Making the most of the great outdoors

09 Jun 2020

Taking advantage of the long weekend, two groups from College headed to the high country to complete the requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award adventurous journey.

With different boys at different levels of participation – from bronze qualifying, silver practice, silver qualifying and gold practice – the trips were designed to meet all needs. Most importantly, the boys had to have a sense of adventure and discovery, perseverance and humour, plenty of food, and a good supply of warm, dry clothes.

“It was freezing at night, below zero, and I soon discovered my sleeping bag was not meant for those conditions,” says Year 12 student Thomas McEwan. “I wore everything I had, pretty much all my clothes apart from my rain jacket, and was still cold.”

His fellow Year 12 student Nant Prachuabmoh agrees. “I went thinking it would be cold, but not that cold, so probably didn’t take enough warm stuff. I learned a valuable lesson.”

The clear, fine days more than made up for the cold nights, however, and the boys appreciated getting off the beaten track and exploring places they had never been before.

Nant and Thomas were in a group with Year 13 students Dominic Edmond and Tim Ward, and Year 12 students Nont Prachuabmoh and Thomas Johnston, accompanied by teacher Tom Hawkins and parent Neil Edmond, tramping the Hawdon–Edwards valleys via Taruahuna Pass and Tarn Col. The other group – Year 11 students Christian Higgins, Jasper Johnson, William Law, Jasper Moss and Rheon Salt, and teachers Graeme Christey and Sam Leary – went up Andrews Stream and over Casey Saddle, then tramped down the Poulter River to the bottom of the Binser Saddle, before going up and over the saddle back to Andrews Stream and out. Both groups made the most of the different terrain in the Arthur’s Pass National Park, traversing river flats and canyons, forests and streams, grassy terraces and bush tracks, and snow-covered alpine passes, appreciating the breathtaking vistas of the Southern Alps, the mountains and rivers straddling the main divide.

Nant and Thomas are full of praise for the teachers who support outdoor education and facilitate such adventures.

“It requires a certain level of dedication. I doubt there are very many teachers in New Zealand who would be willing to give up their Saturdays and weekends to help their students achieve what they want to achieve,” says Nant.

“Dr Hawkins is passionate about tramping and the outdoors,” says Thomas. “He says it builds character. It’s certainly opened my mind to the possibilities – you can go out and have fun and learn new skills in the mountains.”

The trips took place over Queen’s Birthday weekend, from Friday 29 May–Monday 1 June.