllllll the way along to the Ahuriri Reserve. Ok, the whole track might be a bit long to smash out in a day, but you can pick and choose bits of it and along the way you’ll be treated to panoramic views taking in Lyttelton harbour, Christchurch city and the Canterbury plains stretching away to the Alps. Why not try Sign of the Kiwi to the ruins of the Sign of the Bellbird? An 8km round trip and you can treat yourself to an ice-cream at the end!
Exam success

4 top tips for exam success

By Leonard Yeo, Learning Services Advisor on 31 Oct 2018

Image: CC0 by Pixabay

4 Top Tips for Exam Success

Your exams are nearing and you must have started your preparation. To do well, make sure you apply these four top tips:

  1. Motivate yourself to do your best

    Motivate yourself to do your personal best and to reach your full potential.

    Remember your long term goals. Do you plan to join the corporate world? You need to do well in your management courses to get there. Think about what motivates you. Getting the qualification you want? Enjoying a great lifestyle that comes with a good career? Now is the time to focus on exam preparation, as doing well will help make your goals happen.

    Develop a positive mindset. Identify negative thoughts and actively choose to see things differently. Check out this YouTube video on mindsets.

    Daily self-motivation is so very important. Give yourself daily rewards like treats when you meet study targets.

  2. Create an effective time schedule

    Part of good preparation is to create a study schedule between now and your exams. Use Learning Services’ Weekly Planners and Organising Your Time handouts.

    On your Weekly Planner, mark your preferred time periods for self-study. Add up the total number of self-study hours between now and your exams. Divide the total hours between your courses. Allocate more study time to challenging courses.

    Not enough study time? Cut down the amount of time you spend on less important things like housework, social media or computer games. Reassign the time saved to revision and study breaks.  

    Use an effective study schedule to be more productive in your exam preparation. See Organising Your Time to learn more.

  3. Use learning strategies that work well for you

    Here are some learning strategies that work really well:

    • Mind mapping and using keywords give you a good overview of what you’re learning.
    • Recalling key ideas and explaining concepts aloud are proven ways to strengthen your memory and recall.
    • Recording and listening to your oral explanations help you revise well.
    • Testing yourself allows you to find out if you have a good understanding and an accurate recall of information.

    These learning strategies raise your awareness of what you know, and what needs more work to improve. Focus more on improving in the areas you are weak in. Access How to Learn to find out more.

  4. Manage your stress effectively

Feeling too much stress undermines your ability to learn productively. Reduce stress by making sure you have:

  • Regular study breaks (e.g. 15 minutes for each study hour)
  • A healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables
  • Daily exercise to stay healthy and fit
  • Enough sleep for a healthy body and clear mind
  • Daily rewards for meeting study targets
  • Relaxation activities e.g. listening to your favourite music

When you manage stress, you’ll revise more effectively and do better in your exams.     

Need more ideas? Take a look at Exams & Tests.

Use the above tips to prepare well for your exams. You’ll be glad you did J

Good luck in your exams!


Graduating soon ...

By Trish Handley & Lynda Clegg, Ara Careers & Employment on 03 Oct 2018

The race is on and the finish line is now in sight to completing your qualification.  Your focus is on assessments and studying for exams because that’s all that matters…… WRONG!

In fact now is the perfect time to also be focusing on your graduate role.

Don’t wait – It’s never too early….start your job search NOW!


  • Allocate time to research organisations or companies that interest you the most, whether or not they are known to have a vacancy.  


  • Spend even more time ‘making connections.’ Discuss what you are doing with everyone you know and everyone they know, to learn about your fields of interest and ask for advice.  
  • Build up your network by going and meeting people who are doing the sort of work you would like to do and ask them questions about their job (see our information Interviewing handout).
  • Attend networking events and meet-ups in and outside of Ara, some of those include:

Think like an employer… how do they like to hire?

1. Advert

2. Agency

3. Accidental meeting

4. Recommendation

5. Hire from within

Be realistic in your career goals, level of work and pay expectations as a new graduate, even if you have worked previously…….your new qualification is a starting point to opening up unlimited opportunities.


Spring is here

By Rose Edgar, Disability Services on 06 Sep 2018

Spring has sprung and I couldn’t be more excited for warmer weather. I have already noticed more students enjoying the sun and spending more time outdoors. It is great to see students playing soccer and basketball on the North Green at lunch time.

Spring is the perfect time to get out of the winter hibernation mode and into the great outdoors. Google spring in New Zealand and you get some stunning pictures. We live in the most beautiful country in the world, let’s embrace it

Not too far from City or Manawa Campuses is the always picturesque Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Go for a walk and see all the new blossoms or grab some mates for a picnic or study session in the park. Studying always seems better when you can do it in the sun.

With lighter days, it might be time to dust off that old bike and cycle to campus. Not only does it save on parking costs (and no-one likes paying for parking), but it helps the environment, improves your fitness and mental health. I think that is a win all round.

As for the weekend, why not take day trip somewhere. Today a number of Ara students are heading to Hanmer Springs. Here are a few more places to explore in these spring weekends:

  • Akaroa (1 hour from Chch)
    • A little slice of France in our backyard. Stroll along the waterfront, enjoy the cute shops and cafés. Visit the Giant’s house or explore one of the many walking tracks in the area. Hinewai is my favourite.
  • Kaikoura (2 hours 45mins from Chch)
    • Did someone say amazing seafood? With the road open it’s time we ventured back to this cute seaside town.
  • Washpen Falls (1 hour from Chch)
    • Stunning conservation area that was once roaming with Moa, Washpen Falls is a great place to experience the outdoors. Partake in the adventure walk, row on the lake, take in the waterfall or for the more extreme, abseil down the canyon or swing across in the giant swing.
  • Timaru (2 hours form Chch)
    • Why not visit our Ara mates down in Timaru. Check out what students at the Timaru campus get up to and check out their recommendations on why Timaru is the place to be. I have it on good authority that Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre is a must visit.
study hacks

Student hacks to ace your finals

By Shehan Samarawickrama, Student Communications Team on 23 Aug 2018

[Image: CC0 - Pixabay]

1. Take a 15 minute break for every hour of studying : You can only stay focused for so long. Not everyone can sit and glare at a book for hours at a stretch. Make sure you give yourself breaks and try to fit in some physical activity to keep your mind and body sharp! 

2. Work in a clean space: It is hard to get comfortable and focus on your work if your surrounding is cluttered and messy. It can distract you and keep you from being really productive. So, go clean your dorm or bedroom and even if you work in the library, keep your desk space clear of everything except the materials you need. 

3. Prep good healthy snacks and drinks ahead of time:  Before you start studying, grab some water and caffeine, and snacks full of protein like trail mix or granola bars. Eat foods that boost your energy and help you stay productive. Have snacks on hand, this way you don’t need to interrupt your work flow. 

4. Make study guides: This is a great way to kickstart your study if you don’t exactly know where to start. Write down all you know on one piece of paper and all you don’t on another. Keep a separate paper full of the things you sort of know but could do with a little more revising. By breaking your study up, you can see where you are at and how far you have to go, plus the process of writing everything out on paper is a great way to learn and memorise! 

5. Procrastinate productively: If you don’t feel like studying a particular topic, procrastinate by leaving the topic behind and moving on to a more engaging subject/module etc. You can come back to that topic later. This way you are utilising all the time you have and not wasting it because you were procrastinating.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic D'Lights

By Julie Humby, Ara Art Curator on 08 Aug 2018

Image from Christchurch City Council

Make sure that you head along to see the House of Travel Botanic D’Lights. It is a fun event to enjoy on a chilly winter’s evening. Rug up warmly and take a stroll around both the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Arts Centre to see and interact with up to forty installations and projections that come to life at night e.g. Pink Fairy

House of Travel Botanic D'Lights will be held on Wednesday 8 August to Sunday 12 August, 6 to 9pm.

This year Creative Industries at Ara have been involved in creating eleven of the installations. Click here for further information on Ara’s involvement.

One of the installations by artist, and Ara tutor John Maillard is an interactive projected display called ‘River of Words’ inspired by the ever changing city. Maillard reflects on the experience in post-earthquake Christchurch as “moving and flowing through a river, where people and places are constantly changing and adapting through the reinvention of the city”.

River of Words will be installed after its debut at the House of Travel Botanic D’Lights at 110 Cashel Street for 6-months, courtesy of Enliven Places at Christchurch City Council.  

The theme for the Event this year is ‘Escape Your Reality’ so set aside some time to ‘escape’, dress warmly, and grab a torch. Download a trail map from the City Council, to help you find your way.

Entry is by gold coin donation with all proceeds going to Nurse Maude Hospice.


The importance of friendly 'catch-ups'

By Sandy Qiu - Student Services Division on 19 Jul 2018

In the past you have probably been caught up in the busyness of assessment deadlines and exams, while trying to achieve that work / life balance. Often life leaves you with little time to be social (social media doesn’t count). So here’s hoping, with the term break and the beginning of a new semester, you can reclaim time to catch up with friends, because scrolling through Facebook posts and clicking ‘like’ just won’t cut it!

If you’re anything like me, I tend to keep tabs on who I’ve caught up with and who I need to catch up with next, but it can take months before I connect with the same friend. This doesn’t mean I have lots of friends, rather I am ‘busy’ and slightly introverted so I tend to need some ‘me time’ too.  These days I value a smaller group of quality friends that share similar values and interests and who are down-to-earth.

It is important to remember that having solid friendships is great for your wellbeing and injects more meaning into life. Along with family, friends are your support network for celebrating the successes in life and help you overcome the hard times.

Over time friends make conversation, laugh, learn, share different worldviews and even learn how to forgive. All these social interactions help us deal with stress, make better life choices and keep us mentally and physically strong.

With this said, it’s time to plan catch-ups around activities that you know your friends will enjoy, whether it involves food and coffee, being outdoors or doing something creative.

Below are some ideas focused around the Mental Health Foundations FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING


Gifting your time when friends need help or visiting them with a cake you have baked will always be appreciated. Throughout the year keep a tab on birthdays, acknowledge friends on their special day by shouting them coffee and cake or gift a card and something homemade.

Be Active

When the sun is out, I always enjoy a catch up that involves being active. Two scenic and well pathed walks in Christchurch is The Harry Ell and Godley Head track. The best thing is that you can ‘walk and talk’ at the same time and stop off for coffee at The Sign of the Kiwi café on the port hills, along the Harry Ell track.

Keep Learning

You’ll have friends that share similar interests and want to try something new such as attending yoga or photography classes or simply getting together and cooking new recipes. Learning something new explores new hobbies and keeps your brain active.


Organising a catch up with a group of friends over lunch or dinner can be easier and more time efficient then catching up with everyone separately. Connecting over food is my favourite pass time and I have recently tried two new eateries worth recommending. For a casual ‘pick your own’ sushi experience, try Mugen on High St and Moorhouse Ave. They have over 30 varieties of sushi to choose from and will only set you back around $15 for lunch.

If you want to splash out on a ‘on trend’ dining experience, head to 5th Street on Elgin St in Sydenham. The restaurant has been converted from an old warehouse and you will marvel at the eclectic interior design with its varied light fixtures, plants and accent wallpaper. The menu is updated seasonally and made for sharing with small, medium and large plates, and a well accompanied drinks list.

Take Notice

Being a good friend is about listening, simply catch up with a friend over coffee and ask them about their life in general and “how have they been?” Take notice of how they are really feeling and be the sounding board they need, they may also appreciate your words of advice.

Taking notice of small changes such as a new haircut or improved physique and complimenting your friends can make a positive difference to their day.

winter scene

Winter adventures in Canterbury

By Ara Library on 30 Jun 2018

[Image: CC0 Public domain - Pxhere]

Many students across Ara’s campuses are about to start their semester break. If you’re keen to spend time outdoors, here are a few winter activity ideas to kickstart some plans! Remember too that winter conditions can quickly change – best to adventure with others and using the right equipment.

North Canterbury – for skiers, snowboarders, toboggan enthusiasts and general snow lovers out there, the Mt Lyford and Hanmer Springs ski areas are your go-to spots in North Canterbury. Lyford is often bathed in sun across its tows, terrain park and day lodge; Hanmer is similarly a great family field for all levels, with fantastic views from the top of its long poma tow.

Mid Canterbury – Mid Canterbury has a huge variety of ski fields to visit. Mt Hutt and Porters Ski Area are commercial fields that have lots of terrain catering to all levels, and the club fields are brilliant for the uncrowded and relaxed vibes – favourites include Craigieburn Valley and Mt Olympus. If you’d like to try ice skating outdoors, the Cheeseman Rink is your best bet and is set alongside beautiful beech forest. Smaller lakes including Ida and Lyndon often freeze over too.

South Canterbury – Winter highlights include ice skating and snow tubing at Tekapo Springs, where you can relax in the hot pools afterwards. Skiing and snowboarding at Mt Dobson Ski Area and Ohau Snow Fields are great opportunities in South Canterbury, and winter’s crisp, clear nights are the best time of year for star gazing in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

Nga Van Huong blog

Life in Ngõ Văn Hương

By Antoinette Spicer on 29 May 2018

Hanoi is a historical, cultural gem, a vibrant and bustling city. However, the real gem lies in a tangled network of narrow alleyways such as Ngõ Văn Hương, the main alley where I live.

I often describe my relationship with Văn Hương as a love-hate relationship. During peak hours, or times I am rushing to work, the alley is just one ridiculous bustling obstacle. Rickshaws block the alley, ice flies off the back of a bike making the ground itself a hazard and an old man taking a frustrating amount of time to pedal, is right in front of me.

Every morning, I awake to hear Vietnamese children's songs echoing from one of the two preschools in Văn Hương. Often, if I do not sleep well, I will awake to the neighbour's rooster crowing at some unusual time. While I'm not the biggest fan of what the rooster has to say, one of my previous flatmates said he wished he could ‘shove the chicken through the air conditioning unit’. We’re hoping the crowing will stop at Tet (Vietnamese New Year).

I love my quaint alley. Văn Hương has become part of my identity, I start and end my day in the alley. It's my home. In early mornings and late afternoons, a variety of cooking smells fill the air. On the rooftop, the perfume from laundry detergent and drying clothes scent the air with a hint of tobacco.

Living in such proximity to others there's a feeling that life is shared, to the children who play in the alley it's one big concrete jungle. The Vietnamese culture in this alley is undeniable, families cook, eat and drink together. Hanoi’s constant humidity forces the doors to homes wide open to the eye of on-goers. Life is happening in front of your eyes whether you want to see it.

The alley is reassuring, to know in the mornings that a great cup of Cà Phê and a tasty Bánh mì is only meters from your doorstep to start the day. Văn Hương fits the best little details of Hanoi all into one. In a matter of meters lies a colourful fruit and vegetable market, hidden cafes, shrines, insistent vendors, friendly locals and amazing street food (Bún Chả, Bánh mì, Phở Gà.) You name it, you will find it.

Although only a few feet wide, its alleged, 88% of central Hanoi’s houses are located in mazes just like Văn Hương. 90% of alleys in Hanoi are less than 4m wide. As a result, most alleys are inaccessible to cars.

According to IIAS Asia, the widespread existence and typical small width of alleyways in Hanoi are not an accidental phenomenon but rather a historical result of the urban development process.

In the 1990s, authorities in Hanoi divided the land, surrounding the city centre among public groups. Hanoi’s alleyways are based on spatial structures of ancient rural villages (làng). The main alleyways are established from the ancient road pattern leading to the village hamlets (thôn): the pathway between ancient rice fields or along the edge of large ponds.

Despite the annoyances, getting lost in the web of alleyways that string off Văn Hương will result in; friendly local people, great street food, interesting architecture, and most importantly, intimate untouched local life.


Student Council Update May 2018

By on 17 May 2018

From the everyday business of student service levy recommendations to Ara, keeping student voice strong in key places like academic board, sustainability and health and safety committees there were heaps of projects they are looking at  from the feedback your student reps and student groups have been channelling through various meetings that take place each week.

The high priority topics are looking at things like:

  • Ensuring the regional campuses student voice is strong
  • Learning support changes at City and how best to advocate around what makes a difference to our study and success, along with removing barriers
  • Supporting the new student choice teaching awards - look at for more info on this very shortly and nominate your best tutors
  • Continuing to support student led initiatives in the Mental health space, LGBTQIA+, events
  • Continuing to advocate around cafe prices at trades campus
  • BBQ's and opportunities to meet your reps in your areas and increase the visibility so you know who is representing you
  • continuing to monitor the assessment feedback timelines in order to ensure students are well supported in progressing and achieving their best

and the list goes on!  

Most importantly they are working together to make sure your voice is heard in the right places and working in partnership with Ara to try and achieve this.

If you want to know more or have feedback for your reps.  Contact the chairperson, Skyla Blair  via and shortly you will see some promo of who all your reps are so you can get in touch direct.

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