This program has just the right balance of adventure and environmental service in New Zealand followed by laid back island living in Fiji. In New Zealand, we’ll go mountain biking in Rotorua, raft over the world's highest commercial waterfall, stay in a sacred Maori house, and connect deeply with nature during environmental service. We will work alongside park rangers, search for the elusive kiwi bird, plant native trees, get hands on with local ecology and wildlife and camp under brilliant starry night skies.
The Polynesian legacy is the development of seafaring and navigation skills and canoe technology that enabled them to voyage across the Pacific Ocean. We make the journey across the Pacific to Fiji, and immerse in authentic village life on Vatulele Island, as well as go on a thrilling inland rafting adventure. We will spend our final days soaking up the sunshine on the insta-worthy Mana Island, dropping into Cloud 9 and exploring the magnificent reefs by scuba diving and snorkeling.
✓ Are enthusiastic about conservation and ecology
✓ Enjoy thrilling activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking and rafting
✓ Are interested in immersing yourself in Polynesian Islander culture
✓ Want to enjoy the ultimate combination of beach time, culture and nature
✓ Want to receive a Certificate of Completed Service Hours to add to your resume
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
Get the full Summer Program run-down in our catalogue. This catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions and testimonials!
Kia ora, welcome to New Zealand! We touch down in Auckland, where our program instructors will meet us and transfer us to our accommodation. The focus is on getting to know each other and getting an exciting briefing about what’s to come.
We'll jump in our van and head north to the stunning Tawharanui (pronounced Tar-far -anui) Regional Park for our first volunteer project. Road tripping in New Zealand is pure joy, and everything looks like a scene from the Hobbit. Our days in Tawharanui are spent working alongside park rangers and a local group of community volunteers doing track maintenance and marine debris clean ups, searching for the elusive kiwi birds, and our nights are spent under the night stars camping out. There’s a huge predator proof fence that curls around the park, keeping out invasive species. This sanctuary is a unique blend of conservation, recreation and sustainable environmental practices. This conservation project gives us an inspiring insight into New Zealand's world class conservation efforts.
Heading farther up north, we will arrive in Paihia, which is the epicenter of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Bay of Islands. We will discover this island paradise of golden, sandy beaches and charming small towns while we are 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.
Heading back south past Auckland, 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 because of the ethereal volcanic vents, boiling hot mud pools and natural geysers all over this area. The ground is literally steaming! 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 7 meters!
Next up is a visit to Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital city with great shopping, cafés and nightlife. We will 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 interactive National Museum, Te Papa.
Bula and welcome to Fiji! We will be amazed by all the sights and smells of this Pacific Island Nation - and this is only the beginning! From Nadi, we boat out to another Pacific Island called Vatuele. There’s something you should know about Fijians - they are hands down the most warm and friendly people we’ve ever come across! On this island gem, we will be taken by the local community and participate in true island living. The sun always shines and people are happy living from the ocean and keeping family close. Our knowledge of Fijian culture will grow while we spend a day weaving traditional tapa cloths to take home and trying our hand at fishing.
Fiji is not just about the beautiful beaches; we will boat back to the main Island of Viti Levu and head to an action packed location called Pacific Harbor. Here we will have a day to chill and relax before undertaking some H20 adventure sports. We test our skills at kayaking and take on an epic white water rafting adventure nearby.
To wrap up and wind down, we travel by boat to Mana Island in the picturesque Mamanuca Islands, where we will spend four days surrounded by glistening turquoise waters and 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! We will reflect as a group on the amazing and jam-packed experience we’ve shared together. We have explored the North Island of New Zealand and a number of islands in Fiji, capturing the essence of the cultures in both.
*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, 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 in Environmental Conservation with 25 hours of service
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 doing some camping on this program, but you will spend most of your time in comfortable 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.
Our accommodation will be a mix of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable, clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available some 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 whilst in Tawharanui National Park
To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.
They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.
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.