Little Brown Kiwi | LBK Chat – May 2014
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Keeping it real in 2014.

What do trips with Little Brown Kiwi involve?

Adventure Education with Little Brown Kiwi focuses on Action, Cultural Exchange and Service in a uniquely New Zealand setting.

Action.

Is all about getting out there and doing it, experiential first-hand learning and embracing a challenge. Students can expect to push the edges of their comfort zones in a tightly managed environment, with an emphasis on fun!

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Cultural exchange.

Involves experiences such as staying overnight on a marae, meaningful and fun interactions with New Zealand students of the same age, and developing an awareness of Maori culture.

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Service.

Where local New Zealand community groups are given a boost by willing students who are keen to make a difference. Groups such as the Whenuakite Kiwi Care group in the Coromandel to SIRCET in Stewart Island to the Catlins Community Trust, to Trees For Travellers in Kaikoura. All of these wonderful organisations (and others) are grateful for the tangible results and the legacy that students leave after their time in New Zealand.

With Action, Cultural Exchange and Service complementary themes in mind, let’s check out what schools have been up to in the first part of 2014.

The big names like Queenstown, Rotorua and Auckland all feature in recent itineraries, and for very good reason. It is also very exciting to work with schools that are interested in extending their New Zealand experience to locations far from the beaten track. Places such as Colville at the top of the Coromandel Peninsula and Stewart Island featured in recent adventures.

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Singapore American School – Wild Man Survival Challenge.

These guys came for a back-country survival adventure with modules such as First Aid, Navigation, Butchery, Shelter-making, Fire-lighting and more. After a few days training the team was divided up for the ‘Wild Man’ competition where a series of challenges needed to be met. One of these was to create their own shelter for the night.

At the conclusion of the Wild Man challenge, teams were taken back to base by helicopter before moving to Queenstown for hot showers, a huge meal and a comfortable bed. The boys who opted for this adventure certainly grew as a result of their experiences. A certain feral dimension found its place for a few welcome days, as the team stripped away those layers of modern life and got back to the basics of life.

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HKIS – Queenstown Adrenaline Tour.

This group from HKIS embraced many of the adrenaline–inducing activities in Queenstown. The Ledge Swing, Bungy and Canyon Swing all featured here, as well as Heli-hiking in sublime conditions just out of Queenstown. Throw in the Shotover Jet and an overnight experience in Milford Sound and it really is hard to get any better than this! Optional activities included Horse Trekking and Paintball in beautifully sunny conditions.

This group did an outstanding job of planting a native tree garden at the Kiwi Birdlife Park, to the delight of the head wildlife keeper. There were some spirited performances when students were given the opportunity to learn the Poi and the Haka at Queenstown’s Skyline centre.

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HKIS – Caves, Coves and Culture.

Taking on the longest ever LBK hike the day after a 10-hour flight is not for everyone. However, this group was ready for it and in Trojan fashion, they set about walking the 21km hike on just their second day in the country. This event certainly set the scene for the rest of the adventure. The group was positive, motivated and unstoppable – just like their teachers. For the first few days, HKIS was based in the Coromandel – Hot Water Beach geothermal activity, Bone Carving in Whitianga, Sea Kayaking at Cathedral Cove, Paintball and Horse Trekking were done in this region.

Students met Arthur Hinds, who has done a massive amount of work for the Coromandel Brown Kiwi and HKIS made another significant contribution to the Whenuakite Kiwi Care group. Meeting the World Junior Surf Champ, Ella Williams, in Whangamata was a highlight for many (boys particularly) but the icing on the cake was that she was there to give the students surf lessons! They immersed themselves in Maori Culture during their stay at Papa o te Aroha marae in Tokoroa – where they met students their own age and experienced a memorable kapa haka performance. An epic 5 hour caving adventure followed before HKIS headed North to catch their flight from Auckland.

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Round Square Schools – Deep South Eco-Adventure.

Fern Hill School, Toronto – The Athenian School, San Francisco, St Andrew’s School, Florida.

From vastly different parts of the North Americas, these three schools share the values of the Round Square movement: ‘IDEALS’ of Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service.

With these principles in mind, the newly formed group tackled some of the more remote and picturesque parts of the deep South, including Stewart Island. The first stop in Dunedin involved a visit to Nature’s Wonders at Taiaroa Head to learn about the New Zealand Fur Seal and the Yellow Eyed Penguin – riding on the Argo semi-amphibious vehicle was a real buzz. Moving down to the Catlins region offered the chance to contribute by planting further native trees next to the Curio Bay Walkway – a native forest, which is located right next to its 170 million year old predecessor, the Curio Bay Petrified Forest. The group camped in Waikawa Bay, which provided the first real opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. The team had a hearty meal in the Waikawa Community Hall, generously prepared by members of the Catlins community developmental and environmental trust.

Making connections was an important ideal of this trip, and one of the most significant human connections was made during the cultural exchange in Bluff. Te Rau Aroha Marae hosted our large group of 54 and activities such as weaving and the traditional game of ‘Ki o Rahi’ were offered to the students. Members of the local school put on an exceptional Kapahaka performance, followed by dinner, which was also shared with the performers.  The evening was one of laughter, games and rich social interaction. The visitors learned the haka and played games with these Kiwi kids of the same age, which will no doubt remain an enduring memory for all.

Further connections were made with the environment on Stewart Island, where involvement with the local community environmental group, SIRCET, was a key feature of our time on the island. Everybody got involved with clearing weeds and then planting native trees to restore and help to regenerate a small bay near the township of Oban. It was a solid effort, which made a real contribution to the ongoing work of the small and industrious group of volunteers on Stewart Island.  Other activities on Stewart Island included visiting the naturally beautiful Ulva Island by water taxi, completing nature walks, visiting the museum and also seeing a hilarious locally made film at the island’s movie theatre.

On to Doubtful Sound, one of New Zealand’s significant fiords in Fiordland National Park, for an overnight journey and exploration of this magical place. Kayaking and swimming allowed the group to get even closer to the natural environment.

The journey finished in Queenstown, where all had the opportunity to Mountain Bike, Horse Trek or Paintball. There was also the Amazing Race and Master Chef competitions which brought in a whole new level of engagement and excitement. I’m sure many of the kids will be keeping their outstanding cooking skills under wraps when they return home, so they don’t end up with a new job!

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United World College of South East Asia – Dover Campus – North Island.

Off the plane, on to a sailing boat on Auckland Harbour and then straight to the home of New Zealand’s extensive limestone caving network – Waitomo.  To kick start our adventure the next day, students squeezed into wetsuits and then plunged into the cold waters of Waitomo! A perfect challenge to stimulate the senses. Glow worms, dark and curious places, rubber tyres and chocolate fish were all part of the Black Water Rafting experience. On to the Huka Jet Boat – a New Zealand invention, for the thrill of a blast on the Waikato River and then a soak in natural hot pools to end the day, complete with hydro-slides. Students checked out the Volcanic Centre to boost their knowledge of New Zealand’s geo-thermal activity before heading up to Rotorua. Hitting the Luge is a fun way to see Rotorua, as well as visiting the Agrodome farm and Agroventures adrenaline activities. On a glorious sunny day, the whole group launched themselves into the Ogo for a tumble down the hill inside the giant plastic orb. Why wouldn’t you?! Visiting Te Puia gave students a valuable insight into Maori culture, which they followed up with one of the real highlights of the whole trip – the cultural exchange at Papa o te Aroha marae.

Local students performed an impressive haka powhiri, as the manuhiri (visitors) were warmly welcomed on to the marae. The interaction between all of the students was priceless and fun to see. A new experience for many was the hangi – food cooked in the ground. This was eagerly demolished by the group that had now grown to around 100 people! All sleeping under the same roof in the same room is yet another unique and rare experience, which seems to have the effect of bringing the group closer together as a team.

After farewells in the morning, a fun visit to Hobbiton was enjoyed on the way to the very top of the Coromandel Peninsula. A beautiful, serene and isolated part of New Zealand which rewards people for the effort made to get there. Everyone was able to experience the special light in this region, which is seen in the late afternoon, and the water was even warm enough to have a quick dip after a big day of hiking. Both groups managed the long walk extremely well, showing unity and a good level of fitness.

Moving down to the other side of the peninsula the group took part in Horse Trekking, Paintball and also Bone Carving. We arranged to visit Arthur Hinds’ farm to learn about the environmental work that is being carried out by Whenuakite Kiwi Care. Students were able to feed the local eels and were given a guided tour of a working New Zealand farm.
A donation was made to help with ongoing work.

A small group of keen students decided to make the early start to Hot Water Beach attempting to dig a personal spa pool. The sea had been particularly stormy over the past few days, which meant that it was still high at low tide, but the group was still able to experience the marvel that is hot water rising from the ground and mixing with cool sea-water. The golden sunrise was certainly worth the early start.

Our last adventure before boarding the plane was at Tree Adventures, where the students made like monkeys and took on some impressive tree climbing – complete with harnesses and special cows-tails and carabiners to keep them safe at height.

With full bellies from a meal at Sky City, our intrepid travellers from UWC flew home to Singapore.

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United World College of South East Asia – East Campus – South Island.

This group was able to see a cracker of a Super XV game between the Highlanders (New Zealand) and the Bulls (South Africa), in which the Highlanders secured a victory in a thrilling match. One of the boys in the group caught the match rugby ball, which was kicked into touch on our side of the field – top effort!

The journey started in Queenstown, with a visit to historic Arrowtown to pan for gold. To prime the students for the Ledge Swing a visit to AJ Hackett’s ‘Secrets of Bungy’ tour was next, followed by some speedy luging at Queenstown’s Skyline complex. Most of the group found extraordinary courage to take on the Ledge Swing, which is an ideal way to work up an appetite for an impressive buffet dinner. The next day was action-packed, with an adrenaline-inducing rock climbing experience, followed by Horse Trekking, Mountain Biking and Paintball, which gave everyone a chance to see more of this adventure paradise.

Helihiking is an exciting way to see more of this stunning region, and students got themselves organised the next day to walk in the wilderness. Camping and campfires followed the heli-hiking challenge in this vast and beautifully rugged part of the country.

Milford Sound is the perfect place to unwind and breathe in the clean mountain air, as well as the perfect place to throw yourself off the boat into glacier-fed waters! A refreshing dip in 11° water, anyone?

UWC East then headed East to Dunedin – a well-regarded University town and a place with a strong Scottish flavour. Dunedin’s new sports stadium was the location for the Super XV match between the Highlanders and Bulls. Before flying out of Dunedin, the group ran up the world’s steepest street and made the most of their Cadbury chocolate factory tour.

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Renaissance College Hong Kong – Epic South Island Adventure.

Queenstown to Milford Sound to Christchurch to Kaikoura to Hanmer.

RCHK brought a great team of adventurers to the South Island for action, cultural exchange and service. With great synergy and energy, these enthusiastic campaigners launched themselves into every activity. From rock climbing to camping in the rain, to the terrifying Ledge Swing to singing at full volume in the candle lit marae – these guys were awesome!

Managing to dodge some unsettled weather conditions for the most part, the sea was still relatively challenging during the dolphin encounter. Some students came off the boat a little green but otherwise excited about their experiences with around 300 dolphins.

Once again, RCHK made a significant contribution to Trees for Travellers and the planting work that is happening on the Kaikoura Peninsula. Your donation and also your physical work is greatly appreciated.

The talented groups produced some unbelievably good meals during the Master Chef challenge, so I hope that these students will continue to share some of their skills with their families after they return home.

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So in keeping with the idea of keeping it real and making meaningful connections, here are a few highlights from early 2014.

Making your own bivouac to sleep the night in the outdoors – hiking across the top of the Coromandel Peninsula – singing by candle light at a simple traditional marae – visiting the wonder that is Stewart Island and contributing by way of service to this unique community – star gazing in remote locations – connecting with students of the same age at different cultural exchanges and staying overnight on a marae – eating a hangi – the LBK Master Chef Challenge – feeling the soft sand beneath your feet at one of New Zealand’s pristine beaches – leaping from a boat into the waters of the unique and wild fiords at Milford and Doubtful Sounds… and a range of other experiences and personal memories that have been formed from your time here in New Zealand.

Thank you for choosing Little Brown Kiwi.
Keep it real!
– The team at Little Brown Kiwi