Explore New Zealand's most iconic landscapes and Fiji's tropical islands on this 6 week Summer Program!
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 glaciers and blowholes on an epic road trip along the West Coast, immerse yourself in Fijian culture, and go rock climbing in Wanaka. 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 Fiji as they hop from one island to the next.
This 6 week program in New Zealand and Fiji also includes two awesome service-learning projects, spending time at the coastal Tawharanui Regional Park and the stunning Marlborough Sounds, giving students the opportunity to get stuck in to local conservation and sustainability efforts.
This gap semester program is perfect for high school graduates, college graduates, and gap year students, ideally 18 to 22 years old. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.
You’ll arrive in Auckland, where your Program Instructors will meet you and transfer you to Paihia, which is the epicenter of the jaw-droppingly beautiful (and famous) Bay of Islands. 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 learn how New Zealand's history was shaped as we visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which showcases museums, cultural Maori performances in the Maori Meeting House, a traditional waka (canoe) and native gardens with spectacular views of Paihia and the many islands.
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 south, we travel to the geothermal and cultural heartland of the country. 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 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 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 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 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 have three days in the Marlborough Sounds area, 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. 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 a night at 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 techniques, belaying, rappelling, and take us safely through a rock climbing class, tailored to all levels of climbing ability and fitness. There will also be time for swimming in the lake, walking and hiking on the hills around Wanaka.
We 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! The next day you’ll have to yourselves, and if you’d like to independently book any adventure activities - you’re in the right place. Bungy jumping, sky diving, ziplining, paragliding, jet boats or even skiing or snowboarding up our local mountains is part of every day life here in Queenstown! After departing Queenstown, 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.
It’s time to leave behind the magnificent New Zealand and head to Fiji next. A short flight from Christchurch lands us in Nadi where we’ll stay for one night to re orientate. Everything moves a little slower over here, and you’ll soon realize that there is ‘no hurry, no worry’, the people are overwhelming friendly and everything is better with a guitar and some singing!
Our first day in Fiji we’ll be moving onto the Coral Coast and getting involved with some sand dune conservation. The Coral Coast is the stretch of coastline between Sigatoka and Suva. It’s here that we will get a feel for Fijian life and community whilst getting involved with some fulfilling volunteer work. We move onto Vatuele Island and take our hands to Tapa making, fishing and local crafts. They’ll welcome you in with a traditional Kava ceremony and make you feel right at home. Live, eat and work with your Fijian family as they show you what it’s like to be a part of a village living on this beautiful coral and volcanic island.
We travel by boat to Beachcomber Island Resort, located in the picturesque Mamanuca Islands. We spend five days on this dreamy island, surrounded by glistening turquoise waters and soft, white sand. Our days will be taken at “island pace” whilst students settle in and explore the beautiful oasis that surrounds them. You 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 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 time reflecting on our month 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.
This summer program is perfect for high school graduates, college students and graduates, and non-students, ideally 18-22 years old. 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 some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.
The program is a shared group experience. Join this 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 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