Otago Polytechnic

New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4)


Dunedin or Central Otago

One year full-time

On campus 3 days a week.

Dunedin: February (FULL)
Central Otago: February and July
By 30 November (for Dunedin - late applications will be accepted based on availability of places); Until course start (for Central Otago)
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Central Otago
    15 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    5 April 2021 - 16 April 2021
    27 September 2021 - 8 October 2021
  • Central Otago
    26 July 2021
    29 November 2021 - 11 February 2022
    27 September 2021 - 8 October 2021
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    5 April 2021 - 16 April 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021

Begin your journey from cook to chef.

Available at both our Dunedin and Central Otago campuses, this programme involves lots of hands-on, practical cooking in our training kitchens, and a work placement in a local business. It will expand the skills you have developed in a Level 3 cookery programme.

As well as developing a range of cookery skills enabling you to prepare, cook and present a variety of dishes, you will gain hospitality management skills and techniques which will allow you to create and maintain successful food operations. In turn, this will enable you to learn the important steps necessary to operate and evaluate the performance of a food operation. You will also learn how to develop communication, leadership and critical thinking skills and how to create a safe workplace.

The work experience opportunity will allow you to apply your hands-on learning outside of the classroom and is great chance for you to increase your knowledge and develop real-world skills.  

By studying this programme in Central Otago, you will benefit from the unique "paddock to plate" approach and have the unrivalled opportunity to source your ingredients straight from the campus nursery, modern glasshouses and our orchard.

Skills required
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • To be motivated and have a good work ethic
  • A willingness to constantly update your skills.
Entry requirements
  • Open entry but preference will be given to those who hold the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 3) OR equivalent OR evidence of at least one year of relevant industry experience.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure you are ready for this study. Click here for your country's equivalent entry criteria.  
  • 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.

Additional requirements and documentation

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

If you have industry experience, please also submit a CV with details of this.

Selection procedure

If the number of applicants exceed 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 will have the opportunity to purchase your full uniform from Otago Polytechnic's 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 student loan (if you are eligible). You may already have some or all of the required uniform, equipment and textbooks. 

Central Otago

You will need to purchase your own knife kit, knives, uniform and textbooks. This will cost approximately $600. Please email central@op.ac.nz

More about the Central Otago experience

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 locally grown and harvested herbs, vegetables, fruit, berries, salad and wine into your cooking and chef training.

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. During the course, you will also benefit from the input of knowledgeable guest lecturers. 

Further study options

After successfully completing this Certificate, you will be in a great position to apply for the New Zealand Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) (Level 5) (Cookery) offered in Central Otago, the New Zealand Diploma in Hospitality Management (Level 5) offered in Dunedin or the Bachelor of Culinary Arts offered in Dunedin.

Programme specific risks


There are a number of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) issues associated with practical work in areas specific to a commercial hospitality 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 programme specific risks in more detail.

Central Otago

You will be advised of all risks associated with this programme in the covering letter that is enclosed with all enrolment packs. Parental consent must be obtained if you are under 18.

Your workload

You will spend the majority of your time in the training and production kitchens. You will be required to participate in classroom and online learning. You will undertake work placement which is a vital component of this programme as you will be expected to compare Otago Polytechnic procedures and standards with what occurs in your placement.  

Graduate outcomes and qualification structure

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

  • Monitor and maintain health and safety, food safety and security practices to ensure your own safety and minimise potential hazards for customers.
  • Monitor and maintain interactions between colleagues, managers and customers.
  • Monitor and maintain the application of standard operating policies and procedures to work roles in a commercial kitchen.
  • Apply cookery skills to prepare, cook and present a range of cold larder dishes employing complex preparation and presentation techniques.
  • Apply cookery skills to prepare, cook and present a range of hot kitchen dishes employing complex preparation and presentation techniques.
  • Apply cookery skills to prepare, cook and present a range of patisserie and desserts employing complex preparation and presentation techniques. 

SMS Code

Course Title








Introduction to complex cookery




Complex cookery




Work experience







Programme Total




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.


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.

Apply Now