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
181 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 25 - 32 of 39 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Study Abroad Program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
I would want to know to plan some to save up for additional spending money to extend my trip before or after.
31 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


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!

What would you improve about this program?
If I could change one thing I would make the program longer! I wanted it to last for the rest of my life!!
35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Somehow, I stumbled into the perfect program

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.

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

Absolutely amazing.

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!

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

Trip of a lifetime

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.

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

Eye Opening Adventure

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!

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

Best Experience of My Life

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!

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


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.

27 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!