This one month summer program combines two weeks of hands-on and rewarding service-learning conservation work in some of the New Zealand’s most interesting national parks and reserves, and two weeks of adventurous travel as we road-trip through New Zealand and enjoy the spectacularly beautiful Islands in Fiji.
Try mountain biking, rafting, caving, snorkeling and scuba diving. Visit ‘The Shire’ (Lord of the Rings movie set), the incredible Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, and soak in hot springs. Explore vibrant Auckland and Wellington.
Learn about New Zealand Maori history and culture, and contrast this with indigenous Fijian culture. During your time in New Zealand and Fiji you'll learn an enormous amount about both countries environmental and ecological history and how that has shaped each countries flora, fauna and people.
New Zealand has enjoyed 100 million years of isolation since it separated from the southern super continent Gondwana, sinking into and rising again from the ocean. This sinking, rising and isolation from other landmasses (Australia is 1300 miles away), protected unusual eco-systems where birds filled all the major niches usually taken by mammals. These eco-systems were radically compromised by colonization and the introduction of new animal species - first from the indigenous Maori some 800 years ago and more recently by European settlers. On this program you will get a hands-on introduction to strategies initiated to protect and care for these eco-systems and the plants and wildlife they contain.
Fiji is a ‘tropical paradise’ of over 300 islands with forests, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and gorgeous clear waters. Fiji is home to people with a vibrant culture rich in music and dance, arts, sports and food.
This summer abroad program is suitable for high school graduates, gap year students, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years.
This program can be combined with Fall or Spring semester program options in other regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Nepal and Tibet, South America or Central America) for an in-depth and enriching global gap year.
You’ll arrive in Auckland, City of Sails, where bright light and fresh air await you. Your Program Instructors will meet you at the airport and transfer with you to our group accommodation. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, sprawling across a spectacular landscape of harbors, beaches and the eroded cones of extinct volcanoes. It is renowned for having a great quality of living (currently #3 in the world). Program Orientation begins before we head out to explore the city completing a fun Amazing Race-style adventure in small groups.
We make our way north to the stunning Tawharanui Regional Park for our first volunteer conservation project. The area is home to many endangered species. While here, our days are spent participating in volunteer conservation initiatives and working alongside park rangers and a local group of community volunteers, and exploring this spectacular area. We'll be staying in waterfront cabins for the duration.
Heading North from Auckland we head to Paihia, a great place to explore the Bay of Islands from. Paihia is known as the Jewel of the Bay of Islands and we spend two nights here, staying at a local hostel. Whilst in Paihia you will have the opportunity to enjoy some downtime and take part in some activities such as skydiving, dolphin watching or perhaps a boat trip (at your own cost). The area itself has a huge amount of history, so the opportunity to discover and learn about authentic Maori culture is aplenty.
Our second conservation project will be at the beautiful Shakespear Regional Park; an open sanctuary for threatened native wildlife located on the coastline on Auckland. Days will be spent with the rangers undertaking tasks needed and will include tree planting, fence removal and track work. We’ll be camping in the parks on-site campground for the duration of the project.
Heading South we stop off at the famous Hobbiton, 'The Shire' movie set from Lord of the Rings'. We finish up the day up in Rotorua, at the heart of New Zealand's cultural and geothermal landscape. On day two we have the opportunity to go mountain biking in the redwoods, with the afternoon spent rafting down the Kaituna River. Day three is spent recovering from all the adrenaline activities with a soak in the Waikite Valley thermal pools, finishing the day at the Tamaki Maori Village for an evening experience; a culture immersion complete with a traditional hangi feast.
We have one long travel day on the program from Rotorua to Wellington across the Great Desert Road, New Zealand's volcanic alpine platau. Wellington, New Zealand’s compact capital city, is really vibrant with great shopping, cafés and nightlife…and well worth the drive! We’ll visit Parliament to learn about New Zealand’s political system (way more interesting than it sounds), and gain insight into Maori culture through an intimate Maori educational experience at the National Museum, before giving you free time to explore independently with new friends in the group.
Today we fly from Wellington to Nadi and stay in a beautiful hostel to relax and get settled into 'island life'.
We travel from Nadi to Mana Island via boat and settle in for several days of exploration, relaxation and reflection. We try scuba diving, where you can see colourful soft and hard corals, as well as an outstanding diversity of fish. Prepare to have your eyes opened to the amazing world beneath the surface of the ocean. There will be an opportunity for professional dive instructors take you through a class, teaching all the skills necessary to safely enjoy your introductory dive.
We spend a few nights at Beachcomber Resort which will provide you with the optimum opportunity to relax and recuperate after a month of adventure and travel. Surrounded by a white sand beach, crystal clear waters and snorkeling opportunities on your doorstep, these few days will no doubt leave you in a blissful state.
Return on the ferry to Nadi for our final evening together before boarding your flight home (or continuing with independent travel). Depart Fiji with an immense sense of satisfaction from the conservation contribution you've made in New Zealand, challenges you've risen to, adventures you've undertaken and an awareness and understanding of New Zealand and Fiji's complex biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Note: Each week there will be some designated free time in a town or city so that you can catch up on email and laundry, relax and have your own independent experiences with others in the group.
Open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for conservation and new experiences. You need to be committed to, and prepared for, some physical work whilst on the volunteer component of the program i.e. trail building, tree planting or painting. You don’t need to have had previous experience with travel or any of the activities offered.
The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.
Our accommodation will be comfortable and clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and WiFi facilities will be available most days, except while in the field on the volunteer projects. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. 85% of meals are included in the program cost. Food preparation, shared by all participants, is fun, social and often a highlight. The remaining few meals are not included to allow a choice of when, where and what we eat. For the meals not included, you will have the option of dining out, or self-catering with others in the group. We recommend you budget the sum of $10 per day for snacks, drinks and meals not included in the program cost (allow $300 for the program).
Visa on arrival*; All in-country travel and transport (except flights); All accommodation; Most meals; All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Two weeks of volunteer conservation projects; Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation, history and eco-tourism; Experienced Pacific Discovery Program Instructors and local guides; Online image library for your program. *Note: Free visitor visas for New Zealand & Fiji are issued on arrival.
The Pacific Discovery New Zealand and Fiji Summer Program combines two weeks of hands-on and rewarding service-learning conservation work in some of the New Zealand’s most interesting national parks and reserves, and two weeks of adventurous travel as we road-trip through New Zealand and enjoy the spectacularly beautiful Islands in Fiji.
*Please note Summer 2019 program will not be going to the South Island of New Zealand as per map - please see itinerary tab for updates.