Year 13 Mountain Trip Report
Thank you to Chenuka Rajapakse for compiling this report: "On an early Monday morning, buses were parked on the side of the road awaiting our trip to our destination - Mt. Ruapehu. After travelling for around two hours which included a pitstop at our halfway point at Taihape, we duly arrived at our new neighbourhood for the next five days. The first breath of the mountain air was ecstatic, but my attention was set on the beauty of the mountain with lodges scattered around the place. The lodges were spaced out quite irregularly from the carpark, with some lodges requiring only a few steps to arrive at their entrance, and others required a small hike. Once everything was unpacked names were called for separate groups (little did I know these lads were my roommates for the next 5 days). I was quite lucky myself to get a lodge situated relatively close to the car park.
After dropping our bags off at our lodges, we got our equipment ready for our first activity, which was a leisurely walk around a nearby lake. The weather on this day was not the best, with moderate rain throughout the whole walk. However, I found this to be a positive as it really brought out the real outdoor experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some boys took the chance to take a quick dip in the lake, and some decided to savour the amazing view portrayed by the lake and the mountains in the background. After a muddy walk back to the buses and a bus trip back to the lodges, we found ourselves cooking dinner for our fellow lodge mates. Dinner options served for the four nights included burgers, corned beef, devilled sausages, and spaghetti Bolognese, with some nights also including a nice dessert. We were allowed to visit other lodges anytime before our 9pm lodge meeting. After this meeting, many boys stayed up and let their card games decide their bedtime, while others sent themselves to bed early.
On Tuesday morning, after our breakfast was served by a different group of boys, the lads got ready and made their way down to the carpark for our second-day activity, which included another walk through the bushes close to the ‘Chateau Tongariro Hotel’. Sadly, we were not able to visit the Waiouru Army Base as had been done in previous years due to covid-19 restrictions, but that was fine as we did this memorable walk with our mates instead. We walked through the plains which had bi-polar inclines and staircases until we came upon a grand waterfall that caught everyone’s eye. Some lads decided to take another swim next to the waterfall while others stopped for a good snack. We then carried on with our journey and eventually we arrived back at our drop-off point where our buses awaited. We savoured our last casual walk for the week because we all knew what awaited the following day, the Tongariro Crossing.
On Wednesday, we all once again made our way down to the carpark and were informed which bus to board, as half of the lodges would be doing the Mt. Ruapehu hike. My mates and I boarded the bus bound for the Tongariro Crossing. We were extremely lucky to have a bright and cloudless day with the sun shining on our heads as we hopped out of our buses ready for the next eight hours on our two feet. As we started walking, we were introduced to the beauty of Mount Tongariro. After walking for about two hours, we had our first break where we were able to have a bite of energy before we set off again. After that break, the crossing became a lot more interesting with attributes including rugged terrain, rocky climbs and the well-known, ‘stairway to hell’. This staircase consisted of endless stairs that tested many boys’ fitness levels. After completing the stairway, we were greeted by an amazing view of the path that we had just walked on, letting us know what we had already accomplished. After reaching this point, the crossing became even more perilous and adventurous. We climbed a barely marked pathway to the top of the crossing where we were met with the most spectacular views I have ever seen in my life. These views consisted of the red crater, sulphur pools, and the inclines in the distance. We stopped at some of the lakes where we had our much-needed lunch break. We then continued down the other side of the crossing where the buses were waiting. We regrouped and entered the buses where many boys recapped on their eight-hour journey and their aching legs. A moment I will never forget.
On Thursday, we got into our daily routine of waking up early to get ready for our final full day at the site. However, the activity for today was the summit of Mt. Ruapehu, which will definitely be a challenge for everyone. Those who did not want to pursue this opportunity were sent to Old Coach Road. However, I was looking forward to summiting this mountain as this may be the only opportunity to do so. We were lucky to have no wind at all and the sun shone on our backs the whole time. On our way to the top, we were met face to face with rocky inclines, steep descents, and extraordinary views. You would think that at almost the top of the mountain it would be quite cold, but that was not the case for us with more than half of the lads only wearing a single t-shirt. We even walked past snow while being in the middle of summer. When at the top, many boys recapped on the journey and what they have accomplished which was a ‘one of a kind’ experience.
When I look back on what I accomplished on the Year 13 camp, I think of myself being so lucky to be able to leave school for a week, with my mates by my side, working hard for a whole week and allowing myself to grow both mentality, and as a person."