Have a summer to remember in New Zealand! Enjoy 16 jam-packed days of exploration and adventure as you travel the North and South Island.

Glaciers, hot pools, golden beaches, geysers, snow-capped mountains, endless lakes and rolling green hills... You will see it all on this 16-day tour around the North and South Island of New Zealand. You will give mountain biking, rafting, luging and kayaking a go, making the activities just as diverse as the landscape.

You’ll visit ‘The Shire’ (Lord of the Rings movie set), kayak along the pristine beaches of Abel Tasman, and soak in hot pools. 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 on a cruise through the fiords. 

Who is this summer program for?

This summer r 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.

  • Spot seals and penguins on a picturesque boat cruise through the world famous Milford Sound
  • White water rafting on the Kaituna River
  • An epic West Coast road trip with stop at impressive blow holes and Franz Josef glacier 
  • Luging with a view in thrilling Queenstown
  • Kayak along Abel Tasman's crystal clear waters and gold sand beaches
  • Experience your very own middle earth adventure when you visit Hobbiton (Lord Of The Rings movie set)
  • Cultural immersion at a Maori cultural performance and traditional hangi feast
  • Mountain biking in The Redwoods, Rotorua
  • Soak in hot pools after a glacier hike in Franz Jozef
  • Hike to the summit of a dormant volcano on Rangitoto Island
  • Be puzzled and a-mazed at Puzzle World in Wanaka
  • Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital – Parliament tour and the Te Papa museum
  • Explore Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of the World
  • Very personalized and supportive small group experience – maximum 12 students

**This is a guide to what you can expect to do on Program. The order in which the activities occur might vary**

Day 1-2. Auckland & Rangitoto Island Hike

You’ll arrive in Auckland, where you will meet your Program Instructor and the rest of the group. A short scenic ferry ride will take us to Rangitoto Island on our first day, Auckland's most iconic island. It's renowned for having the youngest and largest of Auckland's 48 dormant volcanoes and the world's largest pohutukawa forest. We will hike to the top of the volcano, where we are rewarded with spectacular views of the city scape. 

Day 3-4. Hobbiton & Rafting in Rotorua

We head 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 in Rotorua, at the heart of New Zealand’s cultural and geothermal landscape. In Rotorua we stay in a Marae, a traditional village meeting hall and spiritual home to the Maori. We spend the end of our day in the Tamaki Maori Village for an evening experience, consisting of a cultural immersion and a traditional hangi feast.

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. 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! 

Day 5-6. Wellington Exploration

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.

Day 7-8. Kayaking Abel Tasman

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.

Day 9-12. West Coast Road Trip

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 2 nights at Punakaiki to view the impressive blow holes and enjoy a scenic walk through moss-covered rocks and overhanging trees, which feels like something from a fantasy movie. Goblin, elves and hobbits - they'd all be at home here.

We will spend our next 2 nights at the tiny settlement of Franz Josef, close to the glacier to learn more about the mighty glacier and go on a hike to view it from up close. Our physical activity of the day will be rewarded with some relaxing time in the Glacier Hot Pools.

Day 13-16. Wanaka & Queenstown

After wandering around the illusion rooms and mazes of Wanaka's Puzzle World, we arrive in Queenstown, known as both the “Adventure Capital of the World” and Pacific Discovery’s home! We'll take a trip up the gondola and go luging, which is great fun, and can be highly competitive!

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. What a great way to end this epic trip around New Zealand! 

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.

For full program details, please request the information booklet


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:

  • Breakfast: cereals, porridge (oatmeal), toast, spreads, eggs, yoghurt, fruit, tea and coffee
  • Lunch: wraps, sandwiches, salads, dinner leftovers
  • Dinner: BBQ meat, vegetables and salads, potato salad, pasta, chili, wraps, fish and chips, burgers

Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand

Included in the tuition

  • All in-country travel and transport
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Environmental education and volunteering projects
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves - working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose
  • Individual mentorship from program instructors, supporting you in your personal goals for the program
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Pre-departure booklet with all information you need in one place to prepare for the program
  • 24/7 emergency contact number for students and parents
  • Global medical rescue and political evacuation insurance
  • Instructors have 24/7 access to a physician and a psychologist for advice and support
  • Pacific Discovery T-shirt

Duration 16 days
Program Tuition $5,495 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,600 USD
Availability Closed
Group Size 12 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 18 - 22 ideal
Optional College Credit Yes Start/Finish Start - Auckland
Finish - Queenstown