Little Brown Kiwi | LBK Chat – March 2020
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In this LBK update:

  • LBK is proud to have achieved Qualmark Gold status
  • Recent adventures with schools
  • Other news

Kia ora Whanau!

It certainly has been a long hot summer with some places in New Zealand experiencing their highest ever recorded temperatures. Couple with that a lack of rain in some parts and we certainly can quote the classic lyric from the legendary band that is The Merrymen; ‘…feeling hot, hot, hot…’.

Little Brown Kiwi has been busy as, as usual! As well as welcoming more groups into the country and getting into all that NZ has to offer, LBK staff have been off on their own adventures. From caving to paddling, Northern roadies to mountain biking epics – it’s all been happening. Training has been continuing too. Mushi got stuck into his Pre-Hospital Emergency Care renewal, H has begun a course to further his proficiency in Te Reo Maori and Paddy, well, he’s still celebrating LBK’s attainment of Qualmark Gold Award, and rightly so!

There’s heaps in this Chat so please do have a read, and remember we’re just an email away if you get inspired and to want get amongst an adventure down here in the slowly subsiding heat of Aotearoa – bring on Autumn!!

Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award


A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences an integral part of everything they do.

A Gold Sustainable Tourism Award identifies those businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world class sustainable visitor destination.

Towards the end of 2019, Little Brown Kiwi undertook an annual review with Qualmark and we’re pleased to let everyone know that we were awarded the highest standard, Qualmark Gold. This was a specific goal for Little Brown Kiwi in 2019. Alongside other criteria, significantly for LBK, we have refined and fully digitised our whole of business standard operating plan, which is a robust platform for the future.

Here is some more information about Qualmark.

Sha Tin College – late September/early October 2019

STC – Grinners are Winners!
The team at LBK are always nervous when the responsibility of trip organization gets handed on from one teacher to another.

This is especially so in the case of Sha Tin College from Hong Kong.  The long time supporter of LBK (and a great rapper), Mr Greg Thornton, had moved on and handed the organisation over to Ms Pegg.  Important questions like ‘Will Ms Pegg be organised’?  Will Ms Pegg handle the paperwork side of things? Will Ms Pegg be one of those high-maintetnance types needing hot showers and a pillow? What is Ms Pegg’s threshold for Paddy’s questionable use of the English language and repertoire of semi-appropriate jokes?  We are pleased to say, LBK needn’t have been worried at all.  Ms Peggy got the job done with stellar form!

The team on this trip were fantastic.  There were several ‘repeat offenders’, including Mr Devlin.  It is always great to reconnect with students and staff that have been on a LBK trip previously.

The 2019 STC adventure saw us take on the challenges of the upper South Island. Starting in Christchurch we headed North and got amongst a bunch of activities including horse trekking, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, jet boating, ice cream eating, dolphin swimming, marae noho to mention a few. Of particular note was the overnight hike and paddle into the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. The group was halved and each half either paddled into our camp for the night, or hiked. The weather on Day 1 was average at best with strong headwinds and rain for the group. But, when you’re smiling you’re winning and there was no shortage of big grins as we unexpectedly needed to abort a paddle around an exposed headland and instead hike heavy gear packs up and over a ridge into camp.

Love unexpected challenges!! After a soggy night, Day 2 dawned fine and clear and the return journey was much more enjoyable. Thanks heaps to the organization team of Ms Pegg, Mr Devlin, Ms Carter and Mr James. We look forward to the 2020 mission and now have nothing but confidence in the organisational abilities of Ms Pegg.

Kellett School – October 2019

These guys are amazing. Many people know that we have a special relationship with a marae in Tokoroa which is tirelessly kept going by a very small group of volunteers.
This year, the weather was kind and Kellett School was able to tear into ‘Marae DIY’ tasks with buckets of enthusiasm.

The extensive fence around the perimeter was brought to life with a new coat of paint, the weeds were eliminated in the garden, cooking was done in the kitchen and about a million plates and cups were washed after each meal.

It was cool to have the group take part in the full preparation of the hangi, as well as taking part in a robust cultural exchange with local students. Shall we say that a range of singing and rhythmical abilities were on display with waiata, ti rakau, poi and haka!

The contribution didn’t stop with the marae, and Kellett students got busy once again with Project Tongariro in Turangi. Thanks so much for your efforts for both of these groups which we love being associated with.

However, the trip wasn’t all about hard work! It was a celebration of their time together as a year group. Celebrations took the form of soaking in thermal pools, Zorbing (and being run over by the Zorb), eating pies, soaking in more natural thermal pools in Taupo, walking to Taranaki Falls in Tongariro National Park, white water rafting on the Tongariro River, creating a masterful meal after shopping for ingredients, luging and for some (Matthew) it was a case of ‘200 push ups a day ain’t enough’!

We love your style, Kellett School. Don’t go changing!

Harrow – October 2019

Hong Kong to… Mamaku?!

One of the really cool parts of being a Little Brown Kiwi guide, apart from getting to work with amazing students and teachers, is the opportunity to welcome home expat teachers and students for a visit.

It is always great to watch as they relax into the kiwi way of life again, and make the most of their time at home – including the special gastronomic delicacies (aka Pies and Burger Rings).

You should be forgiven if you haven’t heard of the small rural town of Mamaku, but as it unexpectedly turns out, there are two world renowned ‘legends’ to come out of this sleepy village. One is a canopy tour experience that is the ‘2019 Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Award’ recipient, the other is Mr Hamon!

The 2019 Harrow trip was a real highlight for Paddy and Mushi this year. The Harrow students are always fantastic people and love the opportunity to take on challenge and develop independence. The accompanying staff of Mr Hamon and Ms Henry might as well have been on the LBK payroll. These two Kiwi legends contributed to the trip in many ways that enhanced and deepened the experience for the students.

Harrow got their teeth stuck into a central North Island trip which included a Waitawheta bush experience, Hot Water Beach Jacuzzi digging session and some time at Papa o te Aroha marae, to name a few. A particular highlight on this trip was the LBK first of partnering with Rotorua Canopy tours. This is an amazing trip through untouched, mature native forest that makes one reflect on the way things once were. Suspended high off the ground by fitted, full body harnesses, we made our way through the tree tops via an established cable route. It was epic! The forest is close to Mamaku and Mr Hamon was able to tell the group many, many many, many stories from his youth! The group really appreciated his chat……(tumbleweed)

Big thanks to ‘Aunty’ too. Ms Henry, in between signing autographs and snapping selfies with randoms, made sure we were never short of help or a laugh!

We look forward to meeting the next Harrow crew in 2020. There will be heaps more laughs and learning’s, like the fact that in New Zealand ‘clothing optional’ swims are NOT a thing, eh Kyle!

CDNIS – November 2019

Queenstown was the place to be for CDNIS in 2019 and after being sent on an orientation mission around town the group got stuck into a traditional Devil Burger (about the size of your head).

The next day the group got straight into the backcountry and hiked up to Moke Lake. This is a beautiful high country lake which involves a walk through native bush and past gold-mining relics of Queenstown’s past.

Although we had some good conditions for the overnight expedition, the whole trip was definitely a case of ‘Four Seasons in a Day’ and everybody got maximum use out of all of their gear! Even though it was late Spring, there was some serious frost on the tents at Glenorchy.

However, it was super-impressive to see almost everybody boost it off the end of Glenorchy wharf into Lake Wakatipu in a stiff southerly breeze! Solid work CDNIS… that Canadian influence and Scottish leadership was a defining factor in the fortitude displayed!

The group was shown around Camp Glenorchy, a forward-looking eco-lodge that was named in TIME magazine as a place to visit in 2019. Composting toilets, water saving and energy saving techniques as well as solar power, was a good way to see what individuals and organisations are doing in a world where we are increasingly concerned about our carbon footprint.

In a similar vein, the CDNIS students did a fantastic job of sharing what they were doing at school with an environmental focus at their school. The young students of Glenorchy School were blown away to learn something about Hong Kong in general and loved hosting these ‘big kids’ from overseas. They were proud to show them around their school and play a game of tag bullrush on the school field.

Moving on from Glenorchy, a return to Queenstown meant a blast on the Shotover Jet – The World’s Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride! Paintball and Archery Tag at The Playground was an energy-filled end to a hot and sunny Queenstown day.

The beautiful lake-side town of Wanaka was the next destination, and these guys had a bit of serious weather to deal with. The horse riders managed to have a fun ride in good conditions at Back Country Saddle Expeditions but the Stand Up Paddle Boarders had to switch to ‘Plan B’ which involved boarding a boat to a small island on Lake Wanaka and building a shelter (a handy skill, given the conditions!)

However, a hot pie is always a good start to warm the body back up. The LBK crew hastily switched the camping option for a more robust cabin, based on the torrential rain that was with us for the next 12 hours.

Luckily, the last day in Queenstown was ‘Sweet As!’ This day started with Puzzling World in Wanaka, a fun diversion before the return to Queenstown for Luge and the famous Ledge Swing. There was a lot of excitement on the platform – 400 metres above Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. 100% of CDNIS took part in the Ledge Swing…which we think is a record!

The next morning involved a brutally early start, but nothing that these guys couldn’t handle.

Thanks for being legends, as usual, CDNIS.

Wellington Private Education Network – November 2019

A brave crew of 29 international students from Wellington made the trip over to Abel Tasman National Park for a long weekend of kayaking, hiking and some time away from their busy city lives.

The normally sunny top of the south was looking very wet! Not to worry, LBK had its two most positive and energetic people leading the trip, Ash and Aimee. The team had a great weekend with marshmallows around the camp fire, kayaking in the rain and a walk along the coastal track where the sun finally came out. They finished the long weekend off by exploring Nelson city before flying home.

WIS – November 2019

‘Back in Black’ Pink!!!

The fluro Pink beanies of West Island School Hong Kong returned for the 2019 season.

It is always a highlight to welcome WIS back to Aotearoa.  The school calendar is such that it usually means WIS are the last trip of the year for LBK Guides, before a well deserved and long awaited summer break.  This has it’s pro’s and con’s – but is generally a positive thing.

Accompanied again by the ‘ever-caffein-ed’ Mr Harding and ‘super-star-broccolli’ eater Ms Schroeder, the WIS crew came ready to rock!!

The ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ adage runs true with the West Island School itinerary.  The central North Island experience exposes students to challenges that involve overnight hiking, river crossing, establishing a bush camp, surfing, cultural exchange and performance, environmental service, beach games and a bit of cold water immersion.  We got up close and personal with an electric fence this year. Most people shied away from the shocking experience, but some used it as an opportunity to ‘recharge their body battery’?!  Nelly, the travelling elephant-head hat, returned with a vengeance and looked and smelled like another year has passed by.

Not all experiences need to be ‘high octane’ , ‘shocking’ or ‘high adrenalin’.  One of the highlights for this group was making the short walk through the rain to the Otumuheke hot stream.  This geothermal heated stream on the banks of the mighty Waikato river is a little gem for resting up and soaking away aches and pains.

As always, the trip was over way too soon and before we knew it we were back in Auckland preparing for the departure back to Hong Kong.  There was one more surprise for this group (which LBK would like to say they organized, but probably shouldn’t) as during dinner we bumped into the Hong Kong representative touch team who had flown in to compete at the New Zealand National Championships.  Pretty cool to snap a photo together.

Big aroha out to Mr Harding and Ms Shroeder, for their continued assistance and support of the LBK trip, for WIS students.  We look forward to the 2020 version and hope that the lure of the summer break isn’t too distracting for the LBK Team….’Focus Paddy!!!!!’


Other News.

Currently, the international scene has been dominated by the recent outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), which Little Brown Kiwi has been following carefully over many weeks.

A range of schools have been closed and trips cancelled at the start of 2020 in an effort to focus on the safety and wellbeing of students and staff and their families. This has had a ripple effect on the start of the year for Little Brown Kiwi, including the cancellation of an annual LBK trip to visit schools in Hong Kong and Singapore.

We hope that this new virus is something that is able to be managed in the coming months and that we will see a return to normal operations by about the middle of 2020.

Stay safe and well and in this interim period, keep in touch via email, message or video call!

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