About Nature School NZ


Nature School NZ was started in 2018.   We are a stand-alone, registered charity, with the purpose of getting as many as possible NZ children learning from and through play in nature.  We do this in three ways: Through working with Schools and ECE providers to set up Bush Sprouts programmes in their local bush; equipping schools and teachers with the confidence and experience to run a sustainable nature play programme that has their children learning and growing through play in nature.  We also run the Nature School programme, our 1 day School that runs two days a week at Battle Hill; Here our passionate, experienced and skillful staff empower children through freeplay in nature, to play, grow, learn, lead, question, make mistakes, work through emotions, learn to love nature and so much more! We also run Bush Sprouts holiday programmes and Leo runs Nature Educator training throughout the country with Celia Hogan from Little Kiwis Nature Play.

 We constantly strive to build respectful and reciprocal relationships with our whenua and our people.  Our Philosophy and purpose reflect who we are and who we want to be.   

 Head over to our feedback & reviews tab to see what past children and their families have to say about our life changing learning experiences.

Leo Smith

Leo is the director of Nature School NZ and facilitates the Bush Sprouts programmes, Nature School and Holiday programmes.

Leo is a mother, a fully qualified and registered teacher, with a degree in Sport and Recreation and 2 diplomas in teaching; years of experience teaching in Secondary, Early Childhood and Primary levels. She has also gained SKOANZ/NZOIA Kayak 1 and Bush 1 teaching/instructing awards in the past.

Leo worked in outdoor education camps in Australia before kayak guiding in NZ and Canada for 5 summer seasons.  After teacher training, she worked for 2 years teaching at Secondary level at St Cuthberts College and then Wanganui Collegiate at their live in, outdoor education campuses. Leo has worked as a teacher for the last 9 years, mainly in early childhood in Wellington, also at a nature Kindergarten in Auckland and more recently at Primary level running Bush Sprouts programmes.

After working in teaching and outdoor instructing for around 10 years, Leo set up and ran the Bush Sprouts programme at Plimmerton Kindergarten for 5.5 years. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive results from children, their families and the community, she wanted to get more children learning from and through nature. Leo presented at conferences and helped a few Kindergartens get their own nature programmes up and running, but knew she could reach more communities by working directly with Schools and early childhood centres; helping them set up their own programmes and mentoring their staff to run a successful and sustainable nature programme. Thus, Nature School NZ was born to share the love and get as many children as possible learning from and through play in nature.

Amanda Dobson

Kia ora koutou.

I have come to know that being in Nature is my ‘Happy Place’.

I love opportunities to share my passion for being in nature, particularly with tamariki. I am a big believer in the importance of place-based learning & nature connection in the early years for sowing the seeds of life long holistic wellbeing.

I am a mother of 3 young adults, Hinemarama 30, Aaria 27 and Tūora 25. I am also Kui/Grandma of my mokopuna Toitū, 10. They are the centre of my universe !

I have both a Primary and ECE Diploma of teaching and predominantly worked in bilingual and kaupapa maōri ECE settings for 20 odd years as my tamariki were growing up.  I have enjoyed working in the Enviroschools Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui team for the last ten years. My role is the Enviroschools Community Facilitator in Porirua and Kāpiti, working with ECE, Primary & Secondary schools in support of their sustainability journeys, which is what I do on the other 4 days of the working week other than Nature School Wednesdays. 

I am very grateful to live in Titahi Bay, Porirua, a beautiful place.


Exploring the rich sensory experience of nature

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Wellington, New Zealand

+27 438 5366


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