Little Brown Kiwi | Another exciting year is behind us as we launch into 2019
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As this newsletter is being prepared, a trip to the Abel Tasman and Golden Bay is underway with a New Zealand School, a wilderness trip with a school from Singapore is being planned and a trip to the South Island’s West Coast is also in the mix.

A trip to Asia will also feature in March, which is a chance for the LBK team to reconnect with friends and clients and also talk to new schools who are interested in a New Zealand adventure. One of our highlights has become the social gathering ‘LBK Hui’ in Hong Kong where LBK meets up with ‘LBK people’ and we are able to share the love with a few little giveaways.

In this edition, we introduce a movement called ‘Tiaki’ which extends and highlights the concepts of Manaakitanga and Kaitiakitanga.

Expeditions and adventures with schools from Hong Kong and Australia feature in what has been an almost non-stop exciting and adventurous journey around New Zealand in recent months.


Tiaki is a holistic approach to caring for New Zealand. It is about caring for people and place. At Little Brown Kiwi, we always strive to look after our guests with warm hospitality and also to care for the environment that is so important to all of us. 

We are very grateful for all visiting schools who share the same values and are able to contribute to a range of environmental initiatives.

The concepts of manaakitanga (translated to hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) are essential elements of Tiaki and the ‘Tiaki Promise’.

Please read more about Tiaki, which is closely aligned with Little Brown Kiwi’s kaupapa, or ‘way of doing things’.


October – Kellett School

Our friends from the British School of Hong Kong joined us for their New Zealand adventure, which in some ways signals the last hurrah for this group in their final year of high school.

With a big mixture of personalities in this 50-strong group, including the five hearty teachers, the group committed to a fun-filled exploration of New Zealand’s North Island.

Clearing any travel-induced brain fog was the clean morning air at Mt Eden, followed by some precipitous tree climbing at Tree Adventures in the Woodhill Forest.

As we’ve come to expect, the students at Kellett School are up for a challenge. Some of these included sleeping under tent flies, a blood-thirsty paintball battle, stone hopping across a river in an attempt to keep shoes/boots dry and also some possum spotting at the campsite. Other challenges came in the form of a group cleaning effort at the marae and other adrenaline-heavy activities like those at Velocity Valley.

Interestingly, this senior crew showed some late interest in the Agrodome farm tour…although this might have just been Mr. Martin’s secret penchant for cuddly farm animals!

Leave no trace principles were reinforced, as well as introducing the concepts of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga. The East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island is pure magic and we visited Cathedral Cove on a pristine morning. Ocean conditions were good for surfing, but the skies were also wet on this day in Whangamata. Before leaving the Coromandel, we had to visit a classic Kiwi pub – The Coroglen Tavern – the perfect place to stop for lunch with some juke box magic (this is a shout out to Tingi for his banging old school collection!)

Other excitement in this trip was in the form of horse riding, caving, luge grand prix – some seriously tightly bunched lugers – particularly the boys, and amazingly there were no injuries! The traditional cultural swim featured and there was some fun at Velocity Valley – Sky Swoop was a real highlight and it was great to see Mt Martin throw himself into this with unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Check out the video footage for evidence.

The marae stay was warm and hospitable, despite the heavens opening on the last day in New Zealand. Special thanks to all Kellett students for getting fully involved in some of the cleanup duties, including dusting the carvings in this unique and wonderful community treasure. At the formal welcoming ceremony, the powhiri, Ben spoke exceptionally well, showing that he is a worthy rangatira for Kellett School.

A huge thank you to Kellett students and staff for taking on all challenges and opportunities throughout this adventure. We love your style and keenly anticipate the return of another superstar group of students in 2019.

October – Sha Tin College


‘Stairway to heaven’.

Sha Tin College is a long time ‘adventure keen’ school and LBK looks forward to their annual trip to NZ. Past years have seen a large number of students getting amongst it, so in 2018, we tried a smaller, hardcore keen group that certainly did make the most of their time in NZ!

A smaller group meant we can juice up the new addition to the LBK fleet, ‘Nui’. Translated from te reo as ‘big’ , the new 19 seater was the perfect waka for our journey giving us flexibility and the option to change up our plans as we went – perfect!

Stalwart of many trips to NZ, Mr. Thornton, hand-picked the talented and affable Ms. Purves and together they formed a strong team a la Laurel and Hardy, Milli Vanilli or Batman and Robin…um…more like Batman and Wonder Woman.

The trip wove its way through the North Island hitting challenges in the trees north of Auckland, Rotorua, the Central plateau and Coromandel areas.

Of particular highlight was the overnight expedition into the Kauaeranga Valley dubbed ‘the stairway to heaven’. As the name suggests, there was a fair bit of stair climbing up some seemingly vertical terrain, but the effort was worth it. The views from the top of the Pinnacles are heavenly! After ‘Astronaut Food’ down the hatch, and then a restful sleep, the group descended to the valley floor and the waiting ‘Nui’. 2019 promises to be another memorable trip with STC heading to the South Island to explore the wilds down there – looking forward to it already!!!

*** A sad note to finish this write up. It’s with regret that we reflect on the 2018 trip being Mr. Thornton’s last with STC. Greg has been a legend supporter of LBK. His enthusiasm for a challenge and getting kids down-under to experience this amazing place, and his stellar work both prior to and on-trips was amazing. There have been many laughs and now a few tears as we wish him and his whanau all the best for the next chapter. Who knows, we might just see Greg in an LBK Guide T-shirt someday soon. Thanks heaps, GT!! ***


November – Island School

Island School is legendary! Considering all that is going on with Island School over there in Hong Kong (they are building a brand new campus, but in the meantime have split the school and have shifted from one campus to two – my brain hurts just thinking about the logistics around that one) Ms Leung still rallied the troops to get a 2018 NZ Adventure together!

This speaks volumes of the school’s ability to motivate and encourage youth to push outside their comfort zones and extend themselves for the betterment of their personal development – or did it just mean school was so crazy at the moment people needed to get away?!

Whatever the reason, it was great to have IS back for a North Island summer roadie. We headed south straight off the plane and called Rotorua home for a couple of days. This thermal wonderland has a funky smell due to the geothermal activity, but we soon get used it and some say it’s therapeutic!

The central plateau mountains played host to us as we meandered through some amazingly beautiful scenery. A long, long time ago a few movies that no one remembers anymore were made in and around here – Lord of the Rings – and a few of the IS travellers could easily have been mistaken for extras left over from filming.

Mangatepopo Camp (potentially haunted apparently?!) was the scene for the most epic LBK Master Chef to date. These IS kids can sure cook and we were treated to an array of dishes conjured up from a range of culinary experience, inspiration and in some cases, experimentation. The winning entry went to a NZ inspired lamb dish – smart choice considering the judges were Kiwi’s and we do love sheep!

Massive thanks to Mr. Windle and Ms. Leung for their support and enthusiasm. LBK appreciates there is a bit going at the IS end so, all things considered, chahooo to you! Roll on 2019!

November – CDNIS Hong Kong

In a country which is as green as New Zealand, it is quite a surprise when an entire adventure is completed without any rain.

However, this was the case at the top of the South Island with our friends from CDNIS. Not a drop of rain for the entire adventure. Weird. But no complaints either!

This intrepid crew covered most of the Abel Tasman National Park by foot and by kayak.

An easy jaunt by the water taxi gave way to a remote luxury lodge in the northern reaches of the park, where most people enjoyed a refreshing coffee and a lovely little lull into a strong false sense of security.

Post coffee, things got real. There was a decent walk ahead from Awaroa Beach to Bark Bay and a couple of inlets to navigate. Packs full of essential items such as tents and cookers were hauled across a good stretch of whenua to our campsite at Bark Bay.

In pristine conditions, however, the students were given full reign to make decisions around navigation, and where to stop and for how long etc.

Opportunities were taken to swim and enjoy the environment all around us, and significantly, students had a period of time ‘solo’. The solo challenge is to take a moment in time, by yourself, and to tune in to the world around you. No distractions, no other people, just yourself and the natural environment.

It is a simple concept, but the power of the moment was not lost on the students, many of whom experience life in a busy place with a fair amount of white noise. Even spending time by yourself without access to a device can be a challenge for some.

Moving on from the national park, a visit to Te Awhina marae in Motueka was a chance to be introduced to New Zealand’s Maori culture and to learn something about the significance of the place to local iwi. Carvings in the wharenui were explained to us and we met some of the elders the following morning for an informal farewell (poroporoaaki). It was good to meet others who are connected to Te Awhina marae.

White Water Rafting on the Buller River was another highlight of the trip in perfectly sunny conditions. Some spirited paddling, talking and pirate maneuvers went down. Often. With almost everybody coming out of the boats voluntarily. Or not, as the case may be.

In fact, there was one boat with a specific Irish lass, whose rafting journey sounded like a non-stop craic! They were lucky enough to have the Viking captain, Bruce, who had returned from his adventures in Alaska to expertly guide this verbose group of ladies to the get out.

Continuing south to Hanmer Springs for an essential soak in these natural waters, as well as bombing down the various slides was a nice way to round out the day.

From here, we moved on to Kaikoura and the ocean based activities of Seal Swimming and Dolphin Swimming. With another bluebird day and clear ocean conditions, there simply couldnt have been a better opportunity to get up nice and close to these graceful creatures in their natural habitat. Fully wild and in their own environment is the best way to interact with these beautiful animals.

Later, we met Lorraine from Trees for Travellers, for not only a planting and environmental education session…but also an impromptu geography lesson, as she pointed out all the changes that have been made since the big earthquake of November 2016.

We took the opportunity for a reflective chat at the end of the day to review the past few days together, and there was a huge amount of positive energy in the room as everyone recounted some of the moments and fun times together. Once again, the CDNIS team brought their ‘A’ game and were an absolute pleasure to work with.

Our final day brought the group to Christchurch and a visit to the Adrenalin Forest – zip lining and climbing some huge pine trees near the coastline. Fearless students and staff climbed to some of the highest reaches of these trees, which are in excess of 20m from the ground. A solid amount of venturing out of comfort zones was achieved by many, to be sure.

A short and punchy tour with Christchurch’s resident expert, Kim McDonald, on what has been happening in the City in recent times, helped to orientate the students to New Zealand’s largest South Island city.

Visiting a shopping centre before the airport was a final opportunity to get an early dinner and a few final little gifts for friends and family back in Hong Kong.

Thanks for your enthusiasm and energy CDNIS! We can’t wait to see you in 2019.


November – West Island School

Some were not so sure that West Island school would be back to NZ with LBK. 2017 was the first year in a long time that WIS took on the challenge and no one was holding any hopes of a return in 2018 – but it happened!!! Perhaps Paddy wasn’t as naughty as reputation or first impressions may suggest?!

It was great to be back in the saddle with the WIS crew in 2018. A North island adventure that took on the best of what Te Ika a Maui has to offer.

Stripping away the ‘comforts’ of home was a biggie for this group and what better way than to hike 3 hours into the back of beyond, build your own bivvy and sleep on the ground – some call it a challenge, others fun, some crazy! But we did it and we survived! The small town of Whangamata is popular with surfers and the WIS crew got amongst a few ‘barrels’ with Whangamata Surf School. Hannah and Juliana gave some expert instruction, and a few helpful pushes, in the right direction. Papa o te Aroha Marae is always a welcoming and rejuvenating stay. It is special to be reminded of relationships that can build in a relatively short time. It was great to see Mr Harding ‘rekindle the flame’ with Xtreme from POTA and his legendary massages! A big thanks to Mr Harding and Ms Shroeder for all their help – legendary tourists! It was great to see the return of ‘Nelly’ for another year, albeit looking a little more bedraggled, missing a few more parts and with the addition of a few more stains/scars – but aren’t we all?!! We love WIS and look forward to the return in 2019. Shaka!!

December – Trinity Grammar School – Sydney

The main purpose for most of these students from Trinity Grammar School was to complete an adventurous journey as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award – some qualifying and some practising. Other students were there for their Silver Award.

The location of Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera was our temporary home for the majority of this New Zealand adventure. A lush rainforest with lakes and the rich cultural history of the people of Ngai Tuhoe. 19 enthusiastic boys and 3 dedicated staff joined 3 LBK guides for this epic backcountry trip.

In true ‘adventurer’ style, things don’t always go to plan and there was a change to the initial hike due to a track washout on the western side of the track. With negotiation with Te Kura Whenua visitors centre, a water taxi was organised to ferry the group between two locations on the Lake Waikaremoana Great walk. Other arrangements were made to make up for lost kilometres and the group was able to explore another region in the area, up to Lake Waikareiti and the Panui track.

Prior to the expedition, the boys were involved in gathering food and supplies for the adventure, which seemed to involve higher than normal proportions of chorizo and ‘Up and Go’ milk drinks! A range of approaches to food were employed, but no one went hungry, which is excellent.

Other self-management during the expedition was in the form of using radios for communication, putting up and taking down tents, managing footwear, blister care and also location awareness and map reading. And of course cooking each day.

The group stayed in huts and tents on the expedition, and were exceptionally careful with ‘Leave No Trace’ priniciples which is fantastic to see from a visiting school.

To extend the boys’ cultural awareness, they were introduced to both a waiata and a haka at the campsite at Camp Kaitawa. These guys were impressive in their enthusiasm and the guides were humbled by the effort the boys put in to engaging with elements of a different culture.

A few tired bodies emerged from tents on the ultimate day of the four-day expedition and the requirement was to walk a steady incline up to Ngamoko high point. We talked about ‘Get Home-itis’ which can happen when you are close to home. This is something to be aware of in terms of not rushing, tripping and falling when you can sense you are near the end of a long day. On this day’s walk, ‘Get Home-itis’ became a motivating factor to reach the top of the incline and the boys set a quick pace towards the pinnacle.

From the top of Ngamoko, we could see the destination of the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park. A steep descent followed and a sense of shared, deep satisfaction was palpable amongst the group during a mini celebration with cold cans of L and P and snacks. Boots came off and a hearty BBQ dinner followed soon after!

To finish up the trip, the group stayed in Rotorua, enjoyed yet another swim – which was a real theme on this trip – and took part in the some of Rotorua’s attractions. The Ogo, luge and also a range of fun activities at Velocity Valley. A ‘finishers meal’ was enjoyed at the Skyline restaurant in Rotorua, with a wide range of buffet options to suit the most discerning and/or hungriest of campaigners.

The synergy between the boys, the TGS staff and the LBK guides was a real feature of this trip. The boys were physically fit, showed abilities with campcraft and navigation and brought a willingness to learn about a different culture. All challenges and tasks were faced with optimism and a sense of humour and the teaching staff supported the boys throughout They were great ambassadors for their school, their families and also Australia.

We would love to see Trinity Grammar School again for another Duke of Edinburgh expedition in the future!


Spread the word!

Little Brown Kiwi’s trips are overwhelmingly recommended via word of mouth. We love seeing schools year after year and we also love to work with new schools who are coming to New Zealand with Little Brown Kiwi for the very first time. So, if you enjoyed your LBK adventure and think another school would too, pass on our details and ask them to get in touch.

2019 is looking to be another fun and exciting and adventurous year at LBK. The calendar is already starting to see some action for 2020, so get in touch if you’d like to be a part of the action next year and introduce your school to New Zealand adventure with a distinct Little Brown Kiwi flavour!

Thank you!

To all of the schools who work with Little Brown Kiwi in New Zealand.


Yours in adventure,

The team at Little Brown Kiwi