Directory of Nature Education Programmes in NZ
Below you will find a list of early childhood and primary level centres, schools and providers who run nature programmes either as excursions, full days or full time. It is divided into regions so for your region to find what nature programmes are happening in your area!
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Ages: 0-6 ECE and 5-13 Oscar children in a homebased setting
We are a homebased childcare service and have one organised large group nature day where all of the educators and children come together, and one Kapa Haka practice each week. We have a strong nature philosophy where individual educators also take the children out into nature through the rest of the week.
Facebook: Back2Nature Childcare
Ngā Tamariki o Te Tai Ao
Parents and caregivers meet weekly, with their tamariki during term time. Children play freely in nature with others in their own age while their parents observe. Playing in te tai ai (the natural world) is a crucial part of children’s development. We support one another to provide this experience for babies and toddlers.
Open Spaces Preschool
Ages: 3m – 6 yrs
Nature-based preschool with large wild play spaces and weekly trips into our ‘Wild Woods’. We follow a play-based emergent curriculum where nature is our primary provocation – the bush feeds our curriculum. Come visit and play!
Facebook: Open Spaces Preschool
Wild West Organics
Location: Waimauku, Auckland
Ages: 0 – 6 years
We run a 2-hour playgroup fortnightly on our certified organic farm for pre-schoolers to come with their caregivers. The main activity is adventuring about the farm and discovering fallen trees, pockets of bush, streams and also we have a large bamboo stand. We also get to know some of the animals, goats, chickens, pigs, cows and sheep.
Facebook: Wild West Organics
Wild West Organics – Farm Escape Adventure
Location: Waimauku, Auckland
Ages: 4-12 years
We are a certified organic sheep, beef and free range pig farm. We run alternate week afternoon sessions on a Tuesday fro 1.30-4.30pm called FarmEscape Adventures. Parents attend with their children similar to playcentre. We have free play and activities in our four playscapes, farmyard, bamboo jungle, paddocks and bush. $125 for 5 sessions.
Ages: 2-6 years old
We are a licenced Early Childhood centre located in 10 acres of Farm land which our tamariki explore daily
Other Contact DetailsRhiannon.Farmfriends@gmail.com
We run a 2.5hr one day a week nature session from our centre.
Facebook: Birkenhead Playcentre
Eden homebased childcare
Ages: Birth to 6 years
We run 2 nature play sessions weekly, these are a free community event. We vary the location so people need to follow us on Facebook for details.We also run a weekly music in the parks at Jutland park, also a free community event.
Facebook: Eden homebased childcare
Loving Care Kindergarten
Ages: 2-5 years
We are a community based kindergarten in Henderson and our four-year-olds take turns to go on a 2 hour nature walk with two teachers weekly to explore the tracks nearby. They learn about road safety, making discoveries, problem solving, independence, responsibility, confidence and a love for nature. We have whole centre nature walks during the term break too.
Ages: 5-13 years
A primary school offering a play-based and child-led approach with frequent all day excursions to local bush areas. Our values include play, curiosity, creativity, respect, community and seeing the whole child. We are based in Northcote.
Facebook: Ako Space
Location: Auckland and Hamilton
Ages: 5-12 years
We run 100% nature based school holiday programmes, one day programmes during term time, PD for nature based educators, youth development programmes, community events, and programmes in schools.
Country Bears Nature Childcare
Location: Kumeu, Auckland
Ages: 3 mths – 6 yrs
We are a full-time licenced preschool that provides our own outdoor programme within the bounds of our property and neighbours (rural location). Children and teachers have access to bush and paddocks at any time of the day.
We are nestled amongst acres of our very own trees & paddocks, providing your child with an endless route for exploration and the opportunity to foster a positive relationship with the earth and a love towards healthy living.
Our emphasis is on nature as a vast and wonderful classroom, encouraging empathy and respect to all living things through relationships and connections to Papatūānuku (Mother Earth).
Old MacDonalds farm and bush school
We run a one day a week out of school nature programme near HAMILTON for primary aged children in collaboration with their regular school to enhance the child’s outcomes. We believe this form of education is grounding and needed for many and hope one day soon to see it funded
Education Angels in home child care
Ages: 3-5 year olds
We run a 2 hour fortnightly forest school at Paranga Park and the Taitua Arboretum in Hamilton. Come and join us in the wonderment and awe of nature’s discovery. Bring morning tea , gum boots, woolly hat and something warm to wear on those cold mornings. For the warmer days plenty of water, sun hat and sunscreen.
Ages: 3 – 12years
We are a mainstream primary school and we offer forest school sessions weekly to our enrolled students. We also offer a one day forest school where students who are not enrolled with us can come and spend the day learning and being in te ngāhere. These students can be enrolled in another school and attend with us one day per week or not be enrolled in school at all. We work with the Waikino Playgroup to offer Bush Kindy sessions and also with Kiwikidz Educare Waihi who bring their older students up one day per week.
Newstead Country Preschool
Location: Newstead, Hamilton
We are a small family owned childcare centre set on 15acres with a mix farmland, bush and gully which we explore daily.
BAY OF PLENTY
The Children’s Garden Childcare
Ages: 3.5 to 5 years old
We run bush kindy twice a week for 2 hours in the local reserve we’re children can explore their local environment. They take morning tea and are clothed appropriately for the weather conditions. They are able to run, jump in puddles, roll down hills, build huts, swing and climb on trees, pretend to fish in streams under close supervision, we have a robust RAMS in place to ensure their safety at all times. We are very fortunate to have a very large bush reserve surrounding our centre which makes it very accessible and easy to manage.
Facebook: The Children’s Garden
Puaka Bush School
Location: Eastern BOP
Ages: 5-12 years
One day school to compliment 4 days normal schooling starting in 2019 based in original native bush. Developing children who are Play Based learners; Unique individuals; Adapadable; Kaitiaki o te Taiao; Achievers (PUAKA).
Mount Plunket Preschool
Location: Bay of Plenty
We explore our local Maunga and beach once a fortnight as well as take our food scraps to chickens that live down the road once a month. The trips to the beach and Maunga are for three hours
Facebook: Mount Plunket Preschool
Nature Kids from Nature Library NZ
Location: Tauranga / Mt Mounganui
Ages: 6-12 years
Nature Kids is small group Weekday and School Holiday sessions for kids who are keen to explore, create and learn in nature.
Our days blend focused learning experiences and free nature play all while exploring our beautiful backyard in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.
School Holiday and Weekday sessions run every holiday and each term. Our days usually run from 9 am to 3 pm. For more info on dates and times:www.naturelibrary.co.nz
Kathy – Phone 027 842 5645
Ashridge Road Playcentre
Location: Hawkes Bay
We run an outdoor Papatuanuku session on Thursday mornings through our Playcentre. It’s a fabulous morning of imaginary play, physical challenges and currently lots of games of hide and seek. We follow Playcentre philosophy, so the play is child-led and our location moves around to follow their interests.
Facebook: Ashridge Road Playcentre
The DEN: Discovery Education in Nature
Location: Hawkes Bay
Ages: 2 to 6 years
The DEN offers discovery education for children aged 2-6 years in a home-like, purpose-built environment set on two acres of natural, outdoor play space.
TimberNook Hawkes Bay
Location: Hawkes Bay
Ages: 0-13 years
We offer many different education programs in nature from our smallest play group explorers to our school age Forest Education Programme. Ece and schools are welcome to book for sessions alongside our fabulous Holiday Programmes. Check us out and empower children to learn through their senses in an environment that encourages imagination and creativity.
Pohutukawa Kids Oscar (out of school care and recreation programme)
We run after school care and school holiday programmes with a focus around getting tamariki back outside and in nature.
Nature Play Gizzy, Playgroup
We are a casual playgroup that meets Thursday mornings from 9.30, at the local beach, bush or park. The focus is Parents following the lead of their children, exploring the outdoors at their own pace. We dress to allow for exploration in all types of weather. We range in ages from babies in front packs to 5 year olds, the majority are around 2/3 years old. Check our Facebook page for details. All are welcome to join us!
Facebook: Nature Play Gizzy
Harriette Vine Kindergarten
Ages: 4 years old
Harriette Vine runs a once a week Nature Discovery excursion as part of the Kindergartens curriculum. We have access for a 5-acre forest and farm block where the children get to discover and explore. Teachers follow the forest-schools philosophy of child guided self-learning based on their interests.
Facebook: Harriette Vine Kindergarten
The ECO School
We run: Holiday programs for school aged children; Nature play program for schools and ECE centres to come to our site on excursions; A weekly playgroup for children and caregivers during term time. We are based on a 5ha farm in Whanganui.
022 190 7323
Tai Tamariki kindergarten
Ages: 3-5years (ish)
We take the 10 oldest Tamariki up into Mt Victoria for half a day fortnightly. We go in all weather unless there’s a weather warning. The tamariki walk up the hill to Mt Vic carrying individual packs with their kai, water and extra warm clothing. We follow the children’s curiosities and each trip is different!
Facebook: Tai Tamariki kindergarten
Seedlings Nature Playgroup
Ages: 0-3 year olds
We are a free nature playgroup based in Johnsonville Wellington. At this stage we are only for our littlest nature explorers aged 0-3 years old. We meet biweekly rain or shine. New people always welcome.
Facebook: Seedlings Nature Playgroup North Wellington
Nature School NZ Trust
We set up and facilitate the Bush Sprouts programme; long-term, sustainable nature programmes in early childhood centres and primary schools. Working with the school/ECE weekly for a term, we help with whanau engagement, risk management and also mentor teachers to gain confidence and experience in running their own programme at the School/ECE. Funding may be available. We also run a weekly Nature School/One Day School and Bush Sprouts holiday programmes, and our new programme; He kakano, is a special whole school native seed gathering and propagation project, culminating in children tending and planting the native trees they have grown in local bush areas. We are a not for profit trust and may have funding available for our programmes.
Wairarapa Forest School
Ages: 0 to 90years
Once a month or more often during Spring and Summer families come together under Kahikatea trees, part of 230 acres regenerating land. School and EC groups come for a special program of 4 hrs.
This outdoor playground has plenty of scope to grow and develop into a place that can serve the ever-increasing need for our tamariki to connect to land.
Facebook: Wairarapa Forest School
791 Mikimiki Rd RD1 Masterton
Ages: 4-16 years
TimberNook is an innovative nature-based developmental programme designed to foster creativity, imagination, and independent play in the great outdoors.
Pohutukawa Early Learning Centre
Ages: 2-5 years
Pohutukawa is a mixed aged center that provides a daily ‘forest school’ based programme as part of it’s curriculum (roughly 2 hours long). Our center backs onto a local recreational river trail which is utilised for nature based exploration.
Wairarapa Forest School
Ages: All ages
Every 2nd Monday of the month we come together for the day under the Kahikatea trees on the edge of the Tartarua Forest Park. EC and School groups come for day outings, or people can request to organise an outing themselves. We retired 230 acres 10 years ago which is available for walks, recreation and other Forest School related activities.
Facebook: Wairarapa Forest School
Clifton Terrace School
Ages: 5 – 11years
We are currently running a forest school programme in our junior school with small groups of children.
888 Atawai Drive, Nelson
Teal Valley Forest Kindergarten Programme
Ages: 3-6year olds
Run as a full day nature excursion for local Nelson kindergartens/ECE centres/schools. Through these ongoing experiences tamariki will strengthen their lifelong connection with Papatūanuku and develop learning dispositions including developing an inquisitive mind, a strong body and sound social and emotional skills. Teal Valley Forest Kindergarten Programme, is an evolving concept, grounded in the fundamental idea that children learn more about who they are, what makes them excited, motivated and feel more connected, when they are in the natural environment. Our role as adults is not to provide the answers but to share in the children’s sense of wonder and awe. The programme provides opportunities for tamariki to build resilience and confidence in themselves to take supported risks in order to grow their abilities. Children are taught how to think, not what to think and are encouraged to be imaginative and inquisitive individuals who are great at problem solving and have sound social and emotional skills.
Nature Kids Motueka
Nature Kids is open from 8.45 to 3.15 Monday to Friday in school terms only. With extensive grounds, play based philosophy and no restrictions to outside we encourage natural inquisitiveness and help develop a strong commitment to kaitiakitanga among our tamariki. Our whole days are a natural excursion into nature to discover Papatuanuku. We have a passion for sustainabliity and te ao Māori and our team work collaboratively to achieve a high standard in this regard.
Nature Kids encourages child directed learning in a peaceful, natural environment, reflecting the holistic way children learn and grow and assisted by well-informed teachers who love what they are doing, and are encouraged to nurture their own desires to develop and improve their professional standards.
The Children’s Garden
Ages: 0-6 years
We have a beautifully restored home which been made into heart filled, nature focused, child led play space. We are placed on a quarter acre section surrounded by climbing trees, fruit trees and secret gardens. We spend our day outdoors every day, no matter what the weather is. Children are able to eat, play and sleep in the outdoors. In addition to this, we take a group at least one day every week for up to 3hours into local nature reserves, parks, and to our local beach. For more information, check out our Facebook page or visit us: The Children’s Garden
390 Main Road Stoke
He Manu Hou ECE
He Manu Hou ECE is set by the sea in Timaru and we are in a wonderful natural setting. We opened in July 2018, our centre is on the grounds of Te Aitarakihi Multicultural Centre surrounded by native trees. We go on spontaneous excursions on a regular basis, as our enrolment form covers us to go up to 1 km from the centre. We also have whanau who support our learning with weaving, gardening and waiata. We have a rich language environment and you will hear the teachers speaking in English and Te Reo Maori.
If you are interested to visit give us a call to arrange a time and follow our centre on Facebook He Manu Hou Trust. Mauri ora!
Facebook: He Manu Hou Trust
We run fortnightly forest education programmes in Selwyn, Oxford and Christchurch for our families and home educators to attend. We follow the children’s innate urge to explore, get dirty and splash in puddles!
Facebook: Organic Kids
021 1134 798
TimberNook aims to provide a truly authentic outdoor experience for children aged 0-12yrs. TimberNook weaves the therapeutic aspects of nature with an understanding of child development to create the ultimate programmes. – Weekly ‘Tiny One’ Playgroups for children 0-6years – Saturday morning ‘Going Wild Weekends’ for children 4-12yrs – nature immersion programmes during school holidays for children aged 4-12yrs – host in excursions from ECE centres, community groups & schools
Facebook TimberNook Christchurch NZ
Little Kiwis Nature Play
We run 2 hour bush kindy nature sessions. Parents join their children for a morning of child-led free play in nature. We use tools, have fires in winter, climb trees, make mud slides, search for bugs and more. Our sessions are Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
We are trying to change the legislation in New Zealand to enable full time bush kindergartens. This will enable us to set up a drop off nature kindergarten programme.
Family Tree Home-based Education and Care
Ages: 0-5 years
We are operating at a wonderful park once a fortnight in Rangiora,North Canterbury for approx 1.5-2hours. We meet at the park,and the children lead the way exploring through native bush, over muddy swampy areas, under brushwood,along paths,across nature spring fed wee streams and under big canopy native trees,stopping to look at whatever they are curious about or captures their attention.
Facebook: Family Tree Homebased
Location: Temuka South Canterbury
Once a week the kindergarten ventures to the park next door. At the park the children explore a small pine plantation they have names as their forest / ngahere. On arrival the children bless the forest they unpack the trolley which contains clipboards ropes magnifying glass old sheets. Tree climbing is a part of the adventure.
Being a small kindergarten allows us to make these outings on a regular weekly.
Facebook: South Canterbury Kindergarten Association
Kidditech Early Learning Centre
Ages: Preschoolers 2-6 years
Being close to nature is important to us, we involve the children in nature walks in our community and composting, gardening and harvesting within our centre environment. We encourage and regularly explore caring for our environment and all living creatures big and small. We embrace natural play spaces where children can play and be close to nature in all kids of weather.
Ages: 0-5 years
We run one of our regular 3-hour playcentre sessions on a Tuesday morning as am excursion session, visiting different local places around Banks Peninsula.
Location: Orton Bradley Park
Ages: 5-12 years
We offer a one-day school for 5-12 years olds that complement the NZ Curriculum outside in the Bush and on the Farm. Our sessions are a mixture of free-play, a structured (60 -90min) learning cycle, sensory activities and eco-literacy games. We also offer a 2-hour session, once a week for pre-schoolers (2.5 – 5years) with their caregivers. Children are free to run, climb, build huts and play
Waitaki Community Gardens
Location: North Otago
Ages: 3-18 years
We run educational workshops and classes for children through holiday programmes and visiting school groups. We teach children ages 3-18 a range of topics including compost, bees & pollination, edible gardening, the scientific method, soil nutrition, germination, and photosynthesis.
To book a class or workshop on site at Waitaki Community Gardens or with one of our facilitators on-site at your school, please contact our Manager Sophia at 021 0448 209.
Otago University Childcare Association – Te Pa
Ages: 4year olds
Four-year olds attend a Bush programme for one morning a week.
They walk to the Bush area, explore, observe, play in the bush and often have a campfire.
Queenstown Forest School
Queenstown Forest School complements your child’s academic curriculum with full days of nature immersion, experiential learning and compassion & empathy & kindness. Where?@Queenstown’s magnificent natural playground incl. its lakes, rivers, mountains, forest. Daily: 9.30am – 3pm – for our local school children and visiting individuals and groups.
Gems Educational Childcare – Farm School
Ages: 4 year olds
Gems Farm School caters for 4 year olds from the two nearby Gems Educational Childcare centres. Tamarki visit the fully operational farm once a fortnight to explore the natural environment, help with farm jobs and learn how to care for animals. Our special annual events include: The Farm School Mountain Climb, Giant slip and slide & Matariki Night Farm School, where the children and families do a torchlit hikoi around the farm at night.
Southern Stars Early Learning Centre
Location: Te Anau
Ages: 4 year olds
Our outdoor programme is called Southern Adventures. At present we run twice a week for a group of 4 eligible (minimum number of hours at Southern Stars required) children plus two teachers. Each day is a different group so at times there may be up to 10 children that take turns to go on Southern Adventures. We are able to drive to the Kepler Track in 5-10 minutes so often we go on the Kepler Track for a couple of hours, explore the nearby community, or visit a local farm. The group usually decides on the destination. With such a small group and able to travel by vehicle we are able to go to a variety of places.
We spend a couple of hours away from the Centre. The changes in knowledge, confidence and leadership skills are very noticeable after they have been Southern Adventurers. And it encourages the children to take their whanau on their own ‘Adventures’. This environmental and nature knowledge is then built on as they continue their learning journeys through the local primary schools and Fiordland College as most of the learning centres in Te Anau are part of the Kids Restore the Kepler Programme.
Porse in home childcare
We run a 2-3hr nature session every fortnight.
Facebook: Porse Invercargill
Blue Duck Early Learning Centre
Tuhura Tui (Maori for exploring and Tui is the name of our pre-school room). We take 5 children out for 2 hours 3x a week and 2 teachers. We explore the amazing area around Lake Te Anau.
Facebook: Blue Duck Early Learning Centre Te Anau