For over 40 years, the College has run ‘Field Centre’ in the Tongariro National Park, for the 270 or so students in Year 10, giving them a unique opportunity to gain independence and explore personal strengths in an exciting, spectacular and challenging environment. And it is challenging! It challenges the physical being and it challenges the spirit. It is also tiring! There is no question that it is hard work to tramp with a pack on your back and sometimes the students are required to dig deep to find those reserves of energy. But above all it is exhilarating and many discover hidden strengths and a resilience they never knew they had. Little wonder that our graduating students recall Field Centre amongst the most memorable experiences of their time at College.
Tongariro is unpredictable with no two years in a row ever the same. The mountain environment can be benign one moment and harsh the next and with this in mind, safety on the mountain is about being well prepared. Our students come away from this experience with a heightened sense of appreciation for both the great outdoors, and the logistical work it took to get them there and back safely.
Each student contributes to camping and cooking teams and takes part in communal living in a lodge group of approximately twenty students, whilst under the supervision of experienced staff. The National Park provides an exciting, spectacular and challenging environment for a programme which includes a three day tramp on and around the mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu; camping and cooking out in the open; white water rafting; mountain biking; an expedition to the summit of Mount Ruapehu and exploration of a hidden river valley.
In an environment where both the senses and physical being are challenged, students discover much about themselves, their friends and the many staff who accompany them. Through shared experience, many new friendships and lasting bonds are formed that last well beyond their College years.