The Floating Classroom with Chris Jolly Outdoors

Helmed by Chris Jolly outdoors, Te Wānanga Wai Whakarewa is a nature education classroom aboard the Cruise Cat on Lake Taupō with a local curriculum. From early childhood to adult learners, our aim is to provide rich learning opportunities about our vivid culture on the waters of Lake Taupo.

Trip Highlights

Education opportunities on the beautiful Lake Taupō, with views of the trio of snow-capped mountains, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. Opportunities to see the incredible Ngātoroirangi Māori Rock Carvings.

What’s Provided

Tailored curriculum for your educational outcomes, a fresh baked muffin and hot beverage, and fun activities for the students.

Transport and Timing

Duration: 90 minutes
Our boat, the Cruise Cat, is moored at the Lake Taupō Marina and you will depart from Berth 4, Taupo Boat Harbour, on Redoubt Street.


  • The Cruise Cat is stroller friendly and has wheelchair access though not a disabled toilet on board.
  • The cruise goes ahead rain or shine, and will only be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.
  • Our guides speak English, but there is the option for commentary in many languages.

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Thank you for hosting such a wonderful experience for our team, and learning about Tuwharetoa pūrakau on our beautiful Taupō Moana with Kristy yesterday. It surpassed our expectations. A huge thank you to Kristy, Gil and Lauren. Everything was perfect.

– Louise, Pinnacle Health

learning and drawing on the floating classroom

Learn Aboard the Cruise Cat

Lake Taupō is a unique place with a rich culture and history. Our goal at Te Wānanga Wai Whakarewa is to provide nature education opportunities for all ages aboard the Cruise Cat on Lake Taupō. We aim to provide a local curriculum that is rich in learning opportunities about our culture and history.

Our hope is that by providing these opportunities, we will help to preserve and protect our culture for future generations. We invite you to come and join us on the waters of Lake Taupō as we learn about this special place.

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Chris Jolly Outdoors Education Curriculum:

  1. Social Sciences – Place & environment, identity & culture
  2. Science – Living world, planet earth & beyond
  3. The Visual Arts – Māori rock carvings, communicating & interpreting
  4. Mathematics – Mapping, measurement
  5. Te Reo Māori – Making connections
  6. English – Listening, reading, viewing

Treaty of Waitangi:
Acknowledges the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa. All students have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of Te Reo Māori me ōna tikanga.

Cultural Diversity:
Reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people.

Community Engagement:
Connects with their wider lives, and engages the support of their families, whanau and communities.

Future Focus:
Look to the future by exploring such significant future-focused issues as sustainability, citizenship, enterprise, and globalisation.

Thank you so much for all you did for us today. We all had an amazing time and learnt so much! You made the whole process of booking and coming on board an absolute breeze! Thanks for the hard mahi that you have done, and put in. It was an awesome experience to be a part of!

– Monique, Arohena School

learning on the floating classroom

Learn about Lake Taupō

Here at the floating education centre, we offer a unique learning experience for all ages. Our Cruise Cat will take you out onto the water where you can learn about native flora and fauna, and discover the secrets of Volcanic Aotearoa.

You can go fishing during your classroom breaks, and enjoy our teachings with the stunning backdrop of the Central Plateau Mountains in the background. The curriculum is suitable for learners of all ages including early childhood, primary, secondary and adults. So come and join us for an unforgettable educational experience.

Lake Taupo New Zealand ruapehu

The Science of NZ’s Volcanic Zones

Lake Taupō is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. The lake is located in the Taupō Volcanic Zone, which is a region of high volcanic and geothermal activity. Taupō is also home to the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume.

The lake is approximately 26 million years old and has a maximum depth of 186 meters. Taupō is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities. The lake is also a major source of hydroelectric power for the region.

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Our classes had an amazing experience onboard the Floating classroom. Follow up sessions in class showed the amount that was learnt about local Tikanga, including the importance of our maunga and chiefs, especially Ngātoro-i-rangi and Tia. Thank you for the wonderful learning opportunity. With the art being created along the way as well as informative dialogue the time just flew by. It is an experience that should not be missed by any tamariki and whanau.

– Bridget, Tauhara College

History of the Māori Rock Carvings

The Ngātoroirangi story begins with Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Susie asked her grandson, Matahi Whakataka Brightwell, to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngātoroirangi on a totara tree to create a permanent connection for her family to the land.  

When Matahi arrived in Taupō, there was no totara tree to carve, so he journeyed onto the lake for inspiration and found the rock alcove at Mine Bay. The alcove then became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary carvings in New Zealand. 



The Legacy of our Ancestors

The main carving is a depiction of Ngātoroirangi, an esteemed tohunga (priest), whom laid claim to the land of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. This is surrounded by smaller sculptures depicting tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians).

Ngātoroirangi towers 14-metres above Lake Taupō and is regarded as a significant North Island tourist attraction. Ngātoroirangi is a true showpiece of New Zealand’s cultural artistic ability.

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Maori Rock Carvings from boat lake taupo

Join us for some lessons on Te Wānanga Wai Whakarewa, a unique floating classroom environment created by Chris Jolly Outdoors


Plan your Floating Classroom experience today

What We Offer

  • Private charter boats with catering/bar/fishing equipment and crew
  • Access to private land, water and know-how of local’s secret spaces
  • Functions, corporate events & team building

Reliable & Experienced

  • Over forty years in the central North Island tourism industry
  • We’re a family business, with local Taupō knowledge
  • Our staff are experienced adventure experts

Adventure Qualified

  • 5 Star Rated Gold Qualmark
  • Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guides
  • Trip Advisor’s Travellers Choice 2023
  • Partnered with Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Your Taupō Activity Partner

From beautiful lake views, to fishing crystal pools, to scenic hikes in the central North Island wilderness; Chris Jolly Outdoors are the go-to guides to tick off that bucket list.

In Taupō, the adventure possibilities are truly endless. We guarantee one thing – we’ll create a memorable experience for you that you’ll treasure forever.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book a trip with Chris Jolly Outdoors?

You can book a trip with Chris Jolly Outdoors by either calling us on +64 7 378 0623, emailing us at or filling out the form to make an enquiry. If you want to book a cruise to the Māori Rock carvings, head over to the experience page to book direct.

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