Otago Polytechnic

New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 3)


Dunedin or Central Otago

Dunedin - One semester full-time; Central Otago - One year part-time (Thursdays only)

On campus. Please contact the Dunedin campus for information on learning and assessment in your workplace.

February and July (Dunedin only)
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    19 February 2018
    16 April 2018 - 27 April 2018
Offered in Dunedin or Central Otago

Strong basic culinary skills are the foundation that cooks and chefs build their professional reputation upon.

During this hands-on programme – available at both our Dunedin and Central Otago campuses – food preparation and cookery techniques are central to your learning, and you will gain valuable instruction from highly-skilled teachers within our training kitchens. Develop your theoretical knowledge with topics such as food safety, health and safety legislation, and catering for specific dietary requirements, and benefit from gaining commercial and kitchen experience through Otago Polytechnic's training restaurants.

Other options for studying this programme

Otago Secondary Tertiary College

If you're an Otago senior secondary school student, you may be able to study this programme through our Otago Secondary Tertiary College (OSTC). To apply, you need to contact your school careers advisor. 

Youth Guarantee Scheme (Dunedin only)

If you are a 16-19 year old and feel that school didn't work for you, you may be able to study this programme via our Youth Guarantee Scheme and pay no fees. This also applies if you are going to be 15 years old at the time that this programme starts and you have an early exemption from school. Please note that there are limited Youth Guarantee places available for this programme and therefore funding cannot be guaranteed. 

Skills required
  • Creativity
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • To be motivated and have a good work ethic
  • A willingness to try new things and constantly update your skills. 
Entry requirements
  • Open entry; there are no academic entry requirements.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure you are ready for this study. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5, with no band score lower than 5.0.  
Additional requirements and documentation

You must supply your academic records, along with certified copies of proof of identity and proof of residency (where appropriate).

All applicants must submit a letter of no more than 500 words which explains:

  • why you have chosen to study this Certificate
  • your expectations of the programme
  • your career goals in the hospitality industry
  • the steps you have already taken to progress your career goals to improve your chances of being accepted into the programme.

You may also have to undertake an interview.

Youth Guarantee information - Dunedin only

To be eligible for Youth Guarantee funding, you must:

  • Be a domestic student between 16-19 years old
  • OR be 15 years of age at the time when you commence the programme AND have an early leaving exemption from your school
  • Not already hold a Level 3 qualification in any subject
  • Have been thinking about leaving school and getting a job OR prefer to be working towards a career rather than staying at school OR have left school and are not sure how to enter higher education or employment
  • Want to learn practical skills
  • Be more motivated in a non-school setting and be prepared to enrol in a full-time programme.

Fees and allowances

The Youth Guarantee Scheme will cover tuition fees, material and equipment costs of your programme of study. 18-19 year olds enrolled in fees-free Youth Guarantee qualifications will now be able to access the course-related costs part of the student loan and student allowances if they meet the eligibility criteria. Those under 18 years old will not be able to access any part of the student loans. Funding for travel is available, conditions apply. Please visit the Studylink website for full details. We strongly recommend that you read this carefully prior to applying for this programme. 

The process

  • There is not a separate Youth Guarantee application form. Please apply for this programme by using our standard Otago Polytechnic application form. To apply online, or to download a paper version, click the apply button at the top right hand corner of this page.
  • If you meet the criteria for Youth Guarantee funding you will be offered the funding if it is available. We will ask you to let us know within two weeks if you do not wish to take up the funding.
  • If there is no Youth Guarantee funding available, we will send you a letter advising you of this. Along with this letter, you will receive an invoice, terms and conditions, a Studylink brochure and an equipment list advising what you will need to purchase before starting your programme. 
Selection procedure

If the number of applicants exceeds the available places, a waitlist will be used to ensure preference is given to applicants in order of application.

Additional costs


During your induction day, you have the opportunity to purchase your full uniform from our preferred supplier. You should expect to spend approximately $700 on programme specific equipment. This will be covered by the "Course-Related costs"section of your students loan (if you are eligible).

Central Otago

You will need to purchase a knife kit, uniform and textbooks as required.

Further study options

Upon completion of this certificate, further your learning and skills with our New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4). This programme is offered in Dunedin and Central Otago.  

Programme specific risks

There are a number of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) issues associated with practical work in areas specific to a commercial kitchen environment. These include, but are not limited to, burns from hot liquids or hot objects and cuts from sharp instruments. You will have access to an orientation booklet which covers the associated risks in more detail.

More about the Central Otago experience

The Central Otago version of this programme runs on Thursdays from February to November 2016.

Embrace the world-renowned Central Otago food and wine experience and enjoy the chance to use local, fresh produce in your dishes. Our unique approach focuses on sourcing ingredients grown on campus to strengthen your understanding of the connection between 'paddock and plate'. Our extensive horticultural facilities include a hydroponics unit, nursery, modern glasshouses, orchard and the Bannockburn Road vineyard and give you the opportunity to incorporate herbs, vegetables, fruit, berries, salad and wine into your cooking.

You will cover food preparation and cookery techniques including stocks, sauces, soups, salads, fish, eggs, meat and poultry, vegetables, rice, pasta and hot and cold desserts.

One of the highlights of the programme is the opportunity to showcase your culinary talents at the annual Autumn Plant and Food Fair in Cromwell where you have the chance to create and sell your food to the public.

Your workload

Dunedin and Central Otago

This programme is hands-on and involves a lot of practical work to intensively develop your kitchen skills in a commercial facility. 

Graduate outcomes and qualification structure

Upon successful completion of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • Apply health and safety, food safety and security practices to ensure own safety and minimize potential hazards for customers.
  • Communicate effectively and behave in a professional manner with colleagues, managers and customers.
  • Follow standard operating procedures to deal with familiar problems in a commercial kitchen.
  • Apply fundamental cookery skills to prepare, cook and present a range of basic dishes employing commodities commonly used in industry. 

Course title








Apply health, safety and security practices to service delivery operations






Apply food safety practices in a food related business






Interact with other staff, managers and customers to provide service delivery outcomes






Apply standard operating procedures and the code of conduct to a work role in a service delivery organisation






Prepare and cook basic stocks, sauces and soups in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook basic vegetable dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook egg dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook basic meat dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook basic fish dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook rice and farinaceous dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook basic pasta dishes in a commercial kitchen






Prepare and cook basic pastry dishes in a commercial kitchen





Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. 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. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

If you plan to study this programme in Dunedin, please enquire at the Food Design Institute. Phone 0800 762 786 or email info@op.ac.nz.

If you plan to study this programme in Central Otago, please enquire at our Central Otago campus. Phone 0800 765 9276 or email centralotago@op.ac.nz.

Links to useful websites
  • Discover what's on the menu at our Dunedin training restaurant, Technique.
  • Check out what's on offer at our Central Otago training restaurant, Molyneux.

While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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