Greenheart Travel's Adventure and Culture program in Rotorua, New Zealand will broaden your perspective while being able to experience life as a true Kiwi.
New Zealand is one of the world’s most geographically stunning and awe-inspiring countries, and as a high school study abroad or gap year student, it could be your new backyard! On Greenheart Travel’s Adventure and Culture in New Zealand Program, you’ll attend high school in Rotorua, New Zealand, where hiking, playing rugby, learning about Maori life and zip lining are all part of a day’s adventure.
Greenheart Travel’s New Zealand program is perfect if you:
Wait, do you see yourself in New Zealand already?! Here’s the program at a glance:
Many of our students become adventure enthusiasts while studying in New Zealand, like alumni Graham. Check out his crazy adventures while studying abroad here:
Application Deadline: March 15th, 2023
Exact dates of arrival and departure depend on the host family and school you are placed in, as each school has a different start date. You will know your exact dates once you are placed in a school and host family!
All students are required to book flights on their own. An airport transfer upon arrival is included in the cost of the program. We will provide your exact arrival and departure dates after acceptance, as well as the exact timeframes you should arrive/depart, so that you can start to search for possible flights. We require prior approval of a proposed itinerary before you purchase any flights.
Nervous about flying on your own? We recommend students and parents sitting down together to review the following resources:
For many Greenheart Travel students their first time flying is across the world to start their exchange program! You can read our alumni experiences on our blog, such as Emily’s or Madison’s blogs on their experiences flying to Japan or Rachel’s tips on what you actually need to know about flying.
11 weeks (1 Term): $11,890
Academic Semester: $18,520
Academic Year: $29,760
Worried about the program fee?
Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer a first-time traveler scholarship for a high school study abroad student. The scholarship application details for the upcoming school year are announced at the beginning of the calendar year. We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometowns ahead of their program.
We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.
Western Heights Merit-Based Scholarships
All students on this program are placed at Western Heights High School (WHHS) in Rotorua. WHHS offers four annual merit based scholarships under the categories academic, cultural, leadership, and sport. Any exchange student accepted through Greenheart Travel is eligible to apply for one of these scholarships and a separate WHHS scholarship application will be provided upon request after you’re accepted onto the program. The total scholarship awards range from $2,000 up to $9,000 and would be able to be used for things like tuition, uniforms, subscription fees, tournament fees, etc.
Enjoy a range of memorable and cultural activities, make lifelong international friends and have unforgettable experiences while in New Zealand. With only around 1% of high school students studying abroad each year, this is your chance to embark on a unique academic travel adventure that will set you apart from most high school students in your class. How’s that for standing out on college applications?!
So, what about credits?
Neither Greenheart Travel nor your host school abroad (Western Heights High School (WHHS) in Rotorua) provides high school credit. All credit must be granted through your home school in the U.S. or Canada. All U.S./Canadian schools have different policies. Here’s a blog post to read more about how some alumni have transferred credits.
In New Zealand, we cannot guarantee that WHHS will provide you an official transcript, but you will receive progress reports on your performance, behavior, and attendance. WHHS will provide documentation, letters, and any other materials you require upon request, dependent on your good behavior and attendance.
Then, you should take this documentation back to your home school as proof of your participation in the program. Your home school is responsible for awarding you credit for this program or not.
You should meet with your U.S./Canadian high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines for New Zealand with your guidance counselor and/or teachers.
Though WHHS is flexible and accommodating, we cannot guarantee you’ll take any specific classes, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad.
Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level at WHHS, but you will not know your course schedule until after you arrive in country and start attending school.
Please keep in mind that the grading system in New Zealand is different than the US. If WHHS does award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.
Can’t miss part of your semester or a full academic year? Don’t worry.
During North American summers, New Zealand schools are still in session (yay, opposite hemispheres!). You can still attend Western Heights High School and live with a local host family without missing part of your school year.
In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:
*What does it mean to be in good mental health?
Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.
Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis and ultimately it is Greenheart Travel’s in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.
These include, but are not limited to:
All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process. We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly, before securing these documents.
Please note that students who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD will not be guaranteed any academic accommodations plans by the host school abroad.
Included Activities & Excursions
We want you to see as much of New Zealand as possible! Each semester, there are around 5-6 included excursions for exchange students. You might have the chance to surf or visit Hobbiton, take a Waka Trip (a traditional Maori boat), or visit Lake Rotorua or do other local trips & tours.
Students who are there in the Fall semester (November) will be able to participate in an included “summer” (their summer!) activities program, four weeks of outdoor activities, cultural excursions, and tours at the end of their program. The activities include hiking the Papamoa Hills, Whitewater rafting, stand-up paddleboarding excursions, kayaking, trying fish and chips, visiting Taupo, mountain biking, ice skating, surfing, cooking classes, learning Pounamu carving, and more.
Besides exploring the great outdoors, our High School Adventure and Culture in New Zealand program offers tons of opportunity to volunteer! Since one of Greenheart’s values is volunteerism (have you checked out the Greenheart Club yet?), we fully support our students getting involved in giving back to the local Rotorua community!
If you’re interested in volunteering while you’re abroad, let your local in-country staff know. They can help you find the right opportunity for you. Here are some examples of what our past students have done:
The opportunities seem to be endless. Talk to us about how you can make a difference in New Zealand!
You’ll live with a local volunteer family from Rotorua, and they will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a true Kiwi. You’ll start asking for “fairy bread” (Google it!) and wondering where you can buy a new pair of jandals.
All prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.
In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:
We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!
Host families have many reasons why they want to welcome you! Our host families are volunteers, meaning they don’t receive compensation for housing and feeding students during their program. Many host families love the experience of cultural exchange – they learn just as much about your country as you do theirs. Many are also former exchange students and want to return the favor, or they have children who have gone or will go to study in the U.S. Having an exchange student exposes their children to new languages and cultures.
Students on Greenheart Travel’s Adventure and Culture in New Zealand program are placed in the North Island’s stunning city Rotorua, an outdoor adventure hub renowned for its hiking, mountain biking, Maori culture, and geothermal springs. Once you see the views of Lake Rotorua, you won’t ever want to leave!
Rotorua is a city of around 75,000 people so it’s the perfect place to get a feel for real Kiwi life.
Greenheart Travel welcomes travelers identifying as LGTBQ+, and is committed to helping you find the best program for you. We can provide information on the cultural norms of our destination countries and are prepared to advise you on the best programs based on your needs and interests.
No. All students going to New Zealand will be placed in Rotorua.
There is no guarantee that you will have a host sibling your age. Your host family may have young children, teenage children, or grown children who no longer live at home. Regardless of the age of your host siblings, they’ll be excited to welcome into the family!
No. We do not change host families based on preferences or location. However, if issues arise once you are on the program, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis and may make changes if necessary.
All students studying more than 90 days will be required to obtain a student visa to New Zealand. It is the students’ responsibility to obtain this visa, but Greenheart will provide you guidance and the proper documentation you’ll need to apply.
Airfare to/from New Zealand is NOT included in the cost of the program.
Yes! Our in-country partner staff or your host family will be eagerly waiting for you when you arrive! They’ll then take you to your new host town.
You are not permitted to travel on your own during the program. There may be opportunities to travel through the program and/or through your school, but you must be accompanied by an approved chaperone to travel.
You will be required to have a local New Zealand phone number. Please make sure that your U.S. phone is “unlocked” as to accept a SIM card from Ireland! We give you tips and advice for communication while abroad during your program.
All host families (and most every person) in New Zealand have internet in their homes. There is also 4G internet widely available throughout the country.
If you have a laptop we recommend bringing it, as it will be helpful for school and for communicating with home.
All students need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving to their destination country.
You are required to submit a record of immunizations during application process.
Comprehensive medical and accident insurance will be included in the cost of your program. This will cover you for most medical expenses you might incur, like prescriptions, ER visits, doctor visits, dental accidents, and hospitalizations.
If you get sick, your host family or local coordinator will help you go to the doctor.
If you have an emergency on program, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call. Our in-country partner staff and your host family will be there to assist you. Greenheart will be in touch with your parents regarding your emergency.
You’re welcome to both go to New Zealand at the same time but you would not be placed together in the same host family. You would attend the same school, though.
No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, they should plan to meet you after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.
You will not be able to take the SATs while abroad. We highly recommend taking the SATs prior to or after the program.
We recommend you apply a minimum of 6 months prior to your desired semester.
The sooner you can apply the better, as acceptance, gathering documents, etc. can take a long time. Read more about why applying early is a good idea.
Our final deadlines for fall start dates are March 15, and September 15 for spring departures.
On a case by case basis, we can accept already graduated students for High School programs going to Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, and England.
We also have a list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please inquire here if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.
Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:
We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!
Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)
Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.
Greenheart Alumni Program
We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!
Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference
Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.
Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.
1. Start Your Application Here. You will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.
2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.
3. Submit your application fee: A $1,500 application fee is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee, it’s not additional.
4. Complete Application & Documents: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts. You will also submit your documents (below) within your portal account.
5. Interview: After submitting your application fee, you will schedule an interview. During this interview, you will be asked questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. You will also receive the overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Zoom, and at least one parent should also be in attendance.
6. You’re Accepted! Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, visas, and placement.
7. Commitment Payment: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $5,000 commitment payment within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program. We cannot start the host family matching process until we have this payment. Once you submit your commitment payment you will unlock the acceptance portion of your portal, which includes things like pre-departure videos, travel and arrival information, the Greenheart Travel Atlas, and more.
7. Book your flights, and get ready for your adventure to New Zealand!
In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.
The following documents will be required for all destinations:
For payments, a $1,500 non-refundable fee will be due with your submitted application. This will be deducted from your overall program cost. If we are able to take a last-minute application submitted after the deadline, the deposit will be $2,000.
Once you are accepted onto the program, a $5,000 commitment payment will be due within 14 days of acceptance. The remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to your start date, or at the same time as your commitment payment, whichever comes first.
You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?
Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.
Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.
Take a glimpse into life in New Zealand through some student’s photos. Make sure to also check out #greenhearttravel on Instagram for more