We have undergone and maintain comprehensive accreditations with

  • Gap Year Association (USA)
  • Year Out Group (UK)
  • OutdoorsMark (NZ)

We strive to set the bar for ‘best practice’ in the gap year and experiential education fields and ensure that all of our programs are held to the highest possible standards. This means that your son or daughter is assured to have a quality experience with us.

We also have the ability to award up to a full semester’s worth of US College credits for each of our programs.

Learn More About College Credit


Gap Year Association (USA)

The Gap Year Association (GYA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit accreditation and standards setting organization for gap year program providers that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

Pacific Discovery was the second organization in the world to achieve GYA accreditation.  The accreditation requirements are very robust and examine all aspects of an organizations structure and systems. The accreditation standards comprise over 100 standards that organizations have to prove they meet – from safety management to health of staff, from liability insurance to ensuring service projects are meaningful and community-initiated. GYA hold the highest industry standards of accreditation of which only a handful of organizations have managed to meet.

Accreditation by the Gap Year Association is a means of assuring a quality experience for the participant. All Accredited Organizations must show a dedication to safety, quality, a baseline of structure and appropriate supervision, holistic growth, organizational integrity, and of course a pedagogy grounded in experiential education. 

Year Out Group (UK)

Year Out Group is an association of leading gap year providing organisations, most of which are registered in the UK.  At least one of the principal activities of each of these organisations is the provision of well-structured programs in the UK or overseas, for young people taking time out between high school or college and higher education or employment. Such programs are educational in a broad sense and include,  courses, cultural exchanges, expeditions, and volunteer work.

All the organisations are subjected to a rigorous membership application process, which includes a visit to their headquarters by Year Out Group’s Chief Executive and a meeting with the Year Out Group’s Membership Committee.  All of the organisations listed on the YOG website are members of Year Out Group and have been through this process.  This means that they:

  • Support the aims of Year Out Group.
  • Agree to abide by the group’s Code of Practice and Member’s Charter.
  • Follow the Operating Guidelines for their respective sector.
  • Submit their annual accounts for inspection.
  • Have risk management policies and procedures in place that are in line with British Standard BS8848.
  • Have a crisis management policy and plan in place with trained staff
  • Have public liability insurance of at least £2million. 

Outdoors Mark (NZ)

OutdoorsMark is the national outdoor safety audit program for the New Zealand outdoor industry. OutdoorsMark’s fundamental objective is to give participants on adventure activities assurance that the management of the activities has been checked by an independent expert – an OutdoorsMark auditor. If the operation is assessed by the auditor as being at or above the benchmark standards, they are granted OutdoorsMark certification.

The Department of Conservation (who administer all of New Zealand’s National Parks and conservation areas) require outdoor operators to hold OutdoorsMark accreditation in order to gain permits to take groups into these protected areas.

OutdoorsMark aims to:

  • Promote safe participation.
  • Provide assurance that national outdoor safety standards for safety and professionalism are being met.
  • Raise standards in the delivery of adventure activities.
  • Reduce the risk of injuries and accidents.
  • Establish procedures for continual review and re-validation.