Study horticulture 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.

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.

Learn Horticulture at Central – we make futures here.

Nursery and Fruit Production programme

  • Central Otago
  • 1 year full-time; part-time options
  • Level 3 and 4
  • Starts 12 February and 23 July, 2018
  • 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).

Diploma in Horticulture (Level 5)

  • Central Otago or online with block courses
  • 1 year full-time*
  • Level 5
  • Starts February & July, 2018
  • Apply anytime

Ideal if you wish to extend your practical ability and gain management skills in horticulture. This is a great solution for those who wish to gain a qualification and develop their skills while in employment.

Diploma in Viticulture (Level 5)

  • Central Otago*
  • 1 year full-time*
  • Level 5
  • Starts February & July, 2018
  • Apply until start date

Focus on the technical and supervisory skills required in the viticulture industry. This Diploma is ideal if you wish to extend your practical ability and develop management skills while in employment.

Introductory Growsafe short course

  • Central Otago
  • 1 day, 8.30am-5.00pm
  • Starts - monthly throughout 2018
  • Apply anytime

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

Drawing techniques for Landscape Design short course

  • Central Otago
  • 5 days (9.00am-4.30pm)
  • Starts July, 2018
  • Apply anytime

Develop your skills in a range of drawing techniques that can be used to communicate landscape design ideas on paper.

Landscape Design short course

  • Central Otago
  • 7 days (9.00am-4.00pm)
  • Starts July, 2018
  • Apply anytime

This course will stimulate your imagination and creative abilities. You will design and draw a landscape plan from start to finish.

Introduction to cherry growing short course

  • Central Otago
  • 2 days, 9.00am-4.00pm
  • Starts 25 and 26 August, 2018
  • 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.

Grapevine pruning short course

  • Central Otago
  • 5 days, 9.00am-3.00pm
  • Starts June, 2018
  • Apply anytime

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

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New student accommodation for Central Campus

The first steps of turning Cromwell's Central Campus into a student village has begun.

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Teaching vineyard to become Pinot Noir showcase

Certificate in Horticulture (level 4) and Diploma in Viticulture (level 5) students gain valuable hands-on experience throughout the courses on...

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Turf Block

Top Turf scholarship announced

The scholarship is fiercely contested by students working towards Otago Polytechnic’s New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Sports Turf).

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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)