Want to become a changemaker? On our Residential Rewilding Program you will travel to the heart of the New Zealand wilderness to learn about sustainable living practices and conservation on this unique homesteading gap year program!

The pandemic has changed the way we travel, and the way we want to travel. We have taken time to slow down, reflect on our values and act accordingly. The Rewilding Program represents that change. Come and explore one country, with seven weeks at our pristine wilderness farm, and three weeks traveling New Zealand. 

It’s all about intentional travel, activism and resilience-building. 

Holding a weka, a native New Zealand insect on our Residential Rewilding Program

Our Rewilding Residential Semester is a ten-week, place-based expedition program for 17-22 year olds that builds lifelong homesteading and leadership skills through holistic living and environmental immersion. 

Students go to the heart of the New Zealand wilderness to take a peaceful, collective pause to focus on purpose and value. Students intentionally connect on a local and global level with each other and the land.

Our philosophy is that we are all wild at our core. Sometimes life is a bit fast-paced to soak in the magical world surrounding us, so this program creates space to go deep into nature, rewild ourselves and the earth around us. 

On our remote wilderness farm touching the pristine ocean of the Marlborough Sounds, the group will be living in yurts (picture an epic glamping setup), honing sustainable living practices, hands-on farming experience, restoring flora, eradicating invasive fauna, delving into the underwater world with a scuba certification, overnight hiking and mountain biking and operating the homestead. Participants will embody a Farm to Table lifestyle, delve into global environmental issues using a local lens and adopt sustainable living relevant for life back home. 

There are seven learning outcome areas in the Rewilding Program, involving skills in:

  • Homesteading; gardening, Farm to Table principles, cooking, harvesting and tending our animals.
  • Environmental management; a holistic understanding of contemporary environmental issues.
  • Individual growth; generate a deep understanding of their core values and learn grounding skills and behaviors.
  • Service learning; support the local community and receive a Natural Resource Management Internship certificate which recognizes 40 hours of environmental service work.
  • Group travel; acquire group travel skills and hone in on leadership skills.
  • Self-led travel; confidently undertake intentional self-led travel, including creative planning and budgeting.
  • Empowerment; learn to sail, scuba, operate a homestead and travel overland across New Zealand!

New Zealand is an incredible place to get lost in the wilderness, and its environmental campaigns are world-class. When the indigenous Maori first arrived on the shores some 1000 years ago, there were no mammals on the islands. It’s the land of lizards and birds. Since then, we’ve imported quite a few pesky mammals and plants that are causing problems (we must have learned by now that introducing species is never a good idea!). Kiwis (the locals) are serious about restoring the environment to its natural habitat. Students on the rewilding program are able to help out with conservation movements whilst on program, by protecting natives and removing predators (and always keeping the big picture in mind). This is extremely important and rewarding work that creates strong bonds with locals and the land. We develop community, cause and connection. 

Conservation work on Pacific Discovery's Residential Rewilding Program

Our wilderness farm location is at the forefront of environmental conservation efforts. Through our prestigious partnership with the New Zealand Department of Conservation and regional Environmental Trusts, our students will steward the land through environmental service work with industry professionals maintaining tracks, learning to set trap lines for wildlife conservation, and reforesting for land management. You will see why the area is so worth protecting once you lay your eyes on it - sparkling blue water filled with spinner dolphins and seals, spectacular rolling red clay tracks of the famous Queen Charlotte Track snake through our front doorstep. 

Each week on the program has a different skill focus, and you will be meeting with environmentalists and industry professionals who facilitate interactive workshops on a range of topics, from permaculture to beekeeping to sailing!

The program is just as much an internal journey as it is an external journey. The group will go through a series of facilitated CORE curriculum workshops, exploring their values, identity and sense of place in this world. The program caters to all types of learners, those who prefer to silently ponder life while hiking a beautiful track, those who get the most out of dancing with new friends while cooking dinner, those who love to use their hands to express, and those who enjoy the comfort of order and routine. There are avenues for creative expression and further learning, whether that’s through art, yoga, building, plant uses or something else. We have unstructured time that we like to call tea towel moments, it is often where the majority of learning occurs. Our experienced and relatable program instructors couldn’t be more thrilled to show the group the ropes of operating a homestead, and the joyful moments that come from living together in harmony. The idea is to make mistakes and learn together. It won’t just be the tomatoes growing on this program, if you get the gist. 

The Rewilding itinerary doesn’t miss out on traveling across New Zealand, either. Students will experience three iconic road trips at the beginning, middle and end of this program. The first road trip is from group arrival in Auckland across the dramatic landscapes of the North Island, taking on rafting and biking adventures through the geothermal region of Rotorua and a cultural visit to Windy Wellington. We take a ferry to our wilderness homestead at the end of the first week. Mid-program, the group takes a wilderness ‘tiki tour’ through the mountainous heartland of the south island, road-tripping on the famous west-coast, making jade jewelry and stopping in at a high country farm. The third road trip is a completely student-led journey of the South Island, which will likely include the adventure and bungee capital of the world Queenstown, and perhaps the rock-climbing mecca of Wanaka. The program will finish in Christchurch, toward the bottom of the south island. 

Ultimately, students embark with a small team to a remote and serene location and cut through the noise to gain clarity of self and practical skills for a lifetime of environmental awareness. Students will have the opportunity to participate in compassionate, deep conversations about global issues, core values, interests and goals in facilitated workshops. Emerge resilient, confident and purposeful.

Learn more about our New Zealand Residential Rewilding Program here.

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Author Orla O'Muiri Posted

Category New Zealand Departure Fall 2023