Little Brown Kiwi | LBK Chat – December 2014
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Little Brown Kiwi Directors: Paddy Watson & Henry Ballantyne.

Well everyone, that was a ‘blink and you miss it’ sort of year at LBK. We’re pumped about 2015, but let’s have a look at what happened in the later part of 2014.

The big news is that Paddy Watson has joined Little Brown Kiwi as a full-time director and lead guide from July 2014. He brings a tremendous amount of experience, skills and fun to the LBK operation and we’re rapt to have him at the helm. James Lovegrove, 8 years after founding Little Brown Kiwi, is now dedicating his energies to CDNIS in Hong Kong. James remains a strong part of LBK, and our friendship and Hong Kong connection are important to Little Brown Kiwi. We enjoy James’ continued interest in LBK.

What is LBK’s purpose? LBK is all about providing the best possible New Zealand adventure education experiences for international students and schools. The flavour of all LBK trips consists of REAL Kiwi experiences so that people can pick up the essence of what this country is all about (cultural exchange in its many forms, the temperature of the water, the grass under your feet, all of the adventurous activities and more). LBK trips are about FUN and really enjoying the full New Zealand experience. If it’s fun, the learning really connects! All LBK trips also involve a wide range of LEARNING opportunities – from cultural exchange, to new food, to new adventurous activities, to tangible contributions to a range of service activities.

So, keeping it simple: LBK = Real. Fun. Learning.

Here is an overview of four school adventures in the second part of 2014. Thank you to these schools for choosing Little Brown Kiwi to design and deliver the best possible NZ experiences for their students. You might see some people you know in the photos below… All the best for the break from school and we look forward to working with many of you again in 2015.
Yours in adventure,

Henry and Paddy
Little Brown Kiwi

Sha Tin Superstars.

October saw 44 adventurous souls from Sha Tin College Hong Kong arrive in New Zealand. They began in the South Island adventure capital, Queenstown with bright blue skies and the promise of fantastic weather for the duration. We were not disappointed.

Expedition preparation dominated the first evening as everyone made sure they had the correct gear, food and equipment for the next two days. We woke the following morning to a short bus ride to the Shotover Jet where any remaining cobwebs were blown away! Not a bad way to start the day!!

Moke Lake was the destination for base camp on the expedition. The 7-hour hike took us through beautiful Beech forest, over pristine rivers and streams as well as giving the opportunity to learn a little about the history of the region. Gold mining dominated the area back in the day and some say that there are still fortunes to made there amongst the hills – not for anyone from STC on this trip though.

We overnighted in tents on the shores of Moke Lake. Dinner that night was ‘Astronaut Food’ which tasted better than it looked!! In the morning the bus picked us up and we began the most amazingly beautiful drive into Milford Sound. Inspiring mountain peaks were all around us as we wend our way through the valleys down into Milford. It was straight off the bus and onto the Milford Mariner. She took us out into the fjord and it is hard to know what was better – the scenery, the wildlife, the kayaking or doing ‘some bombs’ off the back of the rear deck into water that was only 8 degrees Celsius!!!

The dinner and sleep that night were fantastic before we made the short trip back to the dock, on the way stopping at huge waterfalls and to check in on the Milford Seal colony.

The group spent the following day in Queenstown. Some of us were brave enough to take on the Ledge Swing. Everyone tested their nerve on the Luge and we all got a glimpse into the realm of the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori, through participation in the Haka Show.

Wanaka is a small town about 2 hours from Queenstown and it is where we spent the next two days. They were full on!

Not only did the group participate in some eco-service by visiting and planting a few shrubs on Mou Waho Island (protected Island in the middle of Lake Wanaka) but we had an awesome opportunity to meet kiwi school kids the same age from Mount Aspiring College.

After our Powhiri, we went with the students who took us rock climbing and rafting. The group experienced true Kiwi hospitality as we headed home to stay with the students’ families overnight.

It was heartfelt goodbyes to our hosts in the morning as we boarded the bus and prepared to get the grey matter working at Puzzling World. ‘Choice Bro’ was the order of the afternoon as a choice was made between Horse Trekking, Paintball or Mountain Biking. Everyone got bruises, just in different places!!!!

On Saturday, out last day in New Zealand, we were back Auckland. The group climbed New Zealand’s highest and longest bridge in weather that can only be described as ‘challenging’! After we dried out, we got a bit of shopping in before our final dinner and debrief at the Sky Tower.

It was amazing to sit and reflect on our time in New Zealand. We had done so much in such a short time that even remembering all of it was quite tricky. Everyone had different highlights and it was really interesting to note that different people were challenged in different ways. We couldn’t come to a consensus on ‘the one best part’, but we all we could all agree that the trip was ‘epic’ from start to finish!!


The Kellett Kiwis.

Kiwi ingenuity, service in the natural environment and big adventures in the deep south.

In October, 17 adventurous students from Kellett School took on the southern reaches of New Zealand for 10 days of action, cultural exchange and service.

Our journey started in Dunedin and continued on to the remote, wild and beautiful Catlins region. The first few days were all about the natural environment and wildlife – watching seals, Blue Penguins and the extremely rare Yellow Eyed Penguins in their natural environment.

The following and night, in contrast, was all about the people, taking part in rich cultural exchange with local Maori at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff and experiencing an empassioned welcoming ceremony. Students enjoyed their time playing games and sharing stories with the locals who performed a range of waiata (songs) and haka (postural war dance). The local tangata whenua (hosts) displayed warm and generous hospitality and they shared local stories and customs with the group.

Pushing the southern boundaries of New Zealand, the group ventured further south across the water to Stewart Island – New Zealand’s third biggest island. At this point, the group split into two – the four students in the HKAYP Gold group went North to Nokomai Station, as the other group boarded the ferry.

The HKAYP group was accompanied by expert local guide Taz Dawson and their intrepid teacher and mentor – Mr Will Hughes-Caley. Four challenging days of hardy terrain and changeable weather later, the group emerged victorious and were able to share their stories with the other students.

The natural environment dominated the Stewart Island experience – students planted trees and learned about the trapping work that is being done by SIRCET (Stewart Island Rakiura Community Environmental Trust), and also hiked on one of New Zealand’s most untouched islands. Some students sampled the local delicacy of Paua, expertly harvested by LBK guide Matt, from one of the bays filled with the clean waters of this pristine region. In the evening, at our homely cottage, a group of Kaka (native parrot) entertained us with their cheeky scavenging and screechy tones.

Next morning was an early start to catch the 8am ferry to Bluff, on to the next destination and a real jewel of the country – Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park. The weather was WET, and this certainly added to the atmosphere and intrigue of this dramatic landscape. Not to mention the waterfalls thundering down the mountainside into the fiord. Our gutsy travellers were completely undeterred by the conditions and happily plunged into Milford Sound and kayaked and swam around the boat, testing their skills and physical limits in very cold water. After warming up with a nice hot meal, the group enjoyed a relaxing night in majestic surrounds.

The world’s adventure capital was next on the agenda – Queenstown. Here, there was Horse Trekking, Mountain Biking and Paintball. The iconic Kiwi was seen at the Kiwi Wildlife Park, as well as the enigmatic Tuatara – an animal that you could potentially keep in a fridge for 6 months due to its extreme hibernating capabilities! The steamboat TSS Earnslaw was a nice change of pace, and included an elaborate BBQ lunch at Walter Peak farm.

Each group of students researched an area of Kiwi ingenuity and we were all treated to their presentations in the evening. They made the New Zealanders in the room very proud and all did an outstanding job with limited props and no technological enhancements.

Moving North to Wanaka to Puzzling World was an enjoyable and different element to the adventurous itinerary. Students visited the home of Bungy and learned about the invention of Bungy Jumping – another New Zealand invention and example of Kiwi ingenuity. On to the Luge for extreme racing downhill before a large dinner and time to reflect on the last 10 days of New Zealand adventure.

The final activity before flying home to Hong Kong was to visit the Shotover Jet for a high-intensity thrill. We were treated to an overview of the Hamilton Jet by the head engineer and were given a special ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the workshop and were also introduced to a new boat that has been freshly built for the company.

Thank you for your spirit, humour, intellect and tenacity, Kellett students! We loved spending time with you and we anticipate your return to NZ in 2015.


Super-charged Canadians.

In November, a group of 39 students and 4 teachers from CDNIS packed in a huge New Zealand adventure across the space of a week. They encountered adrenaline pumping activities, contributed to the most successful Kiwi project in the country, and made great friends with local students in Tokoroa during a comprehensive cultural exchange and marae stay.

All of the students (and the teachers) literally threw themselves into the experiences – eg the giant swing in Taupo, the Sky Swoop in Rotorua, the Ogo in Rotorua and more. What was impressive was the tenacity of the students and the willingness to step outside of their comfort zones to embrace new experiences.

Of course, it isn’t all about high adrenaline activities. The early starts and late finishes required students to be well organised so that we could maximise each day. CDNIS students were always on-time and ready for action!

We encountered a range of weather conditions on the trip but the group quickly adapted and was undeterred by some heavy rain on one of the days. The brilliant sunshine on the Coromandel Peninsula more than made up for it. Although it was a hectic schedule, the group had some high quality down-time at one of New Zealand’s favourite beaches in the Coromandel. This was also the scene for Sea Kayaking around these clean and clear waters. The hot chocolate on the beach was a bonus!

To keep the pace of the trip pumping, the group had an early start to Rotorua for the biggest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! This was a fun start to the day before everyone was able to see a kiwi at Te Puia in Rotorua, as well as experience the geothermal activity that this region is known for. We were able to race down a small mountain in the Ogo – check out the photos!

In the evening, our adventures experienced a truly New Zealand cultural experience and stayed overnight on a marae. The Canadians were formally welcomed on to this beautifully carved marae and were treated to rousing haka and waiata, and a wonderful hangi dinner as well as warm hospitality from our hosts.

Iconic New Zealand experiences were sampled along each step of this journey, such as bone carving, BBQ dinner at a surf club, traditional hangi dinner at the marae and other things such as passing around the oval ball and feeling the grass or sand under your feet at every possible opportunity!

We loved working with CDNIS once again and we are excited about your return to New Zealand again in 2015.


DBIS The Dauntless.

Upon the arrival of Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) at the Christchurch International Airport, LBK guides Anna, Henry and Paddy met ‘green’ faces and tales of white-knuckle fear. The notoriously strong Nor’west winds provided the first challenge to the DBIS group as the pilot took a couple of goes to put the plane down on terra firma. More than one person stated their love of solid ground while others reflected on the surprisingly large volume of the common travel-sickness paper bag.

The hair-raising flight put behind them, DBIS jumped on the bus and began the journey North to Kaikoura. Shoes were quickly discarded in favour of bare feet and the opportunity to feel the grass between the toes. The Kaikoura Amazing Race gave the opportunity to get to know this unique part of the world and even some of the unique locals who live there! We found out what prickle push-ups are!

Wildlife was the order of day two as the group split up to venture forth into the Pacific Ocean. Dolphins were abundant and we heard of several somewhat dubious ‘attraction’ techniques. The same, unfortunately, could not be said for the seals who appeared to adopt less of an approachable attitude to the DBIS crew. Whales were seen and some of the crew even ‘hung ten’ on some beautiful Pacific Ocean breakers.

A highlight for many was the cultural exchange in which the DBIS group were welcomed into the Te Ahi Wairua o Kaikoura whanau. An impressive wero laid down the challenge to the group and, after the formalities of the powhiri concluded, a fine traditional meal was taken along with a Kapa Haka performance and taiaha lesson. Many students commented on the emotional connection that was experienced during their time with Te Ahi Wairua o Kaikoura – reminding and connecting them with family back in Hong Kong.

The next three days of the adventure saw the group face real challenges within the boundaries of the stunningly beautiful and pristine Abel Tasman National Park. The group demonstrated grit and determination, getting themselves through the expedition which saw them hiking and paddling their way over a distance of more than 50km. Sleeping in tents, preparing meals, cleaning up, carrying packs and of course paddling fully-laden two person sea kayaks are but a few of the ways these students encountered challenge and ultimately got through. The environment within which this challenge was set is second to none in terms of its beauty and appeal. Many students made comparisons and reflections about the environs they are more familiar with.

The challenges just never seemed to stop coming on this trip. As we left the flat water (and strong head winds!) of the Abel Tasman area, the group dove head first into the foaming, rushing, turbulent whitewater of the Buller River. The group split into 7 rafts to take on the might of the Buller. Working together as a team was paramount as the river guides demanded strokes to negotiate sections with some rather appropriate names! Changing after the rafting was a challenge in itself, let alone the minor hiccup of having to extricate our bus!

A soak in the geothermal goodness of the Hanmer hot Springs was well deserved. The group then made their way to our final dinner and debrief in which students had the opportunity to reflect and relive some of the highs and lows of the trip. It was interesting to hear of all the different ways ‘challenge’ arose over the course of the DBIS adventure and how this challenge varied from person to person. A comment that still resonates was from a student who highlighted the ways in which she had come to know her classmates better and how a trip like this can bring out the best in people.

It was sad, as always, to have to say farewell. DBIS were an epic bunch, who really made the most of their time here in Aotearoa. We look forward to seeing them back again for another ‘O’ for awesome epic adventure in the near future.


Once again, thank you for choosing Little Brown Kiwi to design and deliver the best possible New Zealand adventure education experiences for your students.

Little Brown Kiwi: Real. Fun. Learning. 

See you in 2015!