In February, our Year 8 boys spent an incredible week away at their respective camps in Rotorua, Tongariro and Great Barrier Island. The weather was fantastic, and the boys had an amazing time.
Here is a recount of the days’ activities across each camp:
The cyclone came through Auckland on the day the boys were meant to leave for camp and Great Barrier Island recorded its strongest gust at 175km/h, forcing us to move our departure to the next day. The boys arrived at school super excited, and we departed just after midday on the bus to Sandspit to board the Kawau ferry. The highlight for the day happened mid-way through our two-and-a half-hour trip to Great Barrier. While standing on the front deck, we saw in front of us what we thought were dolphins, then an Orca but as we neared we realised it was a Manta Ray which had a wingspan of 3 to 4 metres. The ferry stopped and it swam right underneath us! Upon arriving at Karaka Bay where Hillary Outdoors is located, we offloaded from the ferry, meet the instructors, found the sleeping quarters and settled in the Orama Camp facilities ready for the week of adventures that lay ahead.
The boys were divided into four groups for the week, and they start the day carrying out chores which is an interesting experience for some, especially cleaning toilets! After the chores were completed, they meet their instructors and were briefed on the days’ activities. Two of the groups headed over to Whangapoua Beach where after a short walk they kitted up in wetsuits, life jackets and helmets for a day of coasteering. This was where the boys had to navigate the coast through rocks and water. The other two groups abseiled, cannoned, kayaked and paddle boarded. At the end of the day, there was free time for the boys, dinner, and another group activity before bed.
Another stunning day in paradise. After breakfast, the boys were again divided into four groups; two groups went coasteering and had great fun venturing around the coast navigating swells and jumping off small cliff faces, while the other two groups who kayaked attempted to paddle two kilometres to BBQ cove. They rafted all their kayaks together into a diamond formation and set off, only to be hindered by strong westerlies. They managed about 500m to the other side of the bay where they spent a few hours. Upon return, they shared great stories of catching snapper, eating kina and oysters and snorkelling through large shoals of fish. Once all groups were back at the main centre, it was off down to the wharf to pop some manus, a few staples and the odd coffin! After dinner, the boys engaged in some more teambuilding activities using only ropes – very challenging indeed!
On Day 4, the boys were prepared for their overnight expedition. One group were assigned to kayak while the other three were walking. The kayaking group packed all their overnight gear into their kayak and headed off to Bradshaw Cove. It was a beautiful day to paddle with a gentle breeze. The boys were in double kayaks and were challanged to work together to get their boats to the destination. This was a little challenging for some at the beginning, but they soon mastered the technique. Bradshaw Cove is a World War 2 lookout post so there were plenty for the boys to see and do.
Two of the groups walked from Karaka Bay over the hill to Oruapure Bay and stopped at a lookout along the way. Once the boys reached Oruapure Bay they went for a swim, made their own dinner and put up their tents. They spent the early evening exploring the local coastline. The last group went over to the East Coast and hiked parts of the Harataonga trail. Once they arrived at their destination which was a beautiful beach, they swam, caught crabs in the rock pool and two Kahawai on hand lines.
All groups enjoyed a great expedition.
After waking up and having breakfast, the overnight camps were packed away and the boys headed back to camp. Once back at camp, the big clean up began. As the boys had been dilligently cleaning and tidying all week, this task was efficiently completed on the last day. Sadly at 1pm, the Kawau Ferry arrived. We all boarded and waved goodbye to the Hillary crew at Great Barrier.
This was an amazing experience for all boys and students.
The morning started with a Mihi whakatau, welcoming us to the Hillary Outdoors, Tongariro. The boys were also welcomed as guests and kaitiaki of the National Park. Each group introduced themselves with their prepared Pepeha. They spent the day in fun-filled activities such as kayaking, group building, caving and flying fox. By the time they finished all activities, it was time for dinner, some group challenges (Memory Skills, Flexibility Challenge and Super Abs) before and bedtime.
The day started with a nip in the air but thankfully the sun came out to greet us. It was enlightening to see the boys get involved and take on the challenges of the day. The focus for the day was not to stay set in our ways and expect different results but rather to take on the challenges and work out different plans to achieve them. Some groups headed off to the ‘Low and High Ropes’ course, with the mid-air press-ups and high swing being the highlight. Other groups went caving where the ‘Corkscrew’ was the focal point. Boys also spent time in the lake which included kayaking, bridge jumping and survival skills in cold water.
The morning started a bit slower for some, with the combination of a cooler temperature, thick mist and the great physical challenges over the past two days made the 7 am wake-up call rather challenging. However, the aroma of fresh pancakes wafting towards the cabins added the extra incentive to be on time. After a hearty breakfast, the boys were once again up for the day’s activities. These included High Ropes, Flying Fox, Waterfall trail and the highly anticipated overnight experience.
After the morning focus session, the boys were again divided into smaller groups, with some heading over to the Resource Centre to be briefed by the Hillary Outdoor staff and to gather their stocks, whilst others went to pack their bags making sure they had their essential gear for the overnight experience.
Most of our groups spent the last night on their overnight experience leaving the camp rather quiet. The boys who remained at Tongariro made the most of the evening getting their bags ready and playing an epic game of “duo-spotlight” with only the call of the local Ruru (Morepork owl) competing with the boys’ laughter.
After breakfast and a quick tidy up, the boys went through a map reading lesson before they headed off. The returning groups came back to base with exciting stories of their experience of their night out in the National Park.
As the dawn broke on a crisp and clear morning over Tui Ridge, Rotorua the boys began to rise from their cabins. After breakfast, they met their instructors and confidently introduced themselves through a Pepeha before heading off to complete their activities for the day.
Groups navigated themselves around the local area, learning about the local Flora and Fauna, how to survive and find their way in the forest and how to find water sources. Other groups took on more physical challenges such as abseiling and high ropes courses.
It was the boys challenging each other that brought out the best in them, as they were always there to lend a helping hand to another when needed.
The air was thick with the expectation of the challenges that lay ahead. Activities today included high ropes, abseiling and canoeing. Boys had shared their stories from the day before and were keen to try out the challenges on offer.
High ropes and abseiling were challenging for all. Confident boys were challenged to help others through the course. Those with less confidence were asked to step outside their comfort zone and reach a height or descend the cliff face. It was great to see all boys taking on these challenges.
On Lake Tarawera, the first task was to unload the canoes and lash them together, then the biggest challenge was to work as a group to navigate on a paddle. Challenges included the physical effort of working under the hot sun and the different ability levels of their teams. The boys were then rewarded with a cooling swim and some rest in the bus on the way back to camp.
After a filling breakfast, the boys were divided into two activity areas on Day 3, Bush and Water. The boys who were on the Bush activities stayed in the local area and worked on their bush skills. This included leadership, navigation, bush skills and movement through difficult terrain. All boys had the chance to use a map and to take part in some challenging leadership tasks, which included improvised shelter making. The highlight for many was moving through the thick bush and up the stream.
The groups who headed off to the lake were treated to another day of bluebird skies. Working in groups, with lashed together canoes, the boys had to navigate to different areas and learn to all paddle in the same direction! Some of the groups found this a real challenge. In the end, they were rewarded with a refreshing swim in the lake before their paddle back to the beach.
On their final day, bags were packed, and maps were readied for the big day ahead.
The boys were challenged to an orienteering exercise with a difference. They were given the opportunity to ‘bomb’ the other groups and take points away from them. Loaded down with packs, the boys moved from point to point while trying to stay undercover and out of sight from the other groups. As the groups moved around the courses, ‘air-strikes’ rained down on the radios and boys ran for cover.
An armistice was called for lunch and the boys had the chance to share stories and ideas for the second half of the exercise. Once the battle was resumed the boys also raced to collect coins hidden around the courses for extra prizes. As the battles drew to a close, the boys were ready for dinner, but not before setting up their bevvies for a night under the stars.
Dinner was cooked in the open and the boys loved their burritos before moving off to their camps sites for a quiet evening under canvas.