Duke Of Edinburgh Expedition - Motatapu Track (March 2013)
It was March already and there was a hint of dust gathering on neglected tramping boots. What better excuse for getting out into the hills with the year 11/12 boys working towards their Silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award.
We left Dunedin in the dark on the morning of Friday 25th March, taking advantage of an empty (free) bus going up to the Matukituki Valley to collect a class of year 10 boys from camp. A slight diversion from its usual route at Glendhu Bay saw us disembark around midday at the start of the Motatapu Track. A little re-organisation of gear (including the remarkably rare sight of one group trying to rid themselves of excess chocolates and biscuits by donating them to some foreign campervanners nearby) and we were ready to go.
Day 1 was expected to be the easiest day with just 7km to cover. However, after 3 hours of hot sun, heavy packs, on at times steep and challenging terrain, we were very glad to arrive at the well-positioned Fern Burn Hut. It wasn’t quite enough exertion for a few of the lads who decided to knock off the hill up behind the hut just because it was there! The modern 12-bunk huts were always going to be a cosy fit for our group of 13, so we had two tents with us and several boys had sleeping mats as well in case sharing with other groups was necessary. A German bloke arrived not long after we had taken over the hut and didn’t take too much time over his decision to walk another 4-5 hours to the next hut rather than stay with us. A Dutch girl arrived next and we could tell by her face that she wasn’t in a very happy space when she realised who her hut companions were. Fortunately she quickly accepted the inevitability of it all as we made space for her and became quite friendly by the end of the evening. The cookers were fired up and each group concocted a filling meal to round off the day.
The distance to travel on day 2 was a mere 6km, although rated as “more arduous” than day 1 on the route guide. We made a leisurely start, up at 8am and away walking by 10am. Navigational skills were practiced en-route up to the highest point on the track, Jack Hall’s Saddle at 1275m above sea level. The going was indeed tougher, with a steep climb followed by an even steeper downhill to give the thighs and knees a good workout. It took us over 6 hours to reach our destination of the Highland Creek Hut. Once again this wasn’t quite enough for a number of boys who decided to investigate the summit of another nearby hill, but possibly just to avoid the evening cooking duties? We didn’t have to share our accommodation with anyone else that night; the German guy was a day ahead and the Dutch girl had returned to Wanaka (her original plan - nothing to do with us!).
A couple of significant hill climbs were on the agenda for Day 3. Leaving the hut (about 800m above sea level) we climbed to over 1200m, dropped down to 800m again (a fantastic spot for lunch in a small patch of beech forest by a stream) then up and over another 1200m saddle before reaching Roses Hut at about 850m. The total distance covered was only 11km but it took us over 7 hours. We got some great views down into the Motatapu Valley and even spotted a couple of rare NZ falcons circling overhead. To our disappointment we had the hut to ourselves again that night. The German guy had warned a couple of other trampers of our impending arrival and so they decided to walk a few more hours and set up camp in their tent rather than stay with us. We had been expecting a visit by the local landowner, Shania Twain, to entertain us with a bit of a sing-a-long that evening. Obviously she didn’t realise it was National Neighbours Weekend or possibly her guitar was in getting restrung.
Day 4 dawned drizzly and cool as forecast. We were up in the pitch dark preparing breakfast just after 6am. One group (3 boys) were continuing to work their way through their 1kg box of weetbix while another were manfully ploughing their way through a 1.5kg bag of rolled oats. There wasn’t going to be a shortage of food if we’d been stranded for an extra day or two! The drizzle had stopped by the time we got on the track at 7:45am, but returned with thick mist as we neared our highpoint for the day, Roses Saddle at 1270m. This added an extra challenge to the navigation as route markers became more difficult to spot in the fog. We dropped out of the mist again as we descended to the Arrow river on the other side and followed this to Macetown arriving in good time for lunch at noon. We were ahead of schedule so had time to check out the mining relics and restored cottages at Macetown before setting out on the final 15km 4WD road out to Arrowtown. The sun came out again in the afternoon making the 22 crossings of the Arrow river quite enjoyable and even tempting some of the boys in for a dip. Again we made good time and reached Arrowtown at 4:30pm. Although we didn’t have the time, I suspect there wouldn’t have been any takers for extra hill-climbing expeditions after this day’s exertions! Mr Trewern was able to take a break from watching the cricket in a local hostelry and deliver us the van, which just left a long drive with brief dinner stop in Alexandra before reaching school at 9:30pm.
Even though this was a challenging expedition, once again the enthusiasm of the boys made this an excellent and enjoyable trip. Thanks also to Ms Bedford for her assistance and culinary prowess. As the boots dry out, thoughts turn to the next mission; watch this space . . .
Photos of the trip can be found in Gallery
The 2012 Junior Prize-list can be found at: Junior Prize List
The 2012 Senior Prize-list can be found at: Senior Prize list
A list of students who achieved an Endorsed Merit or Excellence pass in the 2012 NCEA examinations can be found at: Endorsements
Our 2012 scholarship students have achieved 13 'Outstanding' or 'Scholarships' awards in the NCEA examinations. These are all well deserved and acknowledge the students commitment to their work and their focus on successful outcomes. Some part of their success can also be attributed to their teachers who helped coach and mentor them. Congratulations then to the following students and our best wishes for their future endeavours:
Eamon Frazer - Statistics and Modelling (Outstanding) and Mathematics with Calculus (Scholarship)
Simon Fitchett - Statistics and Modelling (Scolarship) and Economics (Scholarship)
Nicholas Gelling - Statistics and Modelling (Scholarship)
Jack Lee - Economics (Scholarship)
Callum Sutherland - Economics (Scholarship)
Matthew Sutherland - Statistics and Modelling (Scholarship)
Edward Haslam - Economics (Scholarship)
Nicholas Lorimer - Economics (Scholarship)
Christopher Maunsell - Photography (Scholarship)
Benjamin Hendry - Statistics and Modelling (Scholarship)
Thomas Wardhaugh - Physical Education (Scholarship)
Edward Haslam - Rotary Speech Contest
- Contributed to his getting into (MUNA) Model United Nations Assembly
- Scholarship in Economics and Treasury Challenge
- Job in Treasury
Shaan Kumar – Year 10 clarinet, violin and piano
- NZ Secondary Schools’ Symphony Orchestra in violin
- Entry is by audition
- Over 150 applications and limited to 90 players
- Violin, grade 7. Clarinet doing grade 6. Piano grade 5. Theory grade 7.
- Last time was in 2009 – Juno Pyun with violin
Andrew Trembath – gold at NZ Age Group Swimming championships. Andrew also enjoyed success at the National Surf Life Saving Championships. Results are posted in Sports and Cultural
Lachie McGregor - 2 x silver at NZ Age Group cycling champs
- Track cycling champs Invercargill, 2nd individual pursuit and points race
Jack Waddell and James MacNicol - rowing
James Nind – Placed 4th in U21 national slalom windsurfing
- Eligible to race in this grade for another 7 years
Zac Seales and Marco Taiaroa for successfully auditioning for a place in the 2013-2014 NZ Secondary Schools' Choir. Congratulations to others who also auditioned.
Liam Collard – In-line skating. Member of U16 and U18 national teams.
- Away working with senior men side, currently involved in ice hockey in regional representation, heading towards nationals.
Ben McMahon, Daniel Cleminson and Michael McKay - intermediate (U-16) triathlon team who won the South Island Secondary Schools title in Timaru