North Island Geography

Maori culture and concert; kiwi bird; Karangahake Gorge; Waihi beach and Mt. Pio; plant trees or dune grasses; explore and study mudflats; animal park tour; rainforest walk; kiwi fruit orchard tour and tasting; Auckland city tour; Mount Eden volcano; Rangitoto Island volcano or Piha Beach; Kitekite Falls

Educational Themes:

Earthquakes and Volcanoes; Tourism; Rivers; Food Production; Coasts; Urban settlement


All accommodation is included. You’ll be warm and comfortable in private single gender bunk rooms (bedding provided) in our pick of the South Island’s best hostels. You’ll love the common rooms and games rooms, where you can relax and get to know each other and other travellers. Wifi is available.


All dinners are included except one and are a choice of tasty, two course meals served in our favourite restaurants. Breakfasts are buffet style selections of cereals, toast, fresh fruit, yoghurt, juice and hot drinks. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher or halal options. Lunches will be tasty picnics: fresh bread rolls with your choice of fillings, followed by fresh fruit and muesli bar.

North Island Geography

Day 1 – (LD) Auckland to Rotorua- 230 km - about 3 hours

  • Arrive at Auckland airport, meet your Learning Journeys teacher -facilitator and drive to Rotorua
  • On the way you have the option of touring the Hobbiton Movie Set* near Matamata. This is an opportunity to see a unique attraction, the set reconstructed specially for the filming of the Hobbit, a mecca for fans worldwide of author J. R. R. Tolkien and a work of art in its own right. It’s also an excuse to break your journey to Rotorua and visit the working sheep farm the set is built on.
  • Polynesian Spa: Relax with a hot swim and mineral-pool soak in the family spa before or after dinner. *Extra cost: $37.50
Overnight Rotorua

Day 2– (BLD) Rotorua

Rotorua is our oldest tourist resort, because of the bizarre geothermal features spread through and around the city, including geysers, mud pools and hot springs. In the 1800s visitors travelled around the world to see the famous Pink and White Terraces, unfortunately destroyed by Mount Tarawera volcano in 1886. The city is still a thermal resort, but now also has a great range of adventure and cultural activities to keep the visitors there a bit longer

Today the focus is on Earthquakes and Volcanoes: with the eruption of Mt. Tarawera Volcano and its consequences providing an extreme natural event case study. This is also an opportunity to look at Tourism in Rotorua, time permitting.
  • Visit Rotorua Museum. This provides an introduction to the Taupo Volcanic Zone and the 1886 eruption of Mt. Tarawera, as well as local Maori history and culture, strongly influenced by volcanic and hydrothermal activity in the area. Watch an audio-visual (including earthquake simulation) of Mt. Tarawera eruption. Discuss its effects and options for mitigating/managing effects of eruptions in the future.
  • Next, carry out simple chemical tests on hot-spring water, simplified versions of the tests performed by geologists monitoring volcanic activity in the area. Discuss the results and their implications for residents of the city and hazard management.
  • Our next stop is Waimangu Volcanic Valley where we’ll walk through this protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge to see landforms and features whose development created following the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886: craters, hot springs, steaming lakes and geysers. Next we’ll take a cruise on Lake Rotomahana (the warm lake), enlarged by the final, explosive stage of Tarawera’s eruption and also former site of the Pink and White Terraces.
Overnight Rotorua

Day 3  - (BLD) Rotorua to Tauranga– 85 km - about  1 hour

Tauranga is New Zealand’s fastest growing city after Auckland and a favourite summer holiday destination for kiwis, with its large natural harbour and extensive white sandy beaches. Settled by Māori late in the 13th century and by Europeans early in the19th, it is now a centre for business and international trade, culture, fashion and horticultural science. A wide range of fresh produce, including kiwifruit and avocados is grown in the area due to the mild, sunny climate and volcanic soils. Tauranga is New Zealand's largest export port and a regular stop for both container ships and luxury cruise liners.

Today you’ll complete Earthquakes and Volcanoes themed activities and touch on Rivers and Food Production before travelling to Tauranga to begin your Coasts unit.
  • This morning tour Te Puia - Site of New Zealand’s most impressive geyser. You’ll also see artists engaged in traditional Maori crafts (wood carving and flax weaving) and watch a Maori cultural performance. This venue also houses New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi, in an aviary where night and day are reversed so this flightless, nocturnal bird is active during the day.
  • Okere Falls - Take a short guided walk through native rainforest to see picturesque waterfalls. This is an introduction to New Zealand’s unique bird dominated ecosystems, endangered species and their conservation. Discuss key plant and animal species of the forest ecosystem and their interdependence and taste species important as traditional foods or medicine.
  • Kiwifruit orchard - Climb aboard a Kiwi-kart and experience a fascinating 40-minute tour through lush orchards. Along the way, gain a great insight into the complexities of the kiwifruit growing process, the dynamic Kiwifruit Industry, and just how it has become such a phenomenon in this area. Learn how this unique pocket of land is able to grow the world’s healthiest fruit better than anywhere else in the world, and then taste the proof for yourself.
  • Coastlines: sand dunes and mudflats - Climb all or part of the way up Mauao, the iconic mountain at the entrance to Tauranga natural harbour, for an overview of coastal landforms, including beaches and dunes, a tombolo, barrier island, mudflats, saltmarshes. Examine and discuss human impacts and their mitigation.
Overnight Tauranga

Day 4 – (BLD) Tauranga – Waihi - Auckland

Waihi is the home of the richest gold mine in New Zealand - still in operation today. The Martha Mine was opened in 1878 and currently produces about a million dollars’ worth of gold and silver every week. Nearby Waihi Beach, a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders, was first inhabited by the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, and the remains of old fortified village (pa) sites can still be seen to the southern end of this 9 km white sandy beach. Waihi which means rising water, is named after a stream which flows into the beach.

The focus today is on Coasts (Waihi Beach provides a case study) but there may be also be time to visit a gold mine on the way back to Auckland in the afternoon.
  • Visit Mt. Pio (a lava dome) for an overview of the Waihi Beach area and patterns of land use. We’ll discuss coastal processes and the dynamic nature of coastlines and make field sketches.
  • Meet with a regional council coast management representative. Hear about coastal management at Waihi Beach. Walk along the beach to examine/discuss the value of hard engineering structures versus dune rehabilitation as approaches to protecting coastal properties.
  • Help with dune revegetation by planting dune adapted native species.
  • Finish the programme by carrying out beach profiling, vegetation transect measuring the velocity of longshore drift, as time allows.
  • Karangahake Gorge Windows walk - This is a short, very scenic walk through rainforest among early gold-mining artefacts: tunnels, stamper batteries, tramlines, vats. Discuss mining and extraction of gold and compare early attitudes to health and safety and environmental damage with current mining practice
Overnight Auckland

Day 5 – (BLD) Auckland

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with nearly a third of the country’s population. It’s a sprawling low-rise conurbation in a fantastic coastal location, the narrowest part of the upper North Island. No place is more than a few kilometres from the sea and the beach and it’s full of greenery because the small volcanoes scattered throughout the urban area are mostly recreational reserves.

Today the focus is on Auckland as an Urban settlement case study
  • Walk to the top of Mt. Eden Volcano for an overview of the city and stories of the geography, geology and history of Auckland. Make a field sketch and compare views with old photos or try some map work and learn to take compass bearings. Walk around the volcano’s crater, past the archaeological remains of a fortified Maori village which previously occupied the volcano’s summit.
  • Next, we’ll take a walking tour of the CBD, finishing in the Wynyard Quarter on the newly redeveloped water front. The emphasis will be on history of settlement and development of the city from the mid-1800s till the present.
  • Data collection: Transect through CBD eg. Function vs distance from Peak Land Value Intersection.
  • Another way to see the city is from the water: Take a jet boat ride* on Auckland Harbour with a driver guide who will stop to point out landmarks and tell stories of the city’s growth. *optional extra $45 pp.
Overnight Auckland

Day 6 (BLD) Auckland

Rangitoto is the largest, youngest and one of the least modified of about 50 volcanic cones and craters in the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted from the sea in a series of dramatic explosions around 600 years ago, and is now extinct. It dominates the local seascape and a visit there is like stepping into another world. The island is a public reserve managed by the Department of Conservation and is famed world-wide as a botanical gem. The Rangitoto restoration project began in 2009 with the aim to remove the seven remaining animal pests from the islands. Rangitoto was officially declared pest free on 27 August 2011.

Piha, a settlement of about 600 people, has one of most famous black sand beaches on Auckland's wild west coast, known for its rugged beauty and pounding surf. It sits at the base of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and is one of the most popular surf beaches in the region. Visitors are also drawn there by the vast stretch of volcanic black sand framed by dramatic rocky terrain. 

Depending on your flight departure times today (ideally in the evening) you have a choice of revisiting the Coasts theme and developing Rivers with a visit to Auckland’s wild west coast  or Volcanoes with a day on Rangitoto Island Volcano.
  • On Rangitoto Island (reached by a 30 minute ferry trip) discuss the Auckland volcanic field and the eruption patterns of its volcanoes, then take a guided walk to its summit and crater. On the way examine the volcano’s surface features, discuss their origin and likely modification. Explore the lava caves.
  • Collect data: temperature, aspect, soil characteristics, gradient, wind strength.
  • Discussion of volcanic hazards and their management in an Auckland context.
  • At Piha, walk on the black sand beach, examine the rocky coastal landforms created by volcanic activity and modified by coastal processes.
  • Take a walk into the coastal forest to the picturesque Kitekite falls. See artefacts of logging in the early 20th century. Hear about the interaction of people with New Zealand’s forests now and in the past.
  • Data collection: channel characteristics, flow rate, sediment load etc., macro-fauna.
  • Transfer to Auckland Airport for late flight home.

North Island Geography

 Price for 30+ $1249 p/p

This includes

  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation in hostels, mostly YHAs
  • Private, single gender bunkrooms with all bedding provided and shared bathrooms
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners in restaurants
  • All activities described in itinerary unless marked optional
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach
  • Friendly, professional guides
  • Access to our national parks
  • Pre-trip information

Not included

  • International and domestic airfares
  • Optional extra activities like bungy jumping
  • Personal expenses (phone, wifi, laundry, snacks, etc.)

North Island Geography

Organising a school trip overseas is a huge task, even if you do intend using the services of a local specialist once you get to your destination. The following suggestions will make your job easier and less stressful, especially if you've never run your own school trip before.

1: Begin your planning in plenty of time:

six months is the suggested minimum. Decide where you'd like to go and what you'd like your students to gain from the experience. Run the idea past your colleagues, principal and school board as necessary to see if the idea has their support. Discuss your approximate budget, target group, which subject areas to address, type of accommodation you'll use (We recommend hostels as being great value for money and more student friendly. Teachers are accommodated in separate twin rooms with en suite bathrooms where available.) Ask for an indicative quote from us and find out what airfares are likely to cost.

2: Talk to the student year levels you'd like to join the trip

Talk to the student year levels you'd like to join the trip, mentioning dates and approximate cost to gauge the level of interest. Remember that initial enthusiasm doesn't necessarily translate into signing up, but it at least signals that you should go further. Choosing dates that don't clash with exams or other big school events is self-evident, but it's also worth checking what other overseas trips your school might be planning during the same period. Groups of 25 to 35 gel well on tour and are easier to manage while also costing less per head than small groups. Price per head reduces up to a group size of 45 including teachers after which there's no budgetary advantage to making the group bigger. Let us know if you want us to build all accompanying teacher costs into the pricing. Typically schools send up to 1 adult per 10 students on tour.

3: Promotional evening for parents and students

Once you've got this far, set up a promotional evening for parents and students. We can provide a presentation with details of Learning Journeys as a company and New Zealand and lots of photos to whet their appetite. At the same time, hand out copies of the itinerary and a letter summarising key details with a request for expressions of interest and a deposit (say 10 to 20 % of the total cost) and a timeline for the payment of the balance of the trip cost. Your letter should also mention any need for clothing or equipment the students may not possess: good walking boots for example or a warm, seriously water proof jacket.

4: Confirm your booking

Once you have enough deposits to be sure the trip will go ahead, confirm your booking, which involves paying a deposit. We ask for 10% at this point or 25% if your departure date is less than 3 months ahead.

5: Expect to receive more planning paperwork

Having confirmed your booking, you can now expect to receive more planning paperwork: more detailed destination information, gear lists, RAMS forms, worksheet drafts... At this stage you can fine tune your itinerary: the first cut may have include optional or alternative activities and the educational programmes are also likely to include a choice of activities. If your school is a state school, your choice of adventure activities may depend on running these past government departments who will approve them or otherwise.

6: Building anticipation among the group

Now it's just a matter of building anticipation among the group, addressing relevant curriculum related topics in class, collecting further payments as deadlines draw near. We'll ask you for student details, including dates of birth, heights, shoe sizes if they'll be hiring, say, ski equipment. We'll provide finalised itineraries with times and details of activities. You'll receive a master copy of the worksheets (if you want them) with as much or as little input from you as you want.

7: Reminders

Students, as you're sure to know, will need frequent reminders about all aspects of their preparation for the trip. Suitable clothing is key. Teenagers who live in warm countries, or even colder ones, are likely to need convincing that they really do need that warm, waterproof jacket to ensure that they'll still enjoy what they're doing if the weather turns bad. Preparation for physically demanding aspects of the tour - hiking or even skiing/boarding also requires lots of reminders. Every communication with students needs to be copied to parents, especially meeting times and places for your final departure.

8: New Zealand

Once you're on the plane, your biggest challenges will be over. Once you reach New Zealand, we'll meet you as you come through the arrivals gate, then, apart from your supervisory role with the students, you can relax and enjoy yourself.

9: Anything we can do to make your job easier, just ask

Throughout this build up period, if there's anything we can do to make your job easier, just ask. Our role is not just to provide you and your students with a fabulously memorable and educational experience, but also to make your role as teacher in charge as painless as possible.
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Tour Length
6 Days / 5 Nights
Tour dates
By arrangement
Designed for
Secondary students
Minimum group size
10 Students
Free teacher
For every 15 paying students
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Request a quote Contact us