New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Arboriculture) (Level 3) and New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Arboriculture) (Level 4)



One year full-time (Level 3 and Level 4); not available part-time

On campus with hands-on training in the field and four weeks of work experience

3 and 4
Until start date
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    1 February 2021
    12 July 2021 - 23 July 2021
    19 April 2021 - 30 April 2021
    27 September 2021 - 8 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    1 February 2022

Do you love working outdoors and want a hands-on, physical job? Arborists are in demand for their ability to care for, and maintain, trees.

Become a tree surgeon by studying arboriculture – a specialised field involving pruning, felling, transplanting and maintaining the health of trees and shrubs. New Zealand’s diverse and robust horticulture and related industries have experienced a steady growth over recent years and this means that qualified and experienced arborists are in demand, not only in this country, but across the world.

During this programme you will learn both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of carrying out arboriculture tasks, with an emphasis on hands-on training in parks and garden areas around Dunedin. Field trips and work experience are important parts of the programme that help you to connect with those already working in this dynamic industry.

This programme is based in Dunedin and will give you the work-ready skills to enter the arboriculture industry. Employment opportunities exist within City or District council parks and gardens, with private companies, or as a contract climber. With motivation and further experience you could even think about self-employment or tree care consultancy roles.

Graduates of this programme will receive both the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) (Arboriculture) and New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 4) (Arboriculture).

Skills required
  • Physical fitness
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Good communication and team work skills
  • A good work ethic
  • An eye for detail 
Entry requirements 

Academic requirements

  • NCEA Level 1 OR equivalent.
  • Applicants must have the physical and cognitive ability required for tree climbing and working at heights. A medical certificate may be requested to support an individual’s eligibility to enrol in the programme.            

English Language requirements

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.   

Special entry

  • In exceptional circumstances, any applicant who does not meet the academic entry requirements may be granted entry to the programme where they supply evidence of their ability to succeed in the programme to the Learning Leader of the Programme. 

Other requirements

  • If accepted, you must comply with the current Drug and Alcohol Policy for the Arboriculture Programme.
  • All students will complete the National Adult Literacy and Numeracy Assessment tool on commencement and on completion of their programme.  
Selection procedure
  • Applications that meet the entry requirements are processed on a first come-first served basis until the programme has reached capacity.
You will study 
Course Credits

Work as effective team members in the horticulture sector

  • Cooperate and participate within a horticulture team
  • Communicate effectively using a range of techniques
  • Listen and respond appropriately to team members and colleagues


Health and Safety Management
Identify and manage health and safety requirements in arboriculture

  • Identify and manage risks in arboriculture 


Foundation Climbing Skills 
Identify and use basic climbing equipment and techniques 

  • Identify equipment and its appropriate use in climbing
  • Identify and use safe climbing techniques


Tree Identification and Pruning 
Identify trees and carry out pruning tasks

  • Identify common trees used in arboritculture
  • Describe the structure and growth responses of plants 
  • Apply basic pruning techniques to trees and shrubs


Ground Duties and Equipment 
Carry out ground person tasks and maintain arboriculture equipment

  • Use and maintain arboriculture machinery and tools 
  • Perform grounds person's duties in arboriculture situations 



Tree Planting 
Plant and establish trees and shrubs

  • Describe soil characteristics that influence plant growth 
  • Prepare, plant, and establish a range of trees and shrubs 



Supervisory Skills in Arboriculture 
Use interpersonal communication skills to achieve desired outcomes in arboriculture

  • Instruct and supervise team members to achieve desired outcomes
  • Give and receive feedback in a supervisory role



Tree Climbing Technique
Climb trees safely in arboriculture

  • Climb trees using a range of approved techniques 
  • Carry out an aerial rescue in arboriculture situations  


Pruning techniques
Carry out pruning techniques in arboriculture situations

  • Prune trees and shrubs using a range of techniques
  • Use chainsaws to prune safely at height 


Tree Health
Assess tree health in arboriculture situations

  • Identify and describe pests, diseases and disorders
  • Carry out a tree assessment in arboriculture situations 


Tree Felling
Fell trees safely from the ground 

  • Directionally fell trees in a controlled manner using a range of techniques 
  • Limb and process felled trees in arboriculture situations


Sectional Felling
Sectionally fell trees in arboriculture situations

  • Dismantle trees in a controlled manner without the use of rigging equipment 
  • Dismantle trees in a controlled manner using rigging techniques 


Your workload

Usual timetable hours are Monday-Wednesday, 8.30am – 4.30 pm; Thursday 9.00am - 3.00pm and no class on Friday’s unless specified by your Lecturer

On average you will undertake three days a week of practical instruction and one day a week of theoretical teaching. In addition to this you will carry out your own self-directed study. It is expected that you will participate in four weeks of work experience during your programme.

Programme specific risks

There are a number of health and safety issues associated with the practical delivery of arboriculture training. You will be advised of the physical risks and requirements of the programme either in person or by telephone before you enrol. You will be advised of the need to purchase the listed clothing and equipment and the reasons for this. 

Risks include injury to the body due to the physical nature of arboriculture work (manual labour, lifting, bending, falls from working at heights, eyesight) and from using sharp tools and equipment (secateurs, hand saws, chainsaws, spades) and larger machinery (chipper). There is a risk from poisonous plants, insect stings, the physical environment (excessive heat or cold, wet weather, working in isolation and machinery noise). 

Additional costs 

There are some pieces of equipment that are compulsory to be able to complete this programme. Below is a gear list which shows you what these are and how much they'll cost. 

2022 gear list for Arboriculture programme >

Please note

  • Please do not buy equipment until the programme starts. 
  • TTAF will not cover the cost of these additional items. You can pay for these yourself or apply for a loan or allowance through Studylink (see more in Student loans/allowances with TTAF section below). 
  • If you have any questions about equipment/gear purchase, please email
Student loans and allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students who have lived in New Zealand for three years. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

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