Programs | FALL Programs | NEW ZEALAND

Program Details

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Dates: Fall 2019: October 22—December 5, 2019
Spring 2020: April 8—May 22, 2020
Fall 2020: October 22—December 5, 2020
Spring 2021: April 8—May 22, 2021

Accommodations: Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge

Credits: 15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits

Language: English instruction

Courses: ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C

Prerequisites: One college level course of ecology or similar,
18 years of age

Program Costs

New Zealand Fall 2019/Spring 2020
$      150    Application Fee
$   5,500    Program Fee
$   3,100    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$   1,800    Estimated Airfare
$   1,500    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$12,050    Total Estimated Cost
Fall 2019: Program fees due by August 1, 2019
Spring 2020: Program fees due by February 1, 2020

New Zealand Fall 2020/Spring 2021
$      150    Application Fee
$   5,550    Program Fee
$   3,100    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$   1,800    Estimated Airfare
$   1,500    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$12,100    Total Estimated Cost
Fall 2020: Program fees due by August 1, 2020
Spring 2021: Program fees due by February 1, 2021


The Program

Fall program information

Our Fall field course begins with the exploration of volcanic and predator-free islands in northern New Zealand. Here, amongst colorful parrots and rare forest birds, we will hone our species identification skills and examine concepts in insular ecology. As we travel south through the volcanically active center of the North Island, we will investigate the alpine ecology, geology and human history of the region. Our cultural and ecological exploration of the region will continue as we paddle the Whanganui River with local Maori.

Once off the river we will travel to a predator-free island in the Wellington Harbor and then across the Cook Strait to South Island. While on South Island we will hike through the mountains of the Kahurangi, travel the rugged west coast, and explore the alpine valleys of the majestic Southern Alps. Towards the end of the class we will work and hike among the lush Fiordlands before ending the class in breathtaking Queenstown.

Throughout, our field study team members will take part in key conservation and restoration projects. Together we will closely investigate natural resource management policies, and work with local organizations on issues concerning animal reintroduction and invasive species management. By the close of the program, each of us will have gained an intimate understanding of New Zealand's fascinating ecology and cultural history, its historical and current environmental challenges, and the conservation and restoration efforts being taken to address them.

spring program information

Our Spring New Zealand Program begins in the heart of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, the South Island’s Southern Alps. Here, surrounded by high peaks and turquoise lakes we will learn about the culture, history and geology that defines and shapes this unique and beautiful country. We then travel to Fiordland National Park, where, by land and sea, we will investigate the forest and fiords, learning about the species that are adapted to these unique ecosystems. From here we continue to the Otago peninsula, where yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions and albatross are local residents and we have a chance to gain first-hand experience on research conducted on these focal species.

We will depart the coast and move inland to explore New Zealand’s tallest peaks in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, learn about the great cultural significance of this region to the indigenous Ngāi Tahu people and understand from local mountaineers how climate change is impacting the area. As we move north, we will participate in whale monitoring in Kaikoura, hike and conduct field studies along the wondrous shores and hidden coves of Pelorous Sound, and kayak to remote beaches in Totaranui, before sailing north to Wellington on New Zealand’s North Island. Here on the North Island, through snorkeling in the crystal waters, we will learn about coral reef structure and fish community composition before undertaking our independent projects in Te Moana-a-Toi, New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. We will finish our field studies hiking through the volcanic landscape to Lake Tarawera. 

Through working on research projects, participating in conservation efforts and volunteering on restoration initiatives, students will gain a deeper understanding of scientific practices and ecological field sampling techniques. We will engage with Māori to learn about the native culture and traditional way of life. Through conversations with local community groups, including scientist, academic, mountaineers and rangers, students will learn about the unique relationship New Zealanders have with their homeland. By the end of the program, students will be well versed in species adaptation, climate change concerns and conservation efforts. 

Program Photo Gallery


More Details






Mason London

lead instructor

MSc in Biology, Humboldt State University, 2017

Mason is a stream ecologist interested in the physical and chemical composition of aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, he has researched plant and insect interactions in the Andes of Venezuela and the recovery of the endangered Island Grey Fox on California’s Channel Islands. Mason’s passion for teaching and the outdoors intersect the most greatly when he is able to engage students in observing ecosystem processes that generally go unnoticed. As a two-time alumni of the 2009 Chile Patagonia and Pacific Northwest programs, Mason understands the importance of hands-on research experience. He has assisted with our Channel Islands Program since 2017 and will lead our New Zealand Program starting in Fall 2019.


Benita Carmen Laird-Hopkins

lead instructor

MSc in Ecology, Lancaster University, United kingdom, 2016
Phd candidate in entomology, university of south bohemia, czech republic

Benita is a community ecologist with research interests in plant community dynamics, species effects of climate change and conservation ecology. She is currently undertaking a PhD in entomology, investigating how changes in climate affect community composition and species distribution of tropical insects. She has worked in multiple locations, including Alaska, Thailand, Panama and Guam, and has spent considerable time in New Zealand, working as a ranger for the Department of Conservation. Benita has a great passion for the outdoors and in her spare time can be found hiking, climbing and biking through the mountains. She has taught field courses in Panama and the United Kingdom and led our Summer 2019 Alaska Program. Benita will lead the spring New Zealand Program.