If you’re looking to get stuck into a myriad of different activities, this program is most certainly for you! Try mountain biking, rafting, luging, backpacking and more. You’ll visit ‘The Shire’ (Lord of the Rings movie set), the incredible Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, and soak in hot springs. Students will experience New Zealand from top to bottom, from the beaches in the north to the “adventure capital of the world” before falling in love with Milford Sound via a cruise through the fiords (according to Rudyard Kipling, the “eighth wonder of the world”). The New Zealand summer program also includes two awesome service-learning projects, spending time at The Farm just outside the Bay of Islands in Northland, and at the Kiwi Birdlife Park down in Queenstown, giving students the opportunity to get stuck in to local conservation and sustainability efforts.
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.
• Visit the most Northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga
• Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area and cultural immersion at a Maori cultural performance and feast
• Visit Hobbiton (Lord Of The Rings movie set)
• Mountain biking in The Redwoods, Rotorua
• White water rafting on the Kaituna River
• Four days spent at The Farm, just outside the incredible Bay of Islands.
• Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital – Parliament tour and the Te Papa museum
• Explore Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World”
• Volunteer at the Kiwi Birdlife Park
• Experience a picturesque boat cruise through the world famous Milford Sound
• Explore Mount Cook region, home to the highest mountain in New Zealand
• Hot chocolate under the starry night sky in Tekapo
• Informal lectures and discussions on history, culture, society and environment
• Very personalized and supportive small group experience – maximum 12 students
• Two experienced and inspiring Pacific Discovery Program Instructors for 9+ students supported by local guides (one experienced instructor for groups of 8 and below).
The program starts at The Farm: a quintessential working dairy farm, located just outside the Bay of Islands. This local, family owned, slice of paradise allows you to get up close and personal with a range of farm animals. You’ll have the chance to milk, feed and look after them. You will also get a chance to kayak, hike and explore their 1000 acre “back yard”, learn horsemanship skills and get a chance to put them to the test with horse trekking. There’s also opportunities to fish, drive tractors and learn survival skills amongst so many other great activities. It’s an awesome place to try your hand at new things and experience what is an authentic kiwi lifestyle for so many New Zealanders!
Upon arrival to Auckland we pick up our van and head north up towards Paihia, which is the epicentre of the jaw-droppingly beautiful (and famous) Bay of Islands. We head far North from Paihia, to lands less explored, and head all the way up to Cape Reinga where the Tasman sea collides dramatically with the Pacific Ocean! Cape Reinga is known for being the most spiritual place in New Zealand, according to Maori tradition. You will walk to the light house, play in the famous giant sand dunes and explore the spectacular 90 mile beach.
Tawharanui Regional Park combines farming, conservation and recreation in an ecological open sanctuary. Tawharanui boasts some of New Zealand’s most beautiful white sandy beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and regenerating wetlands. The sanctuary is a unique blend of conservation, recreation and sustainable farming within Tawharanui Regional Park. The sanctuary includes mature and regenerating native bush, wonderful beaches, spectacular coastal cliffs, wetlands, heritage sites, a marine reserve and extensive areas of rich pasture.
We spend the night in Auckland before heading south to stop off at Hobbiton, ‘The Shire’ movie set from Lord of the Rings, where you experience your very own “middle earth” adventure. We finish this day up in Rotorua, at the heart of New Zealand’s cultural and geothermal landscape. Day two is full of adventure and energy as we go mountain biking in the Redwoods, with the afternoon spent rafting down the Kaituna River. On day three we take it a little slower, recovering from all the adrenaline activities with a soak in the Waikite Valley thermal pools. We finish the day at the Tamaki Maori Village for an evening experience, consisting of a cultural immersion and a traditional hangi feast.
We have one long travel day on the program from Rotorua to Wellington driving across the Great Desert Road, New Zealand’s volcanic alpine plateau. 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, we promise), and visit the National Museum, the Te Papa. You will also have some free time to explore independently as a group and we can recommend some other well known attractions that you might like to visit.
From Wellington, we board a ferry bound for the South Island, cruise through the twisting arms of the glacial carved Marlborough Sounds, and come ashore in Picton. We’ll make our way to Abel Tasman National park renowned for its golden beaches and walking trails. You’ll get a different perspective of this incredible coastline as we paddle alongside it in sea kayaks, stopping at all the beautiful lagoons throughout the day. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife both in the ocean and hiding in the native forest.
We’ll spend four days in Lake Rotoiti, camping and assisting on volunteer conservation projects under the guidance of fantastic Department of Conservation biodiversity rangers. On our final day we continue to Nelson, where we have a day to relax and prepare ourselves for the next expedition.
The next four days will be spent in a remote section of Kahurangi National Park, hiking/backpacking, camping, and exploring our way through spectacular wilderness. On our last day we return to civilization for some well-earned rest in Nelson.
Enjoy some free time to catch up on the last week. There are great swimming beaches and rivers nearby, a weekend market to explore, and no doubt a mountain of laundry to catch up on. Nelson is also a popular place to try tandem skydiving, stand-up paddle boarding, and mountain-biking – which you can do independently if you wish to.
Voted one of the top ten road trips in the world, we travel the length of the South Island’s West Coast from Nelson to Wanaka. Enjoy rugged coastlines, beautiful rainforest and spectacular glaciers. We spend two nights in Punakaiki to view the impressive blow holes, then two nights at the tiny settlement of Franz Josef, close to the glacier. We’ll explore and learn about the mighty glaciers.
From a simple lodge at Glendhu Bay on the shores of Lake Wanaka, we learn how to rock-climb – our fantastic instructors introduce us to climbing technique, belaying, rappelling, and take us safely through 2 days of climbing instruction, tailored to all levels of climbing ability and fitness. There’ll also be plenty of time for swimming in the lake, walking and hiking on the hills around Wanaka.
Today arrive in Queenstown, known as both the “Adventure Capital of the World” and Pacific Discovery’s home! You’ll take a trip up the gondola and go luging, which is great fun, and can be highly competitive! We’ll spend a day volunteering at the Kiwi Birdlife Park, a wildlife refuge in Queenstown. You’ll work alongside park rangers and duties could include cleaning aviaries, native tree planting, food preparation and animal observation.
We’ll also spend a day over at Milford Sound, arguably New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attraction. Home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins - you’ll be sure to spot something unusual and exciting in the water! On day 29 we say goodbye to Queenstown as we drive to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s most famous and highest mountain.
We wake up at Unwin Lodge which is conveniently located at the entrance to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. We partake in a local hike and soak up the splendor of the mountain peak which is majestically watching over us. After our hike we drive to Tekapo, a stunning must-see destination which is famous for its clear night skies. We spend the night snuggled up with hot chocolate, watching the stars above us - a truly magical experience. The next day is spent making the most of the winter activities available to us; ice skating, tubing and soaking in the local hot pools.
We drive to Christchurch where we spend the last few days exploring the city. We wrap up the program and spend time reflecting on our month adventure before we say our goodbyes - heading off back home!
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).
NZD $9,200 Program Tuition Includes
All accommodation; All meals; All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Volunteer conservation projects and materials; All transport; 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.