NewsLearning Experiences Outside the Classroom

Immersing students in the wonders of EOTC

In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have a long history of EOTC, and it is still regarded as a cornerstone of our education system today.

Since school children were first encouraged to explore the great outdoors all those years ago, a myriad of studies have shown that EOTC is vital for making links between theory in the classroom and the real world.

EOTC helps ākonga see the relevance of their learning, and in turn imparts to them a deeper and more embedded understanding. 

Read the latest print edition of School News HERE 

The Ministry of Education’s EOTC guidelines say that education outside the classroom is important because it encourages young people to bring their love of learning outside the classroom environment. Through EOTC, educators are acknowledging that learning happens everywhere, and learning beyond the classroom is valuable and valid. By these means, children start to value life-long learning. 

Although EOTC can happen anywhere, even within school grounds on school-fields and within the school’s neighbourhood, particularly valuable learning can occur when ākonga are taken outside of their usual contexts. Exposure to adventure activities, overnight stays in unfamiliar environments, visits to museums and sites, and workshops that allow ākonga to explore new fields instils fresh confidence and curiosity. Overcoming challenges inspires students and creates new opportunities for personal and social growth.

Image supplied by Hanmer Springs Attractions

EOTC can be integrated into many aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum, including science, technology, mathematics, visual arts, literacy, sustainability and health and physical education. Excursions can be tailored for all year-levels, ages and abilities. 

When designing an EOTC experience, it is important that any learning or physical support needs are met, as an inclusive experience benefits all ākonga.

EOTC in the NZC

Looking to the New Zealand Curriculum, EOTC experiences align with these values:

  • Excellence, aiming high and overcoming challenge;
  • Innovation, inquiry and curiosity by thinking critically, creatively and reflectively;
  • Diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages and heritages;
  • Equity, through fairness and social justice;
  • Community and participation for the common good;
  • Ecological sustainability and care for the environment;
  • Integrity, which involves being honest, responsible and accountable and acting ethically;
  • Respect (for) themselves, others and human rights.

Most EOTC experiences will naturally encompass some if not all of these values, and educators designing curriculum can easily link learning areas to EOTC activities.

Providers can also help tailor programmes that align with both school values and the NZC. These include activities that build teamwork and trust, as well as push ākonga outside of their comfort zones in a way that is safe and inclusive.

Image supplied by Christian Youth Camps

Some providers also have accommodation that is suitable for a range of ākonga, and are experienced in administrating longer EOTC events such as camps.

Simple one day excursions to museums or significant sties in your local area can also provide valuable links to curriculum. Experts in the field can be engaged to enrich and strengthen student learning.

EOTC opportunities and ideas

School News spoke to several EOTC providers to find out how they can bring learning to life for your students.

Christian Camping New Zealand represents more than 60 member camps around the country. These camps provide a range of facilities, options, and activities, from self-catered spaces for teacher and parent led excursions, to fully facilitated programmes or even wilderness adventures. Whatever the size, age, or level of your group, Christian Camping New Zealand has camps that can cater for you.

Their camps are always working on providing a great experience for schools by making it as simple as possible for teachers and organisers, affording opportunities that meet EOTC curriculum requirements, and delivering enriching camping experiences for all students.

Image supplied by Kokako Lodge

Kokako Lodge (Ak) is fortunate to be based next to the Hunua Falls (water) on the edge of 17,000 hectare of bush (tramps). Whether you’re having fun in a little “Tug of War” before your main programme starts, or using your Orientation skills to talk on the radio and find the “victim” before bringing them back to safety on the stretcher, EOTC at Kokako Lodge is powerful to build problem solving and perspective skills.

We are all aware of the benefits of EOTC, and not just for the students that are not so suited to the traditional classroom environment. We all benefit from the distraction of doing something, and learning while we are. We can all still feel the impact of the COVID lockdowns but it is clear the rebuild back to independence and resilience is well under way.

From April, Kokako is extending its programmes to include NCEA credits of Unit and Assessment Standards in multiple soft (and career pathway) skills (like Time Management, Conflict Resolution and Interview Skills). Using the outdoors, the tactile and distraction advantages of EOTC could improve the learning ability of students on these programmes.

Image supplied by NZ Surf Academy

Surfing is not just a sport, it’s something that will challenge, educate, inspire — getting students hooked for life! NZ Surf Academy offers a variety of programmes, from Beach Safety Days to NCEA Achievement standard courses, which cater for every age, starting with primary through to high school and adult hood. With 15 years of experience and more than 250 schools under their belt, the team pride themselves on being one of NZ’s top surf education providers.

Their philosophy is that learning is something to enjoy and have fun with. Soaking up information is always easier when there’s a mix of visual, vocal and kinaesthetic styles, which is why NZ Surf Academy combines land-based lessons with water sessions, providing students with a mix of all styles; a space to better themselves. Our moana is the greatest teacher after all!

Experience the ripple effect as students become more confident, safe, and self-assured in the water after just one session; and how this pertains to other aspects of their lives. You pick the beach, NZ Surf Academy does the rest!

Christian Youth Camps Ngāruawāhia offers an exceptional opportunity to enrich the lives of your students outside the classroom. School camps have emerged as a liberating gateway for students to connect with nature while honing life skills. As education shifts toward preparing students for an ever-changing world, school camps become a vital tool.

As a school, you understand the value of well-rounded education. CYC provides a unique opportunity for students to develop character, strengthen social bonds, and cultivate leadership skills.

Christian Youth Camps provides a wide range of activities and experiences beyond the classroom to give students the opportunity to interact with their teachers and peers in new environments. From rock climbing to team building, everything is on offer!

The team at CYC, pride themselves on fostering a culture built on respect, integrity, and love. Their primary goal is to inspire and equip young individuals to lead purposeful lives and make positive, lasting contributions to their communities. In partnership with you, they can empower your students to realise their full potential.

Hanmer Springs provides an ideal location for school trips and camps, with multiple accommodation and activity options. Activities facilitated by Hammer Springs Attractions are offered from one central hub, within easy access of the village. The organisation has a strong focus on health and safety, and holds Qualmark Gold and AdventureMark accreditation for top safety practices.

Depending on the age of your students, and size of your group, students can enjoy jet boating, river rafting, bungy jumping, paintball and quad biking. Multiple activities can be completed in one day. Hamner Springs is located within easy reach of Christchurch.

Image supplied by Waikato Museum

Based in the heart of Kirikiriroa Hamilton city, Waikato Museum‘s wide-ranging Education Programmes include classroom-based sessions, exhibition tours, and gallery activities. Programmes are developed for tauira from primary to secondary, and are informed by the New Zealand Curriculum to ensure they align with your learning goals. This year Waikato Museum is looking forward to hosting the international exhibition ‘Six Extinctions’ (April to July 2024) where you can come face to face with the fossilised remains of some of history’s largest and deadliest predators.

The Education team at Waikato Museum offers rich and engaging experiences to take learning to the next level, from school visits and community groups to professional development opportunities. The interactive centre for discovery, Exscite, has been recently refreshed and can be booked to complement your visit.

Join the team in sharing narratives and unique perspectives on the Waikato region through visual arts, history, science, and tangata whenua.


Step into a world of imagination at 3D Trick Art Gallery, an immersive experience tailored for schools. The gallery offers an educational adventure that combines art, technology, and learning. Students will marvel at mind-bending optical illusions, fostering creativity and critical thinking.

Exhibits are designed to ignite curiosity, making learning a dynamic and engaging process. Teachers can enhance their curriculum with a visit to the gallery, where art meets education seamlessly. The knowledgeable staff ensure an informative and entertaining journey, aligning with various subjects to create a holistic learning experience.

Spark the imaginations of your students as they explore the interactive wonders of the 3D Trick Art Gallery- a field trip that transcends traditional boundaries and leaves a lasting impression on young minds.

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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