Introduction

How to organise a Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom (LEOTC) visit.

The LEOTC educator is your one point of contact for everything other than accommodation. They will provide you with information and options about LEOTC education programmes, the activities provided by other local operators, and a range of material that will assist you in planning a visit to Aoraki/Mount Cook.

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Bookings

For all information and bookings, contact:

Dulkara Martig
Phone: +64 27 342 2080
Email: dmartig@doc.govt.nz

You will be sent a booking form. When you have discussed what your trip aims are, and what activities you may wish to do, a draft plan will be developed and sent to you for your approval.

When agreement has been reached and external bookings confirmed, we will work together to ensure that the students’ learning experience is successful.

To avoid disappointment during terms one and four, book at least six months in advance.

Steps for booking

  1. Decide on your dates, time of arrival and departure.
  2. Identify the goals of your LEOTC trip (class, curriculum, competencies, and values).
  3. Book your accommodation.
  4. Contact the LEOTC educator to check their availability.
  5. Complete the booking form dispatched to you as a result of earlier contact. Check for primary and secondary curriculum based activities.
  6. Send booking form to the LEOTC educatior who will draft a programme.
  7. Review draft programme sent to you – check times, dates, costs, activities, and numbers. Numbers for external bookings must be accurate. Penalties may be incurred if activities are booked and too few or too many turn up.
  8. Confirm programme with the LEOTC educator. The programme has to meet your needs so communication is key. Let the LEOTC educator know if you are not happy.
  9. Discard old programmes so we are both working on the same programme.
  10. Ensure you have read all EOTC safety requirements for your school.
  11. Fulfil any prerequisites (such as payment/terms and condition sign offs) that external providers will require. Clear instructions will be provided. Failure to do so may result in your school’s activity being cancelled.
  12. Be aware that changes will occur due to weather or other occurrences that happen within a mountainous environment.

Fees

The Aoraki Mount Cook LEOTC service is free to New Zealand schools. Bookings made through businesses for foreign students is $20 + GST per person.

You will receive an invoice for this fee, which is payable by direct banking, cheque (made out to Department of Conservation) or by cash/credit card over the counter at the Aoraki/Mount Cook Visitor Centre.

External providers

If schools choose to use activities offered by external commercial providers as part of the LEOTC service, these may incur additional fees. There are discounted charges for schools booking these activities through the LEOTC educator.

Risk management

Ministry of Education EOTC Guidelines (section 51) state:

“51. While the board of trustees is responsible for the health and safety of all participants in EOTC, and for ensuring learning outcomes are met, the board can only achieve this with the help of everyone involved. This includes effective delegation of responsibilities to relevant people.”

Our position

The school undertaking the LEOTC activity is responsible for the health and safety of their employees (teachers), parents, guardians and students. This is confirmed in the EOTC Guidelines (section 51). However DOC, as an LEOTC provider, acknowledges that in order for schools to manage their responsibility a collaborative approach to risk management is necessary.

DOC has clarified expected roles and responsibilities, but the ultimate responsibility and decision making lies with the school.

Schools are responsible for the safety management of their experience including the health and safety of staff and students. Typically this should include using their RAMS (risk analysis management system) process, behaviour management and ratio systems, co-ordinating group gear, first aid, communications, accommodation, food etc, while we provide expert curriculum knowledge and education delivery.

LEOTC educators will support your safety planning by informing you of activity type, duration, amenities and identifying permanent hazards and safety needs for you to consider in your risk management planning. The LEOTC educator has also prepared some generic RAMS forms to help support you in your pre-trip planning, and recommend our Teacher Familiarisation trips for those who want to do a pre-site visit.

LEOTC educators will also support your safety management by advising on weather, road conditions, and environmental hazards relevant to your group, activity, location and the conditions on the actual day. As no two groups or days are the same this is usually done just prior to and/or during the activity.

Commercial providers have their own separate policies on managing risk. These may include the school or parents signing disclaimers or agreeing to terms and conditions prior to undertaking activities. Schools should check this well prior to the camp to allow for parental consents to be sought. Links to information on separate risk policies can be found on each activity data sheet in this guide, from the LEOTC educator, and directly from the provider. 

Perceived risk

At times Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park has been perceived as high risk by school groups because of its serious mountain terrain. In fact, the actual or real risk for schools is very low as activities are based around Aoraki/Mount Cook Village and low risk level high use tracks.

Emergency support

There is a high level of emergency support within Aoraki/Mount Cook Village – essential because of our remote location. There is an ambulance based at Aoraki/Mount Cook on call 24/7 run by St John volunteers, two of whom are paramedics.

There is a medical centre at Twizel, 65 km from Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, with on call 24/7 doctor coverage. Note that the nearest x-ray facilities are at Timaru Hospital.

There is excellent mobile coverage for both Spark and Vodafone within Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, State Highway 80, Red Tarns Track and lower Hooker Valley Track. Note that Tasman Valley/Blue Lakes has Spark coverage only.

Accommodation

You must book your own accommodation. Accommodation providers include a youth hostel, motels, hotel, lodges and a DOC campsite.

Time and distance

The park is located on the west of the South Island, deep in the heart of the Southern Alps, but only accessible by road from the east coast – 40 minutes drive off State Highway 8.

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village lays within the park, with Twizel the nearest town outside of the park.

Distances for travel – Mackenzie Basin

Distance

Approximate time

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Glentanner Park

23 km

17 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Twizel

63 km

45 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Tekapo

105 km

1 hour 10 mins

Glentanner Park to Twizel

42 km

28 mins

Twizel to Tekapo

58 km

40 mins

Distances for travel – South Island

Distance

Approximate time

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Christchurch

323 km

3 hours 47 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Invercargill

425 km

4 hours 53 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Dunedin

312 km

3 hours 36 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Oamaru

204 km

2 hours 20 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Timaru

202 km

2 hours 19 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Queenstown

254 km

2 hours 53 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Alexandra

223 km

2 hours 28 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Cromwell

195 km

2 hours 8 mins

Aoraki/Mount Cook Village to Picton

653 km

7 hours 40 mins

The drive to Aoraki/Mount Cook is an adventure in itself. Whether you are travelling from the South via Central Otago, or via the Waitaki Valley, or down through South Canterbury, there are many activities to see and do. These include:

  • Benmore Dam – hydro electricity
  • Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Clay Cliffs
  • Mount John Observatory
  • Ruataniwha wetlands
  • Salmon farms
  • Ski fields
  • Tekapo Springs.

The nearest supermarket is Twizel, 63 km away, so ensure you have purchased what you need to successfully conduct your school camp. Some accommodation providers will get in food for you – ask if this service is available when booking.

Ice and snow can be on the road 12 months of the year, so drive carefully.

Other documentation

These documents may help you organise your trip. Email Dulkara Martig dmartig@doc.govt.nz to get a copy.

  • RAMs forms for schools visiting Aoraki/Mount Cook (walking, boat trips).
  • Map of local walks in the Aoraki/Mount Cook area.
  • Check lists for teachers planning a LEOTC trip.
  • Gear list for students coming to Aoraki/Mount Cook.
  • Map of LEOTC presentation and workshop venues.
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