Multiple Locations +2
  • New Zealand
    • Auckland
    • Rotorua
    • Wellington
    • Queenstown
  • Australia
    • Sydney
    • Byron Bay
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel After College College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Post-High School Volunteer Abroad Wilderness
General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Animal Viewing Backpacking Bird Watching Camping City Exploring Hiking Kayaking Mountain Climbing Rafting Remote Exploring Rock Climbing Sightseeing Snorkeling Surfing Swimming Trekking
Fall Spring
Hostel Lodge Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program Tuition Includes...
- All in-country travel and transport excluding flights
- All accommodation & 3 meals daily excluding snack
- All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees & adventure travel
- Individual mentorship from program instructors & local guides
- Lectures from resident experts on conservation & eco-tourism
- 1-3 week optional extensions if you wish to continue traveling independently
- Pre-departure information
- 24/7 emergency contact number for students and parents
- Global medical rescue and political evacuation insurance
- 24/7 access to a physician and psychologist
- Pacific Discovery T-shirt, water bottle stickers and a buff
- Online image library
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Domestic Airfare Airport Transfers Meals Park Fees Tour Guide Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
May 15, 2024
Aug 15, 2023
198 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

This epic gap year program through New Zealand and Australia will reveal the wonders of life Down Under, before you hike, climb and camp your way through Aotearoa.

New Zealand and Australia are two of the most ecologically intact and diverse countries in the world, and this experiential travel gap semester offers an amazing immersion during the temperate southern hemisphere spring and summer months.

It combines week-long conservation volunteer projects in diverse national parks and marine reserves; multi-day outdoor expeditions including backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing and surfing; and educational adventure travel through New Zealand and Australia’s stunning mountain, forest and beach environments!

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We understand that we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity we strive for among our students, staff, and partners. We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we recognize that this requires time, effort, and resources. At Pacific Discovery, we deeply value diversity, equity, and social justice, and we are dedicated to creating educational experiences that reflect and promote these values. Our program curriculum incorporates social justice education and encourages students to explore their own identities. To further support these efforts, we offer a 'Diverse Voices' Scholarship.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pacific Discovery programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly, and our operations team have attended CIS Abroad's LGBTQ+ Allyship Training, to ensure we’re doing what we can to support this community. We provide an open and non judgemental space for students to explore who they are at this pivotal time of their life, and in our admissions process we seek information not only on a student's gender, but their pronouns and gender identity. We’re aware of the differing cultural perspectives of LQBTQIA in the countries that we visit, and can direct students to a semester location where they’ll feel the most comfortable. Operationally we ensure that our instructors use inclusive language and can facilitate conversations with students around their identity, and discuss the rooming situations with LGBTQIA+ students.

Neurodivergent Support

Our programs are designed to support students with a wide range of neurodiverse conditions while following our essential eligibility criteria. For students needing extra help, we provide personalized wellness plans . These plans include coping strategies, care protocols, and specific requirements to help them engage effectively in the program. Our instructors have access to mental health first aid resources and are well-prepared to offer strong support to students with these needs.

Accessibility Support

Our programs offer a variety of physical activities, including hiking, surfing, rafting, and mountain biking. We make sure to accommodate students with diverse needs such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions, while working within the infrastructure of the host country and our program schedules. We're mindful of the varying levels of accessibility in the countries we visit and can help students choose a semester location where they feel most at ease.



Sustainability is one of the 6 core components of each Pacific Discovery program, where we educate students about the local and global environmental issues, how to travel sustainably, and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

We recently embarked on a Net Positive Benefit project where we are qualifying what impacts our groups have on the local communities, taking into consideration carbon emissions +/- social impacts +/- conservation impacts +/- community impacts. On our programs, students engage with non-profit organisations such as Litter Intelligence, Scholars of Sustenance, Ulu Mau puanui, Llama Pack project where they directly work for a better future - planting trees, eradicating invasive weed species, helping local communities and food banks.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with host communities and suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.

Program Highlights

  • Rewarding volunteer conservation projects in National Parks and wildlife reserves
  • 3-day 4WD tour of K'gari Fraser Island with stand up paddle boarding and snorkelling
  • Learn to ride waves during a multi-day surf camp in Australia's East Coast
  • Canyoning adventure in the Blue Mountains (swimming, jumping, and abseiling through waterfalls)
  • White water rafting adventure over rapids and the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world

Popular Programs

New Zealand

This program combines three week-long service-learning conservation projects in diverse national parks and marine reserves; five multi-day outdoor expeditions including backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing and surfing; and educational adventure travel through New Zealand and Australia’s stunning mountain, forest and beach environments.

Program Reviews

4.87 Rating
based on 39 reviews
  • 5 rating 94.87%
  • 4 rating 2.56%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 2.56%
  • Housing 4.85
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.95
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 9 - 16 of 39 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An organization I can't recommend highly enough!

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I am racking my brain to come up with something here, but I'm drawing a blank.
161 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Trip of A Lifetime

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.

51 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Aussies, Kiwi's and Adventure

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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!
59 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


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.

55 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
58 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery Adventure to Australia & New Zealand

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!!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
62 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 2 months of my life!

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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!
63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

pac disco=incredible memories

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I would love to have more time in the cities we stopped at because there was so much to do and so little time.
61 people found this review helpful.

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!