Email Us:

New Zealand Earth Systems


New Zealand Earth Systems – Fall and Spring Semester Programmes

The New Zealand Earth Systems Programme analyzes current environmental issues arising from the interface between nature and society. The five-week field camp takes advantage of sites on both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. Students will explore the Bay of Plenty, Mt. Ruapehu,  Banks Peninsula, the Southern Alps, Kaikoura through a series of interconnected field modules. During field camp, students learn the field techniques needed to solve the environmental issues. Following field camp, students transition to University of Canterbury or the University of Auckland, where they enroll in four courses, one of which is a research methods course based upon data collected in field camp.

2016 Fall Semester Field Camp: June 6th –  July 13th, 2016
2017 Spring Semester Field Camp: Jan 17th –  Feb 19th, 2017

The 5-week field camp is divided into several interrelated modules. Focusing on field and research based education, students study how the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and anthrosphere systems interact to form the entire New Zealand Earth System.

2017 Field Camp Modules (subject to change):

  • Ben gives a short talk at Red Crater, Mt. Ngauruhoe in the background

    A short talk at Red Crater, Mt. Ngauruhoe in the background

    Module 1: Volcanoes – giveth life and taketh away: Introduction to field observations through volcanology, hazards, and geothermal energy. Volcanoes bring to light a major problem in measuring and mitigating human environmental impacts, and that is the void in our understanding of how the planet has been impacting itself. Volcanoes can be a threat to society, but they are also a major source of geothermal energy New Zealand relies upon to meet its energy demands. The North Island of New Zealand is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth. The magnitude, frequency, and environmental impact of eruptions from 300 thousand years ago to the present can be quantified in both time and space through careful field observations. In this module we will first observe and map the products of volcanic eruptions and discuss their impacts on civilization. A special focus will be placed upon introducing field mapping, observations and recording these observations in field notebooks. Finally we will look at how New Zealand is currently exploiting geothermal energy to meet its energy demands.

  • At the Marea with Dan!

    At the Marea with Dan!

    Module 2: Kaitiakitanga, Maori perspectives on natural hazards, resource management, and environmental restoration, Bay of Plenty. The concept of kaitiakitanga (which loosely translates as ‘guardianship’) played a crucial role in traditional Maori society, and is increasingly sought as an environmental paradigm in contemporary settings. As kaitiaki, Maori were responsible for ensuring the viability of land and resources for the following generations. Guidelines and methods were developed to meet the needs and requirements of traditional Maori communities. In this module, we will investigate some of the indigenous methods used and the challenges contemporary societies face when assessing how to implement the principle of kaitiakitanga in the 21st century. Students will be exposed first hand to the concept of kaitiakitanga by investigating various issues facing Bay of Plenty communities.

  • Curious seals at Ohau point colony were subjected to student surveys

    Curious seals at Ohau point colony were subjected to student surveys

    Module 3: New Zealand Marine and Coastal Ecology, Kaikoura Peninsula. Following our week in the Bay of Plenty, we’ll head down to the South Island. Located 180 km north of Christchurch, the Kaikoura Peninsula is home to extensive rocky shores and a marine canyon only 500 m off the Canterbury Coast. It is also central to the forests, rivers and mountains of the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. Students will begin the week in Kaikoura exploring the flora and fauna of the rocky shore and observing oceanic influences of the peninsula and near shore environment. We will then be introduced to members of Te Korowai o Te Tai Marokura, a local community group, and assess potential avenues for research to complement the implementation of their marine strategy ‘Sustaining Our Sea’ vision. Next students will venture into the near shore waters on the University of Canterbury boat to collect plankton samples for investigation of the biodiversity within the epipelagic zone near the coast and within the canyon. Finally, we will end the week with the charismatic mega fauna, as we work to identify individual Hector’s dolphins and fur seals and record some of their behavior.

  • Bush whacking through dense forest is much more difficult than it appears

    Bush whacking!

    Module 4: New Zealand Terrestrial Ecology, Southern Alps: In this module, students are introduced to New Zealand unique terrestrial ecology (floura and fauna). We will understand how the biosphere is coupled to the atmosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere by conducting a series of biologic surveys across the southern island. We will begin on the eastern “dry” side of New Zealand and make our way to the  “wet” western side of the country. We will learn how mountains influence the atmosphere and hydrosphere which in turn influences the Biosphere.  Students learn to identify native tree species and learn field sampling techniques. Earth System Science at its best!

  • Southern Alps!

    Southern Alps!

    Module 5: Mountains and Climate, Southern Alps. Students will transition to the Southern Alps lodging at the Cass stations where they will study the interactions between the atmosphere, (glaciers) and geosphere (mountains) and how this affects the New Zealand climate system. Students will become familiar with the mountainous setting via a geologic mapping exercise in the Castle Hills Basin. Following, students will study the climatology of windward and inter mountain regions of the Southern Alps, understand state-of-the-art techniques for measuring climatological variables, obtain practical experience in field techniques and data analysis.

Fall Campus Semester: July 13th –  November 13th, 2016
Spring Campus Semester: February 18th –  June 25th, 2016

The field camp experience will transition into a semester at the University of at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ or the University of Auckland, Auckland NZ. For more information on the campus component of the program please follow the below links:

University of Auckland Programme Details

University of Canterbury Programme Details

Tuition – 2018: $20,500 USD    

  1. Tuition includes all 5-week field camp costs (lodging, food, ground transportation, activities, etc).
  2. Semester tuition
  3. Travel and health insurance
  4. Academic advising
  5. Lafayette Transcript
  6. Pre-Departure Services
    1. Application and Visa Support Services
    2. Housing Support
    3. Course Selection

Other Program Costs:

  1. Housing: $4,500 USD
  2. USA – Raro – NZ Airfare –  $1,500 – $2,000 (approximated) – This includes flights between Rarotonga and New Zealand
  3. Board: Self-catered approximately $200 NZD per week
  4. Books: Approximately $400 NZD

“I couldn’t be more impressed with Frontiers Abroad. The field camp they organized was beyond anything I anticipated. The amount of stuff that we fit into five weeks was incredible. I learned as much (if not more) in that time than I have in any of my semester long college courses. Dan, Max and Darren are all great, as well as the numerous visiting professors and other assorted experts we spent time with throughout field camp. In my opinion, one of the best things about field camp was how many different topics we covered. Whether your major is Geology, Chemistry, Engineering, etc. etc., the knowledge you gain will be relevant and you’ll learn a lot. And it’s not all work- we had plenty of time to enjoy snorkeling, hiking and finding swimming spots 🙂 I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in any aspect of environmental science. I’m only a few weeks into the actual semester here in Auckland, but I love it so far! Choosing to come to NZ with Frontiers Abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life. If you’re considering applying, stop thinking and do it already! You won’t regret it.” Jamie Shannon – 2010 Pomona College and Frontiers Abroad student