A bad day at Rakiura is still better than a good day at school!

The Year 9 and 10s were having the best time on camp in Rakuria (Stewart Island) this week.

Twenty-two students had to beat the sun up to get to school on Monday morning ready for the adventure of a four day camp to Rakiura (Stewart Island). Four vehicles travelled in convoy to Bluff ready to catch the Stewart Island Ferry. Ākonga were offered sea legs before they experienced a flat looking Foveaux Strait onboard an express catamaran. During the one-hour crossing between Bluff and Stewart Island students kept a lookout for wildlife, especially seabirds. It was great that there were no casualties before we reached Rakiura.

Once settled at the backpackers and community centre hub, campers were divided into four groups who were sent on a mission around Oban. Groups had to visit three locations, The Museum, Visitor Centre and Bathing Beach. While at these locations the students encountered locals and had the chance to chat and video the residents to find out what life is like on the island, what services are offered, and how their wellbeing is met. Locals ranged from Tipi, to the local Sole Charge Constable, Stuart Newton (Yes his name is really Stuart), to Karina at the Museum, and even students at the local school. Every day saw multiple coffee runs, sea swimming at 4.30pm and a reflection time in the evening which was held on the beach when the weather complied.

Day two the campers were divided in half, where the first half visited Ulva Island. Angela from Beaks and Feathers was our Stewart Island local, who gave a knowledgeable guided walk around the impressive primeval podocarp forest of the predator free island. We were fortunate enough to encounter the Stewart Island Weka and Robin, as well as home to a large population of Kōkako. The sky-blue mushroom (Entoloma hochstetteri) grows throughout New Zealand. It is notable for its bright blue colour, which fades with age and is depicted on our $50 note. After a hike to the cemetery, students had to find a grave and either create a fictional story about the person or research their life. Groups really enjoyed this task and even had fun video blogging stories involving "Vogan".

The third day was huge as students were heading on a guided walk to Ackers Point & Lighthouse. This was a 7.5km guided walk by Em, a representative from SIRCET (The Stewart Island / Rakiura Community & Environment Trust). SIRCET is a non-profit organisation which promotes projects that benefit the Stewart Island / Rakiura community and its environment. Their focus is predominantly ecological restoration through control of pests and weeds; Em guided us and we were treated to a hands-on demonstration of traps. The afternoon was filled with chaotic games, from bus driving months of the year to four square. The evening finished off with a camp concert filled with humorous skits and laughter.

Highlights from students include:

Natalie's highlight was being able to swim in the sea every day and her challenge from camp was getting enough sleep in a bunk room.

Ezekiel's highlight was jumping off the jetty into the sea, and the hardest part was walking places every day.

Austin's highlight is just being at Stewart Island and hanging with his friends. His biggest challenge has been the kilometers travelled by foot.

Jack's high point has been exploring the environment and meeting the locals, and the biggest challenge has been the weather.

Elyssa's favorite part was the walks and seeing all the nature, and the biggest challenge was the boat ride.

A huge thank you to our teachers Fiona Wilkinson, Sarah Cairns and Matthew Simpson. Sarah for your countless hours of preparation, delicious menu planning and cooking and keeping us safe. Fiona thank you for your activities and guidance. Thanks to our parent helpers Kerri Nakajima, Nat Harrex and Robyn Lietze for your group leading, kitchen prepping and assistance, and also to the board and Home and School without whose contribution it would not have happened!

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