New Zealand & Australia Semester - Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
98% Rating
(36 Reviews)

New Zealand & Australia Semester - Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure

$500 scholarship for Nepal & Tibet Semester Spring 2018 applicants
The Pacific Discovery Nepal & Tibet Semester is an extraordinary educational travel semester. You'll experience Nepali language and cultural immersion while home-staying in a rural village and volunteering on a valuable community development project. Trek the Annapurna Circuit, in the shadow of Himalayan giants through Annapurna National Park. Study yoga, meditation and Tibetan Buddhism while living at a small monastery. Raft one of the worlds top river journeys down the Kali Gandaki River. Travel overland across the roof-top of the world between Kathmandu and Lhasa, the spiritual heart of Tibet, through incredible landscapes, amazing historic sites, and visit Everest Base Camp.

Engage your passions! Join us for a life-changing, overland journey through the heart of New Zealand and Australia.

10-week program for ages 18-24. Fall and Spring departures. Scholarships and academic credit available.

Develop a global perspective, independence, leadership and communication skills through outdoor expeditions, service learning projects, and authentic cultural immersion. Pacific Discovery programs foster empathy for other cultures, ethical and sustainable travel practices, and awareness of international issues. Students leave with a deepened sense of their identity, passion, and purpose.

Pacific Discovery is a global leader in experiential education, offering inspiring summer, semester, and gap year programs abroad since 2001, and is an inaugural member of the American Gap Association.

- Visit our website to request a detailed information booklet for this program –

Highlights
  • - Develop skills in independent travel, leadership, communication, rock climbing, surfing, canoeing, canyoning, mountain biking, trekking, snorkeling.
  • -Get to know the real culture and people of New Zealand and Australia.
  • - Volunteer in service learning projects with National Parks in New Zealand and Australia.
  • - Explore New Zealand and Australia’s highlights – The Noosa Everglades, Sydney, The Blue Mountains, Brisbane, Auckland, Kahurangi National Park, Queenstown, Rotorua, Frans Josef Glacier, islands, beaches, national parks
  • - Experience transformative personal growth that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves, working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose.
Locations
Oceania » New Zealand » Auckland
Oceania » New Zealand » Rotorua
Oceania » New Zealand » Wellington
Oceania » Australia » Sydney
Oceania » Australia » Byron Bay
Oceania » New Zealand » Queenstown
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Cultural Exploration
Hands-On Learning
Post-College
Post-High School
Study Abroad
Volunteer Abroad
Wilderness
Length
1-3 Months
Timeframe
Fall
Spring
Winter
Accommodation
Hostel
Lodge
Tent
Inclusions
Accommodation
Activities
Airport Transfers
Domestic Airfare
Equipment
Meals
Park Fees
Tour Guide
Transportation
Visa
Exclusions
Airfare
Travel Insurance
Primary Language
English
Age Min.
17
Age Max
24
Application Fee
$0.00
Deposit
$400.00
Starting Price
$10,750.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
Program Tuition Includes...
- All in-country travel and transport including a mid-program international flight between New Zealand and Australia
- All accommodation
- All meals
- All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
- Environmental education and service learning 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
- Experienced international Program Instructors and local guides
- 1-3-week optional extensions if you wish to continue travelling independently after the program
- Pre-departure web-page 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, water bottle stickers and a buff
- Online image library for your program
Other Locations
North and South Islands of New Zealand, and the East Coast of Australia

Questions & Answers

My trip was also ranging between 18-22 years old. Most of the people were 18, but I was 22 at the time, done with college, and was the oldest besides the trip leaders. I wasn't bothered by this though because it was still awesome to hang out with such outgoing and motivated people!

Program Reviews

  • Housing
    94%
  • Support
    98%
  • Fun
    99%
  • Value
    96%
  • Safety
    98%

Program Reviews (36)

Default avatar
Sky
Female
19 years old
Hammett, Idaho

Experience of a Lifetime

10/10

After searching through countless gap year programs, I had finally settled on one - Pacific Discovery Australia & New Zealand. I loved the balance it had between service projects and adventure activities. Going into it, I knew I was about to have a great adventure, but I could have never expected the extent to which the program would impact me. It wasn't just seeing new places and meeting new people - it was being in awe of places you couldn't have imagined, finding connections to different cultures, and becoming more aware of yourself in the process. And there would be no better way to experience all this than with the group of people you come to call your closest friends. Going through all these experiences together, growing together, allows you to become connected on a whole other level. The mission of Pacific Discovery really does come to life as the program fosters awareness for yourself and the world around you.

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Ashley
Other

Inspirational Learning Outside of My Comfort Zone

8/10

I had always wanted to go Australia and New Zealand, and this program gave me the amazing opportunity to do so! Going into the program, I wasn't really sure what to expect. The website and pictures I had seen looked amazing, and I expected and wanted to grow as a person from this experience, but how and by how much, I had no idea. From the very start, Pacific Discovery taught us that the greatest learning comes from outside of our comfort zones. This trip was the first time I was continuously pushed out of my comfort zone, whether it was being away from home for 2 months, being with 13 other people from all different backgrounds, abseiling down a 30m waterfall with my heart pounding outrageously in my chest, jumping out of a plane from 13,000 ft and soaring like a flying squirrel, and countless other occasions. I learned that to really make the most of an experience, I have to take what I experienced and internalize it so that I can learn from it and come back to it for future reference. There were ups and downs and ins and outs, but at the end of the day, I'm a physically and mentally stronger person than I was at the beginning of the trip - because I internalized and learned the lessons from experiences outside of my comfort zone, thanks to the way that PD runs the trip.There is so much emphasis on personal growth, learning more about your own identity, and getting the most you as yourself can get out of the trip. Along the way, I met incredibly wise and incredibly eccentric people; I learned about genius designs that revolutionized my view of "eco-friendly," I became aware of so many other lifestyles than mine own, I developed and grew as a photographer, and most of all, I came out of this program with a stronger sense of who I am and how I want to live my life. All of this personal growth in a land that some people only dream of coming to, the beautiful vistas and great cities of Australia and New Zealand. Gazing up at the millions of stars visible in the night skies there, I was reminded of just how large the world is, and how much we all have to learn from different places and from each other, something that this Pacific Discovery program definitely emphasized very well. For that, I am very thankful to PD.

With love,
-Ashley Yu

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Margaret
Female
33 years old
Ottawa

Experience of a lifetime

10/10

I booked PD online from my home in Toronto Canada and it was the first site I looked at. It had everything I wanted out my New Zealand/Australia experience. When I retell my stories people are so jealous - you can't book this type of travel just anywhere and trust me I know - I am now a travel agent.
One of my favorite memories is participating in a 5 night canoe week and staying at local Maori camps or just our own sites. We decided to have a theme day where we dressed up as pirates (pre planned prior to canoe trip) and hung Skull and bones flags from our 'ships'. We didn't encounter anyone else on the river until we stopped at the, bridge to nowhere, when we ran into some people just coming up from the river, when they saw us in our costumes they laughed and said they wondered who the pirates were. We had so much fun as group laughing and pretending to be pirates, it really made me realize what incredible people I was with and it is all because of PD that we were brought together.

How can this program be improved?

I don't think it can. I love that I was challenged on the hikes and made to carry my own backpack. It was tough and some days tougher than others but you had a true sense of satisfaction and exhaustion when you went to bed. I had never truly canoed before and the 5 day trip was a highlight for me. PD thinks of everything, I can't even imagine trying to do anything like that on my way. They have an insurmountable knowledge and still make it loads of fun.

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Nicholas
Male
20 years old
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Connecticut College

Pacific Discovery Australia / New Zealand

10/10

If you're looking for an exciting yet meaningful semester on your gap year, look no further. I have just returned from Pacific Discovery's trip to Australia and New Zealand, which was by far the highlight of my entire gap year. I originally liked this program for the adventure aspect, and saw the community service projects just as a little something extra but honestly, everything was a highlight looking back.
One thing I will say about this program, though, is that it is fast pace (which I like). This program is for the person who wants to get the most out of their time abroad, who doesn't mind waking up early to catch the sunrise (always worth it) or who doesn't mind leaving their comfort zone (Bungee Jumping, in my case). I am this type of person, and so it turns out that Pacific Discovery was one of the best parts of my life so far.
If you are the adventurous and active type, I couldn't recommend this program to you more.

How can this program be improved?

I can't really think of anything specifically, to be honest. If I had to say something, though, I would say the logistics of the itinerary. There were days that had some really long car rides that I felt could be avoided with a slight switch around of the days; that would have been helpful.

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Seth
Male
42 years old
atlanta, ga
University of Virginia

Best Travel Experience of my Life

10/10

Hiking to Tongariro Crossing was epic. Hot in the morning and freezing cold on the top of the volcano in the afternoon! The landscape changed dramatically and our leaders had arranged for their local friends to join us so that we could learn about the history and ecology of where we were. On the way back down, we swam in some natural pools by the trail that were the most refreshing and beautiful experience of the trip. Our leaders were great, always well prepared and their love of life was second to none! This was one of many great moments from the trip. While you can find out about the Tongariro in guide books, our leaders took us on so many other excursions that you can only get my being with locals willing to share their favorite places.

How can this program be improved?

Potential work opportunities in country to extend the trip!

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Katie
Female
35 years old
Portland, OR
University of Oregon

An organization I can't recommend highly enough!

10/10

We began our ascent up Mt. Cook early on a cloud-covered day. The steep incline progressed and our view was limited due to the conditions, but the environment around us was beautiful and our spirits were high. Suddenly, the leaders in our group stopped in their tracks and called down to us. We soon caught up to them, breaking through the cloud cover and to see an incredibly clear view of Mt. Cook. It was breathtaking. We continued our climb until we had reached the upper campsights where we would stay for the night. We spent the evening listening to the rumblings of snow falling far off in the distance and admiring the beauty that surrounded us. This was one of many breathtaking moments that we experienced as a tight-knit group.

I feel so lucky that I came across this program and took the chance in setting out into the unknown. I experienced so much personal growth and discovered a new inspiration for adventure in life.

The organizers of these programs are incredibly warm and passionate people. They have a strong desire to learn, grow, engage, connect with others, and make a difference in their worlds. Their thirst for adventure is contagious.

These trips are so well planned and organized in order to maximize the experience for all of the participants, and constantly evolving to incorporate new experiences.

There are few organizations I hold in such high regard.

How can this program be improved?

I am racking my brain to come up with something here, but I'm drawing a blank.

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Kate
Female
24 years old
Boston, MA
Boston University

The Trip of A Lifetime

10/10

My gap year semester with Pacific Discovery was without a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. This was my very first time leaving the US on my own, and immediately I felt comfortable with both my group our incredible leader, Holly. In two months I was able to canoe, kayak, learn to surf, hike incredible areas, hang with the kangas, learn the ins and outs of NZ/AUS towns and SO much more. The trip consisted of unforgettable memories and even better friends with whom I have stayed very close to throughout these past five (!!) years. Out of four different trips I took throughout my gap year, my trip to Australia/New Zealand with Pacific Discovery was without a doubt the most rewarding. After two months, I felt that I had immersed myself fully in the Kiwi and Aussie culture. I would full heartedly recommend this program to anyone looking for a life-changing adventure with incredible people.

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Margaret
Female
26 years old
Richmond, VA
Calvin College

Aussies, Kiwi's and Adventure

10/10

Pacific Discovery New Zealand and Australia Gap Year Semester Program changed my life! I don't want to sound cliche when I say this, but I came back a totally different person. I came back a person who refused to say no to anything (just like the bunny jumping and skydiving that I did), as a person who would look straight up at a mountain and say "I am going to hike that!", a person who found comfort and solitude by sleeping on the ground, pitching a tent, making meals over tiny stovetops and carrying her life around on her back. I was not only challenged mentally, emotionally and physically, I was also able to give back to the country that I was enjoying by volunteering at National Parks. I learned the amazing culture and history of the people of New Zealand and Australia and learned how to be a better leader. For all these reasons and more, I would highly recommend this trip, or any of the Pacific Discovery trips!

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, everything was phenomenal about this trip. I would say that the one thing that could be improved is making it longer. It is a "semester" gap program so having it be the length of an actual college semester (4 months) would have been great!

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Amelie
Female
23 years old
Burlington, VT
University of Vermont

Amazing

10/10

My semester with Pacific Discovery was truly incredible. In just one semester, I got to go surfing, canoeing, canyoning, rock climbing, bungee jumping, hiking, camping, and so much more. Not to mention the friends I made and the invaluable life skills I picked up from my program leaders as well as my peers. Pacific Discovery makes you feel safe and comfortable from the second you arrive, through providing you with a detailed itinerary to fostering an atmosphere of open communication and respect. I would highly recommend any Pacific Discovery program to anyone who is looking to travel and make close connections, and I will truly never forget my time doing the Australia and New Zealand program. You really can't go wrong with this company, everyone involved is truly amazing.

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Steve
Male
25 years old
Brewster, New York
Keene State College

PD NZ/AUS

10/10

I wanted a trip where I can immerse myself in the culture and see parts of New Zealand and Australia that no one usually sees, especially those who normally just study abroad. I saw that and more and I relive my experience every day. From multi day expeditions though the Whanganui River and Kahurangi National Park, volunteering at Miniwhangata- hands down the coolest place I've ever been, making life long friends. It was worth the money and more I speant. My leaders were greats at their jobs and were even better friends.

How can this program be improved?

Our van in Australia was cramped and the AC barely worked. It was tough to deal with on multiple 5+ hours drives for a month. The list of what to bring on the trip could be updated as well.

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Elizabeth
Female
20 years old
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Other

Pacific Discovery Adventure to Australia & New Zealand

10/10

Pacific Discovery is truly great at what they do. If you are looking for a program that creates a personal relationship with their participants, provides a true cultural immersion, while also implementing environmental consciousness, you have found the program for you!
There is no way if I traveled to Australia and New Zealand on my own, that I would have been able to see what we saw and experienced what we did in my two month period with PD. It is insane how well organized they are, and what they are able to accomplish within 9 weeks.
My two months away from home were jam packed. Trying to reflect on my experience with a minimum of 200 words is overwhelming.
1) Bring a journal and write in it. 2) Go into every moment with an open mind. 3) Before you leave really try to establish your intentions of the trip and why you're going. 4) Go on every morning swim!!

How can this program be improved?

It might be worthwhile booking your own flight. PD does offer a travel agent that you can go through, but my family and I found a cheaper flight on our own.
Another thing to consider is how we traveled..which was 95% by van. The good ol van became a really close friend, but I felt for the people who experience car sickness.

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Caroline
Female
24 years old
Morristown, NJ
Other

Best 2 months of my life!

10/10

A new adventure everyday- whether it was jumping off a bridge into a river, eating kangaroo meat, bungee jumping, attempting to surf, or watching a wild sheep being sheered right in front of you; there was always something new and exciting! I learned so much about myself, as well as being more appreciative of the simple things in life (hot shower, hot meals, shelter from the rain. It is also so important to fill your life with happy company and adventure. Coming from a small family, having 12 people surrounding me at the dinner table every night, for every meal, and every new and sometimes crazy experience, was so special. Our group quickly became family and were so comfortable with each other. Pacific Discovery was always so organized and quick to respond to any questions we had since I signed up for the trip. I definitely felt every penny I spent on the trip came back to support me while I was in Australia and New Zealand. So much was included and the program leaders were so prepared with knowing where to go and knowing the little hide-a-way spots for a hot springs swim or coffee stop. I was hesitant about the camping expeditions of the trip initially, but being open-minded and having positive encouragement from the group made it a fun and easy transition. I wish I could do this trip again tomorrow!

How can this program be improved?

It was hard to constantly be "on the go". We only stayed in towns for 1-3 nights so always needing to repack got tiring. But we had the perfect balance of free time within the major towns to catch up on laundry and sleep, so it always felt worth it. And of course we were always excited to see new places!

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Xinhua
Female
23 years old
Seattle, Washington
Seattle University

pac disco=incredible memories

10/10

This trip has been more than I ever hoped for. The volunteer projects, expeditions, cities we visited and the spontaneous moments of pure adventure made this experience completely unforgettable. I’ve really learned how to challenge myself and how to conquer many things, not just including heights and physical activities, but also mentally. Everything we did was just a reminder that you are so lucky to be able to have this type of opportunity where you can fully diverse and immerse yourself into something that is completely bigger than you or any problems that tend to consume your mind. It helps you realize to live in the moment! Not only that, but I was challenged to do and see things differently than what I normally would do. New concepts and ideas were put into my head which not only allowed me to be a better consumer of the earth in a ecco-friendly way, but it also gave me the strength to be strong in any given situation and that self worth is very, very important. And to top it all off, I have met some incredible individuals that I am honored to call my AussieKiwi family. I know that the amazing friends I’ve made here will be friends of mine for a very, very long time. It’s an understatement to say that these two months have been one of the best times of my life. I am eternally grateful for this experience.

How can this program be improved?

I would love to have more time in the cities we stopped at because there was so much to do and so little time.

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Isabella
Female
22 years old
Baltimore MD
Other

From Baltimore to Down Under

10/10

Pacific Discovery is totally a one of a kind experience! The equal balance between volunteer, site seeing and adventure is exactly what I was looking for in a program. No day was complete without a swim, which usually happened either as the sun was rising or jumping off a bridge while driving to a new city. Besides all the insane things we did on this trip, the spontaneity each day brought also kept things exciting. One of my favorite parts was after returning home all my family and friends saying "I saw your pictures! I can't believe you did that!"

How can this program be improved?

Its hard not to drive so much in Australia but maybe spread out the driving and throw more adventuring stuff in.

Julia
Female
24 years old
University of Hawaii- Manoa

An Adventure Worth Sharing

9/10

I think when most people are young, adventure is all they dream about. I remember sitting at the top of a grassy hilltop. Surrounding us where beautiful, blue bays of clear water. The wind swept over the hills and made the long grasses ripple like waves. An intense sense of peace came over me as we watched the sun slowly dip towards the horizon. Another day in Mimiwhangata has come to an end. Tonight, we will play a few games, eat dinner in our wool shed home, and we will fall asleep beneath the Southern Cross.

How can this program be improved?

We spent the last week at a farm in Australia, it would've been nice to spend less time there and more time in Sydney. By the end of the trip all we wanted to do was explore, relax, and spend time together. It was difficult to do that at the farm since we were working all day.

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Theresa
Female
42 years old
United States

Such a great experience

10/10

I am so happy that my son had the opportunity to travel with Pac Disco! What a wonderful healthy experience. The community is conscious of what I want for family - eco-living, economical use of money and travel, community service, organic farming, working together as peers/mentors/leaders, integration into other cultures. Exactly what my son needed to help him mature into the wonderful young man he is today.

How can this program be improved?

My only complaint is that the information leading up to the program launch was delivered in different emails. Very hard to keep track of the details.

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Grady
Male
24 years old
United States
Nassau Community College

I had a blast!

10/10

It was so great! I had a blast! Met some great friends that I will be friends with forever. Learned so much more about myself and how to live within a budget. I really enjoyed it! I would love to do it again!!

How can this program be improved?

It really was amazing!

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Naomi
Female
24 years old
Winnipeg, Manitoba
University of Manitoba

Best Trip Ever!

10/10

Going on this program was definitely the best decision I ever made! It allowed me to travel abroad with a group of amazing people while doing amazing adventures I would never have done otherwise such as skydiving, rock climbing, abseiling and scuba diving. I have always loved camping so the canoe and hiking trips were incredibly fun, but physically and mentally challenging. So many experiences on this trip pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person. The scenery in New Zealand and Australia is breathtaking and the places we went on this trip such as the Whanganui River, Kahurangi National Park and the Blue Mountains are examples of some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I would recommend going on this trip, I would go again if I could!

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I would change would be to make the program even longer.

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Kalob
Male
19 years old
Thomaston, Maine

Pac Disco is the way to go!

10/10

At the beginning of my Pacific Discovery trip, I was a little nervous. Of course, I didn't know any of the people I would spend the next 2 months with. This made for a difficult first could of days. After this passed, Pacific Discovery became one of the funnest and most rewarding things I have every done in my life. A challenge for me in particular was The Crossing, an organic farm we volunteered at on our second week in Australia. It was hard because ALL of the food we ate was extremely healthy. Now, I had never eaten like that before (especially not for a whole week) but after the first couple of days I started to really enjoy the food. The taste and the energy it gave me. This set me up for a great 2 months of healthy eating--which I enjoyed very much. The leader of my trip, Kim, was outstanding. She had so much life experience and knew how to handle any situation, we all learned a lot of valuable travel skills from her. My plans for life are to travel the world and live how we did on Pacific Discovery--happy, healthy, and in the moment.

How can this program be improved?

The biggest problem for me on the trip was some of the kids had to be babied a little more than I thought was necessary. I know there isn't much to do to fix this but it is what stood out to me most. I always thought to myself, "we're adults, she is our guide, not our mother."

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Emily
Female
19 years old
Pozo, California

Best 9 Weeks of My Life

10/10

I am so glad I decided to fill part of my gap year with a Pacific Discovery program. I learned more about myself than I have from any other experience. The level of leadership, responsibility, and freedom made me much more independent and confident in the skills that I have. I got pushed out of my comfort zone multiple times and always got a huge thrill from the adventures that I had. The trip as a whole gave me a personal revolution and made my feel more alive than I have in a while. As a person who relished everyday, this was quiet an accomplishment. Also, the people on the trip far exceeded my expectations. Every person was able to teach my something, whether or not they realized it. I know that I have made thirteen life long friends. If you are on the edge, go for it! If you are not on the edge, choose Pacific Discovery! I can't praise this company enough. It is amazing, and it will change your life.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing I would make sure that kids come prepared to work and help out. They know hat they are going on a service learning program. They need to realize that they are signing up to help with community service projects. Kids knew they would have to do work but sometimes acted as if simple work was hard, or boring. Everyone should come prepared to pull their weight and help, try to keep an open mind because something that seems like it won't be fun can be a blast. Most of the time everyone was fine, I just noticed that every once and a while people got a bit down from having to do work.

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Claire
Female
24 years old
New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana State University- Baton Rouge

From a backpacking/camping newbie to an avid adventurer!!

10/10

I had a few months in between graduating college and starting graduate school, and I knew I wanted to travel abroad. I could have chosen to go abroad with my college program, but I decided to take a risk and go with a group of 13 people from all over the world that I did not know. I am so glad that I chose Pacific Discovery instead! Thanks to this program, I have made friends all over the world that are now a family to me, and the experiences that we were able to have together were unforgettable.

I did so many things on this trip that I never thought I could do, and I feel like a stronger person because of it. I had little camping experience and no backpacking experience, so I was worried about the backpacking and canoe trip expeditions. Turns out, those were some of my favorite and most memorable parts of the trip! That backpacking trip was both physically and mentally challenging for me (I'm scared of heights and a little unsteady on my feet at times to name a few things) but everyday I pushed through and surprised myself. My group leader and the other participants always encouraged me and cheered me on, and that was so refreshing especially on longs days of hiking. Those expeditions made me realize that the scenic views are so much more beautiful (how could that even be possible, right?), but they really are even more beautiful when you work for them.

Pacific Discovery inspired me to keep on exploring and to seek out adventure, whether it may be across the world or just around the corner in my own town. And since I'm not new to backpacking and camping anymore, I feel confident in my knowledge and background from this trip to go on some more adventures and can't wait to plan my next excursion!!

If I were to do it all over, I would choose Pacific Discovery over any other program because their main goal is to help you develop as a person by immersing you in different cultures, pushing you out of your comfort zone a little bit, and surrounding you with awesome people through it all. Couldn't be more grateful for this experience of a lifetime.

How can this program be improved?

I wish more people could experience what Pacific Discovery has to offer. That's why I am writing this review, so hopefully more people will be encouraged to choose this program!!

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Carolyn
Female
32 years old
Columbus, Ohio
Otterbein College

The Best Study Abroad Program

10/10

During my sophomore year of college, I began researching study abroad programs. I came across Pacific Discovery and knew the New Zealand and Australia program was the perfect program for me.

I am so happy I made that decision. Scott & Rachel were wonderful throughout the whole process. The coursework provided by Seattle Central Community College was all independent study with syllables and instructions provided prior to the trip. I loved that there were no formal classes and that I learned and grew so much by living those incredible experiences.

The trip was unforgettable. The itinerary was the perfect mix of outdoor adventure, worthwhile volunteer/conservation projects, and free time. I crossed more things off my bucket list in 9 weeks than most people get to in their lifetime.

The friends I made came from all different backgrounds and locations. We became like family and I can't imagine not ever getting to meet those incredible people.

This program changed my life. There isn't a week that goes by when I don't think about a memory from that time and I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

How can this program be improved?

I would want to know to plan some to save up for additional spending money to extend my trip before or after.

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Kate
Female
19 years old
Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado- Boulder

YOU NEVER REGRET A SWIM

10/10

Pacific Discovery delivers an extremely enlightening, culturally educational, life changing experience to each and every one of its participants! This trip was the best two months of my life, and I am forever in debt to Rachel and Scott for making my life into something meaningful! Everyday was an adventure on this trip, now, months later, the trip feels like it was simply a beautiful dream because I still can't contemplate all the amazing things I got to do! I faced fears while sky diving and jumping off of rocks and had the time of my life. There wasn't a minute where I felt uncomfortable or unsafe. The friends I made are life-long and family to me. My leader, Kim, was unbelievably inspiring and fun! There was never a dull moment. Even on long road trips the group stayed laughing in high spirits. This trip is the epitome of happiness! I'll never regret a minute, or a swim, or a laugh, or a game of psychiatrist! Even the volunteer work was spectacular! Giving back to the world while traveling through it is an amazing experience that you wont get like this anywhere else! The leaders constantly work towards keeping everyone healthy and happy ensuring that their personal trip experience is everything we could hope for and more! I learned more about myself and the world in these two glorious months than I did in all my eighteen years before it! Get ready to cross everything off of your bucket list and prepare for a brand new thirst for adventure and swim every chance that you get!

How can this program be improved?

If I could change one thing I would make the program longer! I wanted it to last for the rest of my life!!

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Taylor
Female
24 years old
Jackson, Wyoming

Somehow, I stumbled into the perfect program

10/10

I started researching gap year programs at the end of my senior year and had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I found Pacific Discovery, and I'm so glad that I did. It was honestly the perfect program for me in so many ways. If I had to describe it in one word, I would say "balanced". First of all, the leaders were so supportive and fun; I really trusted them and it felt like they really trusted all of us. It has the perfect amount of service/learning and exploring/fun. I gained so much independence and confidence in myself and my ability to travel.
I remember during our first week of service, we were camping on this beautiful farm on the coast. Every night, we'd cook dinner in this little wool shed and afterward, we'd sit in a circle and drink hot chocolate and play games like charades and mafia. Honestly, some of my best memories from the trip are just of hanging out and getting to know the rest of the group.
Halloween was also very memorable. It was during another service week, this time we were camping by a lake. During the day, we planted trees and that night we played "Ghost in the Graveyard", which is kind of like Hide 'n Seek, and ate candy. I remember screaming so loudly when someone jumped out at me from the dark trees. It was honestly one of my favorite Halloweens I've had.
I think my favorite memory, though, was of the week we spent backpacking. It rained the entire time, but it was still so much fun. I remember hiking on this windy ridge on our last day; we were all freezing and soaking wet, dreaming about the warm van that was waiting for us at the other end. A particularly strong gust of wind blew the rain cover off of the backpack of the boy in front of me and we both stopped and watched it fly away and he looked at me and said, "It was slowing me down anyway.." and I laughed and we kept walking.
I have so many good memories from my semester with Pacific Discovery and met so many amazing people. I think it gave me the break I needed after school ended. I learned so much about myself and about the world and what I want out of life, which sounds cheesy, but it's completley true. It made me excited about life again and I am so thankful for that.

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, I'm not sure how the program could be improved. I think I would change the packing list a little bit, maybe to include more warm clothes and casual clothes to wear in the city.

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Emma
Female
24 years old
United States
Cornell University

Absolutely amazing.

10/10

I give this program a 10/10 in all categories...and I mean it. Whether we were canoeing the Whanganui River, backpacking in Kahurangi National Park, celebrating the Sevens Rubgy Tournament in Wellington, or doing trail maintenance on North Keppel Island in Australia, we were always challenging ourselves, trying new things, growing closer, and having a blast. I went skydiving for the first time (amazing!), I saw a massive Maori cliff carving accessible only by water (we swam for ten minutes to get there), I fell asleep many nights under the starriest skies I've ever seen, and I frequently wondered if the world could really be so beautiful.

I know that there are an overwhelming number of abroad programs to choose from, but I urge everyone to consider this one. You will love it!

How can this program be improved?

Partly due to weather, the Australia portion of the trip wasn't as amazing as the New Zealand part. Again, this was mostly due to our bad luck with the weather, but maybe Frazer Island could be swapped out for a different outdoorsy trip.

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Elise
Female
24 years old
Chicago, IL
Other

Trip of a lifetime

10/10

Pacific Discovery made the best two months of my life amazing and inspire me to travel. This trip had so much to offer like volunteering, learning about the countries and environment, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and making friends for a lifetime! Seeing Australia and New Zealand from my leaders and seeing how much they both love their country and care for it so much, made me love the countries even more. Trekking through the Kahurangi National Park made of seemed like the worse week of our life with the constant raining but it turned out to be the best and brought us closer as a group and seeing the van at the end of the trail was like hitting the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. During the volunteer weeks it was great talking to the locals and seeing their side of everything. They opened up to us and showed how passionate they are with the work they have done to keep the countries beautiful and green. I love the bonds that I made with my trip mates and happy with the lifelong memories we shared together on this trip. I want to thank Pacific Discovery for showing me how to be a confident traveller and showing me the true beauty of Australia and New Zealand.

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Margaret
Female
24 years old
Richmond, VA

Eye Opening Adventure

10/10

Having never flown over an ocean, my flight from LAX to Wellington was very nerve racking, but once I got there, saw the city and the people I'd be spending the next 2 1/2 months with, the nerves died down and I knew my adventure was just beginning. The New Zealand and Australia Semester took us around all of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, taking in the gorgeous serenity and the bustling cities. We climbed mountains, canoed rivers, helped make the national parks cleaner and better for hikers, we jumped off bridges and out of planes and had an amazing time. It was great being able to give back to the national parks by helping tidy up the paths, because we would've never made it if our trails were cleared and well marked (who knows, we could still be out there...I wouldn't mind!)

The leadership days were really helpful and beneficial to growing leadership skills. Each week or weekend, a new person would be our leader, would assign tasks or "get to know each other" experiences, would have to organize all the housing or gathering of people...I feel like I can now lead a group of individuals who are close to my age but still be looked at as a friend and a leader.

I was pushed on several occasions both physically, mentally and emotionally. I think the biggest example was when we were in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park hiking up a mountain. No one saw the first stair, but me, and it said something like 3,000 stairs to go. I thought it was a joke. One of the girls, Nikki, myself and our leader Dan, were going full speed up these stairs build into the side of the mountain. About an hour later, we weren't there yet and my legs were on fire. I told them to go ahead without me and I would continue my journey up the mountain. Every 15 steps I would stop and take a breath, turn around and take a photo. I ran into really nice couples along the way and chatted about their experiences, which helped take my mind off the pain of my legs. Dan, our leader, had told us awhile back that all the negatives can easily be turned into positives, just by flipping a brain switch. So although I was in so many physical pain, I turned that negative into a positive, and thought that I was going to have a great butt and legs after this hike! I kept pushing through and was so happy when I saw Nikki and Dan standing at the top...however that was false Summit #1. The next section of the hike was bouldering over massive rocks and boulders (duh!). I lost them once again and it was back to my mental climb. I thought so many times, "I can just turn around and go back to the hostel," but I couldn't let myself do that. I needed to finish this hike by myself to prove that I could. I made it to false summit #2, took a deep breath and looked at the mountain next to me. I was sweating bullets and the mountain one over was covered in snow and there were occasional avalanches that you could hear. All I wanted was to roll in that snow! I continued following the path and stumbling over boulders and came around a corner and saw, maybe half a mile away, this red hut in the distance, and I knew I had made it. I was so proud of myself, being an athlete I thought this hike would be easy...it definitely proved me wrong. Nikki, Dan and I ate lunch at the top and took some breathtaking pictures, then went back down. We even ran back to the hostel, even though our knees were killer and our legs jell-o. We took a nice rewarding break in the hostels sauna. I know that this hike in particular will always be with me and when I think something is too hard for me to complete or push through, I can look back and say "I pushed through then, what's holding me back now?"

Overall, I walked away from the experience being a better person, an adventurer who wants to now travel the world and will always be grateful for this trip, the leader and the people that were involved, as well. I thank Pacific Discovery for the opportunity and I wish others like me will have similar discoveries and adventures!

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Madison
Female
24 years old
Houston, Tx
University of Toledo

Best Experience of My Life

10/10

I had always wanted to travel to New Zealand. As I got older, I decided that I would find a way to make it there while doing some sort of volunteering or community service. After hours of searching, I stumbled upon Pacific Discovery. The program was exactly what I was looking for. It was a environmental conservation program with lots of team building and adventures. I was looking for a program that would help me move out of my comfort zone and experience new things, and that's exactly what I got from Pacific Discovery.

During my trip, I made amazing bonds with my fellow group members and we all became as close as family. We all encouraged and supported each other when times were tough, such as our four day hike in the mountains or during our rock climbing camp.

To be completely honest, words cannot truly describe how amazing I felt this program was. All I can tell you is that not a day goes by where I don't think of my experiences from this trip. The things I've learned and overcome from this trip have helped me see things with a more open mind, and I'm truly happy for that.

If you are looking for a program which lets you experience the true culture of a country while expanding your horizons to many new and amazing experiences, then Pacific Discovery is the program for you!

How can this program be improved?

To be honest, there is not much I would recommend be changed from this program except to maybe be a few days or so longer to allow the group to rest more in between locations during the trip.

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Sadie
Female
24 years old
Sidney, BC

Unforgettable

10/10

This was honestly one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I was really unsure at first but after a few days I could not believe how incredible the program was. I actually enjoy gardening now from all the conservation work I did. I was so surprised about that and so was my family! The work actually turned out to be so much fun. I loved getting up and helping out anyway I could.

I still have a huge grin on my face every time I think for my adventure with Pacific Discovery. I have so many amazing memories and experiences I will never forget. One of my favourite experiences was getting to try a circus class in Byron Bay. I had always had an interest but I've never had the opportunity. My group leader Kim was so awesome she told me about some circus classes and made sure that I got to go to the class by helping me research places and driving me there as well. Another favourite memory of mine is when my group was at Pelorus in New Zealand and we all walked to a waterfall to look at glow worms. It was just so beautiful and so amazing to share that experience with everyone.

Scott and Rachel have created an amazing program. I was so scared about what my group was going to be like and my group leader. I found out I had nothing to worry about. Everyone was in the same position I was. We all wanted to be friends and get along which was so nice. I could not have asked for a better group of people. My group leader Kim was also just so special. She was always there to talk and was so willing to make this trip special for everyone there. It was so nice to be on a program where you could tell everyone involved wanted the trip to be the best for every participant. At times, yes, it was tough but it was worth every minute. I still can't believe how much I have grown. I know now how strong I actually am which I am so grateful for.

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Serena
Female
19 years old
West Hartford, Connecticut

We woke up at four in the morning, packed everything into the trailer, and piled into the van once again. We should have been miserable, but we were all still smiling.

10/10

In New Zealand and in Australia, I woke up each day with bright eyes and ready feet. I had not a care for my aches or pains (though there were always many) and felt full of a never ending supply of adventuresome spirit. It was very rare for one of us to feel a lack of excitement for the day's plans- though, of course, it did happen; living every hour with the same group of people for two months comes with its inherent challenges. But, waking up with the next dawn, I would realize that I was on the top of a mountain in Kahurangi National Park, and that I had trekked all the way up there on my own two feet. Or that I was camping in the bush in Australia, being woken by the laughter of the kookaburras. Or yawning, sore as can be, at Surfaris Surf Camp in Crescent Head, ready to throw myself into the arms of the Pacific Ocean once again, to be battered by its waves until I could learn to ride them. I felt giddy with the beauty of the world and its people. This trip never felt like...a program to me. It just felt like living. Like true, joyous living.

How can this program be improved?

The truth is, I was rarely unhappy on this trip. The difficulties came when we moved too quickly from one place to another, with no chance to rest in between. This also added a strain on group dynamics which was my greatest challenge.

About The Provider

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Pacific Discovery gap year, semester and summer programs are experiential education programs, suitable for high school graduates, university students and recent graduates, developed with a focus on six core components: educational travel, service learning, cultural and language immersion, sustainable adventure travel, outdoors and wilderness exploration,

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