Duke of Edinburgh Experience

With thanks to student reporters, Brendon Ludlam and Tessa Meyer

The Final Challenge

P1090576.JPGHere begins the final chapter of our Duke of Edinburgh journey. After three years of preparation, planning, learning and growing together as a tight knit group, we faced our biggest challenge yet; our Gold qualifying expedition. Just before we began our final year at school, we set off from Auckland Airport; destination Marlborough Sounds. What lay ahead was four days of hard work, good laughs, and unfortunately terrible weather.

After three rocky hours on the Inter-islander Ferry, we arrived in Picton, no sooner had we arrived then it was time to swiftly depart towards our first campsite. We kayaked across the Queen Charlotte Channel and further inland until we beached at Davies Bay. The following day was our longest and greatest test of our strength, character and resilience. It was the furthest distance we’d ever paddled in one day in what were the worst conditions we’d experienced, head on winds and choppy seas. The group were very glad to finally set our eyes on our campsite in Ruakaka Bay, a grand 12km away from our starting point that morning.

One of the greatest aspects of the ‘Duke of Ed,’ from which our fondest memories have come, has been from experiencing camp-life as a very close group of friends that we have grown to become. A typical night at a campsite includes the great race to set up tents first, followed by hours of communal fry ups with the motto being; ‘sharing is caring’. We had a bit of camp-site-cricket, massage trains for our sore shoulders and campfire songs sung under the stars until early morning.

Duke of Edinburgh has taught us a lot of lessons that we value; it has put us out of our comfort zones, and has taught us how to dig in when the going gets tough such as paddling for hours whilst seeming to go nowhere. It has taught us that there are different types of leadership and that everyone is a leader within themselves. It has also helped us to become more independent and confident people. Looking back now; the friendships we’ve made, the memories we’ve created and the lessons we’ve learnt have made it an experience that we would recommend a thousand times over.