Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Research Expedition (& Internship) May 2019


Rarotonga is the largest island in the Cook Islands archipelago, located in the South Pacific. It is known as one of the friendliest islands of the South Pacific where you will find smiling islanders known for their peaceful, happy demeanor welcoming you to share in their culture. The remoteness and size of these islands have left them mostly untouched by mainstream tourism and instead of high rise hotels you will find tranquil blue lagoons. This research expedition will be focused on the development of an interactive map and webapp that will be an online companion to our trail and reef publication of the island. We are currently recruiting a small group of researchers to help in investigating and documenting the trails, beaches, reefs, resources, ecosystems, plants, marine life, and culture of this breathtaking island. 

expedition Dates: May 21 to May 28, 2019

How this Research expedition/internship works

  • Based on your background and academic interests, we will help you narrow your project goals to a corresponding section of the research.

  • You generate your contribution from field research collected while in Rarotonga as well as follow up research conducted remotely from your home or university.

    1. You will conduct preliminary research from home during the weeks leading up to the field portion in order to prepare yourself and hit the ground running.

    2. For the field research you will have the opportunity to document what you find, interview locals, complete surveys, search through local resources, and gain first-hand knowledge on your subject and the location.

    3. Once the field portion is completed you will spend the remainder of your time working from home synthesizing the information you have found and organizing it into a section for the interactive guide.

  • At the end of the research season all sections will be compiled into one final document and editing will begin in order to complete a clear and concise resource.


1. Contribute in the development of a Global Treks digital book with interactive maps.

2. The opportunity to contribute to on-the-ground research, conduct interviews with local experts, collect and synthesize data, and compose a cited research report while working alongside your peers. 

3. Immerse yourself into the Maori island culture of the South Pacific. 

4. The opportunity to participate in and complete a collaborative project with fellow researchers.

5. Build your resume with unique job experience that will help set you apart from other candidates. 


We work with each intern/researcher to set up an individualized topic of research. Working weekly with your Research Director, interns spend 10-15 hours per week for the first couple of weeks working remotely from home or school researching your assigned topic. Interns then spend 1 week conducting action research in Rarotonga. It is during this time interns investigate their research topic and document the findings gathered through surveys, observations, interviews, literature reviews, and photographs to include in the publication. Each research team is made up of 8-10 researchers and 2 lead researchers/instructors. Interns spend approximately 10 hours per week for the 2 months following the field research, working with their research director to develop their contribution to the book. Our office team and editors provide assistance and feedback on each intern’s chapter content and grammar. Once the book and resources are published, contributing researchers names will appear on the inside front cover as well as in the back of the book with the team’s biographies and head shots.


These internships are competitive (over 400 applicants during the first 3 months of our 2018 spring hiring season) and we encourage applicants to be yourself while also putting effort into their application. The online application is a series of short answer questions designed for Global Treks to get to know the candidate, their background, and their personality. Our teams are small, intimate, and efficient and we look for positive and dynamic people to help us make the best publication possible. Once your application is submitted, selected candidates will be contacted for a phone interview. Upon completion of the interview, our selection committee meets once a week to determine the best candidates for each team. If a candidate is offered an internship we provide access to the team’s private expedition page with all of the information needed for the travel and research. Our team will also develop a personalized research plan for each intern researcher. We are also more than happy to help organize internship credit through the interns university.

Research Expedition Highlights


The research base will be a house in Titikaveka on the southern side of Rarotonga, walking distance to the Muri lagoon. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms will be shared (3-4 researchers per bedroom): women, men, and guides will be grouped in separate bedrooms. There will be a mix of shared queen beds and single bunk-beds. Two vehicles will be used for group transport. 


-We are looking for professionals and students in all backgrounds. Focus areas include wildlife, plants, geography, natural resources, marine life, anthropology, tourism, economics, political science, GIS, creative writers, travel writers, and film makers. 

- Mobile Research from any location (3 months/10 hours per week)

- Field Research in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. [8 days in country (May 21 - 28, 2019), 3 flight days, for a total of 11 days.]

-Interested in earning college credit? We will work with your university to ensure that you receive 3-6 internship or independent study credits for your contribution. Credits can be applied to summer/fall semester.

-100% of proceeds from Global Treks publications and webapps go into a scholarship fund to aid future interns to participate in publication research. 


1. Develop and publish a digital book with interactive maps on the trails and reefs to the south pacific island of Rarotonga.

2. GPS hiking trails, collect data on trail statistics, and develop geospatial maps.  

3. Conduct research on the area's natural resources, cultural history, tourism, marine life, and other pertinent information.  

5. Document the health and biodiversity of the reef and marine life, the natural resources, and cultural resources in order to document what visitors can expect to encounter. 

4. Collect video and photographs to include in the online resource and the making of a mini-film of the expedition.

Travel Cost: $2,700

*Airfare is not included. We will gladly help to arrange your flights. Airfare typically starts at $850 departing from Los Angeles and $1,050 from Chicago.  The best prices can be found on Google Flights or AirNewZealand's website. Please note that traveling a day or two earlier would result in much cheaper airfare and allow you so spend more time to explore the island!

Essential Information

8 days will be spent researching on the island of Rarotonga (May 21 to 28, 2019); 3 flight days; 11 days total. Flights will be coordinated to arrive the same day. We will meet you at the Rarotonga airport and transport you to our private lodging. Rooms with be shared. All food, local transportation, and trip costs will be covered once we pick you up at the airport. 



Still have questions? Please email us or visit our FAQ for additional information. 

Catch a glimpse of a research expedition:


Adam Weaver Headshot.jpg

Adam Weaver   |  Patagonia

"I think this experience has been and will continue to be very beneficial for me because of the opportunity it has provided me to conduct independent research, work with various professionals, and receive constructive feedback on my work from highly intelligent and caring people."


Aimee Headshot.jpg

Aimee Bone   |  University of Minnesota

"The expedition exceeded my goals in that it was beyond what I hoped for! I cannot say enough about what a life-changing experience it was. I wanted to have a short-term experience abroad, wanted to push myself past my comfort zone, and an opportunity to write for a publication is a dream come true since childhood."


Sarah Spaulding   |  Carson-Newman University

Through this internship I learned how to form effective interview questions, talk to people productively, think abstractly about broad subjects, appreciate people and culture, and embrace the incredible natural world we live in.



Greg was a researcher on the 2016 San Juan Islands expedition. He helped to build the GIS maps for the Naturalist Guide to the San Juan Islands. Greg now works as a Human Geographer and Geospatial Analyst for a federal agency.

Katherine 2.jpg


Katherine was a researcher on our 2017 Iceland Research Expedition. She helped to map out some of the first hiking trails of our Trail Guide project. Katherine currently works with NASA mapping climate change.



Adam was a researcher on one of our Iceland research teams with the responsibility to explore Iceland’s dynamic history and economy. Adam now works for Patagonia in California.

lauren caine.jpg


Lauren jumped into Iceland’s Search and Rescue Teams and the world of disaster relief. Following the expedition, Lauren is now working with FEMA helping with disaster relief management around the United States.

Molly 2.jpg


Molly was a researcher on the Spanish Virgin Islands team utilizing her passion for creative writing to capture life on the archipelago. Molly now works with a publication company in Nashville and maintains a travel blog.


Jackie was on our Apostle Islands research team. She researched and wrote about the history of the islands. Jackie now works with Global Treks as an editor as well as a writer for the White Bear Lake Newspaper.


  1. Internships with Global Treks and Adventure are designed to provide real world training similar to that provided in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by the intern’s educational institution. Our field research interns take the skill-sets they have learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world settings.

  2. Internships with Global Treks and Adventure are designed to comport with the intern’s formal education program by integrating coursework or the receipt of academic credit.

  3. Internships with Global Treks and Adventure are designed to accommodate the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the intern’s academic calendar. Field research opportunities correspond with academic breaks, taking advantage of the time available to travel to our field research locations.

  4. Internships with Global Treks and Adventure are limited in duration for the purpose of providing the intern with beneficial learning.

  5. Internships with Global Treks and Adventure are designed to ensure the intern’s individualized academic studies complement, rather than displace, the work of Global Treks and Adventure’s paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.

  6. Interns participating in Global Treks and Adventure’s Internship Program expressly understand and agree that their participation therein is without entitlement to and/or any expectation of a paid job at the conclusion of their internship. While former interns have continued to work with Global Treks following their internship experience, Global Treks and Adventures disclaims any promise of a paid job at the conclusion of an internship, express or implied.

  7. All internships with Global Treks and Adventure are unpaid with the intern expressly understanding and agreeing that they have no expectation of any monetary compensation. Global Treks and Adventures disclaims any promise of compensation, express or implied.