Outdoor Facilitator Gathering 2019

A four-day gathering for professional facilitators, coaches and mentors who want to explore how to design and lead transformative outdoor programmes.

This gathering takes a look at some of the theories, practices and issues of facilitating transformative outdoor experiences. Its intention is to give a brief introduction to my work in the cultural and ecological context of New Zealand / Aotearoa.

It will provide a first-hand personal experience of the processes that I use in my work to deliver both transformative and therapeutic outcomes. The final day of the gathering will go ‘back-stage’ on these processes to shed light on some of the theories and facilitation techniques used.

The gathering  is for a small group of invited professionals interested in facilitating personal, social and ecological change through outdoor experiences. It will take place over a long-weekend, from Wednesday evening until the following Sunday afternoon. 

Participants are invited to camp using their own equipment on a one-hundred acre bush block at Glenbervie near Whangarei. The land belongs to the Aplin family who will also be taking part in the gathering itself. There is a camp kitchen, communal eating space, fire circle and a beautiful swimming hole in the Ngunguru river. Catering will be provided.

The group will be limited to a maximum of 12 people. 


Wednesday 27th November Arrive by 16.00. Dinner at 19.00
Thursday 28th Preparation. Night solo
Friday 29th Solo return. Stories.
Saturday 30st Professional practice.
Sunday 1st December Lunch 12.30, depart.

Course Leader

David Key is a consultant, group facilitator, teacher and coach. He is a specialist in ecopsychology - the psychology of the our human relationships with the rest of nature. 

Dave has a background in outdoor education, ecology and psychology. His special interest is in the ways experiences of nature can be powerfully transformative. His professional practice is mainly through the design and delivery of outdoor-based programmes for sustainability leadership and the design and facilitation of therapeutic outdoor experiences. He has also taught and researched extensively in the academic sector and is an internationally published author.

Over the last 20 years Dave has worked with clients such as the World Wide Fund for Nature, The Australian Conservation Foundation, the Scottish Government and the European Union, as well as with numerous academic institutions and private individuals seeking professional development.

He holds a Masters of Science (with distinction) in Human Ecology, is a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University. He also holds a New Zealand Certificate in Adult Teaching (1&2). Dave is a National Governing Body qualified outdoor leader in both the United Kingdom (MTUK & BCU) and New Zealand (NZOIA).

Dave is a joint New Zealand and British citizen. He lives in Whangarei, New Zealand.

More >>


The course will be based at the Aplin's land at Coalhill Lane, at Glenbervie, Whangarei.

Map >>


By car,...

By bus,...

By taxi,...

By air,...


This gathering is offered on a cost-only basis.


If you can afford to pay more, it would be greatly appreciated. Any additional funds will go towards the ongoing development of the Aplin's land as a venue for transformative outdoor programmes.

Includes: 30 hours (APPROX) of facilitation contact time on a maximum 1:12 basis, 4 nights camping accommodation (own equipment), catering and group outdoor equipment. 

Excludes: Travel to/from the venue, personal travel and possessions insurance, personal outdoor clothing and camping equipment.



The gathering starts with dinner at 19.00 on Wednesday evening. Please arrive by 17.00 so that you have time to pitch camp and settle in before starting on time.


The gathering finishes after lunch on Sunday morning, departure by 15.00.

What to bring

We will be outside everyday whatever the weather!

You will need to bring the right clothing and equipment to be comfortable outdoors. It is very important that you come prepared. If you have any questions about clothing or equipment, please get in touch.

Personal clothing and equipment list >>

Personal fitness

This course is not a test of endurance! We are committed to creating an experience accessible to a wide range of abilities. We lead the programme to meet the needs of everyone in the group while also recognising than a little bit of a challenge can be a helpful thing. Everything we do is offered as an invitation. You will never have to do anything you don’t want to.

As a guideline, you will need to be able to carry a day pack containing your personal equipment (waterproofs, spare clothes, lunch, flask, etc.) for periods of up to four hours at a time, in a natural environment, often without formed paths. 

If you are unsure about your ability to take part for any reason, please make a note on the application form and/or contact us as soon as possible to discuss your needs.


Accommodation is camping using your own equipment. If you are travelling a long-way / by public transport and are unable to carry much, please let us know as we may be able to lend you a tent.

You will in any event need to bring your own sleeping bag an mat.


All meals, snacks and drinks are provided throughout, prepared fresh every day by the group.

Please let us know of any special dietary requirements, allergies or intolerances when you complete your application form.


David Key has over 20 years experience delivering outdoor programmes world-wide. He holds National Governing Body outdoor leadership qualifications in both the United Kingdom (MTUK & BCU) and New Zealand (NZOIA).

Risk assessments are completed for every location. These are reviewed each time an activity is delivered.


This course is by invitation only. If you have been personally invited by David Key, Bindy Caesar or Penny Fitt, please complete the booking form to apply for a place.

Please do not book any travel arrangements until you have received a formal confirmation that your application is accepted and that the gathering has been confirmed as definitely going ahead. The final confirmation is usually about four weeks before the start date of the event.


November 28th November - 1st December 2019


Glenbervie, Whangarei, New Zealand.


Camping (own equipment), catering provided.



Course Leader:

David Key

I gained a massive amount of insight both personally and professionally. I was profoundly moved by the process. I came away refreshed and inspired.

Peter Wooding
Venture Scotland

The course has brought me a deeper awareness and ability to listen. This in turn has enabled me to understand the broader impacts of the business and provided me with the skills to find different responses and action, rather than merely repeating past actions.

Richard Profit

[The course] has given me permission to silence the white noise. It has helped me to sift out what matters. It’s pretty subtle. It’s liberating.

Emily Peel Yates
Halcrow Group

Dave’s ecopsychology course was the beginning of my journey with this incredible work.

I learned a lot about myself, and this has ultimately meant I can work with other people with a much deeper understanding of change processes. I loved that the course was self governed – for me this meant I could go on my own exploration, and pull on the threads that interested me.

Dave is very attentive and flexible toward personal needs, it is less ‘teacher-student’ focused and more colloborative and supportive, which I I feel is exactly what is needed in this world.

I would do the course again and again.

Janine Finlay
Fin Films Ltd UK & The Good Nature Project

Dave co-created our Natural Change process for engaging with the natural world. He has run this exercise for us twice with a diverse group of people over an extended period. The results have been inspiring and Dave has been great to work with.

Richard Dixon
World Wide Fund for Nature

I have worked with Dave since 2014, firstly through the online Ecopsychology course and more recently by engaging with him as my coach. He has a richness of knowledge, wisdom and experience that I feel so lucky to be able to access – and my only wish is I had found him sooner.

His grounded, open and, I think, quite modest style heartens me greatly in a world where humility often seems scarce. I leave every session with Dave feeling energised, inspired, renewed and hopeful on this emergent journey of mine. To anyone who wants to understand what it really means to climb down from our human superiority and truly inhabit the world as nature intended – and lead others in doing so – I can’t recommend Dave enough.

Sandra Cunningham
Walking Coach

[The course] played a subtle but powerful part in deepening my commitment to a life of working for positive change. It opened windows in my thinking, and reinvigorated trust in working with intuition and metaphor that have since shaped my working path.

Tom Deacon
Field Studies Council

A newness has been thrown into the now, that will affect almost everything from this point. I find that a little bit exciting. We may be in uncharted water but that doesn’t mean we’re going down. Who knows where we could go…

Sarah Munro
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Hold your nose and dive in at the deep end – [the course] will take you to places you haven’t imagined, good and bad, and will be truly formative as an investment of your time and energy.

Gill Troup
University of the West of Scotland

In this beautiful peaceful setting, where you can literally hear the leaves fall, it is easy to have ‘thinking time’ and how important it is too; I can hardly believe what has come up for me today.

John Daffurn
Scottish College for Educational Leadership

The course cleared a lot of clutter from my head and allowed me to focus and determine the deeper underlying questions of my life and of my connection to Nature. Since then, I have pursued a deeper relationship and conversation with the natural world that has constantly informed my life.

Charlie Németh
Teacher, Hungary

In learning that the wilderness can be such a powerful source of intense natural healing, I have a new and profound respect for the earth and our complex relationship with it. I now know that this is a new beginning.

Louise Macdonald OBE

Dave is a very gifted facilitator who is able to connect people from all walks of life and to create a safe environment in which learning, practice and storytelling can happen for everyone. I came away from this course feeling enriched and with a new sense of direction for my own life and work path.

Karen Liebenguth
Greenspace Life Coaching

Dave helped me realise that I am strong enough to make change in my life that will benefit me and others. The confidence is now in me to say what I think and not say what I think others want me to say.

Marc Forrester
YouthLink Scotland

I was greatly impressed by the depth of Dave’s expertise, insights and empathic connection to the landscape as he led our group of wild lawyers through the wilderness of the Knoydart Peninsula in Scotland.

Cormac Cullinan
Cullinan & Associates

Dave is an outstanding facilitator with a fantastically engaging and inclusive style, great humour, insightful with deep rapport building abilities.

Gavin McLellan
Christian Aid

I am literally in a different physical and psychological space as a result of my involvement and have also established some very good (in the real sense) new friends, some of whom I see regularly and the rest I know are there should I need them.

Gill Troup
University of the West of Scotland

It feels like I’m in the process of enlarging my heart. And it’s kind of painful, but also joyous and also really crucial.

Deborah Richardson-Web
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The course experience was truly incredible, and I was taken by surprise at the level of intensity and personal response to what I thought would be a challenging week, but not to the degree that occurred.

Brenna Nyznik
Mercy Corp

Pleased that I decided to do this ecopsychology course with David, as I got a lot out of the experience. I appreciated the open and flexible style of our sessions, and enjoyed the diversity of our valuable discussions.

David made me feel seen, heard, and supported throughout the journey. He is a true wealth of knowledge – and customized the course to meet my personal interests, by providing plenty of useful study resources.
A considerate, generous, and passionate teacher and coach – I am thankful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with David!

Danielle Levy

The course has acted as a catalyst for all kinds of ideas and actions, both personal, professional and as a group. I think the phrase might be “watch this space”!

Louise Macdonald OBE

Approaching the beach from the cliff top I had a feeling something profound was going to take place. And when I met Dave it started happening. In just 36 hours I had the best reset I could have imagined and 36-months later I am still enjoying its effects. If you’re reading this and wondering if it’s right for you, just get in touch with Dave and see where life takes you. It helped me and I loved it.

Steve Malkin
Planet First

Dave co-taught (with Mary-Jayne Rust) a 3-week course on Ecopsychology at Schumacher College. The course was well planned and thought through, and the group gave very positive feedback of what they learned and how the process was facilitated. Dave is extremely organised and a good planner, as well as being a committed and inspiring teacher.

Inga Page
Schumacher College

Don´t hesitate. Just do it! You will feel great, brave and you won´t be disappointed – I promise you.

Margret Mennenga

Dave is an inspirational, calm and creative facilitator allowing all participants to feel comfortable and able to connect with the wonders of nature.

Jim Riach,
Keep Scotland Beautiful

Dave has worked with me and my team for the past few years on team dynamics, programme design, and personal coaching. He is an extraordinary trainer, though that word is a dis-service here, his wealth of experience in the broad fields of outdoor education and facilitated wild experiences is un-paralleled. His attention to detail, subject knowledge, and impeccable research means all learning experiences with him are enlightening, thought provoking, and deeply practical.

Dan Ryan
Eden Project

Dave is an exceptional practitioner, teacher and thinker. We worked together for three years; if the right project came along, I’d have no hesitation in asking Dave to work with me.

Osbert Lancaster
Natural Change Limited

Dave’s deft touch can be found as traces of invisible thread through many of Eden Project’s experiential learning programmes. He is a gentle and artful consultant that will help you make the most of the resources you have to hand; be it people, places, kit, knowledge, or time. He is equally capable of directing you, unblocking your problems, or simply guiding you towards the right solution for your programme needs.

Dan Ryan
Eden Project