LBK Chat – June 2017
Making a contribution
As proud New Zealanders, we have a special appreciation for the natural environment and the culture of this beautiful country.
We sometimes ask ourselves: How can LBK operate in a way that groups are able to make an active contribution while they are here in New Zealand?
As well as taking part in fun and exciting activities, and hopefully the adventure of a lifetime, we’re aiming for deep engagement with regard to environmental awareness and cultural exchange.
We are very lucky to work with some outstanding international schools who not only come to experience New Zealand to take away some great memories and stories, but they also show that they are committed to giving back and leaving a positive impression while they are here. The goal of many schools is to contribute by way of service. Over the years LBK has developed, and continues to develop, tangible ways of contributing to the hard work that is going on with New Zealand based people and groups.
Some examples of hard working community groups include tree planting and maintenance activities, helping with native birds including the kiwi, and in addition, a newer initiative is to contribute to a marae in the central North Island by helping to freshen up and maintain facilities – ‘Marae DIY!’ Many groups will appreciate and will have felt and experienced the manaakitanga (hospitality) after staying at different marae around the country. Now students will have the chance to show some love to our gracious hosts by tackling some jobs which will be greatly assisted by the ‘many hands make light work’ approach!
The end result is a fuller, more encompassing experience. The New Zealand hosts directly benefit from the efforts of the students and a real ‘feel good’ factor is achieved. This adds another dimension to the natural environment of New Zealand and of course the action-packed adventure activities that are an essential part of the trip.
SAS 2017 – Survival Interim!
The back blocks of the central plateau of the North Island, Raetihi, was the scene for the LBK Singapore American School Survival Interim Adventure 2017.
Twenty eager to learn freshman students were accompanied by the seasoned survivalists, Mr John Gaskill and Mr Zac Evans. Having had numerous forays into the New Zealand backcountry now, there is no one better to get ‘feral’ with than these two fellas!
Joining the team in Raetihi was the knowledgeable and ruggedly handsome Wildman crew. Always ready and waiting to field questions such as ‘are you serious?’ or ‘you have got to be joking?’ the Wildman team had the first 3 days of this ‘sink or swim’ (authentic) learning experience ready and waiting.
Learning modules including shelter construction, fire building, navigation, wilderness first aid and camp cooking lay the foundation for the always entertaining event – the Wildman Challenge. Armed with their learning of the previous 3 days, small groups were set the challenge of 24 hours of survival – build your own shelter, cook your own meals, see you tomorrow!
The fact that this component of the adventure finished with the same number of students that started is testament to the high quality learning and instruction that set a strong foundation.
Bidding farewell to the Wildman Team and armed with new knowledge, skills and understandings the adventure headed North to the boundary of the Tongariro National Park, and preparation began for the following days alpine survival Rogain. This is a navigational challenge that sees teams plan a route to pre-determined checkpoints, within a time limit.
Each checkpoint has a different point value, the accumulation of which determines the overall winning team. It was a full on day that saw two very different strategies employed. Sleep came easy that night as tired bodies and minds reflected on the amazingly harsh alpine country and sheer distance groups’ had covered – with full packs!
More of a leisurely start the following day saw the group navigating to a pick up point where they met the Rafting New Zealand crew. Heavy packs and boots were exchanged for wetsuits and helmets as they took to the Tongariro River for the next phase of this survival epic – a 2 day paddle adventure!
The class 3 rapids were the closest thing the group had come to a shower over the past week!
It wasn’t long before again, students were drawing on their survival learning as they established a river side camp and settled down for the night. The weather gods certainly contributed their part to the challenge as the heavens opened and persistent heavy rain fell… all night long. Nervous eyes were cast across the early morning gloom of the river, checking estimated flow rates and considering whether or not to wait for the flow to drop. Considering the ‘hardcore-ness’ of this group, the decision was made to ‘go for it!’. The remaining section of river provided real challenge and drew on what remaining energy the group had left! The hot shower at the RNZ base was a welcome luxury, as was the celebratory dinner that evening – mainly because the group didn’t need to prepare it themselves and it had no elements of ‘rehydration’ required what-so-ever! A night in a real bed and early transfer to Auckland completed this epic survival adventure. Thanks goes out to Gaskill and ZEvans and the SAS crew – you had heaps thrown at you, and you survived!
All LBK trips have elements of challenge, which add to and enhance the learning associated with the adventure.
The UWC Dover North Island Adventure 2017 certainly got heaps of it – by way of Cyclone Debbie! The 40 strong group flew into NZ with blue skies and requiring sunscreen… this would change!
As always, the morning of day one requires an early swim – it’s cultural. Shivering and initially reluctant, the group soon gritted teeth and committed to the challenge of running headlong into the Orewa surf. It wasn’t really that cold – although it didn’t appear to appeal to Mr Dura or Mr Morris? Great to see Mrs Morris and Ms Kumar keeping the teachers’ reputation semi intact.
The North Island adventure next saw the group take on the challenge of the Hilary Trail (Stage 1) through the Waitakere Ranges. Starting high, the group wound its way down through the Huia catchment to overnight at Huia lodge right on the coast. The BCC dehydrated food is always a novelty – apparently it has all the nutritional value adventuring bodies need, if you can actually eat it! Beef teriyaki proved the most popular.
Hotwater beach saw the group camping, a first for some, and digging a natural jaccuzzi – or just politely introducing themselves to some random tourists and jumping in their already constructed hotpool… upstairs for thinking, downstairs for dancing!
And then… Cyclone Debbie hit! Rain, like never seen in recent history, began falling. Some media commentators called this a ‘once in 500 year event’, and UWC were right in the middle of it! Flooding, evacuations, road closures, postponements and cancellations occurred as the group was momentarily stuck in the Coromandel area – no way in, no way out. Chris, our debonair Driver from ‘Bus With Us’, reckoned he had solution and, timing the run for low tide, soon had the coach loaded and off South. The group made it through the dubious section of flooded road and off onto the next challenge of this adventure.
The whanau at Papa o te Aroha Marae rolled out the welcome mat as always, and after the Powhiri the group were soon dry and ‘kai-ing’ down on a traditional New Zealand roast complete with Pavlova for desert – a NEW ZEALAND created dish (this fact was hotly contested by a group member, who shall remain nameless but had Australian affiliations – we’ll forgive her!)
The thriving Bay of Plenty hub of Rotorua saw the group get an adrenalin hit at Agroventures, a rural dose at Agrodome, speed jitters on the Luge and a full tummy via the Stratosphere buffet at the top of the Gondola. Perfect way to finish an epic trip that threw heaps of challenge. That’s the best thing about a Little Brown Kiwi adventure to the adventure capital of the world… you never 100% know what’s going to happen next!
UWC East – the storm chasers
Cyclone dodging, Christchurch rebuild, cultural exchange, Canterbury Crusaders and all other things CHOICE!
UWC East arrived at Christchurch Airport amidst a deluge of rain, which immediately got the trip off to an adventurous start. The LBK team had to implement a suitable alternative, which was crafted 24 hours previously, after studying the movements of the looming cyclone.
Spending some time in Christchurch in the morning, the group was treated to a tour of the central city by Kim McDonald from ‘Kim’s World’. It was a great overview of the city since the big earthquake of February 2011 and the redevelopment that has happened since.
In true UWC form, the staff and students adapted to the change of plan, which now included a jet boat ride on the Waiau River in place of the planned Pacific Ocean activities in Kaikoura. Thankfully the weather gods smiled at us the following day and our full day epic rafting trip was ON! Walking through endless Beech forest and transported by 4WD Land Rover we got to our put in site. This was a good physical challenge for everyone and one raft learned through rude first hand experience the wisdom of listening to the raft guide’s instructions… after the raft wrapped around a rock, it started to take on some water and POP, over it went. The looks on the faces were a picture and a whole lot of learning was achieved in that very moment. Within seconds, the raft guides had the situation sorted and the crew was back and amongst it!
Other activities in Hanmer included Horse Riding in the hills and a Mountain Biking and Archery combination (one after the other, not concurrently!) The intrepid Finlay was all about the bungy jump and he nailed it, as well as joining the MTB group after the adrenaline hit. We all spent some time at the Hot Springs, Hanmer’s crowning glory, and most students put some quality time in on the slides.
Back to Christchurch and a chance to contribute to VolCan – Volunteer Canterbury. Students met dedicated people who are re-planting an area of the Red Zone after the Canterbury earthquakes. The team did a stellar job of clearing weeds and enhancing the chances of recently planted native trees. A reasonable large area was completely maintained by our hardworking group and it is a real pleasure to be able to give something back to a community that has been affected by this significant natural event.
Next stop was Akaroa for three days of walking, outdoor challenges and a second cultural exchange which was put in place instead of camping – once again the forecast was foreboding and ominous, which necessitated a ‘Plan B’. While camping is normally a feature of LBK adventures for at least one night, we were treated to a stay at the wonderful Onuku Marae overlooking Akaroa Harbour…in a serene and calming corner of the world. After exploring the lovely town of Akaroa on foot in the hills and exploring the coastline while coasteering, the group moved on to the original marae stay at Taumutu Marae near Lake Ellesmere.
Students were told stories of the local area and had the opportunity to share something of themselves in this setting. A storm hammered down during the night and throughout the next day, which meant one more change to our programme – switching ziplining for Ten Pin Bowling on this occasion.
Thankfully the skies cleared in time for the Super Rugby match between The Canterbury Crusaders and the Sunwolves from Japan. It was cool to learn that the Sunwolves have a connection to Singapore and actually ran a training session at UWC East not long before the New Zealand trip. The Crusaders were too strong on the night though, sending the gracious Sunwolves away 50 to 3.
The wake up call the next morning was hands down the earliest wake up call in LBK history – 3.30am anyone? However, the team rose to the challenge as expected and we were away – hats off to Ms Legree, who was switched on even at this time of the day, and reminded a student to collect a wallet before departing.
Another adventure drew to a close for UWC East and we wish the students and teachers well for the remainder of the school year.
Making a Contribution:
‘Little Brown Kiwi Predator Trapping Coalition’
In line with the ‘contributing’ theme of this months’ Chat, LBK would like to announce the launch of the ‘LBK Predator Trapping Coalition’.
Introduced species, particularly predators such as rats, stoats, weasels and possums have had a devastating effect on New Zealand’s taonga (treasures) such as birds, lizards and bats. Some of these Taonga have gone forever.
The New Zealand Government, in conjunction with the Department Of Conservation, has set the lofty goal of being predator free by 2050.
There are already heaps of awesome groups out there doing amazing work for the eradication of pest species and re-establishment of native environments for our precious endemic species. A lot of these groups LBK has, and will continue to work with; Whenuakite Kiwicare, SIRCET, Trees for Travellers, Kids for Kepler, Project Gold to name a few.
It’s time for us to get out hands a little dirtier! LBK would like to offer you the opportunity to contribute.
We are calling it a ‘coalition’ – we believe that as an LBK community of schools who have played, adventured, experienced, been challenged and inspired by New Zealand’s amazing environment, we can unite to do our small part.
LBK is focusing its attention on pest control and plans to build, distribute and maintain a trap line that will target rats, stoats and weasels which are having a devastating effect on NZ’s endemic wildlife, particularly birds. We will be using the endorsed DOC 200 kill trap. If you would like to know more about this humane kill trap, please get in touch.
Sponsorship would be a mere NZ$75 dollar and would include the materials, trap, construction, maintenance and beautifully carved trap lid – so everyone knows who the environmentally conscious ‘legends’ are that donated it!
We are starting small. This might be a great Service contribution opportunity for a group within a school, or for a group that is coming to NZ and looking for another way to contribute – I am sure one of those amazing Bake Sales Henry and I hear about (and want to get to!) can generate the cost of a trap?
Updates on the program, including trap reports and ‘scorecard’ detailing the schools/groups/individuals trap success will be included in LBK Chats and via our social media links. We can keep track of the ‘coalitions’ contribution and success!
For more info, or to get amongst the initiative, email Paddy!
Spread the word!
The team at Little Brown Kiwi loves to look after the awesome teachers that arrive as strangers and leave as good mates.
Our calendar is now full for the remainder of this year, but now is the perfect time to reserve your dates for 2018.
Contact us now to ensure that your school doesn’t miss out on an epic New Zealand adventure. If you have friends in other schools who would like to get down under with LBK, please share this LBK Chat and refer us to good people like you – we’re always keen to make new mates!
To all of the schools who work with Little Brown Kiwi in New Zealand.
Yours in adventure,
Henry, Paddy and the team at Little Brown Kiwi