• Group of students in front of mountain lake

    Capstone in New Zealand

  • Snowcapped mountains

    Capstone in New Zealand

  • Two students riding on cart at Hobbiton

    Capstone in New Zealand

  • Lake at dawn with mountains in the distance

    Capstone in New Zealand


This program is currently full for summer 2020. Please consider participation in one of our winter break 2020 programs or check back in August 2020 for our summer 2021 options!

New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Located approximately 900 miles east of Australia and 600 miles south of Fiji, the islands of New Zealand have an interesting assemblage of plants and animals due to their remoteness. They were one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans.

Program participants will study the geology and landscape of the islands, the unique biodiversity and human impacts on them, colonization of the islands by Polynesian people and Europeans, and the modern society and culture. 

I think I learned more on this one trip than I have in most classes in a semester. The sights are gorgeous, the food was amazing, the art was beautiful, and I loved every minute of diving into the culture. - Lydia, 2019

I strongly encourage you to visit New Zealand. The country is insanely beautiful and Kiwis (New Zealanders) are very open and like to have fun. It opened my eyes to how other cultures and countries interact and solve their problems in a way that brings everyone together. - Benjamin, 2017



Course Leaders

Steve O'Kane, Professor

Department: Biology
Phone: 319-273-2219
E-mail: steve.okane@uni.edu
Campus Address: BRC 59

Steve is an avid traveler and has conducted botanical field work throughout the western United States and Alaska, and in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Romania, England, and Ireland. In May, 2017, Steve led 21 UNI Capstone students in the New Zealand program. In May 2019, he took a group of UNI students to the Galapagos Islands. He looks forward to leading students abroad again! 


CAP 3140: Environment, Technology & Society (2 credits)

To view the course syllabus, click HERE. Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the spring semester, although the capstone course is scheduled as a summer course. The Study Abroad Center will direct enroll participants in the capstone course during the spring semester. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.  


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study. 
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken the program's capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Tentative Program Dates: Saturday, May 16 (depart the U.S.) to Tuesday, June 2, 2020 (return to the U.S.)

Sample itinerary is subject to change.

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland two days after departure from the U.S. (day is lost due to crossing the International Date Line)

Day 2: Interactive cultural workshop at Auckland University of Technology, then visit to local kiwi fruit farm

Day 3: Ferry to Rangitoto Island for a summit walk on the youngest volcano in New Zealand. At the top of the summit, you’ll see incredible views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf. 

Day 4: Visit to Hobbiton, the setting for a large part of the Lord of the Rings movies. See how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into the Shire from Middle-Earth. Afterwards, visit Te Puia. This natural reserve features geysers, hot springs, and silica formations. You’ll also see the native Kiwi bird and a cultural center which features schools for wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. While you’re here, enjoy an authentic cultural show before an earth-cooked hāngi dinner.

Day 5: Optional ziplining in the morning (those who wish to participate will pay on-site 159 NZD), then depart for Taupo in the afternoon. Stop at Blue Springs along the way. 

Day 6: Bathe in natural thermal waters and visit Huka Falls. This 33-foot natural wonder flows water at a rate of 5,800 liters per second – enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 11 seconds! Your last stop of the day will be at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, a native bird park preserve offering nocturnal kiwi houses, daily talks and feedings, plus a large aviary, paths and ponds.

Day 7: Boat ride in the Waitomo Caves. The glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. At the Waitomo Caves, you’ll have the chance to see thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their luminescent light. Flight to the South Island. 

Day 8: City tour of Christchurch

Day 9:  Travel to Tekapo and walk up Mount John for incredible views of Lake Tekapo. You'll also have time to explore New Zealand's premier astronomical research observatory, which is situated on top of Mount John. This afternoon, visit the Church of the Good Shepherd. Situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo among the natural beauty of the lake and the mountains, the Church of the Good Shepherd was built as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country

Day 10: Travel to Lake Pukaki. Lake Pukaki is the largest lake in the area, and proudly shows off New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, from the many look out points around its shores. The water color of the lake is a bright turquoise due to glacial flour, made from extremely fine rock particles that have come from the surrounding glaciers. 

Day 11: This morning travel to the Lakeside town of Wanaka. Enjoy free time upon arrival to explore the town on your own.

Day 12: Travel to Te Anau, stopping along the way at the historical village of Arrowtown, famous for its picturesque autumnal scenery.

Day 13: Enjoy a cruise on Milford Sound. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world,” Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Breathtaking in any weather, the fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky, and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 3,000 ft. 

Day 14: Travel to Queenstown

Day 15: Cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm, where you will watch sheep dogs in action, learn about sheep shearing and wool spinning, and enjoy a BBQ lunch. 

Day 16: Depart from Queenstown for U.S.

Housing & Meals

Students will stay in a hotels or hostels arranged by the Study Abroad Center and paid for before departure.  Most meals will be paid for by students out-of-pocket while abroad. Only a few meals are built into the cost of the program. Students are encouraged to try the local foods.

Program Costs

Capstone in New Zealand

Estimated Program Cost:


* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors

Click Below to View Detailed Budget Sheet:

Cost of studying on-campus*

*per semester, estimated, will vary per person

Tuition & Fees:


Room & Board:




Personal Expenses:






Source: https://admissions.uni.edu/costs

Dates & Deadlines


App Deadline: 
Saturday, February 15, 2020
Program Dates: 
Saturday, May 16, 2020 to Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
    • If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
    • Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.