In this programme, students investigate the biodiversity and erosion process of the dune system and engage in hands-on learning to create their own mini sand dunes.

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Programme overview

Year level 3 to 8
Curriculum level 1 to 4
Availability Year-round
Times 9.30am to 11.30am or 12.30pm to 2.30pm
Sites Spencer Park Beach
Waimairi Beach
North New Brighton Beach
New Brighton Beach
South New Brighton Beach 
Sumner Beach
Cost Free
Number of students Maximum of 35

Key concepts

  • Interdependence and biodiversity of sand dunes.
  • Importance of sand dunes from a biological and human perspective.
  • Natural and human forces affecting sand dune systems.
  • Personal and social responsibility for action.

Lesson description

Students will take a hands-on approach to explore the management and stabilisation of sand dunes by building their own mini-dune system and discovering what natural and human forces affect them.

They will investigate the difference between native and introduced sand binders (plants) and discover a whole new world of creatures living in and around our sand dunes.

Students will consider different perspectives on the value of these coastal resources and what actions they can take to protect these natural spaces.

Learning outcomes

We are learning to:

  • State key reasons why coastal environments are special places.
  • Explain how sand dunes are formed.
  • Identify the three main causes of erosion and accretion of sand dunes.
  • Identify flora and fauna living in coastal environments.
  • Build a simple dune system.
  • Discuss differing values positions regarding sand dunes.
  • Identify key ways to protect dune ecosystems.

Key competencies

Using language, symbols and texts

Students will interpret language and visual clues to identify examples of biodiversity


Students will:

  • Expand their knowledge around NZ biodiversity.
  • Use creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Work in a group to explore concepts around dune accretion, erosion and protection.
  • Process instructions and information.

Managing self

Students will work as part of a group to take on challenges and achieve a goal. For example, building a mini-dune with appropriate protection measures.

Participating and contributing

Students will be actively involved in decisions that affect the community (beach use and protection).

Relating to others

Students will work as part of a group to take on challenges and achieve a goal. For example, building a mini-dune with appropriate protection measures.

Achievement objectives

Curriculum area Strand and level Objective
Nature of Science
Levels 2 to 5
Investigating in science
Participating and contributing
Living World
Levels 2 to 4
Life processes
Living World
Level 5
Planet Earth and Beyond
Levels 2 to 4
Earth Systems
Social Sciences
Tikanga ā-Iwi
Levels 2 to 5 People and places
Use of resources
Health and Physical Education
Levels 2 to 5 A2 Regular physical activity
D2 Community resources