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
Aug 20, 2023
Aug 15, 2023
183 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.

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 17 - 24 of 39 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

From Baltimore to Down Under

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!"

What would you improve about this program?
Its hard not to drive so much in Australia but maybe spread out the driving and throw more adventuring stuff in.
44 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An Adventure Worth Sharing

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.

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

Such a great experience

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.

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

I had a blast!

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!!

What would you improve about this program?
It really was amazing!
35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Trip Ever!

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!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change would be to make the program even longer.
33 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pac Disco is the way to go!

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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."
37 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best 9 Weeks of My Life

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.

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

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

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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!!
32 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!