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Kaitiakitanga: Guardianship and Conservation

Experience New Zealand’s friendly atmosphere, diverse cultures, and stunning scenery on this three-week Global Prep adventure. Learn how to be an environmental guardian, kaitiaki in Māori, a unique indigenous culture with a profound sense of respect and care for the earth.

You’ll have the opportunity to hear talks given by the Wellington City Council, the Department of Conservation, Indigenous experts, and University scholars. You’ll also have the chance to volunteer, attend workshops, and participate in hands-on experiences to grasp the best sustainability practices and ideas that New Zealand has to offer. Students will take part in daily workshops and seminars run by a diverse collection of sustainable tourism organizations and individuals passionate about environmental stewardship in New Zealand.

Outside of workshops, you will have the chance to explore Wellington’s beautiful scenery as part of educational excursions. And, you’ll experience Māori language and culture during a Marae experience. All these activities center around the Festival for the Future, New Zealands’ largest youth forum, where students can engage with New Zealand’s groundbreaking ideas for the future.

Eligibility Requirements

Most Global Prep programs accept participants between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. However, 13 and 14 year old’s aren’t eligible to enroll for certain Global Prep destinations. If you wish to participate and will be 13 or 14 years old at the date of departure for the program, please contact AFS for more information about specific program eligibility. Please also keep in mind that due to regulations mandated by the airlines, 13 and 14 year old participants will be considered Unaccompanied Minors and additional charges will apply.

On this program you are likely to learn about these Sustainable Development Goals:

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Sample Program Itinerary to New Zealand

The below itinerary serves as an outline for the program, and each Global Prep experience will vary based on group size and opportunity.

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I. Arriving in Aotearoa

Your journey to New Zealand will begin at the Los Angeles International Airport, where you’ll meet your Group Leader and the rest of your Global Prep participants. Then you’ll travel together to Wellington, where you’ll be welcomed at the airport by AFS Staff or Volunteers.

Your first week will include a Wellington City Council Seminar and a trip to Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore Wellington Valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 500+ acre ecosanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years!

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II. The Marae Experience, Sustainability, and a trip to Red Rocks

During your Marae Stay, you’ll get to experience the indigenous Māori culture firsthand and learn about their cosmology and ways of looking after the environment.

You’ll then attend a workshop from Young Enterprise! Young Enterprise is a charity that works with New Zealand youth to give them their first taste of business and how to manage their money well. Adapting to changing circumstances and collaborating in teams are only a few of the skills you’ll pick up as you create your own social impact enterprise with the help of their expert team.

After getting oriented and up to speed, you’ll get to explore the rugged south coast of Wellington. Weather permitting, you’ll walk from Owhiro Bay to the Red Rocks (Pari-whero), an area of national significance with fascinating geology and Māori history.

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III. Trip to Somes Island, Festival for the Future, and more!

As you progress on your journey, you’ll attend a Zero Carbon Wellington Seminar and take a University Sustainable Tour. You’ll also explore sustainability in the fashion industry with Little Yellow Bird, a company dedicated to manufacturing quality, ethical clothing. On day twelve, you’ll embark on a day trip to Somes Island, (weather permitting), where you’ll discover native wildlife, visit the lighthouse and WWII bunkers for a journey back in time, and meet the local sheep on the island’s farm!

During your last week, you’ll attend the Festival for the Future, which brings students from around the world to exchange and develop ideas that can positively shape the future. You’ll hear from a diverse range of people who will challenge you, broaden your horizons, and spark new possibilities. After this festival, you’ll be inspired and prepared to design new sustainability projects!

As your trip winds down, you’ll meet with Inspiring Stories Trust, the team behind Festival for the Future. Inspiring Stories Trust is a social enterprise that supports young New Zealanders to change the world. You’ll dive into big issues that affect our future and build your knowledge and skills to make a difference. After this final event and saying goodbye, you’ll go home a kaitiaki, a true guardian of the earth, ready to carry forward the environmental stewardship you learned and practiced in New Zealand.

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Your Accommodations

During your eventful, impactful three weeks in New Zealand, students will live in homestays with host families selected and monitored by AFS New Zealand.

Group Leaders

This Global Prep experience is led by in-country experts and volunteers, in addition to an AFS-USA staff group leader who will chaperone your group to and from your host country.

What's Included

  • Round trip international airfare chaperoned by an American staff member
  • Accommodations, meals, and transportation
  • Secondary Health Coverage Plan
  • Access to a 24/7 Emergency Duty Officer
  • Visa Support
  • Please review the Terms and Conditions for complete guidelines.
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Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in New Zealand.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

A new you awaits

Apply for Global Prep in New Zealand!

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