Study horticulture and viticulture at Central in our spectacular natural classroom, and develop the knowledge and skills you need for a growing career.

Central is where knowledge and nature come together. The Central Otago region is renowned as a leading summer fruit producer and is a natural paradise for those passionate about a future in New Zealand’s diverse and robust horticulture industry. The area is also famous worldwide for its Pinot Noir wines and Central Campus is right in the heart of it.

Students gain hands-on experience at one of the best practical horticullture units in New Zealand, learning to grow in a sustainable way. Our facilities include a commercial vineyard, cherry, apple and pear orchard, plant production nursery, vegetable garden, hydroponic herb and vegetable unit. We also help you find work placements during the programme to further develop your knowledge and on-the-job experience.

If you are looking to enter the horticulture industry, our programmes will give you the work skills you need to get your first job. If you are already working, our flexible delivery options with distance learning let you fit studying around work to develop your skills further and gain a qualification.

If you are a keen gardener or lifestyle block owner watch out for our short courses. We offer a range from Propagation to Tractor Skills.

We offer flexible study for Viticulture  – you can study here with us or by distance if you are already working in the industry. If you have industry experience ask us about Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) as a route to gaining credits towards your qualification or CAPABLENZ pathway for a whole qualification accreditation.

Learn Horticulture at Central – we make futures here.

New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Skills (Level 2)

  • Central Otago (for international students only)
  • 26 weeks
  • Starts November
  • Apply anytime

This programme allows international students to improve their English language skills while learning about the horticulture and/or viticulture industry. You will get hands-on experience working in the industry as you harvest cherries in the summer and grapes in the autumn.

Nursery Production online programme (Level 3)

  • Online and in your workplace
  • 2-3 years part-time
  • Level 3
  • Starts anytime
  • Apply anytime

Further develop the fundamental skills and knowledge required of horticulturists in the nursery sector while you work. This programme is for domestic students only and you must be working within the nursery industry. It provides the perfect opportunity for you to upksill via online learning whilst using your workplace as a setting to practice your developing skills. Successful graduates will receive the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) (Nursery Production).

Fruit Production online programme (Level 4)

  • Online and in your workplace
  • 2-3 years part-time
  • Level 4
  • Starts anytime
  • Apply anytime

Further develop the fundamental skills and knowledge required of horticulturists in orchards or vineyards while you work. This programme is for domestic students only and you must be working within the fruit production industry. It provides the perfect opportunity for you to upksill via online learning whilst using your workplace as a setting to practice your developing skills. Successful graduates will receive the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Level 4) (Fruit Production).

Nursery and Fruit Production programme (Level 3) and (Level 4)

  • Central Otago
  • 1 year full-time; part-time options
  • Level 3 and 4
  • Starts February and July
  • Apply until start date

Looking for a way to transform your enjoyment of working outdoors into a career? Use this qualification to develop your green fingers and get paid for doing what you love! This programme combines both the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Nursery Production) (Level 3) and the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Fruit Production) (Level 4).

Fruit Production programme (Level 5)

  • Central Otago or online with block courses (International students must study on campus)
  • 1 year full-time
  • Level 5
  • Starts February and July
  • Apply anytime

Replacing our Diploma in Horticulture (Level 5) and Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5) from 2019, this programme will enable you to progress your career in the national or international horticultural communities by gaining the knowledge and skills to become a competent leader in the stonefruit, pipfruit, berry or wine grape production industries. Upon successful completion of this programme, you will graduate with the New Zealand Diploma in Horticulture Production (Level 5) (Fruit Production).

Standard Growsafe short course

  • Central Otago
  • 1 day (9.00am to 5.00pm)
  • Starts 21 February, 21 March, 11 April, 16 May, 13 June, 18 July, 15 August, 12 September, 17 October, 14 November, 5 December 2019
  • Apply anytime

Learn how to apply agrichemicals safely and accurately, according to the Agrichemical User Code of Practice NZS8409.

Grapevine pruning short course

  • Central Otago
  • 5 days, 9.00am-3.00pm
  • Starts to be confirmed
  • Apply anytime

Learn all you need to know about the commercial pruning of grapevines for wine production.

Pruning fruit short course

  • Central Otago
  • 8 days, 9.00am-3.00pm
  • Starts to be confirmed for 2019
  • Apply anytime

Learn how to prune and train fruit trees, including apples, pears, cherries, plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines. This course is heavily practical and you will be required to prune a large number of trees to gain a good understanding of the topic.

Introduction to cherry growing short course

  • Central Otago
  • 2 days, 9.00am-4.00pm
  • Starts to be confirmed for 2019
  • Apply until start date

This weekend course is designed for those wanting to begin the development of a commercial cherry orchard. A great starting point for anyone wanting to invest or enter this exciting industry, it involves workshop sessions, discussions, field trips and hands-on advice from a cherry grower.

Plant science short course

  • Central Otago
  • 6 days, 9.00am-3.00pm
  • Starts to be confirmed for 2019
  • Apply anytime

Learn about the structure of plants and their processes from photosynthesis to flowering.

Propagation short course

  • Central Otago
  • Various durations*
  • Starts to be confirmed for 2019
  • Apply anytime

This course provides a hands-on plant propagation experience in a commercial nursery under the technical guidance of experienced propagators. Learn to grow a wide range of plants to a saleable grade from seed and cuttings, including vegetables, berry fruit, native trees and shrubs, drought-resistant plants, annuals and specialist plants.

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"The reason we employ so many Otago Polytechnic students and graduates is that the quality coming through is just excellent. The industry is constantly growing and we need as many well-trained people as we can get."

Orchard Manager, 45 South

Quick Links

Do you want to monitor the seasonal changes and keep an eye on growing conditions in Central? Visit Harvest Alarms weather station.
Check out what we have to offer on campus on our Plant sales and nursery page.

Love and horticulture

Central graduate Ryoko Saito-Clayton found love in New Zealand, marrying her Kiwi husband 12 years ago, then she fell for Central Otago while studying here. Now she loves her bio-security job at Queenstown Airport.

After completing a National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4), Ryoko is employed as a Quarantine Inspector for the Ministry for Primary Industries at the airport’s international arrival area, where she makes use of her knowledge in areas such as pests and diseases, fruit orchard industries, bee keeping and botany.

Studying at Central, Ryoko especially enjoyed the nursery class, where the students went foraging around the stunning countryside surrounding the campus to collect native plant samples.

Now, she loves the varied nature of her job, which may see her travel to Milford Sound, Stewart Island or Bluff to check cruise ships and passengers one day, and then travel to Wanaka and Cromwell to inspect helicopters or cars, the next. “I enjoy my job very much because every day is different and challenging.”

From Fashion to Fruit Production

Fumiaki Omae hails from Nara, Japan, and with a population of 1.4 million it’s a far cry from Cromwell, Central Otago where he is currently studying Horticulture at Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus.  

Fumi had always wanted to visit New Zealand, and after working for eight years at a fashion store he decided the time had come. On arrival in New Zealand Fumi studied English, then took some time out to work in orchards, it was here he discovered a passion for Horticulture and orchard management.

Having studied business management in Japan, Fumi has embraced his time in New Zealand and has studied both English and the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4). “The horticulture programme offered at the Otago Polytechnic’s Central campus is really hands on so it has been a very good learning experience. They have their own cherry orchard, vineyard and plant nursery that we learn and work in.”

Fumi says he couldn’t choose one thing as being the best, but the whole package is very well designed for international students. “The tutors are very helpful and have a lot of knowledge to share the other students are very welcoming as is the entire community so student life here is great.”

“There is plenty to see and do on the weekends, and there are some wonderful places to visit – the same places I saw when I was younger, that inspired me to come to New Zealand – and now I can go and see them in person!”

Fumi definitely sees his future in the horticulture industry, maybe as a supervisor or orchard manager, however in the meantime he plans to continue his studies with the Diploma in Horticulture at Otago Polytechnic in Central Otago, as Fumi says “for me it is much more luxurious to be working outdoors with natural resources, than wearing luxury clothes in a big city.”

Growth plan

It all began with a vegetable garden for Waka Paul. His passion for growing food and a fascination with the science behind it saw him enrol in Central’s National Certificate in Horticulture Level 4.

The journey that followed has certainly kept him on his toes. “The course is a lot more in-depth than what I thought it would be. But that challenge of not knowing a lot when I first began has made it even more interesting.” He especially embraced the practical side of the horticulture industry, and lists fixing the tractor and irrigation maintenance as some of the many hands-on tasks he undertook while studying.

Waka, who is of Irish and Maori descent – hailing from the Bay of Plenty tribes and Cork and Limerick in Ireland – believes Central creates a learning space in a natural paradise.

“I enjoyed the environment. You can’t beat Central Otago, it’s a beautiful place,” he says. Now, Waka wants to combine his Central qualification with his a degree in sociocultural anthropology to make his vegetable garden go global. “I hope to travel the world and experiment with food growing abroad.”

Read more about the Central Otago-based National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) 

Read more about the Dunedin-based National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4)