Hero photograph
After our adventure on the Tasman Glacier lake.
Photo by Alena Wafer

Year 12 Geography - reaching new heights at Aoraki Mt Cook

Mrs A Wafer —

15 keen Geography students travelled to Aoraki Mt Cook last week for an amazing experience!

For the first time, Year 12 students travelled to Aoraki Mt Cook to complement several aspects of their course.

We have studied the South Island High Country as our large natural environment. Being able to see this alpine environment up close was an opportunity to reinforce learning from the classroom about how glaciation has shaped the environment and humans have impacted the area.

Our first adventure saw us climb up to the Red Tarns, finishing at an altitude of 1080m above sea level!  The students were collecting vegetation data at different points on the way up for their research internal assessment in which we look at vegetation zonation. How does altitude affect vegetation? We will find out in a couple of weeks!

Day two was an absolutely beautiful day for our adventure. The Mt Cook ski planes took the class up in two groups for a glacier landing. The planned Tasman Glacier landing area was unsuitable on the day, so we were given the special treat of flying over the Main Divide to the West Coast! The first plane landed on the Franz Josef Glacier, and the second plane landed on the Fox Glacier. The views from the plane were spectacular, with Mrs Wafer and Mr Lines lucky enough to sit up the front with the pilot.

After meeting up again on landing, we had an excursion up the Hooker Valley, guided by our DOC educator, Ray. He was able to give us the history of the area in terms of climbers, as well as pointing out different aspects of the physical environment.

After a picnic lunch, the second part of our adventure was a boat trip out onto Lake Tasman which was created by the retreat of the Tasman Glacier. This was an absolute highlight with over an hour on the lake taking us up close to 600-year-old glacial icebergs. Although we did not see any calving of the ice at the terminus of the glacier, two large cracking noises certainly reminded us of the power of the ice.

Our last day involved an interesting talk from DOC educator Janine about predator control in DOC areas throughout New Zealand. The students explored why predator control is necessary and considered the devastating effects that possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels and rats have on our native species. The class are now using this information to decide what the best method of predator control will be in the future. The number of rabbits we saw around the village indicated that there is plenty of work to be done!

Our class would like to thank Mr Lines, Mrs Hurst and Mrs Piebenga for coming with us on the trip. Their help was invaluable and we could not have gone away without you all.

This was such an amazing trip that we have already booked our accommodation for 2022!  #georocks