New Zealand & Australia Gap Semester

START Brisbane, Australia |
FINISH Queenstown, New Zealand |
DURATION 10 weeks |
AGES 17 - 22 |
STUDENTS 12
==programs_page_content==

Adventure, Indigenous Cultures & Conservation

New Zealand and Australia are two of the most ecologically intact and diverse countries in the world. From the Great Barrier Reef to sheep-dotted green hills and dramatic mountains. While traveling around both countries, you'll try your hand at white water rafting, rock climbing, snorkelling, surfing, and canyoning, while also immersing yourself in the Maori indigenous culture by attending cultural performances.

But that's only half of the adventure! You will also give back to the local communities by doing hands-on volunteer work at several coastal national parks. You will work alongside park rangers, help plant native trees, and learn all about native New Zealand and Australian ecology and wildlife, while also getting he chance to spot endangered birds, camp under the starry night sky, and relax on beautiful white sandy beaches at the end of a rewarding day of volunteering.

Highlights

You'll be rappelling down cascading waterfalls, conquering exhilarating jumps, and swimming through crystal-clear pools nestled within hidden canyons.  This adventure builds teamwork as you navigate the challenges together, pushing your physical and mental limits to build lasting confidence. Witness the raw beauty of the Blue Mountains from a whole new perspective, surrounded by lush landscapes. You'll even develop new skills under expert guidance, mastering the art of abseiling and navigating rugged terrain. Emerge from this unforgettable experience exhilarated, empowered, and with a newfound appreciation for Australia's stunning wilderness.

This journey goes beyond the surface, offering a window into the rich traditions and customs of the indigenous people of New Zealand.  Through interactive sessions, you'll gain insights into their history, beliefs, and connection to the land.  The experience culminates in a powerful display of haka song and dance at a traditional Māori cultural performance. Witness the vibrant energy and storytelling prowess of this art form, leaving you with a profound appreciation for Māori culture and its enduring legacy.

On Australia's East Coast join a project focused on bush regeneration and sand dune conservation, helping to restore native habitats and preserve the delicate coastal ecosystem.  On New Zealand's South Island, lend a hand to the Tasman Environmental Trust, where you'll work alongside passionate locals to protect native wildlife in the Nelson Tasman Region.  These projects offer a unique opportunity to connect with nature, learn about conservation efforts, and contribute to a sustainable future for these incredible landscapes.

Itinerary

This is a guide to what you can expect to do on program. The order in which the activities occur might vary.

Click download to view the full 10 week sample itinerary.

Download Sample Itinerary

Aboriginal History & 4WD Adventure

Welcome to Brisbane, Australia! We will spend a few nights in Brisbane, getting to know one another and exploring the city and attending a cultural tour . Here we will have an in-depth program orientation, get accustomed to life down under, and play ice-breaking games to bond with our new program friends.

We then head North up to Noosa, and embark on our three day 4WD expedition on K’gari Fraser Island. We will traverse the golden sand by 4WD, taking in the crystal clear waters. Kgari Fraser Island is home to an abundance of wildlife with over 350 different species of bird. It is an amazing place to observe dingoes and echidnas in the wild, along with all the marine life! During the day we will explore the nature and diversity of the island, snorkeling and paddle boarding, and venturing to the island hotspots with the experienced guides! In the evenings we will learn to throw a boomerang, eat marshmallows by the campfire,  taking in the stars and sleeping in beach cabins.

Snorkel with Turtles & Surf Camp

We make our way south towards Byron Bay. On a sensational section of coastline, Byron Bay has been a hippy hang-out since the 1970s and is today, the quintessential surfing town. Tie-dyed hippies mix with bronzed surfers, artists and large numbers of local and international tourists, there to enjoy its beaches, boutiques and cafes. It’s a great place to relax. While here, we’ll take a boat trip out to the Julian Rocks to snorkel with turtles and tropical fish – dolphins and whales are also regularly seen in the waters around the headland. This is the place to try an optional scuba dive if you really want to immerse yourself in this amazing underwater world.

Heading south to an isolated section of coast, we stay at a surf camp and learn to surf from our surfing-guru instructors on the myriad breaks in the area. Spend evenings relaxing at camp, debriefing each day and hearing the instructor’s wild stories before a great sleep in preparation for another day on the surf!

Conservation Project & Canyon in the Blue Mountains

At the heart of surfing is a connection-to-nature philosophy. We get to experience this in a hands-on way by undertaking volunteer conservation work alongside National Parks staff in a coastal National Park. The project revolves around bush regeneration and dune conservation near Crescent Head on the East Coast of Australia. This program aims to secure as much of the native plants and species that can be secured in the wild as possible for the next 100 years.

Continuing our southward migration, we skirt Sydney and head inland to experience the wonder of the Blue Mountains National Park. Based from the main township, Katoomba, we'll get outdoors to discover for ourselves what makes the ‘Blueys’ so special. We will spend a day canyoning – a unique adventure involving hiking, scrambling and rappels through sculptured rock canyons.

Program Details

What's Included?
  • All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects and entry fees as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves
  • Certificate of Program Completion

 

For full program details, please request the information booklet.

Request Information Booklet

High Activity Level

Anyone with an moderate to advanced fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this gap semester! You will need to be prepared for a multi-day hike in Kahurangi National Park and for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.

High Camping Level

Be prepared to spend some time out in nature. You'll love the experience of camping, staring at the camp fire, breathing in fresh air and stargazing the night away. 

Medium Learning Level

You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.

Have you got any questions before applying?

New Zealand & Australia Gap Semester