Educational travel in New Zealand provides students and educators with the perfect learning experience, allowing students to apply, analyse and challenge knowledge that is learnt in the traditional classroom environment. We are experts at designing tours with an educational basis that support student learning and education outside the classroom. Tours may focus upon a specific theme such as history, culture, ecology, indigenous peoples, geography, wildlife, music, geology, sport or a combination of themes. We have experience with high-school students, university and study groups, educators and retired educational professionals. New Zealand is a safe and clean destination with strict national safety standards and regulations controlling tour coaches, drivers, roads and other services used. For affordability, multi-share accommodation at hostels, holiday parks and lodges can be utilised.
9 Day Volcanic North Island Education & Adventure Tour ~ Sample Itinerary
DAY 1 – ARRIVE – AUCKLAND
Welcome to New Zealand! Harae mae! That’s Gidday in Maori. You have arrived in Auckland – the largest city in New Zealand with a population of over one million people. Positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman sea the city has become known as the city of sails because of the large number of pleasure craft here. This afternoon we take a look around the city before arriving at our overnight accommodation.
DAY 2 – AUCKLAND
Today we explore Auckland, once the capital of New Zealand from 1841-1865. We visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum which boasts one of the best Maori Cultural Displays in the world. Our guide will take us to some of the sites of volcanic eruptions that have occurred in Auckland and explain to us the volcanic history of the area. It is thought that Auckland’s volcanoes first began to appear between 60 000 and 140 000 years ago, starting with the eruptions of the Domain and Albert Park. The Auckland Volcanic Field is expected to have a total life of approximately one million years, so potentially there is a lot of life left in the field yet. There is limited data available to determine the precise ages of past eruptions. This makes it difficult to determine when the next eruption is likely to occur. However, we do know that the frequency and magnitude of eruptions seem to be increasing with time. Of the approximately 50 eruptions in the Auckland Field, 20 have occurred within the last 20 000 years and of these, 18 occurred between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. Maori mythology attributes the formation of Auckland’s volcanoes to a great battle fought between two forest-dwelling peoples, who lived in the Waitakere and Hunua ranges on opposite sides of the volcanic field. We enjoy a cruise and tour across the Waitemata Harbour to Rangitoto Island, the site of the largest and most recent eruption in Auckland about 600 years ago.
DAY 3 – AUCKLAND – ROTORUA
From the moment you enter Rotorua, you’ll know you are somewhere quite different. Straight away you will notice the unmistakable smell of sulphur in the air. You will see clouds of steam magically appear around the city, giving it an incredible ‘otherworldly’ feel. On our arrival we try the “Zorb” – a giant plastic bubble rolling us downhill, throwing us around until we get to the bottom. Following this we visit Rainbow Springs, specialising in New Zealand flora and fauna, including Kiwi, Tuatara, Rainbow and Brown Trout. Breathe deeply, and take in the native bush, ferns, trees and plants that grow and flower all around you. Enjoy the tranquillity of the crystal-clear cold water that flows tirelessly from the subterranean springs. Marvel at the silent grace of the magnificent specimens of Rainbow, Brown and Tiger Trout, cruising the fern-fringed pools. We then visit the New Zealand Farm Show to learn about the farming industry. This afternoon we travel up the Rotorua Gondolas for a great view looking out over Lake Rotorua. Here we can enjoy a ride or two on the luge. The Luge is a fun ride for all ages. A World ‘First’ proudly designed and built in Rotorua, the Luge is a fun-filled gravity ride on a 3-wheel cart. The unique braking and steering system provides the rider full control and allows them to travel as fast as they dare, with three separate sealed tracks that wind down through the redwood trees. Rotorua also has a very large Maori population whose cultural activities are interesting and accessible, as we will see later this evening at a Maori Hangi – Feast and Concert – make sure that you brush up on your hakas before coming.
DAY 4 – ROTORUA DAY AT LEISURE
DAY 5 – ROTORUA
This morning we visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, featuring the Pohutu Geyser. Exploding from the ground up to 30 meters high is the world famous Pohutu Geyser – an awesome display of Mother Nature’s power, a tourist attraction since the early 1900s. But that’s just the start of the beautiful Te Whakarewarewa thermal valley. See silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and unique geothermal vegetation. And each of the geothermal wonders is woven into a legend – surrounded by memories and sometimes mystery. We take a trip back into yesteryear with a visit to the Rotorua Museum, which houses many imaginative exhibits, including an interactive and simulated volcanic eruption depicting the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. Here we learn the history of the area and also about the 1881 eruption of Mount Tarawera, which destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces, one of the wonders of the world. This afternoon we tour the Rotorua Lake District viewing the Blue and Green Lakes, before visiting the Buried Village – remnants of the village that once stood on this site at the time of the mighty Tarawera Eruption in 1886. We then view Lake Tarawera and Mount Tarawera as it is seen today, after its past history we have seen and heard of today. Our next visit is to Hell’s Gate at Tikitere, Rotorua’s most spectacular, sinister and fierce thermal valley – a truly unique experience you just can’t miss. “Relentless” massively powerful and “sinister” forces have shaped the landscape of Hell’s Gate into a spectacular collection of boiling hot pools, mud pools, hot water lakes, formations of sulfur crystals, as well as Rotorua’s only mud volcano. The 20 acres that make up the Hell’s Gate Thermal Reserve gives us a unique insight into New Zealand’s geothermal history. Visitors to this “Hell’s Gate” are confronted with drifting wraith-like mists, which when challenged, sulkily part to reveal the true torment that has been wrought on the land.
DAY 6 – ROTORUA – MT RUAPEHU
This morning we travel south with our first stop at the Aratiatia Rapids, which are one of the Waikato River’s outstanding scenic features. Mighty River Power releases water down the rapids several times each day. Next we have a visit to the Volcanic Activity Centre where we have a hands-on interactive educational Centre explaining the Taupo Volcanic Zone. We then board the Huka Jet, a powerful jet boat that speeds up the river to the base of the mighty Huka Falls. Experience 360 degree turns and slide past sheer cliffs with inches to spare. The rest of the day is exploring the area, with sights including Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon; this unique lunar landscape is the result of the 1954 explosion during construction of the Wairakei geothermal power station. Following the shores of this great lake, Lake Taupo is 160m deep and fills a volcanic crater covering 619sq kms. It was created by volcanic activity only 2000 years ago (a fact recorded in Chinese history) and is similar in size to Singapore, which house a population comparable to New Zealand. The most recent eruption of Taupo was about 1800 years ago. We stop at Taupo Bungy, watch as people throw themselves off a platform into the Waikato River, or try it yourself (optional). Located in the stunning volcanic Waikato River Valley, Taupo Bungy is considered one of the world’s most spectacular bungy sites. Featuring the world’s first cantilever platform and New Zealand’s first ‘splash cam’, even if you don’t jump, you’ll be experiencing bungy jumping history first hand. Next we travel to Mt Ruapehu volcano which is the southernmost of the large active volcanoes of the North Island. Rising to 2797m (9175ft), Mt Ruapehu is the highest mountain in the North Island and the most recent of the North Island volcanoes to have erupted. Ruapehu is located at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ), a spreading segment of the Earth’s crust and the source of spectacularly explosive eruptions over the last 2 million years. Subsidence in the central axis of the TVZ has led to prominent active faults developing to the east and west of Ruapehu volcano, which are downthrown towards the mountain. These faults mark the boundary of the TVZ in this region, which terminates 20 km south of Ruapehu’s summit. Ruapehu is largely comprised of the volcanic rock Andesite. Accumulations of Andesite lava flows, interbedded with fragmental rubble, radiate from the summit region, forming a stratovolcano that rises 2000m from the surrounding lowlands. As stratovolcanoes build up they become steep and have a propensity to collapse, generating debris avalanches and lahars that spread outwards onto the surrounding lowlands.
DAY 7 – MT RUAPEHU
Today, weather permitting, we take a guided walk up to the crater lake of Mt Ruapehu, utilising the chairlifts that service the ski-fields during winter. In 1995 and again in 1996 Ruapehu erupted in spectacular fashion, sending clouds of ash and steam skyward and covering the surrounding snow fields and forest with a thick film of ash. This area is part of Tongariro which was New Zealand’s first national park and a World Heritage area. The park spreads out from Lake Taupo to Ohakune, covering over 34 miles (55 km). Three volcanoes are at the heart of the park – the mountains Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu. Volcanic activity in the zone started about 2 million years ago and is ongoing today. Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe are two of the most active volcanoes in the world. This area of the central North Island’s Volcanic Plateau was home to the most sinister of “The Lord of the Rings” sites, Mordor, the stronghold of the Dark Lord Sauron. Much of Frodo and Sam’s journey into the land of Sauron was filmed on and around the Volcanic Plateau in the Tongariro National Park, where jagged volcanic rock formations and barren landscapes were ideally suited to Mordor’s wasteland.
DAY 8 – MT RUAPEHU – WAITOMO
We head to Waitomo. Here we go Black Water Rafting, donning a wetsuit and rafting underground caves on tubes into parts unknown. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori word “Wai”; water and tomo, hole or shaft. The Glow Worm Cave was first explored in 1887 by a local Maori chief, Tane Tinorau, and an Englishman, Fred Mace. Local Maori people knew of its existence, but chose not to disclose the fact. When information came to light, Fred Mace persuaded Tane to accompany him and together they entered the cave where the stream goes underground. This is where cave tours currently exit. On that occasion, they explored the lowest level of the cave by raft and foot. Amazed by the limestone formations and the myriad of lights of the glow worms, they returned many times for further exploration. On a later independent trip, Tane discovered the upper level of the cave and easier access. Cave tubing involves travelling along underground streams using a large vehicle inner tube. Tubes are chosen to suit the person’s size and weight. At various stages you may drift along assisted by paddling, travel down swiftly flowing water or leap over waterfalls. The company Black Water Rafting popularised the activity and it is often referred to incorrectly by this name – cave tubing is the correct name. You will be provided with all the equipment you need. You should take a swimming costume to wear under the wetsuit and towels for after the hot shower at the end of the trip.
DAY 9 – WAITOMO – AUCKLAND – HOME
This morning we transfer to Auckland international airport for our flight home.