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Summary Page: Wetland Biodiversity - journey to a rare inland high country ecosystem
Term 1 starting 14 March 2017.



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In autumn go with DoC experts as we travel by helicopter, 4-wheel-drive, mountain bike and on foot into the wetlands and braided rivers of Ō Tū Wharekai. Get up close to its fauna and flora to discover how its birds, insects, reptiles and plants are uniquely-adapted to surviving in such a tough place. With local iwi, find out about interventions for native and endemic species to enable their populations to be sustainable. Note: weather and other factors out of our control may influence activities during this field trip.

Technology twists - electric fishing, measuring water quality, trapping pests using motion-sensor cameras (TBA).

Wetlands play a vital role on planet earth so this trip will fit perfectly with big ideas like sustainability, indigenous people, landscapes, water, plants and animals, migration, threatened species and conservation. On this 3-day journey be prepared for the unexpected! Enrol.

To prepare for this field trip, LEARNZ content will support inquiry into:

  • the special place Ō Tū Wharekai, high up in the South Island's Rangitata River valley
  • the special nature and importance of wetlands
  • the significance of water and wetlands to Māori, particularly Ngāi Tahu
  • use by iwi of traditional resources like raupō (bulrush) and harakeke (flax)
  • threatened native fish, birds, lizards and plants
  • life cycles of selected species like native fish
  • adaptations of living things
  • ecosystems and the interconnectedness of wetland life

During the field trip you will (TBC):

  • see Shelley's tweets on twitter
  • ride a helicopter down the spectacular Rangitata River (TBC)
  • see how rivers connect places and people: how the surrounding land affects the river and how the river affects fish, birds and people
  • meet iwi and find out how to help sustain the local bird population
  • get to know DOC rangers
  • climb into your waders to search for freshwater fish and invertebrates in the braided rivers
  • investigate wetland recreation
  • discover the secret world of eels
  • explore inter-montane basins of inland South Canterbury
  • discover the plants and animals that threaten our wetlands
  • trap pests using a motion-sensor camera
  • gather people's different points of view about this wetland
  • see how special plants and animals within this ecosystem are interconnected and how they have adapted to survive in this harsh alpine environment
  • catch skinks and geckos in a fall trap
  • monitor the black fronted tern population that lives on Canterbury's braided rivers and discover what is being done to counter threats to these species and their surroundings
  • get your feet wet to learn how wetland plants affect water quality
  • document living things specific to this area using the NatureWatch/iNaturalist smartphone app. More about using NatureWatch to build 21st capabilities in students
  • gain an appreciation of the special value of Ō Tū Wharekai to Māori

After the field trip challenge yourself to:

  • ask what people remember about a wetland near you and what they think about it now
  • use your ideas, and those of others such as iwi, to help restore a wetland ecosystem near your place
  • restore native plant species at your school or home
  • buy and use a kit for testing water quality
  • use the NatureWatch/iNaturalist smartphone app to photograph and identify living things near you

Where you will go

Ō Tū Wharekai is in the heart of the South Island high country. It includes the Ashburton Lakes and upper Rangitata River that have been crafted through the ages by glaciation (creating a stunning landscape used for filming Lord of the Rings). The Hakatere Conservation Park, centred on the Ashburton Lakes, was opened in October 2007. It has habitat for native fish, trout, salmon, water birds, threatened native plants and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. It is one of the three national Arawai Kākāriki project sites focusing on the ecological restoration of the most precious wetland freshwater sites in New Zealand.

In many parts of the world, wetlands have important roles but they are under threat at the same time as awareness of their importance is growing. Ō Tū Wharekai is also important to Māori in the past, present and future.

Teacher comments about previous Wetland Biodiversity field trips

"You bring the outside world to us! Boys especially are absorbed by the videos and discussions with scientists - you help turn them on to learning. The field trip helped us connect and participate with our community and is making science real and meaningful." Jennifer Kitchin from Weston School

"Very purposeful learning. Supported our bi-cultural focus. Supported different learning styles. Found it very easy to incorporate into our long term plan and to integrate across learning areas." Amanda Ferguson from Wakanui School

"Great for our integrated units. Fun and engaging. Allows students to greater understand ICT and the topic at the same time. I was able to adapt the materials and information provided so that it aligned with our school values, structure and learning areas we are focusing on at the moment. Fantastic and well organised. Thank you." Patrick Wyatt from Weedons School

Go to more comments from teachers about previous Wetland Biodiversity field trips.

Learning Areas/Levels

Science: Living World Levels 1-4, Nature of Science Levels 1-4, Planet Earth and Beyond Levels 2-4; Social Studies: Place and Environment Levels 2-4, Identity, Culture and Organisation Levels 2-4, Continuity and Change Levels 2-4

More Curriculum

This field trip has support material for Social Studies AO Level 1 How places in New Zealand are significant for individuals and groups. Level 2 How places influence people and people influence places. Level 3 How people view and use places differently. Biology 91155 Demonstrate understanding of adaptation of plants or animals to their way of life. Earth and Space Science 91190 Investigate how organisms survive in an extreme environment.

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those page read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are live tweets on twitter, and daily additions such as a diary, video clips, live audioconferences enhanced by chat, webcam and image uploads via Adobe Connect (and recorded for replay), profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, ambassador (mascot) page updates, and Ask-an-Expert which is a device-friendly web board for students to post questions for answering overnight. After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View teacher comments in testimonials and in the LEARNZ Group on the VLN. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences comprise a unique collection of real, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

    Not Registered with LEARNZ? Are you a New Zealand Registered or Provisionally-Registered Teacher? Register free with LEARNZ Now.

    Already Registered with LEARNZ and activated your account? Log in to your personal MyLEARNZ Control Panel and then enrol your classes at no cost in field trips. Note: Enrolment is only needed for the current and future year's field trips.

    Registered but need help? Check your email for activation instructions - contact us if the message did not make it to your email inbox. Log on to MyLEARNZ. Go to Getting Started.

    Teachers - Lost your password? Recover it here.

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Introductory video for this field trip: Watch, embed or share on Vimeo or click below to watch here.



PLD about this field trip? Go to Webinar Schedule and Recordings.

New to LEARNZ? Go to Getting Started.

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Shelley the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Shelley, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

Inquiry Topics: aquatic insects, biodiversity, birds, Canterbury, conservation, environmental action, fresh water, lakes, land use, life cycle, native species, plants, rivers, sustainability, threatened species, wetlands

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