Mr Mills, Mrs Martin, Matua Frank and the Senior History class left Tikipunga High School on Wednesday 20th March for their Tongariro Crossing Adventure.
On day one we started with a large cooked breakfast. The weather was forecast for showers in the afternoon so we were very happy to start off with clear skies. Ngauruhoe was clear as we hit the aptly named “Devil’s staircase”. A faster group led by Mrs Martin, went on ahead while other students persevered up the steep slopes. We all got up onto South Crater.
The Red Crater and the lakes had clear skies and were suitably impressive. After a slow descent down the scree slope we continued our walk. Despite being a relatively quiet week day, there was a constant stream of walkers crossing the track. Our lodge had arranged for someone to shuttle our vans to the end of the track (thank goodness!).
On day two Whaea Rina had arranged for us to visit the Grand Chateau. After teaching the students appropriate words to use to describe the chandeliers, the Ngauruhoe Room and its window and billiards table, we met with the GM. He spoke engagingly to our students about the opportunities available in the tourism sector, and his experiences. I believe he was pretty close to handing Rangi and Andee employment contracts!
We then visited the Tongariro Visitors Centre, which had an excellent hands-on 3D model of the region. Students collected resources for their research, before we met with a Tuwharetoa Kaumatua. He spoke about the history and issues in the local area, and Iwi perspective on issues facing the Crossing.
We then headed back to the Ketetahi track end to finish surveys of track walkers and their experiences. We arrived back home safely by 10.00pm on Friday night.
Students grew dramatically during this experience. The scale of the landscape in this World Heritage Site is awe inspiring, and to see people from all around the world, here to walk this track, was eye-opening for them. The students all participated exceptionally well and were supportive of each other and their efforts.