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New Zealand: Geology in Christchurch

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Christchurch Geology Quick Facts

Language of Instruction

Fields of Study
Geology, and access to the full university curriculum.

Host Institutions
University of Canterbury
Frontiers Abroad

University dormitory

Program Dates
Spring semester: mid-January to late June

Faculty Liaisons
Bob Gaines and Eric Grosfils

New Zealand comprises two large islands, North Island and South Island, as well as many smaller islands. The indigenous Maori have named the country Aotearoa which is often translated into English as "The Land of the Long White Cloud." New Zealand owes its varied topography to its position straddling the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates. The Southern Alps run the length of the South Island, with the highest peak in the range and the country, Mount Cook, standing at an impressive 12,320 feet. There are 18 peaks on the South Island that reach over 10,000 feet in height. The North Island is home to numerous volcanoes. The tallest peak on the North Island, the 9,000 foot-tall Mount Ruapehu, is an active cone volcano. When not admiring the towering peaks or steaming volcanoes, one should take advantage of New Zealand's culture, which has been influenced by a mixture of British, American, Australian, Maori, European, Polynesian and Asian cultures.

Christchurch is the South Island's largest city with about 370,000 inhabitants. A short distance from both the snowcapped Alps and the Pacific coastline, Christchurch is in an ideal location for the outdoor enthusiast. Lovers of art will also appreciate the city's thriving art scene. Christchurch boasts many beautiful parks, including a free botanical garden, that are inviting to walkers and joggers, or one may prefer to sit along the Avon river and watch the water flow on by.

The Frontiers Abroad program offers students a unique opportunity in New Zealand. The program begins with a five-week field component around the North Island and South Island in which students study the country's geology history, active volcanoes, and active plate boundaries, among other subjects. Following the field camp, students enroll full-time at the University of Canterbury and take their courses with Kiwi students. 

Academic Program

Before classes begin at the university, students take part in a five week-long field component that visits both the South and North Islands. This field component is divided into several modules that will help students decipher the geologic evolution of New Zealand. In addition to field work, students will prepare maps and receive on-site lectures from program staff. Once the university semester begins, students continue with research they initiated during the field camp. The field and research components are worth 1 Pomona credit.

Students then choose two courses in geology from the University of Canterbury. In addition, Pomona requires students to take a humanities or social science course with New Zealand content, for a total of three university courses. Each university course is worth 1 Pomona credit.

Living Arrangements

During the field component, students mostly camp. During the semester, students are placed in university housing close to campus.

Number of Students

Approximately 3 Pomona students; maximum total program enrollment 25 per semester.


9.0 GPA. An introductory Geology course from the 20 series and two Geology courses at the 100-level or above are required. Preference will be given to Geology majors. At least one letter of recommendation must come from a Geology professor. Students should have an advising session with one of the faculty liaisons.

Internet Link

Study Abroad