Instructor Dave Pigott points out river features. Clarence River
Photo: Roo Riley
Join us for an exciting educational opportunity in a remarkable country. New Zealand’s South Island is a varied region of alpine grasslands, snowfields, rain forests, rugged mountains, spectacular gorges, and broad valleys with unique birds and plants found nowhere else in the world, such as the only mountain parrot, the Kea.
For 77 days, you’ll learn about the region’s natural history and culture as you travel through the island’s forests that contain remnants of Gondwanaland, a prehistoric continent. Along the way, you’ll spend some time with the local Maori who will teach you about their culture and connection to the land.
Then, whether you choose to canoe, sea kayak, or sail, you’ll practice technical skills along New Zealand’s coastlines or rivers. And no matter where this semester takes you, you’ll experience the varied and unpredictable weather of the “Roaring Forties”—an apt nickname for the area between latitudes 40° and 50° south known for strong, prevailing winds.
A common element to all New Zealand semesters, tramping (Kiwi for backpacking) is where you will learn all the basics of backcountry travel. New Zealand is known for its spectacular landscape; during your semester you will explore all it has to offer. Be ready for steep terrain and variable weather. Students find this a physically demanding section but also the one with the greatest learning opportunities.
You’ll visit a local marae (meeting site) for a two-day cultural experience with a community of Maori, the original human inhabitants of New Zealand. You’ll learn about their traditions, art, mythology, and connection to the land that remains deep and sacred.
Canoeing (optional dates)
For three weeks, you’ll follow the South Island rivers like the Clarence (Wai-au-toa), Hurunui, or Waiau. You’ll learn the essentials of canoe expeditioning as you paddle through some of New Zealand’s most classic hill country.
Sea Kayaking (optional dates)
Set in the waters of the Marlborough Sounds, this section will begin with basic maneuvering and move to additional classes on paddling techniques. You’ll also have classes on navigation, tides and currents, marine weather and communications, and other aspects of seamanship.
Mountaineering (fall only)
Up to three weeks long, this section provides a solid foundation of mountaineering skills that compliment and enhance the backpacking section. You will travel in the challenging and dramatic alpine environments of one of several areas: Arthur’s Pass National Park, the Arrowsmith Range, Ahuriri/Ruataniwha Conservation Park, or Nelson Lakes National Park.
Your home for 10 days of coastal sailing. Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island
Photo: Tom Attwater
Sailing (spring only)
This 10-day section takes place in the Cook Strait and Marlborough Sounds regions. You will cook and live aboard two keelboat sailing yachts, rotating crew positions and learning the fundamentals of basic coastal cruising.
18 and Over (Average Age: 21)
(Tuition includes 15% New Zealand Goods and Services
September 13-November 28, 2012
Section 1: Mountaineering, Sea Kayaking, Backpacking, Culture
"The course began at the mouth of the
Hurunui River, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.
We had a daylong presentation of the Maori culture and traditions
by two South Island Maoris, who performed a "Haka"
for us, a traditional Maori war dance."