South Pacific Semester: Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia

South Pacific Semester: Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia

Explore the relationship between humans, ecosystems, and societies. Examine the interaction between organisms and their environment, learn about species conservation and management, and explore the complex elements that define society and culture.

Spend thirteen weeks abroad, including seven weeks in Fiji, two weeks in New Zealand, and four weeks in Australia.

Start the semester by traveling to a remote portion of Fiji’s Yasawa Islands for fieldwork related to the country’s marine ecosystem and the impact climate change has on this fragile environment. Learn about the various strategies in place to protect, conserve, and restore Fiji’s marine environment. Halfway through the semester, travel to New Zealand and learn to surf in Raglan before visiting the world­ famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Visit Rotorua, famous for Maori culture and boiling mud pools and then whitewater raft the Kaituna River. Next, venture to Australia and explore the intricately connected ecosystem of the Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest surviving rainforest, and see firsthand the impact of climate change on the great barrier reef system.

Students love our programs in Fiji Islands!
Departure Dates
  1. September 06 - December 05, 2019

  2. February 03 - May 03, 2020

Program Profile
  • Countries:

    fj Fiji Islands

    New Zealand


  • Department:
    Gap Year
  • Duration:
    13 Weeks
  • Ages:
  • Cost:
    $19,000 plus Airfare
  • Language Study Hours:
  • Interests:
  • Program Types:
    College Credit
Program Profile
  • Countries:

    fj Fiji Islands

    New Zealand


  • Department:
    Gap Year
  • Duration:
    13 Weeks
  • Ages:
  • Cost:
    $19,000 plus Airfare
  • Language Study Hours:
  • Interests:
  • Program Types:
    College Credit

Country-Specific Academic Focus

Fiji and New Zealand: Ecology and Species Conservation

Students will explore population structure and growth, species interaction, energy flow through a population system, and environmental management. Through field work and seminar, students will also discuss relevant current ecological issues in the field, including the effects of habitat fragmentation and loss, invasive species, and pollution. Students will perform ecological experiments in the field to study animal behavior and population ecology. This course is intentionally designed to compliment the sustainability and environmental studies course so students develop a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between human actions, ecology, and environmental conservation.

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Through fieldwork with local farmers and investigations of consumption and pollution patterns in the South Pacific, students observe systems in their cultural, economic, political, and human contexts. Texts and seminars challenge students to examine the core assumptions and values that share various perspectives on environmental policies and resource management strategies.

Semester-Long Academic Focus

Rhetoric and Composition for the College Writer

This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging core content explored through other Verto courses and immersive fieldwork. Students will use essential questions for other courses taken during the semester to contextualize the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric.

Identity, Politics, and Equity

Drawing from media, texts, and intercultural experiences within homestays and fieldwork, students reflect on the dynamic roles of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in shaping relationships within communities. Students will leave the course with critical understanding and inquiry tools to serve in creating greater equity in relationships ranging from the interpersonal to those between nations.

Core Semester and Program Concepts


In afternoons, students participate in seminars that are related to the topic that they’re working on in the morning. So if they’re working on farms in the morning, in the afternoons they’re doing readings, watching movies and having discussion related to that.

Mentorship and Support

Each student is assigned a Program Leader as a mentor who helps student set goals for the program and meets with the student regularly to provide feedback and support around the challenges associated with being abroad. There are significantly more support and investment in the student-staff relationship than your typical freshmen student who may have an RA and then office hours for professors.

While Program Leaders provide holistic support for the students, they are not with them at all times. There are built-in opportunities in the program for students to learn and grow together as a group with an emphasis on peer relationships and teamwork.

Host Families

Students live in pairs with host families in each country to give them insight into a different culture and a different way of living. Students spend the mornings working with local professionals and experts who are engaged in working to address local issues. Hands-on experience and getting outside of the classroom is essential to reigniting a passion for learning

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!

Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear. For New Zealand, this means checking the weather for the week you will be in New Zealand and bringing warm clothes. The same two pairs of pants can be used all week!

Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.

Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.


A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money/ATM card
  • Book
  • Journal and pens
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Outlet power converter
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Medication
  • Visa Documentation (if applicable)
  • All Flight Itineraries
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
Checked Luggage

A 70-80 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Socks (5)
  • Underwear (10)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Lightweight Pants (1)
  • Long Shorts* (2-3)
  • Collared/Dress shirt (1)
  • T-shirt (6)
  • Tank tops (4)
  • Long sleeve shirt (2)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (2)
  • Rain jacket
  • Softshell and/or Micro Puff jacket (optional)
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers – All terrain – running/hiking
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Work gloves
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Rash guard

(travel sized in ziplock bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Oxybenzone-free sunscreen (reef safe)
  • Bug spray
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream


  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Watch/alarm clock
  • Large ziploc bags
  • Large garbage bags for wet/dirty clothes
  • Sleeping bag – small/lightweight a must (35 degrees and up)
  • Any relevant Scuba Diving certifications
  • Day pack rain cover


  • Donations: As a responsible travel provider, we firmly believe in giving back to the communities and countries where we operate. As part of our holistic approach to business, we run a 501c3 nonprofit that supports high priority projects year round. If you feel inspired to join our global community of travelers making a difference, please consider making a donation here.
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, playing cards, etc)
  • Musical instruments
Rustic Gear

Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.


• Community service appropriate attire includes T-shirts with no visible undergarments and shorts should be knee length—think Bermuda or basketball shorts—to be respectful to the local culture and traditions.
• Leggings DO NOT count as long shorts. Long shorts must be loose fitting, like basketball shorts, or cargo shorts.
• Some students prefer hiking boots, and they are nice to have, but in the interest of packing light, it is fine to wear sturdy sneakers that will be comfortable for hiking activities.
• Scuba and snorkeling gear will be provided by dive company, but you may bring your own if you prefer.
• You will be receiving a “sulu,” a traditional Fijian sarong, when you arrive!