Natural Landscapes - Taupo to Tongariro

From barren volcanic areas to towering snowy peaks, from lush rainforests to meadows of alpine flowers, from golden beaches to deep caves – some of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes are preserved in its 14 national parks. In 1887, Ngāti Tūwharetoa chief Horonuku Te Heuheu gifted the peaks of Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu to the Crown. He wanted these central North Island volcanoes included in a national park, to prevent them from being divided and sold. This gift led to the establishment of Tongariro National Park, the country’s first national park, in 1894.


Visit viewpoint for landscape overview; hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing or shorter, less challenging tracks; examine landforms to understand their formation; visit volcanic activity centre or Whakapapa I-site; tour geothermal park; discussion or presentation on management challenges on the Central Volcanic Plateau; data collection on eg. temperature variation across a region.

Curriculum and assessment:

Living World
AS 91240, AS 91244, AS 91426, AS 91430, AS 91155, AS 91158, AS 91605


You’ll stay in comfortable bunk room accommodation at Mt. Ruapehu Hotel. This spacious facility, on the edge of Tongariro National Park has games room and TV room, as well as a kitchen where you group can self-cater if you choose. Alternatively we can organise self-service buffet continental breakfast, packed lunches and fully catered dinners.

Natural Landscapes - Taupo to Tongariro


Tongariro is New Zealand’s most visited national park, and one of the most visible – on a fine day its snow-covered peaks are an arresting sight for people travelling through the central North Island by road, rail or air. The park’s landscapes are diverse. As well as the volcanic mountains, barren lava flows, snowfields and hot springs exist side by side.

Tongariro National Park is at the south-western end of the Taupō Volcanic Zone. Its volcanoes are all active, and Mt Ruapehu erupted spectacularly in 1995 and 1996. Vegetation ranges from alpine herbs to tussock and flax, with beech forest in the mountains and low-growing shrubs in the Rangipō Desert. Wildlife includes long- and short-tailed bats, and many native birds and insects.

Choice of Activities

Day 1
  • Drive from Auckland to arrive at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland for a lunch stop and tour of the Geothermal Park
  • Huka Falls (time permitting)
  • Volcanic Activity Centre: Interactive Displays and audio-visuals on the volcanoes of the Central Volcanic Plateau.
  • Taupo Lookout: views of the Central Plateau
  • Drive south along shores of Lake Taupo: discussion of Taupo Volcanic Zone: volcanic processes and resulting landforms.
Overnight: National Park Village

Day 2
  • Audio-visual display at Whakapapa Department of Conservation Office.
  • Presentation on Lahar Hazard Management or similar.
  • Walk Silica Rapids track (about 2 hours) to examine volcanic landforms and their modification by erosion
  • Altitudinal Zonation study – vehicle stops at intervals along mountain road. (Data collection for AS 91244 Research title “Investigate Temperature Variation across a Region”)
  • Examine lahar surface features.
  • Overnight: National Park Village
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Day 3
  • Walk Mangatepopo Valley: Interaction of volcanic, glacial and biological processes. Walk to Soda Springs: Discuss/map/photograph/fieldsketch Ngauruhoe and lava flows, glacial landforms, fluvial landforms (Mangatepopo stream, (succession on lava flows)
  • Set off back to Auckland
  • Hot swim in Taupo if time

Curriculum and assessment:

Learning area strand: Geography, Biology
Key Competencies: Relating to others, thinking


AS 91240 2.1 Demonstrate geographic understanding of a large natural environment
AS 91244 2.5 Conduct geographic research with guidance
AS 91426 3.1 Demonstrate understanding of how interacting natural processes shape a New Zealand geographic environment.
AS 91430 3.5 Conduct geographic research with consultation.
AS 91155 2.3 Demonstrate understanding of adaptation of plants or animals to their way of life.
AS 91158 2.6 Investigate a pattern in an ecological community, with supervision.
AS 91605 3.5 Demonstrate understanding of evolutionary processes leading to speciation.

Natural Landscapes - Taupo to Tongariro

2020 Prices from

Number of Students
Cost per head - 2 Days
Cost per head - 3 Days
Cost per head - 4 Days

This includes

  • Research, planning, bookings and organisation
  • Facilitation
  • Accommodation
  • Activities as specified in ininerary
  • Letter to parents
  • RAMS form
  • Gear list
  • A master copy of worksheets
  • Use of specialized equipment
  • GST
  • Saving you a great deal of time and hassle

Not included:

  • Transport (bus, to and from school). Ask us to quote if you don’t have access to your own.
  • Class set of worksheets – it’s more cost effective for you to copy these at school.


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.
Make a booking Contact us
Tour Length
2 - 4 days
Years 7 - 13
Taupo - Tongariro National Park
Trip dates
By arrangement
Free teacher
For every 10 paying students
Minimum group size
10 Students
Price for 35+ students
From $97 incl. GST
Valid until December 2020
Make a booking Contact us