Little Brown Kiwi | LBK Chat – December 2015
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At the end of the New Zealand school year, I asked my two boys to try and remember the best thing that happened during their 2015 school year. My older boy said that going on his week-long camp was his highlight and my younger boy said that the best thing was a school trip to the local aquatic centre. Without a doubt, both boys have been enriched enormously by the activities that they do within the school day in the classroom, but it was a significant reminder about the power of EOTC (Education Outside The Classroom) experiences.

It also reaffirms why we do what we do. We love it!

Mindfulness. Being in the moment. Being present.

This concept has been well documented recently and it is definitely a concept that we can identify with and fully embrace. In a world full of consumerism and material goods, it seems like many people are looking for a break from ‘stuffocation’ and looking to replace objects with experiences. Further to this, taking on personal and interpersonal challenges in a controlled outdoor environment is restorative and a perfect antidote to other pressures present in everyday life.

LBK guides are highly motivated by the ‘doing’, ‘being’ and ‘experiencing’ and it is very cool to share these experiences and moments with enthusiastic campaigners like the students and the teachers whom we design and deliver adventures for.

Many of the fantastic students, whom we are privileged to get to know, live and work in a high-pressure environment. Many are seeking to fulfill goals such as achieving in sport or cultural endeavours, or by gaining entrance to their preferred university. By taking time away from school pressures and being present in the here and now, many students are able to take a welcome break from their everyday lives and return to school refreshed and invigorated, ready for the next big challenge.

Challenges that are encountered during the New Zealand adventure often have a direct transfer to the everyday lives of students. Under exam pressure? Never give up. Remember that long hike, where you persevered to get to that campsite and a hot meal, even though your calves and quads were screaming. Need to get to know new people at school/uni/the workplace? Remember that time where you made connections with people on the trip that you didn’t know before. You discovered another side to your teachers and you had some fun with LBK guides and other interesting people in NZ. How about sustainability and environmental concerns? Reflect on the environment in New Zealand to help guide your thinking about the wider challenges that face all of us on this earth. Do we want to retain places on our earth like this? How do WE achieve this? This is not just a national challenge, rather an international issue that affects all of us, as well as our children and grandchildren.

Throughout the New Zealand adventure with LBK, you have had opportunities to connect with others, meet new people and also re-connect with yourself in a different environment to your home. We hope that you will have learnt something new about yourself as a result of spending some time here with us in New Zealand.

Check out your school in the information on the following pages…

Sha Tin College: Back In Black!

Sha Tin College from Hong Kong was back again in 2015. Great to see this bunch of ever-keen students and ‘ever-green’ staff. Again, competently led by Mr Greg Thornton along with Mr Farrow and Ms Ogilvie, this trip had ‘sweet as’ written all over it right from the very start.

The South Island was chosen and it wasn’t long before the students were off the plane and into the action. Mountain Biking, Via Feratta, Milford Sound, Luge and Horse Trekking filled the first days of action. Perhaps the highlight of this trip is the enduring relationship developing with the Mount Aspiring College. The Hong Kong students completed another exchange and homestay with this New Zealand Secondary School found in the beautiful alpine town of Wanaka. There are always some great stories the morning after as students relay their experiences and adventures. All sorts of things from flying, hunting and boating, to dining with famous ex-All Blacks!! Reality check time and the group headed out to Hawea for camping and firing up the biggest, badest brazier LBK has ever seen!! Choice Bro saw an option of either Stand Up Paddle Board School or Mountain Biking – although, perhaps a ‘navigation’ lesson would have been more appropriate for the cycling group!

A quick flight North to Auckland, some shopping, dinner and then it was all hugs goodbye at the Airport, not before Mr T and Mr F gave the group their rendition of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ on the way to the Airport… oh dear!

Thanks for another awesome trip Sha Tin!!

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KIS: Hey, have you guys heard this one?

It was a small but intrepid bunch from Korean International School Hong Kong. Led by the unflappable Mr Bell-Scott and Ms Yeung, the 11 strong contingent arrived in overcast conditions for a 7 day North Island epic! ‘The Rig’ a 12 seater truck and trailer unit, was quickly loaded and the group made the short journey South to Turangi.

A welcome dinner was held lakeside before the team got an early night. Day 1 was all about the whitewater as the 30+ rapids of the Tongariro River were classily negotiated. Back on the road, The Rig headed North for a bit of jet boat action on the Waikato River including an up close and personal encounter with Huka Falls! Continuing North the group got stuck in, boots’n’all, to the rural adventures at Agro-dome, met the locals in an entertaining marae stay, mountain biked and surfed through Whangamata, all before heading into the hills and overnighting at The Pinnacles Hut. Paddy learned a new game named ‘Village Idiot’ – which proved to be aptly named as he spent most of his time with a blank look on his face trying to figure out the rules!!

Hot Water Beach, Whenuakite Kiwicare and Tree adventures filled the final days before the last ‘Choice Bro’ of the adventure – bungy or climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge!! The mandatory shopping mission was put into action in downtown Auckland before dinner and the reluctant trek out to the Airport and the flight home to Hong Kong. It was a fantastic week! Paddy learned a lot too – sometimes his jokes just aren’t funny!!

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The Canadian International School of Hong Kong

In November, the Canadians flew straight into Nelson and got straight into their adventure. Hitting the Abel Tasman National Park by kayaking and walking was a good way to connect with the land, not to mention the group experiencing a close encounter with dolphins as they kayaked up to the Anchorage campsite. The walking group on day one waded through some water to access one of the golden beaches for a lunch stop and had a taste of the cool waters of this part of the world.

One of the dominant experiences of this trip was the cultural exchange at Onetahua Marae in Golden Bay. This is a new relationship for Little Brown Kiwi and is special for the fact that this is not likely to be a place where many groups will get to visit. CDNIS were treated to a range of ancient artefacts of special significance to Maori, as well as historical traditional musical instruments. Students were all taught how to make a koauau – small flute. They also took part in weaving and taiaha with local students.

Any cultural exchange involving local students is always engaging and students from both countries always have lots to talk about! The group learnt the stories of the marae, carvings and wharenui and settled down for the night in a unique place. The following day the group was guided around the Waikoropupu Springs – some of the clearest water in the world, from a spring that has been filtered through kilometres of earth and rock.

On the way to Kaikoura the group flew the Skywire, were pumped on the Paintball battlefield and a few keen horse lovers took a serene walk through beautiful farmland and native bush. Although Kaikoura’s weather was only average for our ocean-based activities, almost everyone was able to get involved in their ‘plan A’ activity of dolphin swimming or seal swimming. We had some raving stories from the dolphin swimmers, who managed to see around 300 dolphins in their natural habitat. The seal swimmers had a more variable experience, but they still managed to get out there and amongst it! The cool thing is that everybody was able to see some baby seals on the way into Kaikoura the previous day.

Hot pools in Hanmer, the Antarctic Centre the next day and the chance to see a kiwi while in Christchurch rounded out the New Zealand trip.

As always, the CDNIS group were a fantastic group of students whom we loved working with. One of the students made a very poignant comment about being able to ‘live in the moment’ while at the marae and cultural exchange. The ability to put aside any study concerns, even for a moment, was clearly a good thing for this student.

We look forward to giving a warm welcome to CDNIS in New Zealand again in 2016.

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Trinity Grammar School (Sydney) Duke of Edinburgh’s Award adventurous journey.

The team from TGS arrived in December after some solid planning which stretched back to February 2015. A group of 18 fine young men, accompanied by a team of intrepid staff, tackled the Milford Track in what can be described as ideal conditions, including both fine weather, a bit of drizzle as well a dusting of snow near the top of McKinnon Pass. The boys successfully completed their mission and were rewarded with a relaxing night on the Milford Wanderer in Milford Sound straight after their hike.

While the group was in Queenstown they immersed themselves in the local sights and activities, which rounded out the main event, which was to complete their Duke of Ed mission. Activities such as the Amazing Race, Shotover Jet and Luge were embraced and the boys also visited the site of the first commercial bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge in Gibbston Valley. More than a few of the boys mentioned that they’ll be back to get amongst bungy jumping as well as to sample some of the other exciting adventures on offer in this buzzing little international town at the deep South.

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The Henan Heroes

LBK embarked on some additional cultural exchange of our own this year, with a group of fantastic people who originate from the ancient Henan province in China. The actioned-packed 14-day journey included both North and South Island adventures, as well as a three-day study period at Napier’s EIT. To select just a few activities – the group enjoyed kayaking at Cathedral Cove, OGO in Rotorua, an enthusiastic visit to Hobbiton, a midnight trip to Hot Water Beach, a special evening of cultural exchange at Te Puia and an overnight stay in Milford Sound – complete with some original ways of entering the water from a height of around four metres!

One of the exciting elements of this new relationship is the connection with Hawkes Bay, a region of New Zealand with so many attributes to recommend. LBK is working closely with Hawkes Bay local bodies and Chinese agents as we develop working connections between China and Hawkes Bay/New Zealand.

We anticipate not only welcoming students to New Zealand from China, but also facilitating trips to China from New Zealand (with a view to prioritising Hawkes Bay students).

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ISF Kei Roto I Te Whare.

New and fresh to the LBK whanau is the Independent Schools Foundation, Hong Kong. ISF brought talent, good looks, humor and a deep burning thirst for adventure that no amount of L&P could quench! It was all on!! Competently at the helm was the debonair Mr Simon Joyce who, in a masterstroke, hand-picked the ‘A’ Team of accompanying teachers in Ms Badaracco (hmmm?), Ms Hasan and Mr Emery. However, the 30 students that jumped onboard paled the staff in comparison – they are ‘O for awesome’… (very kiwi saying that originated from one of our top boxers requesting an ‘O for awesome’ during Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune..oops)

The South Island was the scene for this adventure of epic proportions and it didn’t disappoint. The classics were there. MTB, Horse Trekking, Walter Peak, Luge and Bungy. ISF went a little off the beaten track and attended a school exchange with Glenorchy School, who, welcomed the group through traditional Powhiri and then gave a tour of their sustainability projects and initiatives around their school. Glenorchy School is so ‘Green’ that it has achieved the National Enviro-schools Green Gold Award! Tu Meke!! A highlight was perhaps the physical challenge provided by the Heli-hike. Misty, whiteout conditions made the navigation en route sketchy, not to mention the steep descents and undulating terrain that caused concern for some. It is surprising to see who steps up in times like these. After an awesome week, Paddy and Jamie had dropped the team at the airport, said their goodbyes, dried their tears and were just about to relax when the phone rang! Delayed flight = more time with these cool peeps!! Yehhaaa!! Our return to the airport to pick up ISF for a second time was awesome, it felt like the adventure was just beginning all over again!

They couldn’t stay forever and finally got away the following day, but we look forward to having ISF back in the near future. Yehhaaaa!!

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The Cuzzies at Christmas.

More than 18 months ago, a fair amount of interest was shown in getting Henry’s extended family together at Christmas time to go on a family style Little Brown Kiwi adventure.

The group included ages from 6 months to 70 years old; made up of sisters, cousins, husbands and wives of cousins, brothers and sisters in law, grandparents and nephews – you get the picture!

Nine days in the deep South included the regions of Queenstown, Stewart Island and Milford Sound. The kids had a blast of a time and the adults enjoyed catching up with each other, which hasn’t happened for a long time due to family living in England, different parts of Australia, the US and also other regions of New Zealand.

Aside from the family orientated focus, there were other great moments, such as seeing the Stewart Island kiwi in the wild and spotting a couple of Whio while walking a small section of the Milford Track.

It was a great privilege and real pleasure to be able to bring everyone together for a memorable holiday. Sharing a decent amount of time with so much of the whanau was the perfect way to spend Christmas.

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The LBK crew is amping about our visit to Asia in January/February and it will be great to see some familiar faces in the near future.

In 2016, look out for a refreshed LBK website, some more exciting adventures and additional ways to get amongst everything connected with New Zealand.

Let’s get there, get connected and embrace the moment.