The Maunga is the classroom

The restoration of Maungatautari offers people of all ages the opportunity of a hands-on learning experience in a unique ecological environment.


The maunga provides a variety of enriched learning opportunities that support the education philosophy that the maunga is the classroom. The aim is to create positive and memorable experiences.


Learners are able to:

  • Experience the rich history of the maunga and its unique and ever-changing biodiversity.

  • Discover how two significant conservation technologies (pest proof fencing and pest eradication) have enabled the ecological restoration of the maunga.

  • Understand the important role people have as kaitiaki or guardians of the land. 


We are very grateful to acknowledge the contributions from the David Johnstone Charitable Trust for the latest donation, and would like to acknowledge that without these contributions over the last 3 years the Education section would not be where it is today.  


Meet our Educator

Tom Lynch is the environmental education ccoordinator for the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust. He comes to us from Zealandia and is relishing the opportunity to pass on his passion for conservation to students who visit Maungatautari.


Email with any enquiries or bookings.

Education programmes

Intended outcomes of the education programmes for students: 

  • Being detectives; exploring, questioning, investigating
  • Developing essential skills like observational thinking and problem solving
  • Kaitiakitanga' maori concept of guardianship for the sky, the sea and the land

Programmes for Primary and Intermediate Schools will:

  • Provide the opportunity for students to explore authentic contexts for learning
  • Give an exploratory introduction to:
  • Biodiversity
  • Interdependence
  • Sustainability
  • Personal and social responsibility for action 

Ratio requirements:

We suggest a ratio of one adult supervisor per six students (1:6). The educator is not to be included in this ratio.



There is parking available free of charge for either cars or buses. The bus driver will be allowed free access to the southern enclosure for the duration of the visit. Toilets are only available at the entrance to the southern enclosure. The education facility, Matapihi, is located behind Pukeatua School on school grounds.


Captain Kaka’s Detective Trail - 4 hours (10.00am - 2.00pm)

Students as detectives!  The class will go on a detective hunt for clues as to how the forest is changing in the absence of mammalian pests. Students will be introduced to the “forest villains” (the cat, the rat, the weasel etc) and gain an understanding of how a neighbourhood watch system is working 24/7 to ensure the forest is pest-free!  Along the Nikau track students will search for evidence that the removal of pests has allowed the forest to start healing.


Visit Programme (note times are approximate):

10:00                    Arrive at Matapihi

10:00 - 10:45am   Welcome and introduction

10:45 - 11:15am   Morning tea, transport to Southern enclosure

11:15 - 1:30pm     Detective trail in the Southern enclosure

1:30 - 2:00pm       Lunch at Matapihi

2:00pm                 Return to school



This programme is available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.


Booking information: 

Bookings are essential. Please phone (021 2377713) or email for booking information.



$7.50 (plus GST) per person for New Zealand Primary and Secondary students, with free entry for teachers and up to 6 adult supervisors.

$15.00 (plus GST) per person for Tertiary and International students.



The session will start on time - please be prompt.  All students need to wear enclosed footwear and clothing appropriate to winter conditions.  If extreme weather conditions are forecast the programme will be cancelled and the educator will notify a designated teacher by no later than 7.30am on the day of the visit.

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