LBK Chat – June 2015
Sometimes the unplanned moments can really capture the magic during an adventure.
On the last day of a recent trip, we had everything we needed for a final slice of the Kiwi essence – a big green field, a game of Touch Rugby and space for anyone who wanted to play. The simplicity of running around with bare feet, feeling the grass between the toes and playing a game until we could hardly see the ball was just the ticket before a flight home. Laughing, a bit of banter and a great continuum of individual skills provided an entertaining and memorable conclusion to the last 10 days of adventure. The earth cooling beneath our feet and the smell of freshly cut grass on the cool autumn air evoke memories of a Kiwi childhood.
This was a fantastic moment to share with the whole group, who became temporary Kiwis during their time with us in New Zealand.
What is the point of adventure education? Why do we do it?
In an adventure education environment there are real risks and challenges, real consequences and real opportunities for self-management against these risks and challenges. In the same breath, student safety is always our priority as a responsible provider and we have assessed the ‘real’ versus ‘perceived’ risk for all of the activities that we engage in. From a learning viewpoint, the activities must allow the individual to be able to think about and deal with some of the risk on their own terms. In this vein, it is crucial that we are able to provide a sense of challenge at different times during the NZ experience. We often talk about getting outside of your comfort zone, which is simply a metaphor for learning. When a student pushes the edges of that comfort zone, this is when the learning begins and these moments can produce powerful outcomes.
Some of the most exciting and reaffirming moments in our jobs come from the little ‘light bulb moments’ which often occur in the ‘stretch zone’, where a student conquers a challenge such as a fear of heights during rock climbing and develops a further sense of self-confidence as a result. Or a student gains control and new skills on a Mountain Bike.
Across ten days of travel from place to place, we enjoy seeing the development of personal self-management skills of the students. In a world where it is increasingly possible to do more and more as an individual, partly due to the prevalence of personal computer devices, it is encouraging good to see students’ social and interpersonal skills practiced during activities such as hiking, LBK Master Chef cooking, the Amazing Race or even listening skills being honed during a summative reflective debrief. Another important aspect of outdoor adventure education is the ‘outdoor’ part itself. Learning about the environment, the weather and making a real connection with the natural world by becoming immersed in it.
So why do we do it? We are involved in adventure education to present real challenges to students so that they can learn about themselves, others and the environment during a fun and stimulating programme.
Exciting New Zealand adventures in early 2015.
Some schools went truly off the grid during the first part of 2015, exploring parts of New Zealand that really take some effort to get to. All travellers were well rewarded for their endeavours, and for ‘giving it a nudge’! Check out these adventures in different locations…
SAS embraced wilderness survival in the depths of the central North Island, HKIS sought out Queenstown and Milford Sound adventures with the added excitement of Heli Hiking, UWCSEA managed to factor in an overnight stay in Doubtful Sound, RCHK encountered stimulating cultural exchange at a small marae South of Christchurch, Harrow devoured a hangi in the North Island and climbed a remote peak on the Coromandel Peninsula and UWCSEA East braved massive swells on Foveaux Strait to spot kiwis in the wild on Stewart Island.
Objectives of this adventure were to reintroduce people back to the wild and to develop and gain certification for outdoor first aid. During the adventure the students learned and practiced their navigation skills, butchery, climbing, abseiling, search and rescue, river crossing, fishing, cooking and bivvy (shelter) making. Two nights were spent in the wilderness and everyone had to call on some of those deep-rooted skills to prevail and conquer! Some of the big challenges included not showering for a number of days and having to eat different food – such as goat and freeze-dried ration packs. This group also went White Water Rafting (the world’s highest rafted waterfall) and caving in addition to the Wildman survival challenge.
Here’s a direct quote from one of the girls on the trip, when asked to write a couple of sentences about the experience:
Really challenging at some parts, but always rewarding.
Even though I loved it, it made me realise nature isn’t for me. (but i would do it all over again)
It made me realise sleeping outside in a bivvy isn’t so bad.
It made me appreciate everything that I have at home so much more: a comfortable bed, electricity, warm water to shower with, food, etc.
It helped me tolerate insects and bees. (I still hate them)
The tried and tested ‘LBK HKIS Adrenaline Tour’ hit the Queenstown area again in 2015. Great to see Mr Udall back with another ‘keen as’ crew of adrenaline junkies.
The Shotover jet provided the remedy for any lingering effects of jet lag on day one, before a ‘face sized’ burger was devoured.Day two was all about Gold, Rubber Bands and ‘Choiceness’ (no one made their fortune gold panning in the Arrow River but Mr U demonstrated perfect form in what only can be described as ‘The jump of the Day’ from the Kawarau Bridge Bungy!) Choice Bro threw up a couple of surprises with Paintball being substituted for a bit of Bubble Soccer, which quickly morphed into Bubble Gladiator! The stunningly beautiful Queenstown vistas were a highlight of the Via Feratta activity before we loaded the chopper and dropped into the backcountry high on the remote Nokomai Station. The evening was spent with guitar in hand while dreamily gazing into the fire to the soft babble of the Mataura River behind. Milford Sound is right up there with the NZ ‘must dos’ and HKIS surely agree. Absolutely pristine environmental immersion is the order of the overnight experience, not to mention the cold water immersion – even 8°C water temperature couldn’t deter these intrepid travellers from a few bombs off the top deck! The next days included some Mountain Biking, Canyon Swinging, Horse trekking and Luge. The trip rounded out with a cultural exchange and a MASSIVE feed at the highly acclaimed Skyline buffet dinner. A week to remember for sure!
See you next year HKIS!!
Team UWC flew into Dunedin and more or less went straight to the Super XV rugby match between the Highlanders and the Stormers. Good to see the Highlanders take out the win and also have the chance to meet the players after the match. The natural environment was dominant for the first few days – seals and penguins at Natures Wonders, camping and tree planting in the Catlins and the magical fiords of Doubtful Sound, with Bottle-nosed dolphins swimming alongside the boat. Students stayed at New Zealand’s southernmost marae and experienced a rousing welcome from the hosts. New friendships were developed and good times were had! Another exciting event was the Heli-hiking on the way back to Queenstown – alpine hiking on one of New Zealand’s biggest farms provided some memorable moments for all.
The adventure kept up at a fierce pace as we descended on Queenstown and got amongst some Amazing Race action, as well the famous Ledge Swing and Luge at the Queenstown Skyline. Students chose between Bubble Soccer and Archery Tag, Horse Trekking, Via Ferrata Rock Climbing and Mountain Biking and all of these provided additional highlights for the young adventurers. The Shotover Jet is a must do while in Queenstown, so this was included before winging our way to Auckland. One of our final challenges involved tree climbing at Auckland’s Tree Adventures. Students were able to unleash their ‘inner monkey’ and worked up an appetite for our final dinner at Auckland’s Sky Tower. An epic, nature-filled, adrenaline pumping, NZ highlights tour of The Deep South.
The 2015 RCHK 11 day epic adventure got off to a great start in Queenstown.
There is nothing like the perceived risk of falling down a shear rock face to sharpen the mind and focus attention after a 12-hour international flight – so Queenstown Via Feratta is naturally the option of choice on Day 1!!! Choice Bro was up next and saw people heading out on Horse Back, Mountain Bikes and into the Bubble Soccer field of play. The majesty of Milford Sound was explored by kayak before the ‘million dollar’ dinner view at the Skyline was taken in – along with a meal that pales all others in comparison! Not content with just the lower South Island, RCHK hitched a ride on a domestic flight to Christchurch. The RCHK Masterchef was prefaced by the raging fury of the Clarence River, expertly navigated in rafts by this most adventurous crew. The playground of the Pacific Ocean gave opportunity to engage with the locals through Dolphin swimming, Whale watching, Seal swimming and Surfing. A rejuvenating, hot soak in the thermal pools of Hanmer was well received, before a dinner and debrief which allowed for some reflection on the challenges, highs, lows and ‘what ifs’ of the past week.
The final visit was to the Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, which interactively highlights the adventurous characteristics of this remote and isolated continent, not to mention that of the people who go there – characteristics not unlike many of the RCHK adventurers themselves.
New to the LBK whanau in 2015 was Harrow International School Hong Kong, expertly led by Hong Kong National Rugby team hero, Mr Reece Hamon and his fellow teachers Ms Gogna, Mr Thomson and Ms Whalley.
The 38 strong Harrow contingent were chomping at the bit to get amongst the North Island adventure. Straight off the plane and into the high wire adrenalin monkey business of Tree Adventures pushed limits early – not having witnessed a ‘high wire vomit’ before, we could tell early this was going to be a trip of firsts for LBK too! The beautiful backdrop of the Kaueranga Valley and ‘The Pinnacles’ provided the back drop for the physical challenge of a two-day hike. Up, up up was the flavour of Day 1 of the hike, with down, down down predictably being Day 2. The Pinnacle itself allowed for 360° views and heaps of ‘selfie’ action. Hot Water Beach was the accommodation for the next two nights and saw us carving some bones, paddling some sea kayaks and enjoying the pre-ordered sunshine on the pristine, golden sands of Hahei Beach. The plight of the native Kiwi bird and the efforts of those who are helping them gave a stark focus to our human impact for the morning of day five, before a transfer to Whangamata. An afternoon of ‘Choice Bro’ pitted Harrow students against the carving trails of the Whangamata Forest by Mountain Bike and up against the ‘big one’ in the deep blue sea fishing option. The most popular was an opportunity to try the hand at carving the famous Whangamata surf break, made all that little bit easier by getting instruction from the Junior Women’s World Champion, Ella Williams – Mr Hamons’ skills seemed to progress amazingly quickly! Hobbiton, Argo and Paintball preceded the traditional welcome, the Powhiri, at Papa o te Aroha Marae. After the formalities, the Harrow students broke into kapa haka workshops led by the local Forest View Highschool students, before digging up their dinner! Fond farewells to new friends dominated the next morning as we made our way North to raft the mighty Tongariro River, roll down a hill in a huge plastic ball and visit a sheep show that had everyone ‘baaaing’ for hours afterwards.
Last stop was for shopping – and peticures, that apparently are ‘half the price here than in Hong Kong’ according to Ms Gogna (who you can’t blame for holding up the bus for 20 minutes at that price!!) It was fantastic to have Harrow in Aotearoa and we look forward to seeing them back again in 2016.
UWCSEA East also opted for a deep southern experience in 2015, involving many of the locations and activities seen by their sister school, but including New Zealand’s third largest island – Stewart Island. Glorious weather and glorious lamb chops were had near Curio Bay, as well as the culinary delights of Paua and Blue Cod on Stewart Island – harvested from the clean and chilly southern seas. Some of the students had the new experience of prizing Paua from rocks, ready for the BBQ the same day.
The group also went on a kiwi finding mission as well, but this time for observation purposes only and definitely not for the BBQ! Most of the group were able to spend time in the wild with the Stewart Island kiwi – a really special moment with New Zealand’s endangered iconic bird.
Queenstown was a big part of this trip and the group was here for two days, getting amongst some of the adrenaline-fuelled activities such as the Ledge Swing, Luge, Bubble Soccer, Mountain Biking and more.
At the conclusion of the adventure was a trip to Christchurch to see a monumental rugby match between The Highlanders and The Crusaders. This was a great clash between these local rivals and it was the Highlanders who took the game in the end. Students were able to meet some of the players afterwards and get a couple of photos with our modern day gladiators.
Some ‘Adrenalin Forest’ action ensued the next day, where students and teachers were able to discover their inner monkeys and whizz around in the trees. Harnessed up, with a pair of ‘Clic-It’ carabiners, the crew simply couldn’t get enough! The Antarctic Centre was our penultimate destination to get busy on the Hagglund Ride, visit the storm room (-18 deg wind chill), see the penguins and get involved in a 4D movie based in Antarctica.
Before the flight home, we all went to one of Christchurch’s many parks and enjoyed our last hour – playing Touch Rugby and having a bite to eat before saying our goodbyes.
Thanks to each and every school for your energy and interest in New Zealand adventure education with Little Brown Kiwi. We can’t wait to see you all again in 2016!
Yours in adventure,
Henry, Paddy and the LBK team.
See you out there!!!