This Summer Program combines a week of blazing sun, pristine sea, golden sand and exciting water sports in Fiji, with three weeks of adventure and cultural immersion in the North Island of New Zealand. You'll try mountain biking, white water rafting, snorkeling, scuba diving, and stand up paddle boarding, while also immersing yourself in Maori culture by attending cultural performances and a traditional hangi feast. So if you’re looking to get stuck into a myriad of different activities, both on land and at sea – this program is most certainly for you!
Our students are also able to make a difference and learn about local conversation on two rewarding volunteer projects at coastal regional parks. You will work alongside park rangers, help plant native trees, and learn all about native New Zealand 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.
✓ Want to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world
✓ Are interested in immersing yourself in Polynesian culture
✓ Love activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking and rafting
✓ Are enthusiastic about conservation and ecology
✓ Want to enjoy the ultimate combination of beach time, culture and nature
I went on the NZ and Fiji program and it was amazing! We did scuba diving, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, we even went to castaway island. It was only 4 weeks long and I wish it was longer! We had a smaller group which made the trip really feel like a family and for me, made the trip even better. I learnt so much about myself and think the others on the program did too. We really became so close in such a short time, i feel like I've known everyone for years. I recommend this trip to anyone that wants to see NZ and Fiji and travel with others the same age as you, you will make lifelong friends and memory’s you will never forget. I will never forget this trip."
- Sam Hayward
We will arrive in Auckland, where our program instructors will meet us and program orientation begins, inclusive of ice breaker games and “get to know you” activities to encourage all students to bond and relax into Kiwi life.
We'll also make our way to the stunning Tawharanui Regional Park for our first conservation volunteer project in New Zealand. 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. Our days here are spent participating in volunteer conservation initiatives working alongside park rangers and a local group of community volunteers, and our nights are spent under the starry night sky as we camp in this beautiful location.
Heading farther up north, we will arrive in Paihia, which is the epicenter of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Bay of Islands. We’ll discover this island paradise of golden, sandy beaches and charming small towns while we’re here. It’s also home to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of New Zealand. Here, we'll learn how New Zealand's history was shaped, marvel at cultural Maori performances in the Maori Meeting House, discover the world’s largest waka (canoe) and walk through native gardens with spectacular views of Paihia and the many islands.
Then off to Shakespear regional park, where we will help support the Open Sanctuary, a mainland sanctuary that has been regenerated with native plants and animals. We’ll spend a few days helping to plant native trees, walking the stunning coastal trails, and spotting the native endangered birds. We’ll have the chance to jump into the ocean and learn a lot about native New Zealand ecology and wildlife!
Heading south, we travel to the geothermal and cultural heartland of the country - Rotorua! You’ll smell it before you see it… the distinctive egg smell is there because of the amazing volcanic vents, boiling hot mud pools and natural geysers all over this area! In Rotorua, we stay in a Marae, a traditional village meeting hall and spiritual home to the Maori.
Our days here are full of adventure and energy as we go mountain biking in the Redwoods, and spend an afternoon rafting down the Kaituna River. The Kaituna River is Rotorua rafting’s playground, and home to not just one, but three impressive waterfalls, including the highest rafted waterfall in the world – Tutea Falls at 7m! We will finish our stay in Rotorua at the Tamaki Maori Village for an evening experience, consisting of a cultural immersion and a traditional hangi feast.
We have a long travel day on the program from Rotorua to Wellington ahead, driving across the Great Desert Road. Wellington, New Zealand’s compact capital, is a vibrant city 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 gain insight into Maori culture through an intimate Maori educational experience at the National Museum. You will also have some free time to explore independently as a group.
We will arrive in Nadi, Fiji where sunshine, fresh air and smiles await us. We travel by boat to Beachcomber Island Resort, located in the picturesque Mamanuca Islands, where we will spend four days surrounded by glistening turquoise waters and soft, white sand. Our days will be taken at “island pace” while we settle in and explore the beautiful oasis that surrounds us. We will have plenty of time to spend in the water; swimming in the sea or taking advantage of access to snorkeling gear and stand up paddle boards.
We will also spend time boating around the island, and all students will have the chance to explore the mesmerizing sea life which lives in the deeper waters with an introduction to scuba diving! Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to paradise as we jump back on a boat to spend one more night in Nadi. We wrap up the program and spend some time reflecting on our adventure before we say our goodbyes - heading off back home!
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
✓ All in-program travel and transport (NOT including in program flights)
✓ All accommodation
✓ All meals (not including snacks)
✓ 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
Low Activity Level: Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this summer program! You will need to be prepared for 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, but you will spend most of your time in comfortable hostels and lodges.
High Service Learning Level: You will be able to make a big difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.
Our accommodation will be a mix of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable, clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available most days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. 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. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $10 per day for.
Food preparation responsibilities are shared by all students. It’s fun, social and often a highlight. An average day on program would consist of the following:
Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand
Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.
We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!
Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.