New Zealand Gap Year

Adventure, National Parks, Environmental Conservation, Māori Culture

Overview

Everything you hear about New Zealand is true. The landscapes are beautiful, the people are warm and welcoming, and the opportunities for outdoor exploration and adventures are endless. New Zealand has a rich geographical history, and its native bushland is home to unique flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world. The scale of the mountain ranges is hard to comprehend and the clear, twinkling lake and ocean water is hard to resist. In our opinion there is no better place to disconnect and immerse yourself in nature. New Zealand is inclusive, approachable, stunning and - lifechanging.

Come experience true wonder from this amazing country that we call Aotearoa - "land of the long white cloud".

Witness the majesty of Australasia's highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook. Explore the National Park by hiking one of its many trails and discover NZ's longest glacier, we even get up close to the phenomenal icebergs floating in the Tasman Lake.

 

Discover the night sky up at Skyline, high up in Queenstown, on a stargazing tour. Although we can't guarantee it, New Zealand is home to the Southern Lights and it's possible to see the aurora australis with the naked eye.

Sail through the fjords of Milford Sound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and often touted as the 'eighth wonder of the world'. Milford Sound is where sheer cliffs meet the deep blue waters, and mesmerising waterfalls take your breath away - keep an eye out for playful dolphins and seals! 

 

Pedal your way through charming Arrowtown, a delightful, historic gold-mining town, to the renowned Gibbston Valley wine region.

 

Zoom down the Shotover River on an exhilarating jet boat, weaving through narrow canyons and experience the thrill of 360-degree spins.

 

Rappel down waterfalls, leap into crystal-clear pools, and zipline over the natural water slides of Routeburn Canyon.

Intern at our "Southern Finishing School" - you call it a ranch, we call it a station - experience a taste of rural New Zealand on this sheep and cattle farm. Ever sheared a sheep? Milked a cow? Here's your chance.

10-Week New Zealand

Wellness Adventure

September 17 - November 25, 2024

18-22 years old
All Genders
70 Days, 10 weeks
Queenstown, New Zealand
Group of 5-12

Want more information?

Download our info packed Program Guide!

Students explore all that New Zealand has to offer by embarking on incredible adventures of a lifetime including:

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park  Milford Sound Boat Cruise • Discover Glow Worm Caves

Shotover River Jet Boat  Arrowtown to Gibbston Bike Tour • Rappel Waterfalls  Hike Backcountry

Stargazing in Queenstown  Rock Climbing, • and more!

We work with local organizations to curate intentional cultural immersion activities including:

Visit Historical Gold Rush Villages in Central Otago Gold Panning  Farm Visit with Sheep Shearing 

Beekeeping  AJ Hacket Bungy Jumping History Intro to Māori Culture "Real Country" Internship and more!

Rooted Life Adventures New Zealand Spring 2024 10-Week Young Adult Program

Interested in a shorter wellness adventure? Check out our 6-Week option.

Our program uses 8 Components to create lasting change:

  • Independent Living Skills
  • Community | Group Living
  • Environmental Conservation Volunteering
  • Adventure Excursions
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Wellness Workshops & Core Curriculum
  • "Real Country Farm" Internship
  • Wrap Around Care
Independent Living Skills

Students and Instructors fly together to gorgeous Queenstown, New Zealand and arrive at the place that will be their new home for the next ten weeks. Students live together with two Program Instructors and Wellness Director in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. Our home is nested in the hillside and boasts this stunning view. Only minutes from our home are three stunning lakes, endless trails and the Remarkables Mountain Range.

 

A key component of our program is learning the confidence and skills to live independently away from home. One day per week is dedicated to life skills - cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, budgeting, culinary skills. Together these students take on learning how to share a home, be good roommates, good housemates, and share responsibility in household chores. Students not only get cleaning lessons, but also are split into cooking groups where they take on the challenge of meal planning for the week, breaking down the meals into a grocery list, grocery shopping, making and keeping a grocery budget, and passing off to the next group. Each night the students cook dinner together with music on, learn the joy of creating their own meals, and sit down to a big “family” dinner.

Community | Group Living

Community is a key element in our programs, creating the most crucial lifelong skill that every student needs.

Living together in a house naturally engages the students in conflict resolution, problem solving, empathy, and communication skills. This also creates close peer to peer learning and the sense of belonging that comes from building and contributing to a supportive community. Our programs are mostly technology free which offers a well-deserved break from a screen and leaves nothing but space for face-to-face encounters. The group heads out as a team taking on new adventures daily, and every evening our students share affirmations celebrating each other for overcoming the day's challenges. After dinner the students take to evening games, dancing, karaoke nights, and hilarious retelling of stories from earlier that day.

 

The program also utilises “captain of the day” to engage in individual leadership skills as well as small groups to foster peer to peer discussion and accountability. Our program instructors facilitate endless group games like capture the flag in the backyard or after a long day of activities the group has the chance to lay by the pool. By the end of the program the students have created deep meaningful friendships that often continue long after the program is over.

Environmental Conservation Volunteering

New Zealand is committed to environmental conservation. There's a reason why our global brand positioning is "100% Pure New Zealand!" We partner with local organisations to create meaningful service opportunities where students learn about environmental sustainability. Students are taught about New Zealand's indigenous flora and fauna, animals and birds, as well as the unique challenges New Zealand faces. Students get a behind the scenes look at conservation operations, organisation models, government standards, and career opportunities. Students give back to the local community, connect with nature, and create a sense of belonging in the world. We complete 50 Volunteer Hours.

Wilding Pines on Ben Lomond

Environmental priorities in New Zealand include taming the wilding pines. Kiwis work tirelessly to protect native plants and unique wildlife from invasive species. Join local conservation experts on some of the most beautiful hikes imaginable, learn about native flora and fauna and join us in protecting New Zealand's native plants and habitats that belong to some of the world's most interesting species of birds.

Adventure Excursions

Queenstown is famously known as the "Adventure Capital of the World". It has hiking and bike trails, zip lining, canyoning, rafting, luging, bungy jumping, parasailing, jet boating, rock climbing, and skydiving... amongst an abundance of others. Queenstown offers outdoor adventure like you have never seen before.

Our program offers a range of thrilling adventures to excite, to challenge, build new capabilities, gain confidence, and make for some really good stories! There are two adventure days weekly and include:

  • Canyoning and waterfall rappelling
  • Jet boating through Shotover Canyon
  • Explore Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, home to Australasia's highest peak
  • Milford Sound boat cruise - discover the 'Eighth Wonder of the World"!
  • Rock Climbing in Wanaka
  • Luging at Skyline, with the vista of Queenstown and the Wakatipu below
  • Hike Roy's Peak, Queenstown Hill, and the Moonlight Trek
  • Stargaze at Skyline, in Queenstown. Snug up warm, tuck into a hot chocolate and be guided on a tour of the night sky above.

There are various options available, suitable for a range of abilities and confidence.

Cultural Immersion

We partner with local organisations to curate intentional cultural immersion activities where students can learn diverse values, world views and life experiences. Students expand their world view, enjoy a global perspective and develop a new appreciation for their lives back home.

We learn about New Zealand's Māori culture, which spans almost 800 years, and we are introduced to Ngāi Tahu, the South Island's largest iwi (tribe) in modern day New Zealand. We share Māori legends which offer a fascinating take on origin stories and the earth's creation, and students learn the art of storytelling. We visit places of cultural significance, are guided through exhibitions and are introduced to te rao; the Polynesian language of Māori.

We also learn about the more recent settlement history of New Zealand, the European pioneers who arrived in New Zealand from around the 1800s and settled around the Whakatipu Basin. Not long after, gold was discovered in Central Otago - we visit miner's huts, discover gold mining relics and even give gold panning a go! This region of New Zealand has a rich, diverse history and we take you on an exciting journey to discover as much of it as you can!

Wellness Workshops & Core Curriculum

Wellness Workshops

Weekly workshops involve group discussions and games around the meaning and purpose of the 7 dimensions of wellness: emotional, academic/intellectual, financial, spiritual, environmental, physical and social. Students share how each area of wellness affects them and they learn tools that can be used for support. The workshop concludes with a hands-on activity where students can apply the new skills they've learnt.

Core Curriculum

Living together teaches conflict resolution, problem solving and empathy. This is supported by our psychoeducational core curriculum which focuses on inter/intra-personal relationship skills, personal values, and tangible coping skills that will create long lasting connections to themselves, their communities, and their goals. These weekly lessons include the following subjects:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Self-awareness and tuning into feelings
  • Conflict resolution and relationship building
  • Coping skills
  • Core beliefs and values
  • Personal responsibility and leadership
  • Resilience & Reintegration
"Real Country Farm" Internship

One day a week we work with "Real Country Farm"; a rural New Zealand private sheep station (otherwise known as a ranch) located just south of Queenstown. Kingston Station is a 22,000-acre picturesque sheep and beef farm, a farming training institute and an agri-tourism experience operator, with an inspiring story and rich history.

Real Country Farm offers an authentic Southland farm experience; this internship builds student's confidence by teaching them a series of practical skills such as shearing, fencing, milking, feeding animals and whip cracking. Internship curriculum includes farm overview, animal care, farm property management, understanding agriculture, sheep, sheepdogs, understanding natural fertiliser and managing a farm business.

We are thrilled to work with Laura and her team and are excited to show you how rural New Zealand operates.

Students get 50 hours of hands-on Country Farm experience and a certificate of completion.

Wrap Around Care

Wrap-around support is achieved by bringing all student supports into the experience.

On site Wellness Director

A licensed therapist serves as our Wellness Director and lives on site 24/7 with the students for the entirety of the program. The Wellness Director supports the group’s program journey by integrating intentional wellness practices into the daily routine, they also facilitate weekly group core sessions and wellness workshops. Our Wellness Director does not provide any clinical or medical services; however, they will coordinate weekly with each family's home therapist to facilitate each student's individual growth.

At-home family talk Therapist

We partner with families at-home therapists. Families have already spent time and careful attention in selecting the right clinical therapist for them, someone they have been diligently working with, and knows the student well. This person is the best person to both support the student throughout the program, and when reintegrating back home afterwards. The student’s therapist will be contacted by our team prior to the program starting and they will be intimately involved throughout the intake and goal setting process. One full day per week is reserved for student wellness practices, during which each student will have a virtual appointment with their at-home therapist to discuss their program experience, learning, challenges, and goals. Our program’s Wellness Director will be in contact with each student’s home therapist for holistic care and to fully support each individual student’s journey.

Parent Involvement

It is crucial that parents/guardians are involved. Parents are engaged from the start, assisting the student with preparation and goal setting. Our Wellness Director will communicate with parents about the student and their group, every week. Parents can also participate in an optional weekly parent course that mirrors the student's curriculum, so that everyone is on the same page when the students return home. Post program, the support from parents and at-home therapists will be essential in reintegrating the student back home. The student will need support in sustaining their growth and applying it to future chapters of their lives.

New - parent coaching!

Rooted Life Adventures provides three parent coaching sessions at the beginning of the program, and three sessions at the end. These sessions prepare families to aid students in adjusting to program life and the subsequent reintegration back home.

Program Instructors

Each program has two instructors who are experts in experiential education and travel, they live with the group for the entire program. These instructors participate in every activity with the students and help them work towards the program goals. They provide consistent individual and group support.

Peer group support

Peer to peer learning and support is key for personal development. Students group together throughout the program for sessions on self-learning, discussion, and accountability.

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