Sheep farm visit while on school tour of the South Island, New Zealand.
Cuddles with a lamb during a school field trip, New Zealand.
Farm vist, South Island school tour.
Castle Rock, school group South Island tour, New Zealand.
Students exploring castle rock, South Island New Zealand.
West Coast beach visit during School trip of NZ.
Heli Hiking, Franz Josef. School group travelling the South Island, New Zealand.
South Island student tour. Franz Josef glacier walk.
School trip to New Zealand. Photo at Mirror Lake.
Franz Josef, terminal walk with a student group visiting New Zealand.
Saying hello to a local Kia, student tour New Zealand.
Queenstown bungy, New Zealand.

South Island - educational experiences

Here's how Tourism New Zealand describes the this country’s two main islands:

"New Zealand's North Island offers active volcanoes, island sanctuaries and immense culture and history for an authentic experience. From the far north where New Zealand’s political history began, journey through landscapes that blend magnificent beaches sprawling farmlands and geothermal wonders. Maori culture is rich and ever-present in many parts of the North Island."

"The South Island hosts the purest natural landscapes you’ll ever experience. From wildlife to wineries, from glacial valleys to star-filled skies, nature's best flourishes against a palette of dramatic scenes."

In other words the two islands offer vastly different educational experiences. You can't take your students overseas just now, but you can show them the other half of their own country and for considerably less cost than a tour to Europe or China!

Sample 6 day itinerary, South Island.

South Island High Country (Have a look at our shorter programmes if you'd like a different theme: these also work as modules for building longer trips or something with a different focus.)

This tour begins in Christchurch. We can organise flights for your group if you’re travelling from the North Island.
Day one - Christchurch – Arthurs Pass 226 km – 3 h
  • Arrive at Christchurch airport.
  • High Country Sheep farm visit: view seasonal farming activities and discuss the interaction sheep farming and the natural landscape.
  • Travel to Kura Tawhiti, made of limestone formed on the sea bed 30 million years ago. Walk around the grand limestone rock battlements which led early European travellers to name this unique area Castle Hill. The area is rich in Maori history and scenes from “The Chronicles of Narnia” were filmed nearby. Discuss geological origins of New Zealand, especially the Kaikoura orogeny.
  • Stops, as time allows to collect data and map the changing vegetation sets.

Overnight Arthurs Pass

Day two - Arthurs Pass - Franz Josef 233 km - 3 h

  • This morning, continue west through Arthurs Pass, stopping for fantastic views and hopefully, to meet kea, New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrot, at the Otira viaduct lookout towards the most remote region of Zealand. Discuss uplift and erosion of the Southern Alps and the story of the viaduct
  • Continue collecting data.
  • Time permitting, take a short stroll in beautiful Hokitika Gorge.
  • And or visit a greenstone factory. Hokitika is the jade (or pounamu) capital of New Zealand. There you will find artisans carving jade into traditional Maori and modern NZ designs. Discuss the origin of jade as a metamorphic rock.
  • Alpine Fault tour: a two hour discovery adventure to see where the Pacific and Australian continental plates meet. Visit the drilling site and learn how it plays a vital role in seismic monitoring and see how two active plates come together and shape the land around them.
  • In the evening enjoy a short walk in the dark through native forest to see glow worms.
  • There’s also the opportunity to try the ultimate hot spring experience: a relaxing soak at the Glacier Hot Pools (optional extra)

Overnight Franz Josef

Day Three - Franz Josef to Wanaka 286 km – 3 h 40

  • Enjoy World Heritage Westland National Park today with its ancient temperate rainforest and glacial landforms, stopping regularly to absorb the stunning scenery and splendid isolation: beech forest, waterfalls, remote beaches, possible sightings of seals, sea-lions and endangered Hector’s dolphins, as you travel south then over the Haast Pass to Wanaka.
  • Begin with a breath-taking glacier walk towards the terminal face of the Franz Josef glacier. Discuss glaciation and the influence of global warming on glacier melting.
  • Take a short walk to Lake Matheson, the so-called mirror lake named for its incomparable reflection of nearby snow-capped peaks, like most of the West Coast lakes is in a hollow left behind by a retreating glacier.
  • Stop at Ship’s Cove, Knight’s Point, Thunder Creek, the Blue Pools as time allows. Collect data, discuss the interaction of tectonic, erosional, biological and climatic processes.
  • Arrive in Wanaka with time to spare to explore this vibrant town with its spectacular landscape, Including: Puzzling World where seeing is not always believing. This is a world unique attraction specialising in puzzles and illusions and has amazed visitors of all ages for over 35 years.

Overnight Wanaka

Day four - Wanaka to Te Anau 227 km – 3 h

  • Wanaka, a picture-perfect resort town on New Zealand's South Island, is set on the southern end of its namesake lake with views of snow-capped mountains. It's the gateway to the Southern Alps' Mount Aspiring National Park, a wilderness of glaciers, beech forests and alpine lakes.
  • We’ll start the day with a walk up Mt. Iron for views of the effects of glaciation and the impacts of human settlement.
  • Next, it’s on to the famous Kawarau Gorge AJ Hackett Bungy where you can watch or even try (optional extra with parental permission) a bungy jump and throw yourself off the bridge diving 43 metres to the river below.
  • Stop in Arrowtown, a rich gold mining centre in the days of the Otago Gold Rush. Now you can explore this very picturesque historic town and pan for gold, as well as enjoy the cafes and shops if there’s time.
  • Tonight, you will stay in Te Anau. This attractive town lies on the edge of another terminal moraine dammed lake.

Overnight Te Anau

Day five - Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown 406 km - 5 h 30

  • Start the day off bright and early, travelling along New Zealand's most scenic highway through World Heritage Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound where cooked breakfast and a scenic cruise await you. Your Milford Sound cruise will take you the length of the fiord out to the Tasman Sea. Nowhere else in New Zealand do the mountains stand so tall, straight out of the sea. Rainforest clings to sheer rock walls and waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres to the sea below. Animals normally only found at great depths thrive near the surface because of tannins in the freshwater overlying the salt.
  • On your way back to Queenstown, walk through native rain forest to the ‘Chasm’ where rushing rivers have cut their way through the rocks to form gorges and caves, hear the story of the construction of the Homer Tunnel, stop to enjoy and photograph the amazing Mirror lakes (ox-bow lakes) and take in breath-taking mountain views in the Eglington Valley. You will also, almost certainly see kea, the only parrot in the world that can live above the snowline.
  • Finish the day on the shores of Queenstown’s stunning Lake Wakatipu at sunset.)

Overnight Queenstown

Day Six - Queenstown

  • Take the steepest gondola in the southern hemisphere today to enjoy stunning views of the Southern Alps and consolidate your understanding of the processes shaping the High Country, before you try out the luge.
  • Make the most of some free time in the adventure capital of New Zealand. Try one of the adventure activities, as an optional extra, with parental permission, or stroll along the lakeside, relax by the water or try frisbee golf in the nearby park, before heading for the airport for the journey home.

Overnight Queenstown

New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement

Earth and Space Science
  • AS91189 2.3 Investigate geological processes in a New Zealand locality
  • AS91191 2.5 Demonstrate understanding of the causes of extreme Earth events in New Zealand
  • AS91007 1.1 Demonstrate geographic understanding of environments that have been shaped by extreme natural event(s).
  • AS91240 2.1 Demonstrate geographic understanding of a large natural environment.
  • AS91426 3.1 Demonstrate understanding of how interacting natural processes shape a New Zealand geographic environment.
  • AS91011 1.5 Conduct geographic research, with direction.
  • AS91244 2.5 Conduct geographic research with guidance.
  • AS91430 3.5 Conduct geographic research with consultation


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.
Request a quote Contact us
Tour Length
6 days
Years 7 to 13
South Island
Trip dates
By arrangement
Free teacher
For every 10 paying students
Valid until December 2020
Request a quote Contact us

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

Our students LOVED the Goat Island field trip. Many that did the trip last year want to do it again. It opened their eyes to some important conservation issues.

Trident High School, Whakatane

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