EcoQuest Te Rarangahau Taiao

Two decades ago, the founders of EcoQuest Te Rarangahau Taiao imagined a learning community where, through education and research, young, motivated people would become catalysts for  sustainability.

In close collaboration with colleagues at the University of New Hampshire, they created programs around the theme of Ecology in Action, based on New Zealand’s unique natural, political and cultural landscapes. This was recently followed by a program focused on sustainable agriculture & food systems.

Te Rarangahau Taiao has layered meanings. It speaks of the questing for the natural world. It also conjures up the idea of weaving relationships to form webs of knowledge for sustainability. 

At heart, we believe well-grounded, well-rounded scientists and policy makers have a critical role in the kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of our planet; our programs are designed for this purpose. Good hearts, good minds, good science.

What We Do

EcoQuest offers interdisciplinary, hands-on learning in a vibrant, sustainable learning community.

The basis for the EcoQuest philosophy is the idea that sustainability can be achieved only when the natural environment, people and their culture, their socio-political, as well as economic realities and needs are taken into consideration. This is reflected in the interdisciplinary nature of the programs, which provide students with a unique opportunity to experience first-hand how planning, policy and science interact in real world settings.

We're an NZQA registered Category 1 (The highest!) training provider.

Our Vision

  • Catalysts for Sustainability through Education and Research.

Our Mission

  • To achieve sustainable outcomes through developing awareness of the relationships between the natural and built environments and people and their cultural, social, economic and political realities;
  • To enrich our place and people through service learning;
  • To encourage development of the heart and the spirit as well as the mind and body;
  • To foster global stewardship through international education.


Since 1999 we've delivered the Ecology in Action program in partnership with the University of New Hampshire - Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NREN) and in 2019 launched a new program, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Aotearoa (SAFSA), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Food systems.

Both programs are accredited by the University of New Hampshire and are open to highly motivated students from around the world. 

The EcoQuest Field Centre in Whakatīwai is the home base for the uniquely interactive Ecology in Action programs which encompass applied studies in ecology, restoration ecology and resource management, environmental policy and sustainability, and directed research (semester); ecology and  environmental policy, planning and sustainability (summer). 

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa (SAFSA) program is based in Golden Bay. This semester program covers Systems thinking, Agroecology, Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, and Agricultural Production and Business Practice (Farm placements). 

EcoQuest has a dual focus on education and research. This, coupled with our emphasis on and commitment to community engagement, provides students with learning opportunities through real-life case studies, research and praxis. EcoQuest gives students the chance to develop skills and tools to make a difference anywhere on the globe.

EcoQuest has established a vibrant sustainable learning community. Since programs are residential, students and some staff live on site.

The EcoQuest Education Foundation was established in New Zealand in 1999 as a Charitable Trust and is registered as a Charitable Entity under the Charities Act 2005. 

EcoQuest is registered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as a Private Training Establishment under the provisions of the Education Act 1989 and its subsequent amendments. NZQA recognises EcoQuest as a Category 1 Provider (see explanation). NZQA is Highly Confident in the educational performance and  Highly Confident in the capability in self-assessment of EcoQuest.


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