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

This industry-standard qualification will provide you with the knowledge and skills to carry out tree maintenance and management activities at heights, including tree removal. Graduates will receive both the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Arboriculture) (Level 3) and the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Arboriculture) (Level 4).


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus

What You Study


Course Credits


  1. Work as effective team members in the horticulture sector
  2. Cooperate and participate within a horticulture team
  3. Communicate effectively using a range of techniques
  4. 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

Health and safety

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). 


Your workload

Usual timetable hours are:

  • Monday-Wednesday, 8.30am – 4.30 pm
  • Thursday 9.00am - 3.00pm.

There's usually no class on a Friday unless specified by your lecturer.

On average, you'll do three days a week of practical instruction and one day a week of theoretical teaching. In addition to this you'll also do your own self-directed study.

You'll also take part in four weeks of work experience.


Skills needed to work in this area

  • 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 English is not your first language, you must provide:

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 process

Applications that meet the entry requirements are processed on a first come-first served basis until the programme has reached capacity.


Domestic fees

Full tuition

International fees

Full tuition

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. 
  • If you have any questions about equipment/gear purchase, please email

Tuition fees

The tuition fees shown above are approximate only. There may be a slight fee increase per year once Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) rules and guidelines are applied. These fees also don’t include additional costs or living costs.


A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.

Get in touch

0800 762 786
International +64 3 477 3014