Rewilding Residential Semester

START Auckland, New Zealand |
FINISH Christchurch, New Zealand |
DURATION 10 weeks |
AGES 17 - 22 |

Homesteading & Wilderness Conservation

Escape the daily grind and reconnect with nature on this transformative program. Immerse yourself in sustainable living on a remote homestead bordering the Marlborough Sounds. Learn from industry professionals as you help restore native flora, eradicate invasive species, and even gain a scuba diving certification! Hike stunning landscapes, explore iconic road trips across New Zealand, and contribute to vital conservation efforts. This is your chance to learn, grow, and find purpose in a breathtaking natural setting.


Learning a valuable skill and gather your own dinner! Gain a PADI scuba diving certification, granting access to a whole new world beneath the waves. You'll be diving for fresh seafood alongside our experienced guides.  This sustainable approach to food not only provides delicious meals but also fosters a deep connection with the underwater environment.

Cruise down one of the world's most epic road trips – the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island! Prepare to be stunned by ever-changing scenery, from lush forests to towering glaciers and dramatic coastlines. Wind your way past hidden coves, witness the power of pancake rocks and blowholes, and soak in the serenity of untouched wilderness.  This unforgettable journey promises endless opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and connecting with nature's raw beauty.

Embrace the thrill of a multi-sport adventure on the Queen Charlotte Track! This iconic expedition in New Zealand will see you cycle through native forests, backpack across scenic trails, and kayak through sheltered coves, all within the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Imagine the exhilaration of conquering challenging climbs on your bike, the tranquility of trekking with just the sound of nature, and the serenity of paddling through crystal-clear waters.


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

Immerse Yourself in Traditional Maori Culture

We will start off with a jam-packed adventure week, road-tripping down the culture-rich North Island of New Zealand to arrive at our wilderness homestead. We will travel from stunning Auckland to the heart of the North Island and immerse ourselves in a sacred ‘marae’ (Maori meeting ground), partaking in cultural performances and learning about the Polynesian ancestral roots of the Maori people who populate New Zealand.

Rotorua also happens to be an internationally renowned mountain biking destination - so we will make the most of the trails as well as raft down the world's highest commercial waterfall on the Kaituna River. We'll take in the otherworldly region of geothermal bubbling and steaming hot pools around Lake Taupo. As long as the weather gods allow, students will get out for a hike in the World Heritage-listed volcanic Tongariro National Park. At the southern tip of the island, we will explore the hipster grunge/industrial capital of Windy Wellington. This is where we visit the interactive national museum Te Papa, rated one of Lonely Planet's 500 best places on earth. We end the week with a ferry ride between the islands that connect the land of the long white cloud to arrive at the unbelievably picturesque Marlborough Sounds.

Sustainable Living Practises

We get dropped off by speedboat partway along the Queen Charlotte track and arrive at Endeavour Inlet to see our new home for the next two months. It’s common to see seals and dolphins on this boat ride through the Sounds! The spectacular wilderness homestead is set right on the Queen Charlotte track, nestled in an intricate web of inlets evocative of a Norwegian fjord. Unpacking bags and settling into the yurts at the homestead is like taking a huge metaphorical load off. There are luscious green mountains, fluffy merino sheep, quirky ‘kiwi’ neighbors, thriving orchards, epic mountain biking, and walking tracks right on the doorstep. Not to mention, the homestead is equipped with bikes, kayaks, and SUPs for exploring!

We will take some time to settle into our new space; finding daily and weekly rhythms. This week is focused on learning all of the sustainable living practices that will flow on through the program. There are daily briefs to manage the homestead together where we get hands-on experience in gardening, worm composting, recycling, feeding the chickens, keeping bees, and planning and creating meals together. We will also work together to develop seasonal projects that might include anything from building a pizza oven and hosting a dinner party to building a greenhouse garden - the choice is yours! The idea is for everyone to try something new, make mistakes, have a laugh, and learn together. There will be a focus on inner care, in which students can find their own routine of yoga, journalling, or self-expression. In a world of fast-paced exposure, this program places value on slowing down and stewarding the land.

Fauna Focused Restoration

We are settling into the homestead, with morning walks on the Queen Charlotte Track, summer swims and picnics, collecting fresh eggs from the chickens, and getting the lay of the land. The learning focus for the week is to get the whole picture about mammal ecology and biodiversity loss specific to New Zealand. One of the major aims in this area is to protect long-tailed bats and other wildlife by trapping predators. Our philosophy is to combine learning with doing in our planned weekly modules. Regional Conservation Trusts will be onsite to teach us about New Zealand’s history and the effects of invasive animals which include pigs, goats, deer, rats, possums, stoats (a kind of naughty weasel), and cats. We will be doing hands-on work that is invaluable to New Zealand’s conservation goals. Undertaking this work is physical, practical, rewarding, and meaningful.

This program is all about asking questions, linking theory and practice, connecting with the land here, and applying the learnings to life back home. We will keep up the daily pulse of sustainable living skills. We will also cook a traditional Maori 'hangi' feast, where produce is cooked in an underground earthen oven. It's also a great time to dive into an elective, whether it's Artistic Expression, Farm to Table exploration, or Plant Uses. There will be an ongoing exploration of self with a Core Curriculum, and exploration of the environment with hands-on activities and interactive facilitated workshops.

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

Medium Activity Level

Anyone with an average 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 few hikes and some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.


Medium Camping Level

You will be camping for a couple of nights on this gap year program whilst on the expedition, but you will spend most of your time in comfortable yurts, hostels, and lodges.

Medium Service 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?

Rewilding Residential Semester