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School of Geography

Field trip reflections: New Zealand


Physical geography and environmental science students in the second or third year in the School of Geography who were taking the Alpine Environments field class module got to explore physical processes and landforms in the Southern Alps in New Zealand this April. Read a blog post below from final-year students Serena Thaker and Fabio Teixeira Kabiri. 

The beautiful Lake Tekapo in the South Island, New Zealand.
The beautiful Lake Tekapo in the South Island, New Zealand.

"Where do we even start? If you had told us three years ago that we would travel half way around the world to learn about Alpine environments, we wouldn't have believed you. The 2018 New Zealand trip was honestly breath-taking. We started in Christchurch, which was the ultimate ghost town and still recovering from the 2011 earthquake, we had a lovely 7-hour journey with the “vamily” (as we referred to our group travelling in a van) to reach Glenloch. We made a quick stop at Lake Tekapo, which is about a 3-hour drive from Christchurch. The lake itself was this pristine vivid blue destination as you can see in the photo. But the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s a must-see when visiting New Zealand. John, the landlord of the lovely Glenloch lodges, made us feel right at home while Sven, Michelle and Giuditta put us to work during the day.

QMUL Geography third-year students
QMUL Geography third-year students "Vamily".

"The four days we spent there were really extraordinary, everything from the braided rivers to the glacier burn track. Some of us dipped our feet while others had a swim in the glacial waters and, unsurprisingly, it was extremely cold but refreshing.

Queenstown, New Zealand.
Queenstown, New Zealand.

"We then visited Queenstown, the little adventure capital of New Zealand. Unfortunately, we did not get to do skydiving while out there. But the port itself was beautiful and the landscape was absolutely magnificent. The mountains either side really showed how the dynamic the mountain landscape can be.

New Zealand’s local delicacies, kiwani and feijoa.
New Zealand’s local delicacies, kiwani and feijoa.

"The final location was Mount Cook (Aoraki) Lodge and villas. The views were absolutely stunning, mountainous terrains, glaciers and Mt Cook was exceptionally beautiful. Got to experience some of the local delicacies including the famous feijoa (which tasted like raspberries) and kiwano (or horned melon). Also there was a bar and restaurant where we all hung out after a hard day of fieldwork. We could tell we were in an Alpine environment because the rain and wind was so powerful and the weather would change in a matter of hours. But we are used to that at home in the UK.

"This trip was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. There was a lot of walking, and of course as with every geography and environmental science field trips, a lot of writing and field sketching. This module offered us an insight into the dynamic landscapes of Alpine environments and the research methods used to study them. We investigated the processes and products of glacial and fluvial systems in order to understand how they might respond to tectonic and climate drivers. We looked at active glaciers, tectonic geomorphology, and dynamic glacio-fluvial braided rivers and their associated hazards. But every hill climb, glacier view-point or lake was worth the journey. The friends we made out there and the moments we have experienced throughout this 10-day trip was unforgettable. A special thanks to all the staff who organised it for us. New Zealand is full of various climatic conditions that can really test your patience, especially when we had to do our group project. But overall, we now understand why everyone raves about this country."

More information:

  • The Alpine Environments field class to New Zealand ran for the last time in 2018 - new field trip destinations to replace this field class are currently being confirmed. We review our fieldwork offerings from time to time, to be in line with the latest research of our academics, and in order to offer students a wide range of opportunities to do fieldwork all over the world. Therefore fieldwork destinations can vary year-on-year and are subject to availability.
  • Find out more about fieldwork in the School of Geography.
  • Read about our Geography BSc and Environmental Science BSc degree programmes.
  • See more photos of the field trip on Flickr, and some tweets below:



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