CBD Travel Info For Parents

The Ao Tawhiti building at dusk

Our school

Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery is a special character state school with a fundamental tenet that the student is central in directing their own learning so that the enthusiasm and love of learning is retained. We believe that learning can happen anytime and any place, thanks to the rich involvement of whānau and community. We have five guiding principles and five core values that define our special character.

From January 2014 to April 2019 the school was located on two temporary sites in Halswell and Ilam. These locations had very different traffic requirements than our new facilities.  From April 2019 the school relocated to a purpose built single site in the CBD. A vital part of the school’s special character is its connection to the central city.

Why are we located in the CBD?

Our school wants to do all it can to make sure that our community can safely arrive at our unique Y1-13 CBD based school. Thanks to our location our school is able to use the entire city as its classroom.  The challenge of this location is however the lack of car parking and drop off zones typically present in a school. We aim to encourage our families to find the easiest way for each of them to get to school, by providing current information about public transport and public drop off spaces nearby, while building partnerships with local organisations.

Start and finish times

The CBD building will be open from 8am to 3.15pm each day with supervision provided from 8.30am to 3.15pm.

  • Y1-6 classes run from 9am-3pm
  • Y7-13 classes run from 9am-3pm except for Wednesday when students finish at 2pm.

With no supervision before 8.30am and the building locked until 8.00am, it is extremely important to ensure that your child does not arrive at school before 8am or come to school before 8.30am without supervision.  We do not believe that this is a safe option for any of our students.

With around 670 students expected to arrive at school each day, we want to stagger the arrival of our students as much as possible.  We therefore encourage,

  • Y7-13 families to have their child arrive anywhere from 8.30am-8.40am each day.  
  • Y1-6 families are encouraged to arrive at school between 8.30am and before 9am each day.  Please note that we expect the busiest drop off time to be 8.50am. If you can arrive earlier than this, we would appreciate it.

The school day finishes at 3pm for all students each day except Wednesdays when Y7-13 students finish at 2pm. Students are encouraged to leave quickly and not return to the building. While some 600+ students leaving all at once sounds busy (it is…) everyone manages themselves very well as long as they use their awareness!

Y1-6 students will not be allowed to leave the building without being collected by a parent/ caregiver.

If you know you are going to be late, please call the office (not your child’s HBLA who will be teaching & unable to answer calls).

Public transport

We strongly encourage our families to use the cities extensive bus network to get to school.  The school is located within a 3 minute walk of the bus exchange. The advantages of taking the bus to Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery include

  • not having to worry about car parking (finding a park in the CBD can be tricky and potentially costly)
  • not having to find a suitable and safe drop off point
  • the relatively short distance between the bus exchange and the school
  • the safety of traffic lights for crossing
  • the many environmental benefits we all get from reducing the number of private vehicles on the road

You can find more information about fares and routes at metroinfo.co.nz.

Car parking

The school has no car parking.  If you intend to drive to school you need to be aware that it is your responsibility to find a place to park.  

Drop off zones

There are currently no drop off areas directly outside the school.  There are no suitable drop off zones nearby the school either. Anyone who has tried to drop off or pick up someone from the bus exchange will be acutely aware of how unfriendly the CBD is to cars.
 St Asaph Street is currently, in our view, not a suitable drop off zone due to

  • the volume of traffic that uses the road
  • having bike lanes where passenger doors open
  • it being a multilane, one way street.

If you to plan to drop your child off via car, we strongly advise you to use one of the nearby parking buildings, Wilson’s Parks or the on street parking around South City.

Pick up zones

Like the drop off zone situation, there is really no suitable nearby pick up zone.  We anticipate that pick up times will be more congested than drop off times as families tend to arrive early and wait rather than just pull over and drop off their child.

We would encourage families to identify a nearby pick up space for their child. This is particular so for families of younger students.  We do not want students leaving the building without being first collected by a parent or caregiver. This means you will need to think about nearby car parking, walking to school, collecting your child and then returning to your car.

Mobility car parks

The school has two mobility car parks.  These are only to be use by people with appropriate permits.  These cannot be used by families as drop off zones.


The school encourages students and families to come to school on their bike.  There is monitored and free bike storage at the bus interchange and outside of school. Bikes cannot be brought into the school for storage.


We do not encourage students to use scooters to get to school.  There are no facilities for scooter storage at the school and scooters (including e-scooters) are not to brought into the building.


For those of you living nearby you can walk to the school.