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NZSF-1 Cultural Section

Between Mountaineering and Sea Kayaking, NZSF-1 students spent a night at the Te Awhina Marae in Motueka. They were formally welcomed onto the Marae and learned about Maori customs and culture

P1010058NZSF-1 students all healthy and happy at the gateway to the sacred waters of the Riwaka Resurgence

The group is now out Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough sounds with instructors Lloyd Stetson and Andrew Harrison. 

PA070080Seriously, we need to take extra cocoa! 


Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Oct 14, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

Switching gears!

Last week was a busy one at NOLS NZ with Fall Semesters NZSF1 9/11/14 and NZSF 2 9/11/14 back at the branch for the switch between their respective semester sections. Both groups arrived with all students in good health and with smiles on their faces.

NZSF1 enjoyed relatively kind NZ spring weather on their Mountain section and witnessed some spectacularly clear Southern night skies when making their alpine starts. They were able to fit in several peak ascents and some glacial travel on the Ashburton Glacier. The group has now switched ice axes for paddles and is out exploring the Marlborough Sounds on their 22 day Sea Kayak section.

NZSF2 were challenged by strong winds for much of their Sea Kayak section, but managed a 105 nautical mile journey through the Marlborough Sounds. Their section featured encounters with penguins, gannets, dolphins, seals, eels and albino possums and had the closing highlight of a moonlit night kayak in glassy conditions between storm fronts. They've now donned packs and have headed into the Arrowsmith Range for 23 days Mountaineering.


Saying goodbye to the luggage for another 3 weeks in the field
Head over heels, jumping for joy - NZSF2 ready for the mountains

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Oct 12, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

Final NZ Fall Semesters in the Field

NZ Fall Semesters NZSF4 and NZSF5 headed for the hills over the weekend to start the Backpacking section of their respective courses. Prior to getting their hiking boots on, both groups joined to complete a two day Cultural section at Te Awhina Marae in Motueka, where they were introduced to the Maori culture and traditions.

NZSF4 bagging rations for 77 days in the wilderness

NZSF4 hiked straight out of the NOLS NZ branch into Richmond Forest Park, starting a journey that will take them full circle around the north-east part of the South Island. Their hike will take them through to Nelson Lakes National Park where they will see the source of the Clarence River, the river they will paddle the lower reaches of in their Canoe Section. Upon reaching the sea, they will transition via the branch to Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds for their final section.

Instructor Jacqui leads one of the NZSF4 hike groups out into the field straight from the NOLS base!

Meanwhile, NZSF5's Backpacking section will explore the wonders of Kahurangi National Park (Kahurangi translates as "Treasured Posession"). The course will then Sea Kayak in the Marlborough Sounds before their Canoe section finale on the Clarence River.

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Sep 28, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

NZSF-3 Semester Begins

NOLS New Zealand Semester Three (NZSF-3 9-18-2014) students all arrived safely at NOLS NZ yesterday and are about to head out for their semester adventure. This semester begins with an over night stay at the Te Awhina Marae the local Maori meeting house.
The group will then attempt to Canoe 180 kilometers down the Clarence River, from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The Semester will then go Hiking and Mountaineering. 

77 days worth of field rations


P9170024Students enjoying the dining room and kitchen at the new
NOLS NZ facilities 


Semester Three Progression 

Cultural: 19-20 Sep
1 – Canoe: 20 Sept to 15 Oct
Branch switch:  15-16 Oct

2 – Backpacking: 16 Oct to 8 Nov
Field Switch: 8-9 Nov

3 – Mountain: 9 Nov to 2 Dec
Course ends: 3 Dec


Send Mail to 

(Students Name and Course Code)
4 Serpentine River Road
Aniseed Valley RD 1 
Richmond 7081
New Zealand 

Students will receive mail when they return to the NOLS NZ base inbetween sections




Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Sep 18, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

NZ Fall Semesters Spring into Action!

Fall Semesters NZSF-1-9/11/14 and NZSF-2-9/11/14 have got the New Zealand spring season underway with both groups now in the field for their 77 day adventures. NZSF1 left for the Arrowsmith mountain range to start their Mountaineering section in the majestic Southern Alps. Meanwhile, NZSF2 visited the Marae (traditional Maori meeting house) in Motueka to learn about NZ's Maori culture, before transfering to the Marlborough Sounds to embark on their Sea Kayak section.

A mountain of imminent mountaineers! Instructors Mitch and Lloyd will teach NZSF1 students the art of safe alpine travel in the Southern Alps.  

Some smiling soon-to-be Sea Kayakers. Instructors Mike and Ben will be teaching students how to keep their boats the right way up in the Marlborough Sounds.


Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Sep 15, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

In Their Words: NOLS New Zealand

Students who turn to NOLS for their semester abroad treasure the experience. Wendy Cirko and Cory McDonald both took NOLS semesters as their semesters abroad last year. Both Spring Semester in New Zealand graduates, shared their reflections on the experience and the education with us recently, and we had to share. Learn more about upcoming semesters in New Zealand here.

Wendy Cirko, 2013 Spring Semester in New Zealand:

They say that college will be the most memorable four years of your life. Here you make new friends, have new freedoms, learn new thing about yourself, and gain knowledge to shape your future. I knew that going into college I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me time to study abroad. This is how I ended up at Salisbury University, majoring in environmental studies and minoring in outdoor education and philosophy.

My sophomore year was ending and my advisor, knowing I liked the outdoors, suggested I check out NOLS for an alternative study abroad experience. I ended up in New Zealand, backpacking, kayaking, and sailing the spring semester of 2013. Getting my time with NOLS to help me earn my degree required work between my academic advisors and department heads, but in the end I received 16 transfer credits. These credits in environmental studies, risk management, and various other fields allowed me to not fall behind in school, and more importantly my NOLS semester gave me a 77-day experience that was more beneficial than any class I could have taken.

50Wendy Cirko photo

No matter where you go, spending a semester abroad is a life-changing event. The fact that I was able to spend this semester in the backcountry with NOLS was amazing and something that I would never consider trading for a more standard study abroad experience. The things I learned: taking initiative, first aid, perseverance, leading your peers, gaining self-confidence, staying positive. The new people I met: my instructors and my nine coursemates. They are the things that I will carry into my future. NOLS has helped me to further my studies, plus the skills I learned will hopefully help me in a future of outdoor education. I know that this experience has made my college years more memorable than I could have ever imagined and I am so thankful that I had this amazing opportunity.


Cory McDonald, 2013 Spring Semester in New Zealand:

I began my NOLS adventure with the intent of gaining experience in outdoor leadership for my major, outdoor recreation. As an active learner, I learn best when I am immersed in a topic, so NOLS seemed like an appropriate path. My goals going into my NOLS semester were to master practical backcountry skills such as map interpretation, route planning, risk management, and taking on leadership roles. Along with achieving these goals, I also gained insight and clarity on what I am passionate about and what is important to me.

Communication is a big part of taking on the leadership role, but the leadership role is only a small part of communication. Throughout the semester I learned how to communicate as an effective follower, an equal team member, and an individual amongst a group. Part of communication is listening and reflecting. By learning how to listen and effectively receive and reflect on feedback, you can change or expand on your self-awareness, ultimately bringing you closer to understanding yourself.

NOLS is an excellent medium for challenging and validating your self-awareness. Being engrossed in the sublimity of the wilderness along with the pure wildness of it manifested, in me, a sense of admiration for the ecological life and the geological processes that have been at work for billions of years. Contributing to this new sense of admiration was learning and practicing Leave No Trace ethical backcountry travel and learning the names of the different wildlife that surrounded me. Learning the names of the surrounding wildlife and how geological formations came to be gave me deeper respect and toward them. Through living amid the wildlife for some time, I became empathetic for the natural world.

NOLS 292 Cory McDonald photo

I came away from NOLS with a new sense of compassion toward something bigger than myself. I have now added to my degree a concentration in natural resource recreation management and with that I plan to protect and preserve the natural quality of wilderness and provide opportunities for current and future generations to explore the natural world and themselves. 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on May 13, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, New Zealand

Get to Know NOLS New Zealand

You may remember meeting Mark Jordan, NOLS Australasia director, a few weeks ago. His passion and expertise extend from Australia to New Zealand. Read what he has to say about NOLS New Zealand below.

6a00d83451b4f069e201a5119398a9970cIf you had one sentence to describe your staff, you would say:

Like the staff at every NOLS location: driven, enthusiastic, and skilled. 

What is your favorite aspect of running courses in your part of the world?

New Zealand has some of the most varied and unique ecosystems in the world. The cultural interactions are fantastic as well. 

I firmly believe a NOLS course, at any location, will be a watershed event in a person’s life. Australia and New Zealand are great places to experience NOLS as well as a fascinating part of the world to explore. 

What unique or particularly appealing aspect of this branch do you think potential students should know about?

New Zealand’s forests, called the “bush,” contain ancient remnants of Gondwana Land, the prehistoric continent, so the flora here has developed in isolation from other continents. Here you’ll find unique birds and plants found nowhere else in the world, like the mischievous Kea, the world’s only mountain parrot. Bird life includes tui, bellbird, kaka, parakeets, bush robins, mountain falcons, and morepork owls, whose haunting call can be heard most nights in the bush.

What would you say most surprises students when they arrive or during their course in that part of the world?

In New Zealand students are often surprised how friendly New Zealander’s can be. Kiwis will really go out of their way to help strangers. 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on May 12, 2014 in the following categories: Amazon, Leadership, New Zealand

Fresh Pesto for the Field

Riley's have been busy in the kitchen making fresh pesto which is being sent into the field for students and instructors.
Ingredients are mostly from intown staff vegtable gardens and local producers. 
Pesto seems to be a welcome nutritional addition to the field ration, as does the freshly baked bread and locally grown fruit.









Camine with some of the pesto ingredients 

Image_2Riley produce for salsa

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Mar 25, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

NZS 1 & 3 Transition





IMG_1648 Cool start to a busy day at NOLS NZ

New Zealand Semester One transitioned today from Sea Kayaking to Hiking. They successfully completed their exposed Sea Kayak route from Picton to Waimaru in the Marlborough Sounds. 

They spent the day at the NOLS NZ base and are about to head out Hiking in the Kahurangi National Park for the third and final section of their semester.

IMG_1663Students pondering how it is all going to fit into their backpacks 

Instructor Pete checking gear


New Zealand Semester Three transitioned from Hiking to Sea Kayak today.
They spent the first section of their semester hiking in the Kahurangi National Park.
They are off Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds, then go straight into their Sailing section.  


NZS-3 students will not return to NOLS NZ between their Sea Kayak and Sailing section.


Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) students studying Adventure Tourism, came out to the NOLS NZ base during the transition to observe and get a taste of what NOLS is about. 

IMG_1660    Christian explaining what we do at NOLS NZ 

NMIT students getting a taste of the NOLS Leadership curriculum. 
Hopefully we will see more of them in the future.


Good luck out there everyone! 

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Mar 13, 2014 in the following categories: Leadership, New Zealand

NZS-2 Sea Kayak to Hike

The second New Zealand semester had a great time in the sea kayaking section.
They did an amazing job circumnavigating D’Urville Island in the Marlborough sounds, this group is the first Sea Kayak group ever in the NOLS New Zealand history to accomplish this nautical challenge, well done team!

At the NOLS New Zealand base they left sea kayaks behind and got ready their hiking boots and backpack to adventure in a mission in the New Zealand bush (like the locals will say).

IMG_1279Last opportunity to relax 


IMG_1296Hiking gaiters and boots

The group got their gear ready and hiked out of the branch to the Richmond forest park mountain range. At this moment the group is in the Nelson Lakes national park hiking through Beech forest and Alpine terrain. 

IMG_1299Heading for the hills

We wish them luck in their new course section, kia kaha!



Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Mar 10, 2014 in the following categories: New Zealand

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