A Tpjcian's Geography Field Trip To New Zealand


The Geography field trip was specially designed to cater for the geography students to revise their subject concepts and get to witness first-hand the physical and human geography theories they have been taught. New Zealand provides many examples of diverse landscapes, human interaction with the environment, and the effects of those interactions.

Our Geography students.

We gathered at Changi Airport on 1st June 2008 before departing for Auckland International Airport, arriving at 1030am the next day on night flight, after transiting at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. No time was wasted when we arrived in Auckland as we headed straight for Mt Eden. Our first task was to utilize the mountain as a vantage point to identify the field of volcanoes that make up the Auckland isthmus. Amongst the tasks assigned, we went to Auckland Central Business District to do human geography fieldwork, and conduct urban studies to identify the characteristics of a CBD and the differences between the inner and outer suburbs.

It took 3 hours to arrive at our first accommodation – Pacific Park Collings Lodge, Tauranga. The lodge came complete with a dining hall, kitchen, lounge and 12 rooms. It was 4 people to a room and 8 people to a bathroom making it especially chaotic to live under one roof. We had to prepare our own breakfast and take turns cleaning up the area too.

Our bunk-beds.

The chance to visit New Zealand students finally came on the third day. We spent the whole day in Katikati College, attending classes such as Geography, Biology, History and English. The teachers conducted lessons using Smart Boards. It was an interesting sight to view the teachers and students use touch-screens in their lessons.

The next day was spent on our river fieldwork. Some of our assignments included measuring the river gradient, profiling the river, calculating river discharge volumes and comparing infiltration effects inside and outside an adjacent forest. It was not an easy task, as the water was freezing cold; we could not feel our feet once we step into the water! What a treat it was to witness plunge pools and potholes first-hand! Next stop was a visit to Marshalls animal farm, where we met animals impossible to be seen in Singapore, like the Llama. We even got a chance to feed the animals.

For most of us, the highlight of this trip would be the Maori culture immersion experience where we got an opportunity to stay together in one big room called the Wharenui or the Meeting house. The Paparoa Marae is a sacred place; hence we had to observe some protocols such as prayers before food and removing of shoes before entering the Meeting house. We arrived at the marae and were welcomed with a traditional welcome ceremony called Powhiri.

The traditional welcome ceremony.

The ceremony is solemn and we cannot enter the marae till the women call us on. The Maoris have high regards of their women and women are protected by the men as basic protocol. A ceremonial hongi (gentle pressing of nose) was conducted to conclude the formal welcome. For dinner, we were served with hangi meal (food cooked using geothermal energy) and were entertained by Maori teenagers who perform a range of traditional songs, dances and even the famous Haka! We were invited to join them and the guys (including Mr Sahlan) were taught to do the Haka. It was a really amusing sight to see them imitate the Haka.

Mr Sahlan can dance!

On our last day, we travelled to Rotorua, 2 hours away, to visit the Whakarewarewa thermal reserve to view the geysers, mud pools and caldera volcanoes. We got a chance to ride the luge and chairlift at Skyline Skyrides on Mt Ngongotaha. The mountaintop gave us an overview of the volcanic landscape resulting from the successive major eruptions – an eye-opener for many. Each of us was entitled to 2 luge rides, and it was way better than the one we have in Sentosa. After lunch on the mountaintop, we traveled 3 hours to Waitomo, our last destination for the trip to visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves and explore the Karst landscapes. The glowworms and limestone caves were beautiful. It was a pity that photography is not allowed as it would hinder their development.

Look what we found - a mud pool!

We concluded the whole journey with games and quizzes as a revision. Each night in New Zealand was spent for self-revision to be handed in for markings. This was a necessary measure to ensure we keep up with our work. We embarked on our journey back to Auckland International Airport early next morning and that concluded our beautiful journey in North Island, New Zealand. I am sure to visit New Zealand again, once is never enough!


A luge is a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleds supine and feet-first. Steering is done by flexing the sled's runners with the calf of each leg or exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Luge is also the name of the sport which involves racing with such sleds. It is a competition in which these sleds race against the clock. Luge, like the skeleton, and the bobsled, originated in the health-spa town of St Moritz, Switzerland, in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, through the endeavours of hotel entrepreneur Caspar Badrutt.


The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is a product of SMART Technologies. It is a large, touch-controlled screen that works with a projector and a computer. The projector throws the computer’s desktop image onto the interactive whiteboard, which acts as both a monitor and an input device. Users can write on the interactive whiteboard in digital ink or use a finger to control computer applications by pointing, clicking and dragging, just as with a desktop mouse. Buttons launch a popup keyboard and a right-mouse-click menu for more input options. The interactive whiteboard is usually mounted on a wall or a floor stand and is used in face-to-face or virtual settings in education, business and government.


A Hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one's nose to another person at an encounter. It is still used at traditional meetings among members of the Māori people and on major ceremonies. In the hongi (traditional greeting), the ha or breath of life is exchanged and intermingled.


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