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Photo by Sue Roberts-Blyth

Year 12 Geography Trip to Aoraki Mt Cook

Sue Roberts-Blyth —

Year 12 Geography took an adventurous trip to Aoraki Mt Cook for three days to study glaciation, zonation and human impact on the environment.

The intrepid travelers took the Waitaki Valley route via Omarama on Wednesday August 5th, directly to the DOC information centre at Aoraki Mt Cook Village. Our ranger Ray talked to us about how glaciers form, retreat and advance, and their role in acquiring, transporting and depositing sediment.

We walked up the Hooker Valley on a glorious afternoon, learning about the history of the area, and observing the land features. The area had a number of tourists, all of them from within NZ, in stark contrast to pre-Covid days in which 70% of tourists to the area were from overseas.

We headed back to our campsite at Glentanner, and celebrated Blythe’s 17th birthday with cake, and a dinner planned and cooked by Alyssa and Blythe herself. An intense game of spotlight followed, during which a number of students got a first-hand experience of the prickliness of the native matagouri bushes that cluster around the campsite.

Adi and Ellen served up bacon and eggs on Thursday morning, after which we headed to the Hermitage to watch a 3D movie showcasing Māori legends around the creation of the earth and Aoraki, and some heart stopping footage of ice climbing.

Following this we climbed 1750 steps up 300 metres on the Red Tarns Track, taking soil, wind, altitude, temperature and vegetation measurements along the way. Our ranger got called away to a helicopter rescue mission, so we completed the walk without him. The Red Tarns was Erika’s favourite part of the trip. Shimmah took soil samples to measure with a spectrometer and Campbell spent considerable time throwing as many rocks as possible into the river.

Next we had a presentation on human impact in the high country, and had a timely discussion on the issues surrounding tahr and trophy hunting. Despite a big day out, there was still a mission to the lakefront back at Glentanner, and a very intense cheese toastie competition (thank you Jack).

We managed to run our weekly quiz on Thursday evening – Liam, John and Ben winning once again – and headed to bed early in preparation for an early morning wake up. We had been given a cheap Covid-19 deal on a glacier flight, but unfortunately the weather on Friday morning turned out to be too windy, so instead we walked to the Tasman Glacier. Archie loved rock hopping down to the lake and Bee and Hannah’s favourite part was the incredible mountain views. We visited the Salmon Farm on the way back to Kavanagh.

We were thankful to have adult support on the trip from Archie’s Dad Ged, Hunter’s Uncle Blair and Jess Blyth. We learnt a lot about glaciers and South Island High Country uses, had a lot of good laughs and managed to eat 15 heads of broccoli between us.