FAQs - Outward Bound


About Outward Bound

Generally you can expect to be challenged and that might be physically, mentally or emotional. It is very real - at times you may get dirty, tired and wet at the same time you may feel refreshed, exhilarated and triumphant.

It is the challenge of overcoming the perceived impossible as a team that makes a course special. Through being with people 24/7, talking about what is really going on for you, and hearing what's really going on with them, you get a better appreciation of yourself, others and how you deal with the world.

Our instructors are integral to safety. We select only the best in the business - they have a great combination of skill, experience and ability with people.

Our instructors have a rigorous six month training and induction programme, on top of their existing experience. All our courses are assigned at least two instructors.

You can read a bit about our instructors here.

Instructors come from a variety of backgrounds and professional disciplines. To work at Outward Bound you'd be expected to have outdoor education skills as well as superb people skills.

We recruit once a year and go through a staff selection process. This involves suitable candidates attending a short course at Anakiwa and working with our selection team. More information on staff selection.

After Outward Bound

There are plenty of ways to support Outward Bound! We are a charitable trust and we rely on the support of the community. You can make one-off donations, or sign up to be a regular giver or 'crew member' here. Your donation ensures our work at Outward Bound continues and helps us work towards our vision of 'Better People, Better Communities, Better World'.

Another way you can show your support is by joining our Champions programme; you can sign up to raise funds to support another student in experiencing the magic of Outward Bound. Find out how to become an OB Champion here.

Keep training! It's easier to keep up your fitness rather than having to rebuild it. Try to work some exercise into your daily routine and keep doing it. If you're having trouble with motivation, try a local sports club or find a training buddy.

Sport New Zealand provide useful information about sports bodies in New Zealand. The National Sports link has the national office of most sports organisations. Check out our guide to getting fit and healthy for OB. 

As well as completing your own goals, you could get involved in our OB Champions Programme.

Sign up to a challenge event or create your own personal challenge. Once you’ve chosen your challenge, sign up to become a Champion, set up and customise your page, share it with family and friends and start raising money! Your donation will help make Outward Bound a reality for someone just like you.

Find out how to become an OB Champion here.


Booking and preparing

Yes! But there are some conditions:

  • Outward Bound requires full disclosure of all medical and criminal history. Confirmation of your enrolment is subject to approval from the Outward Bound NZ medical screening team. Read our screening guidelines here.
  • As with many other New Zealand educational institutions, international participants are charged an additional fee for courses. As a non-profit organisation, we source funding to reduce our course fees for New Zealand citizens and residents. Unfortunately international participants are not eligible for this funding. An additional charge of $1000NZD for 21-day courses and $500NZD for 8-day courses applies to all non-New Zealand Citizens/Residents. 
  • To safely participate in our courses you need to have a good understanding of English. Our instructors are all English speakers, and are not able to translate information into different languages.

Please contact us if you have any questions, find our contact information here.

We have a waitlist because unforeseen events can prevent students from attending our courses at the time they planned. When this occurs, we offer their place to the first person on the waitlist. 

This can happen at any time before the course starts. If someone cancels their booking within one week of the course starting, we will offer that place up until 3-4 days before the course starts to give the waitlisted student enough time to prepare and complete the enrolment process.

Outward Bound will contact you as soon as a place becomes available for you. If you no longer wish to be on the waitlist, please contact us on 0800 688 927 to be removed.

Yes! We can help you build a training case to present to your manager to show them the value of an Outward Bound course.

Get in touch with our friendly team here and they'll provide you with the relevant tools to help build your case.

Yes! Whatever your financial circumstances we can support you to fundraise.

If you’re willing to put in some effort, we’ll be here to back you all the way. Check out our funding page, or call us on 0800 688 927 for more info.

We understand it can be difficult to balance your commitments with a course. Try involving and engaging your employer in your Outward Bound programme. Explain what you'll get out of it and how your effectiveness at work should also improve.

For inspiration on how to manage taking time out of work, watch David's story.

You're responsible for getting yourself to the Picton by 12.30pm on your course start day.

You'll need to organise your journey to and from Picton but there are plenty of ways to get there - ferry, bus, train or fly. The best choice will depend on where you are traveling from!

You will be dropped back in Picton by 12.30pm on the last day of your course (except for Professional course participants). For further information check out our Travel Information page here.

Please do not book your travel until you have completed our 3 step enrolment process.

We’ll send you a gear list telling you what you need to bring once your enrolment is confirmed.

Outward Bound provides all specialist gear like tents, sleeping bags, tramping packs, life jackets and helmets, and we even have warm and waterproof clothing to borrow too. We recommend you bring your own hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes that you have broken in prior to the course. This will reduce the risk of blisters and sprained ankles. See your local outdoor store for advice on boot or walking shoe selection. We do have boots available for use at Outward Bound, but you will be much more comfortable if you can bring your own. You can find the relevant gear list on each of our course pages.

Full course fees are due eight weeks before the course start date.

If you enrol closer than eight weeks before the course start date, the full fee is payable immediately.

If you are fundraising to pay for your course fee, the payment due date can be extended. To find out more about fundraising to pay for your course fee visit our Funding your Outward Bound Course page.

Note that Professional course enrolments are subject to different cancellation and payment conditions.

Each participant must undergo a medical screening prior to confirmation of enrolment. Read the Outward Bound Participation Guidelines here.

You must complete an Outward Bound medical form with a doctor. The medical form is valid for 90 days* from the date it is completed by a doctor and must be valid until the course start date. All medical forms will be reviewed by our nurse. 

If you are concerned about a medical condition, please call us on 0800 688 927 to talk it through.

*Medical forms for participants booked on either a Mind Body Soul, Classic, or Leaps & Bounds course are valid for 180 days.

During your course

Firstly, every Solo experience is unique. Our highly skilled instructors manage the experience for each group based on a number of factors: the time allocated within the course type (it can vary from 1 to 3 days), the group’s emotional and physical requirements, the nature of the solo area programmed, and the weather. Students are always briefed about Solo by one of their instructors immediately before it begins. 

A solo area is made up of multiple defined solo sites, selected to be separate from other sites. Each site is within hearing distance (a shout or whistle) of at least one other site, which is one of the ways we can be assured that students remain safe. The students are dropped off one-by-one at their individual site, which truly fulfils the idea of being ‘solo’.  

Students are required to stay within a 10m radius of their sleeping site. It is not a survival experience, and students are provided with adequate shelter, food, and water. Toileting provisions are covered.

Instructors check in at least once a day on students to provide water refills, administer any medication needed, and check on their general well-being. An emergency phone and first aid kit are located at the halfway point of the solo site area. All students are made aware of the location of these and provided with instructions to follow in the event of an emergency. On our courses for 16 and 17 year olds, instructors camp right there at one of the solo sites so that an increased level of supervision is provided, and so that students can more easily access help or guidance if they need it.

All sites have been selected for their safety, serenity, and protection from the elements,. Each solo site is checked for hazards prior to a student being placed there.

Why do a solo?

The Solo experience on an Outward Bound course can foster self-awareness, self-confidence, a development in maturity, stronger personal values, and compassion towards others. Solo offers an opportunity to connect with our natural world and is positioned within the course at an appropriate time to have a well-earned rest. Having the time to sit with yourself is a great gift in a world where we move, with unbridled haste, from one transition to the next. Our mission at Outward Bound is to change lives through challenge and discovery, and the Solo experience embodies just that.

We keep you well fed with healthy and delicious food. This includes all meals and snacks.

Make sure you tell us about any dietary requirements when you enrol. If you request a particular diet we ask that you please consume the meals that have been specially prepared for you.

We can cater for vegetarians and vegans, for halal and kosher diets, and for gluten or dairy free diets. We may also be able to accommodate some other restrictions or specific allergies, but not all – for example we can’t do 100% peanut-free (or most other life-threatening allergies), paleo, low-carb, whole-food only diets. As we regularly use wheat flour in our kitchen we are unable to guarantee no traces of gluten. We are also unable to provide facilities for you to cook your own food.

In some cases we will suggest bringing your own snacks for when out on expeditions.

We strongly recommend that you do not start any new diet for your Outward Bound course. We also recommend against any optional diet that restricts your choices or energy intake – a course is busy and physically demanding, not the best time to cut down your fuel options!

Letter writing is a great way to keep in touch during your course.

Your friends and family are welcome to send you letters as well. You can find Outward Bounds Anakiwa postal address here.

We will ask you to hand your mobile phone in at the start of your course so you can make the most of your experience and not get distracted. You can use our phone to make and receive calls in an emergency.

Most nights you will sleep in a bunkhouse with your watch (group)

Some nights you will sleep outdoors.

You are required to arrive and depart at the times specified. Because of the way the courses are structured, there is no way of knowing where your Watch (group) will be at a particular time.

You will not be able to join your watch once they have started an activity. The course finishes with a ceremony: this is your last opportunity to be together as a watch. We are unable to arrange for you to leave early.

Fitness, health and safety

You will need to be able to take part in a full day of activities, be able to walk for at least 2km over uneven terrain and be able to get up and down at least 5 flights of stairs comfortably.

The days can be quite busy at Outward Bound as there is a lot to fit in. You will start early each morning with some sort of exercise and a dip in the water before heading off for the day's activities. There will be regular rest breaks on this course. Life jackets are available at all times if you want one.

If your condition means you are unable to run, you will not be required to do so. We run PT sessions in the mornings on the days that you are staying at the school. These sessions involve a 3.2km fast walk for our Discovery Low Impact students. If you are able to run or want to try, you will be supportively challenged.

There will be minimal lifting involved on this course. You will need to work alongside your watch with packing and loading gear for the relevant activities e.g. for sailing, waka ama, height activities.

The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it! You must be able to comfortably run 3km in under 25 minutes, plus complete a full day's physical activity.

Check out our guide to getting fit and healthy for OB.

You don't need to be a flash swimmer, but you need to be comfortable in water.

That means getting your head underwater. We have lifejackets available at all times.

No, you don't need to have any experience of outdoor activities or spending time outdoors.

You simply need to be willing to give the activities a go. The more you get involved, the more you will get out of your course.

Outward Bound is a smoke free, alcohol free and non-prescription drug free environment.

So you need to have quit smoking BEFORE you start your course. The environment at Outward Bound is supportive, healthy and motivating, and many people use their time to try to become healthier. There are many things you can do to quit smoking, the best information is available from: www.quit.org.nz or call 0800 778 778.

Outward Bound is the leading outdoor learning and development provider. We aspire to make our programmes as genuinely adventurous as possible in order for participants to gain maximum benefit.

To support this aspiration, we have robust systems of safety and risk management in place. From internal and external safety audits to a dedicated advisory committee, we believe we have the right measures in place to assure the safety of your group.


Outward Bound programmes are all-inclusive from the moment you arrive.

Our price includes all food, accommodation, full-time instruction and specialist equipment. The vast majority of our custom programmes also include a facilitator to help you to transfer and embed your group's learning.

The minimum fitness requirement is to be able to run 3km in under 25 minutes. You do not have to be an experienced runner and will be supported by your peers and instructors during all activities. Running is only a small part of the programme.

Check out our guide to getting fit for Outward Bound.

You need to be able to swim and/or paddle in deep water and be comfortable with putting your head under water. During water based activities, you will be wearing a lifejacket.

No. All participants are required to meet the medical and physical requirements for the course, but there is no specific age limit.

Please note - this is for Professional, Women in Leadership and Wellbeing courses only.

Activities on the Professional courses are simply the vehicle for learning, not the overall focus of the programme. In fact one of the most important elements of your programme is a series of facilitated review sessions. Participants take time to reflect on their performance and process the days events, guided by their facilitator. With this, and the use of peer feedback, participants are able to assimilate their learning and behaviours back to the workplace.

Our Discovery course is a personal development course which you will find out more about yourself and your limits through the challenges. Alongside physical challenges, Discovery also focuses on personal reflection and guides students on how to set personal goals and evaluate and reorganize your identified life priorities. 

Our Professional course is a personal and professional development course which focuses on leadership by encouraging you to openly test your current leadership theories while learning from other professionals from various industries. Guiding you through this course are two skilled Outward Bound instructors (the same as a Discovery course) and a trained leadership facilitator (not included on Discovery course) who will provide guidance and coaching on how to be an effective leader in the workplace. This course integrates the use of 360 workplace feedback, learning styles profile and support post course.

We'll undertake a learning needs analysis to understand your business landscape. We'll look at your overall organisational goals, values and your learning and development priorities.

From there, we'll formulate your learning outcomes and devise a draft programme for your review.

Most custom design courses cater to groups from 10-28 people. Our facility can accommodate up to 120 people, it's best to call us to discuss your options.

We have our own dedicated base in the Marlborough Sounds. It is an inspirational place, perfectly located for high intensity learning and adventure.

As the majority of your time will be spent outdoors, our accommodation is basic but functional. You'll stay in bunk style rooms with adjacent bathrooms. We also have a superb in-house catering team, delivering fresh, home-cooked meals. We also have training rooms with multimedia facilities available for group facilitation sessions.

We deliver programmes to more than 1,500 people per year, so the earlier you are able to book a programme the better. Plus, a longer lead in time allows more time for us to understand your issues and objectives - meaning a better course design.

We can on occasion offer last-minute availability, so it's best to get in touch with us on 0800 688 927 to enquire about a programme.

Like you, we want to ensure participants make the most of this development opportunity. Spending time away from the office, and its daily demands, ensures participants can be completely immersed in this life-changing experience.

Outward Bound is a long-term investment that delivers both immediate and long-term business benefits. Our clients confirm that it's more than worth the travel to Anakiwa and the time out of work.

Part of the challenge of an Outward Bound course lies in not knowing what's ahead - you'll learn to deal with challenge as and when it arises.

For our custom design courses, we pride ourselves on delivering a programme in line with our client's needs, not an off-the-shelf product. We therefore need to understand more about your objectives in order to design your programme.

Many organisations from a diverse range of industries develop their employees with Outward Bound. They include:

Mainfreight Ltd, Compass Health, Ministry for Primary Industries, Foodstuffs, New Zealand Defence Force, Fletcher Building, BCITO, Fonterra Cooperative Group, ASB Bank, Methanex, Hyundai, IAG, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and many more.

Becoming an Instructor

Yes! We are a member of the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme which smooths the process for overseas applicants wanting to work with us.

Contact us for more information about applying.

Yes. Often it takes a while to get your accreditation's or experience. Knowing what you currently offer helps us advise you on when you should attend our selection course.

We can also advise you on what you should do to get more skills or the right sort of work experience.

Yes. Each year we offer approximately six observer slots. These are five days long. Observers get to shadow two instructors as they work with their ‘watch’ of 14 students.

The observer role offers you an opportunity to watch an instructor in action. You do not do any instructing yourself. We provide all food and accommodation for the observer. Priority for these slots is given to those with future prospects for employment at Outward Bound.

Generally you are contracted to work 200 days per year, including staff training (20 days). Typically you work 17 days of each 21 day course, you get 4 days off during course time and at least 5 days off between courses.

You don't work more than 9 days in a row. After working 5 courses you'll often get 4 weeks off, twice a year. 

Outward Bound courses

If you're looking for the complete Outward Bound experience, our 21 day Masters course is the one for you.

Many of our 8 day participants leave wishing they had more time at Anakiwa. Find out more about the Masters course.

Ideally, you should be the participant's parent, guardian or main caregiver. If not, you should play a major role in the teen's day-to-day life.

Having this strong relationship will ensure you both take away even more from your shared experience.

No, the course fee is per couple; the total cost for both parent/caregiver and teen.

Yes, both the parent/caregiver and teen should meet our standard fitness requirements. You should both be able to fast walk or run 3km in under 25 minutes and complete a full day of activity.

Check out our guide to getting fit and healthy for Outward Bound.

If you’re championing diversity in your community, put in an application following the link above. For any questions about the Southern Cross course, reach out to the Southern Cross Relationship Manager Krishan Kumar on 0800 688 927. 

As well as receiving applications from the general public, each year Outward Bound calls for applications from community organisations that have been appointed by the Human Rights Commission. These community organisations include: New Zealand Chinese Youth Trust, Baha'i Office of External Affairs, Rainbow Youth, Ngati Whatua, Refugee Youth Action Network, Multicultural New Zealand, Refugees as Survivors and Hindu Council.

Horizons can cater to people with a range of intellectual disabilities, including some mental health conditions and neurodiversity. It’s best to call us so we can make sure the course is right for you.

All participants should be able to independently manage their personal care and medication. You should be able to communicate clearly and understand safety instructions. Horizons participants must be able to attend without a carer and have experience of spending time away from home.

You will need to be able to take part in a full day of activities, including up to a full day of walking, and be comfortable in and around the water.

The days can be quite busy at Outward Bound as there is a lot to fit in. You will start early each morning with some exercise and a dip in the water before heading off for the day's activities. There will be rest breaks on this course, and life jackets are available at all times if you want one.

There is full funding available for Work and Income clients and others eligible for MSD funding - including travel to and from the course.

Funding may be available for those not eligible for MSD or WINZ funding. Get in touch with us to see if you are eligible.

Activities on an Outward Bound experience are simply the vehicle for learning, not the overall focus of the programme. In fact, one of the most important elements of your programme is a series of facilitated review sessions.

Participants take time to reflect on their performance and process the day's events, guided by their facilitator. With this, and the use of peer feedback, participants are able to assimilate their learning and behaviours back to the workplace.

MBS Compact is designed for students who are motivated to attend Outward Bound but are not able to commit to a 21 day course, or might have limited experience away from home. Students need to be motivated to work in a team, keen to connect with nature and give adventurous activities a go and interested in developing skills to participate more in their community.

To get the most out of your course, you’ll be able to:

  • Walk/run 3km in 25 minutes.
  • Participate in a full day of physical activity

Outward Bound New Zealand is a social profit organisation. As a registered charity, our courses are run at cost, not profit.

Find more information about what your course fee covers here.

Yes - poles are provided for students if they want to use them, or you can bring your own. 

Due to the need for a more supportive course delivery model to enable successful student outcomes, more staffing hours are required from our Kaiako/Instructors and Anakiwa support team to deliver Discovery Low Impact compared to our Discovery course.

Ministry of Social Development may provide funding for eligible participants to attend our 'Discovery Low Impact' course. To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an NZ citizen or resident
  • Have a disability recognised by MSD
  • Not be in full-time employment (30+ hours per week)
  • Not be a full-time student

If you think you may qualify for MSD funding please call us to discuss.

There is full funding available for Work and Income clients and others eligible for MSD funding - including travel to and from the course.

Funding may be available for those not eligible for MSD or WINZ funding. Get in touch with us to see if you are eligible.

You’ll experience a range of activities while on your course, kayaking, sailing, ropes course, rock climbing and tramping.

  • On the water - kayaking, sailing, canoeing
  • Up high - ropes course, rock climbing, abseiling,
  • In the bush - tramping, solo, camping
  • For your community - service projects, environmental
  • For you - goal setting, values, running

Outward Bound is your opportunity to simply be yourself, without the expectations of people who know you. For this reason, we don't allow you to attend a course with friends or people you know.

You can attend at the same time as someone you know, however, we will put you in different groups (where available).

Our Leaps & Bounds and Custom Design courses are the exception to this rule.

Depending on which course you choose, your group will be a mix of ages. Your watchmates will come from all over NZ, from a range of social and cultural backgrounds. Many find life-long friends at Outward Bound.

There will be up to 14 people in your group and you will have two Outward Bound instructors leading you through the activities. Our watches are mixed gender (unless specified).

Yes! Select Outward Bound courses can be used to complete your Adventurous Journey section and/or Residential section. Find more information here.