|Location||NOLS New Zealand|
|Tuition||$6,740 Learn about Financial Aid|
|Start/End||Aniseed Valley, New Zealand|
|Fly in/out||Nelson, New Zealand|
High School Credit
“The most rewarding part of the course was definitely the ISGE (Independent Student Group Expedition). It was like going from having a drivers permit to your license. It gave us a chance to really test our skills, and definitely improved my confidence in my abilities to the point where I would consider leading my own short expedition. ”
There’s nothing quite like seeing the remote wilderness on your own two feet, carrying all your own gear on your back while gaining the tools necessary to become a great leader in the backcountry and at home.
Backpacking courses often hike three out of every four days. You’ll travel in small hiking groups so you have more opportunities to lead, make decisions, and map read as you move through beautiful wilderness. Hiking days begin early when you light your stove, cook and enjoy breakfast, and then organize and pack your pack.
You’re usually hiking by mid-morning. Lunch on the trail might be bread you baked the day before, or a trail mix of nuts and dried fruits. You may stop for a short class on natural history, or to learn how to cross a river, travel through boulders or snow, or move over a high pass. When you arrive at your new camp location, you'll first spend time choosing a Leave No Trace site and organizing camp, then you’ll prepare a well-deserved dinner. If the day was long, a short evening meeting may wrap up the day. If the hike was short, there may be a class or discussion.
“The scenery and friends I made on this trip made it such an enjoyable experience, and I look forward to using the technical skills I learned after the course on my own personal expeditions.”
New Zealand is a land of contrasts. The South Island’s west coast drips with rain. Its forests are dense with tree ferns and towering podocarps, ancient remnants of conifer forests that existed when New Zealand was part of a gigantic continent called Gondwonaland.
On the eastern side of the island, in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps, the hills are brown in late summer, backcountry travel is often across open slopes covered with tussocks of grass or through beech forests that smell like honey.
Raw and young, this landscape is steep and rugged and its weather is capricious. You can go from hot sun in the morning to cold winds, rain, and snow in the afternoon. We leave behind the tourist routes and plunge deep into the forests or climb high up into remote alpine areas.
Some courses float down its rivers or explore its coastlines, experiencing the country’s rich marine life—whales, dolphins, and seals—and its wide variety of endemic birds. New Zealand is a dramatic place that engages your senses, challenges you physically and mentally, and promises to give you the adventure of a lifetime.