COVID-19 Response Plan

Outward Bound will continue to run courses during NZ's Alert Level 1, Level 2, and Level '2.5'.
See the table below for a brief overview, and scroll down for more detailed information. 

An Outward Bound course under Alert Level 2


An Outward Bound course brings people together from all over the country, into a situation where some degree of prolonged close contact is inevitable. This will happen in the watchhouse accommodation and during activities. You could find yourself helping someone up a bush scramble, sleeping under a communal fly, or sailing a 10-metre boat with 13 others. 

Regardless of what the activities entail, an Outward Bound course always creates bonds of closeness. Operating under Level 2 in August has brought home to us that whatever directives we give, many of our students will continue to hug and high-five. 

It seems very likely that we’ll operate under Level 2 again in the future, so we should communicate with you what to expect: 

  • If you’re sick, stay home – and if that happens while on course, we have recovery rooms where you can get better in isolated comfort, but it may be boring!  
  • We can make sure that we have no more than 100 people in any defined space. 
  • We’ve asked you to bring washable fabric facemasks – bring three or more, and please make sure these are clearly identified as yours. We’ll provide disposable facemasks for you to use when you are helping us out in the kitchen, as we recognise that is an area where we need to be particularly careful. 
  • We’ll have the contact details of every student on the course, and we encourage you to use the COVID Tracer app diligently before and after your course. If ‘COVID hotspots’ are identified in the news we’ll communicate these to students while on course, in case you’ve passed through one. 
  • As for physical distancing, we don’t consider ourselves to be a single bubble, as a ‘normal’ school can. But nor are we a standard public venue, given our contact tracing and hygiene protocols. So, with your help, this is how physical distancing works while on a course:

Each watch is up to 14 students. Those people will at times be closer than 1 metre - you’ll get to know them well! You’ll be sharing a living space, bunks, bathrooms, a dining room table, and activity equipment.

You’ll end up physically close to your two instructors at times, and they’ll go home most nights to their family and friends. And some of those people might work or recreate out in the wider community.

You’ll stay 2 metres away from people in other watches - there could be 100 or more of them on site. You’ll have no or minimal contact (at a distance) with any members of the public.

You’ll help us and your watchmates out by maintaining great personal hygiene, and by keeping the place hygienically clean. We’ll have extra cleaning staff on duty too. 

Any students displaying COVID symptoms while in Anakiwa will be isolated and tested if they meet the guidelines for testing. After testing, medical guidance will be followed with regards to continued isolation.

If you have any questions about the information above or anything else please do contact our team on 0800 688 927 (Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5pm) or

Before your course starts

Prior to starting your course, our enrolments team will work with you and/or your parents/caregivers to ensure your current situation meets the requirements of our COVID-19 Response plan.

Pre-enrolled students will be reminded of the government guideline ‘If you’re sick, stay home’ and informed of the following:

1. If you have had any of the COVID-19 symptoms listed below in the 2 weeks prior to your course start date and have:

  • recently travelled overseas OR
  • been in contact with recent travellers,

then you must seek and follow advice from a GP or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Please note: we are currently unable to accept bookings for participants living outside of New Zealand

2. If you have had any of the symptoms listed below in the 2 weeks prior to your course start date, but not travelled overseas or been in contact with travellers, please contact Outward Bound and speak with one of our medical screeners

COVID-19 symptoms:

  • ongoing cough
  • a high temperature of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing or runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell
  • ongoing headaches, diarrhoea or vomiting
  • unexplained rash, muscle pain or bruising
  • unexplained chills, confusion or feeling unwell.

In your conversation with a GP or Healthline please ask if you should be tested, and ask if you should come to a place like Outward Bound, that involves close contact with people from all over New Zealand.

Medical advice should be documented and provided to Outward Bound if possible. If medical advice is not to attend, then our Enrolments staff will work closely with you (the enrolled student) and your next of kin to find a suitable course in the upcoming months. We will also assess people for the listed symptoms on arrival at Outward Bound.

3. If you have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case in the 4 weeks prior to your course, you are unable to attend Outward Bound at this time.

4. People with higher exposure risk

Some people are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 due to where they live, work or recreate. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Hospital staff where COVID-19 patients are receiving care
  • Isolation facility staff
  • Staff working at testing facilities
  • Anyone who’s school, church, sports team, workplace or residence had a known case of COVID-19 in the last 4 weeks
  • International air-crew

People that Outward Bound deems to be at higher risk of exposure can attend a course providing the following criteria are met:

  • They do not attend the location or socialize with the group in question in the 2 weeks prior to course start
  • They do not experience any COVID-19 symptoms in the 2 weeks prior to course start
  • They undertake a COVID-19 test and provide Outward Bound with a negative result before course start. The test should be taken as close to the course start date as practical.

5. You must bring:

  • Refillable pocket-size hand sanitiser
  • A minimum of 2 reusable cloth face masks, preferably cotton. For ideas on how to make your own, search 'DIY fabric face mask'.

Course Disruption 

If your course is postponed by Outward Bound due to COVID-19 we will offer an unconditional transfer of your booking to a later date, valid for 18 months from the original course start date. A maximum of 3 booking changes (up to 40 days before course start date) can be made in that time if your course is postponed due to COVID-19. 

If you are at all unsure of any of the above, please call the Outward Bound office on 0800 688 927.

Travel to and from Anakiwa

At level 1, students are able to travel domestically without any restrictions. Our usual travel information applies. Should this change, our enrolments team will be in touch directly with enrolled students.

Please be aware that due to COVID some travel timetables have changed. The Bluebridge and Interislander ferry timetables to and from Picton remain unchanged however Air New Zealand has reduced the number of its Blenheim connections. Sounds Air flies directly to Blenheim from Christchurch, Wellington and Hawke's Bay. Please do call us if you are concerned about travel to Picton. We can discuss options with you.

As per government guidelines for travel at Level 1, we strongly advocate the following advice:

1. If you have cold or flu symptoms DON’T TRAVEL

2. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

3. Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.

During your course


On arrival at the Interislander ferry terminal in Picton, students will be asked if they have any COVID symptoms. Students will be asked to speak with a staff member immediately if they have any symptoms. They will be assessed on an individual basis. They may be asked to return home if they are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above.


Level 1 & 2

Each watch will consist of up to 14 students plus 2 instructors. Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 100 people.

Physical Distancing

Level 1 & 2

Where possible and practicable, physical distancing is encouraged.


Students and staff are required to wash hands regularly throughout the day. The standards for handwashing will be prompted with students by their instructors. Appropriate hand washing technique is outlined on posters placed above the hand basins. There are handwashing locations at all equipment, bathroom and catering touch points around the school.


Where possible the number of shared surfaces will be reduced by having watches stay apart and use their own facilities and shared surfaces will be cleaned on a regular basis. For example, for watch houses this will occur daily in the morning and for dining areas this will occur after each meal.

Contact tracing

The nature of our comprehensive enrolment process allows for satisfactory contract tracing.

Visitors and members of the public to the school

Members of the public are discouraged from visiting by signage. The visitor register and contractor briefing outline the hygiene and physical spacing standards, as well as capturing contract tracing details. Regular visitors such as contractors and couriers will be provided with a copy of this plan.

A COVID tracing app QR code is displayed at both the Anakiwa and Wellington offices.

How we’ll manage illness on your course


Students will be monitored daily for symptoms by their instructors, particularly during the first 2 weeks of the course.

Instructors will be briefed to watch for:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing and runny noses
  • Shortness of breath

Students will be reminded to report experiencing the symptoms above, as well as:

  • Fever or chills
  • Sore throat
  • Temporary loss of smell

Anyone presenting with outlined symptoms will be isolated and assessed as soon as possible.

During this process, the person will be isolated as much as is practical. In the field eg tramping, this would mean:

  • maintaining at least 2m physical separation (including while sleeping)
  • the person wearing a face mask and following good cough/sneeze practice
  • the person not participating in any close group activities or food preparation
  • everyone in the group following a regular hand washing regime
  • leaving the field as soon as safe to do so
  • where possible, transporting the person in different vehicle/vessel from the rest of the watch

If a person is advised to undergo a COVID-19 test, they will be isolated until the test results have been returned. If the result is positive, the person will remain in isolation for 14 days and OBNZ will seek further advice from the Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health. If the result is negative, we will accept medical advice on when the person is able to return to their course or work.

Anyone who has mild symptoms, which have been medically assessed as not requiring a COVID-19 test, will be considered on a case by case basis.


If a person is identified as a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 14 days. If a student is required to self-isolate beyond the end of the course, Outward Bound will liaise with the Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health about the possibility of the student travelling home. If this is not practical, Outward Bound will continue to support them to self-isolate at Anakiwa


If an isolated person requires medical care, this will be planned in consultation with the Outward Bound screening nurse or local medical centre. The medical centre will be able to advise what treatment is appropriate and if the person should be brought in or remain at Outward Bound.


Still have a question?

Our enrolments team is available 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri on 0800 688 927 or to answer any questions you have with regard to our COVID-19 Response plan.

Our Response plan has been developed to manage the risk, to students and OB staff, of contracting COVID-19. This plan works in conjunction with Outward Bound’s existing health and safety processes. The Response Plan will be revised if government and sector guidance for these levels change over time.