The eagerly anticipated 5-day field trip to Queenstown enabled a ‘real-world’ opportunity for students to develop and extend their geographical thinking and collaboration skills. This experience also provided fantastic opportunities for social interaction beyond the classroom.
This year we had a large cohort of around 80 students attend the trip so it was necessary to run two itineraries so that we did not inundate Queenstown as one large group! Needless to say - in the Covid era - we were warmly welcomed by locals and retailers alike. It was great to be able to contribute some much-needed business to the local tourism industry! Things were notably quieter in Queenstown compared to previous years.
The key objective of this trip was to conduct research into tourism development in the Queenstown lakes region and to see if it was sustainable. Students gauged the level of sustainability by considering the three interdependent criteria of economic, social and environmental sustainability. Students practised gathering quantitative data by surveying locals, tourists and using a range of methods to gather this useful information. There were also opportunities to collect qualitative information from various tourism industry stakeholders. Some examples included the Skyline Gondola, Rees Hotel, Gibbston Valley Winery, A J Hackett Bungy, Time tripper – K Jet, Arrowtown and an economic development planner at the Queenstown Lakes District Council. Other types of data collection included traffic counts, environmental quality surveys, land-use transects and collecting photographic evidence.
Students participated in a range of both active and passive excursions whilst in Queenstown. One was Queenstown’s premier Skyline Gondola attraction. The views from the top of the Skyline Gondola did not fail to impress! Students learned about the sustainability efforts of the company, and their future plans for expansion. The students gained a valuable insight into how a tourist business operates and the effect it has on society and the environment. The adrenalin was certainly pumping after the students had completed five luge rides! The sugar high from the Jelly bean factory also played its part!
A Queenstown ‘must do’ is the TSS Earnslaw boat trip out to Walter Peak Station. The highlights of that excursion for many were watching the sheep shearing, sheep dog trial, meeting and greeting a range of farm animals and tucking in to a very generous high-country afternoon tea. The scones are legendary and never fail to impress! On the way back from Walter Peak our very own songstress, Zoe got to sing with the live band entertainment on board the boat!
At the Kawarau AJ Hackett Bungy centre we learned about the history of the adventure tourism industry and how the business was being impacted by Covid 19. Everyone did the zip line ride and then a brave group did the bungy jump.
Fear Factory proved not to be for the faint hearted! Many students and staff lost their voices from screaming!
Students enjoyed Queenstown’s under water cinematic experience – Time tripper! The theatre is situated under Lake Wakatipu and before the screen goes down you can see the eels and ducks diving under water. The audience are taken back in time by a time travel pilot -
“Your time travel pilot will guide you back 90 million years, through the time of the dinosaurs, take you to when New Zealand was formed, fly you deep into the earth when the Southern Alps were created and through the glacier that carved out Lake Wakatipu. Ending in present day Queenstown, you then experience adventure activities you can do – all from the comfort of your rumbling seat!” Time Tripper K jet Queenstown
Of course, this trip was not all guest speakers, work and tourist activities. Many fond memories were made such as the bus sing-alongs, as well as seeing the range of culinary expertise delivered by the students and staff. Some cooking groups knew their way around the kitchen more than others! Quinn certainly showed off his Masterchef prowess every night. Mr Green made a mean carbonara and Mr Deavoll’s curry was highly rated. The ‘grand slam’ table tennis tournament was hotly contested on the last evening. To her disbelief - Ms Lee’s rendition of the song – “Cover me in Sunshine” by the artist Pink was regularly requested.
There were many enjoyable moments for staff and students. None of this could have been done without the extensive support and organization by staff. Huge thanks goes out to Ms Lee, Mrs Brouwer, Mr Gibson, Mr Green, Mrs Whelpton and Mr Deavoll. Also a huge thanks to the wonderful Year 13 Geography cohort who did the school proud and conducted themselves with exemplary behavior.