Mud flat ecology students during biology field trip.
Whelk behaviour investigation during ecology field trip with Learning Journeys.
Mud flat study for students studying the living world.
Mud flat ecology students investigating whelk behaviour.

Mud Flat Ecology

At the very edge of the land, the estuary seethes with life. Bacteria, mud worms, crabs, migrating fish, mangroves and oystercatcher: a fascinating ecosystem has evolved in the mud flats of New Zealand’s 300 estuaries. Often right on the doorstep of human population centres, this fragile environment is vulnerable to time and tide, and to erosion, pollution and other effects of human activity.
An important source of food for Maori in pre-European New Zealand and still a vital source of nutrients for migratory shore birds recovering after journeys of thousands of kilometres, we too often treat mud flats as dumping grounds for waste or "wastelands" to be reclaimed. The reality is that they are populated by diverse, highly productive communities adapted to cope with the daily changes caused by tidal cycles. They are also invaluable buffer zones between land and sea and essential habitat for juvenile fish.

Choice of Activities

  • Explore the mudflats to familiarise yourself with their inhabitants.
  • Enjoy experiential activities (juniors) to gain appreciation of relationships
  • Perform transects to survey population and community patterns
  • Discuss environmental conditions in relation to adaptations and community/population patterns
  • Collect of physical data eg: exposure, mud texture, temperature variation
  • Collect data on population age structure or productivity.
  • Monitor bird behaviour
  • Investigation of whelk behaviour
  • Discuss human impacts on mudflats

New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement

Living World
  • AS 90925 1.1 Carry out a practical investigation in a biological context with direction.
  • AS 91153 2.1 Carry out a practical investigation in a biology context with supervision.
  • AS 91155 2.3 Demonstrate understanding of adaptation of plants and animals to their way of life.
  • AS 91158 2.6 Investigate a pattern in an ecological community with supervision.


Q1. Why do teachers choose to tour with Learning Journeys?

Using an outside provider like Learning Journeys allows you to avoid stress and save time to focus on the core demands of teaching and have more time with your family and friends.
  • Trips are well tried and tested and our local knowledge, New Zealand-wide, is extensive. • We’ll facilitate your trip as well as planning, recce-ing AND booking it (including transport, food and accommodation). Have as much or as little input as you want.
  • Our facilitators are secondary geography or science teachers with years of classroom as well as EOTC experience.
  • Trips are curriculum linked and can include NCEA assessment tasks.
  • RAMS forms, parents letters, gear lists and worksheets developed and provided for you.
  • We’re Qualmarked (Tourism New Zealand has checked us out as a safe, professional, company) and Dept. of Conservation approved.

Q2. Does it cost more for Learning Journeys to organise and run my school's science and geography trips?

Yes it does cost a little more per student. However, you need to factor in the time you'll save by using Learning Journeys. You will also save the cost of relief for staff who would otherwise have come from your school, since Learning Journeys will provide one or more facilitators who will contribute to staff-student ratios.

Q3. What about risk management?

Safety is always paramount in our trip planning and delivery. We are acutely aware of the responsibility of being entrusted with other people’s children. We will provide you with RAMS forms for all activities included in your programme.

Our Health and Safety Plan deals with every aspect of our operations and training. Hazard identification is carried out for every new activity and a RAMS (Risk Analysis and Management System) form is prepared. This process has been audited both by a Department of Conservation approved Safety Auditor and as part of our Qualmark® accreditation

Our teacher-facilitators are trained in safe practice and all have First Aid qualifications. The suppliers we use are fully qualified and experienced in their specialist areas and where available we choose to work with Qualmarked® operators. Their sound safety records are further guaranteed by the Qualmark®, accreditation process.
Qualmark® is New Zealand tourism's official mark of quality. All accommodation and tourism businesses carrying the Qualmark® have been independently assessed as professional and trustworthy, so you can book and buy with confidence.

Q4. Who are your facilitators?

Our trips are managed and facilitated by qualified science or social science secondary teachers with classroom experience as well as many years’ experience in the field.

Q5. How long have you been running field trips for New Zealand secondary students?

Since 2001. Our oldest client did 12 consecutive yearly 3 day trips to Goat Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island. Most other schools repeat trips year after year.
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Tour Length
1 day
Years 7 - 13
Auckland, Tauranga, Whakatane, Raglan
Trip dates
By arrangement
Free teacher
For every 10 paying students
Minimum group size
10 Students
Price for 35+ students
From $47 incl. GST
Valid until 
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Thank you again for another fantastic learning experience for the level 2 biology students! All had a great time and really enjoyed all the opportunities that you were able to give them on the trip.

Western Springs College, New Zealand

Year 12 (Level 2) trip to estuary for a summative assessment: this was an excellent programme, made much easier for me by Learning Journeys' organization.

John Paul College, Rotorua

There were a lot of good things that happened on this trip: I have made new friends. Snorkelling was fun. It was my first time and it was amazing. The purpose was to learn and that was what I did. It was a great experience. I will never forget it and will try to con my parents into coming here again. The reserve is a beautiful place. I had a great time.

Year 12 student
Rotorua Girls’ High School