NOLS Semester in New Zealand

Video and Photos


Join us for an exciting educational opportunity in a remarkable country. New Zealand's South Island is a varied region of alpine grasslands, snowfields, rain forests, rugged mountains, spectacular gorges, and broad valleys with unique birds and plants found nowhere else in the world, such as the only mountain parrot, the Kea.

For 77 days, you'll learn about the region's natural history and culture as you travel through the island's forests that contain remnants of Gondwanaland, a prehistoric continent. Along the way, you'll spend some time with the local Maori who will teach you about their culture and connection to the land.

Questions & Answers


8.5 Rating
based on 6 reviews
  • Housing 8.6
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 5
  • Pre-departure Help 1
  • In-program Support 4
  • Impact on Student 1
  • Value 1
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Insensitive bullying instructors

Though I love the outdoors, my young son with anxiety issues was bullied and humiliated by NOLS in the field until he was essentially forced out of the course after one month. The NOLS administrators swore to us they had trained, capable instructors in the field who could properly work with students with emotional issues. They lied. The lead instructor, a woman, was a bully who allowed our son to be harassed and humiliated, and then she and NOLS tried to cover up her abuses by shading the truth in their favor and never admitting to ANY faults. In the isolation of the field, there was no one our son could turn to for help and counsel when the lead instructor was the greatest source of his problem.
If you are seriously considering seeing your child to an outdoor course, why take a chance? I would strongly suggest taking NOLS off your list and looking at Outward Bound or an overseas service school instead; that is, if you want your child to have the best overall, and safe, experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Hire instructors who not only are knowledgeable of the field and protecting the environment, but also are truly capable of working with students of all types and demeanors once NOLS HQ has admitted them to the course. Bullying and Harassment, and coverups, should never be allowed. If NOLS and NOLS New Zealand would have owned up to their failures and taken proper accountability, I would probably not be so harsh in my review.
Response from NOLS

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on your adult son’s recent experience with NOLS. Your feedback provides the school and our instructors a learning opportunity. Respect and rapport are at the heart of all NOLS Expeditions. NOLS believes in fostering an inclusive course culture and our staff focuses on creating a positive learning environment for all of our students. Our instructors work extensively to support our students in the field and in rare circumstances, a student may find themselves unable to complete a course. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts on your son’s experience with NOLS.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best trip of my life

The semester that I spent with NOLS was by far the most meaningful, impactful trip that I've ever taken in my entire life. The students and instructors were great fun, the lessons were interesting, and the landscape was unreal. One of my fondest memories from my semester was watching the full moon rise on a cloudless night, while sitting in my kayak in the middle of Nydia Bay, singing Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" in my head, meanwhile our "pod" was surrounded by hundreds of glowing moon jellyfish.

What would you improve about this program?
Already perfect the way it is
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

NOLS semester in New Zealand

Choosing the NOLS program was a decision that I will never regret and an opportunity that I am forever grateful for. This trip opened up my eyes and challenged every part of my being in the most unforgettable ways. From my inspiring instructors, the New Zealand terrain, to my fellow group members. It taught me how important communication is, how to be an authentic leader and how to persevere though the toughest of days. Sleeping under the stars almost every night and being completely unplugged in nature was only part of a trip of a lifetime. I would recommend this program/trip to anyone and everyone!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing experience

The NOLS semester in New Zealand was an absolutely incredible trip. A group of nine students, including me, backpacked for 1 month, sea kayaked for 1 month, and sailed for 2 weeks. We had fabulous instructors who outdoors enthusiasts, and great role models for all of the life skills that we learned on out course.
I woke up everyday, knowing that I was going to be challenged. But as I became more familiar with my group and closer with my instructors, I no longer doubted my ability to find success in each day.
I use the skills that I learned on NOLS every day, and I know that I will carry all that I learned for the rest of my life.
I am so grateful to my instructors, the New Zealand branch, and the NOLS organization for changing my life in the best way possible. I could not imagine a place that I could grow and mature more than on a NOLS course.

What would you improve about this program?
Have rooms for students to sleep in at the NZ branch
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

best days of my life

Every day was amazing but my favorite moments were at the end of a long day everyone sat together and cooked dinner while we talked and laughed away the hours. The instructors were always helpful in a comically unhelpful way responding "what do you think" whenever we posed a question to them. It really made us think things through and made things both funny and frustrating.

What would you improve about this program?
Longer sailing section and more food
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

NOLS New Zealand Fall Semester

Easily one of the most influential experiences of my life. Personal growth through conflict resolution, communication, and a shared outdoor experience. There is no classroom like the wilderness, no setting better than New Zealand, and (almost) no instructors like NOLS instructors.