Tectonic processes, landforms & hazards
New Zealand straddles the boundary between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Visit Christchurch, severely damaged by an earthquake in 2011, see geysers, hot springs and mud-pools around Rotorua and hike the lunar-like volcanic terrain of the Tongariro Crossing.
Weather processes & hazards
Its exposed position on the Pacific and Southern Oceans make New Zealand susceptible to all kinds of weather, from tropical storms to Antarctic cold fronts. Study how the different geographical regions have varying weather patterns, and the influence one system can have on another.
Learn how global warming has affected the natural retreat and growth cycles of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, and study the impact of recent increased flooding on local communities.
Study a range of varying ecosystems from the Alpine mountains in the deep south to the sub-tropical rainforests in the north. A boat trip from Kaikoura also offers a fascinating insight into marine ecosystems in one of the world’s best locations for whale-watching and deep sea fishing, and explains why this area is so popular with marine life.
Coastal processes, landforms & management
The Tasman and Pacific coastlines are incredibly different due to the nature of the two bodies of water. The west coast is typically rugged and wild and features fjords, cliffs and black sand beaches. The Pacific east coast is generally calmer with wider beaches and examples of gentler weathering, though the peninsulas of Kaikoura, Akaroa and Otago are exposed to the elements.
Water & river processes, landforms & management
The South Island particularly offers excellent opportunities to study rivers as they descend from the Southern Alps to the coast, displaying clear evidence of hydraulic action, abrasion, attrition and solution. As they near the coast you can also see the wide floodplains caused by glacial melt in the spring and summer as well as spectacular waterfalls.
Glacial processes, landforms & management
Hike on Franz Josef glacier in the Southern Alps, one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, and marvel at the glacial-carved Fjordland National Park on a boat cruise on Milford Sound.
Geological processes & landforms
New Zealand has an unrivalled variety of rock landscapes from the volcanoes of the North Island to the South Island’s rugged Fjordland, plus the curious Moeraki boulders, alpine peaks and much, much more!
Urban change & growth
How do the major cities of Wellington and Auckland differ? Compare the population density and land usage of the two and consider how the physical geography affects these factors. How do they contrast to major cities in the UK?
Visit the famous farm show, the Agrodome, to see a real working farm in action. Learn about sheep breeding and discover the local produce of New Zealand. How has the farming industry adapted to changing markets and competition and what does the future hold for New Zealand farms?
Witness the opening of the Aratiatia Dam, one of eight dams on the Waikato River. This spectacular sight shows the power of the water held by each of these dams and the geographical features of this area with and without water. As you travel across the southern plains near Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki you’ll see a series of dams which collect water for HEP stations and to provide water for the urban centres on the east coast.
Over 75% of New Zealand’s electricity was produced from hydro-electric, geothermal and wind power in 2011. Visit Manapouri Underground Power Station, NZ’s largest HEP station, or take a guided tour of the Geothermal power plant at Wairakei.