NZS 3 explore the Marlborough Sounds
After hiking they spent 28 days sea kayaking in Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, covering a total distance of 100 nautical miles. During these four weeks the curriculum was focused in leadership, sea kayaking skills, coastal camping, risk management, Leave No Trace, and environmental studies. There were many highlights from this section including sea cave paddling, local interactions with the people in the area and the sea life.
Finishing their sea kayaking section the students were able to travel independently from instructors for 2 nights and 3 days, affirmation of their sea kayaking and leadership qualities.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
Kayaking into a small town called Havelock, the students meet their sailing instructors and the 38ft keelboats "Chieftain" and "Chinook". The group spent 10 days sailing through Pelorus Sound, Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, with the students excited about having an all male and all female boat.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
The focus of this section was on sailing skills and seamanship. The course covered nautical terminology, sail theory and practice, tides and currents, weather rigging, knots, charts, navigation, and crew over board drills.
Photo: S. Van den Hoek
The group finished their semester feeling very successful in their personal and group accomplishments. When looking back on all three sections they appreciated the different opportunities each skill type offered including leadership roles and personal challenge.
Graduation Day, Well done NZS3!
NZS1 and NZS2 Wrap up their semesters!
This week saw both NZS1 and NZS2 return and graduate from their spring semester here in New Zealand. Exploring a vast area of the South Island these groups got to experience many important skills that contribute to a successful expedition and learning environment. Here is a small look into their expeditions:
The final 26 days of NZS1's semester explored the Ahuriri and Temple catchments of the Southern Alps. After 2 months of travelling on water, the group were ready to stretch their legs hiking in New Zealand's backcountry and exploring a new area for NOLS NZ.
NZS1's route covered over 180km traveling through open river valley's, small pockets of native beech forest, steep tussock slopes and stretches of scree and boulder fields. Three high alpine passes were negotiated contributing to a total elevation gain of over 6000 meters!
During the hiking section the student group focused their learning on the skills needed to travel one last time on an independant expedition, culminating in a 7 day, 7 night expedition travelling independant of instructors.
NZS2's hiking section saw them travel 160km through Nelson Lakes National Park. The group travelled both on and off trail in a variety of terrain including river valleys, mountain passes and alpine ridges, tussocks and scree fields. The first 19 days of the course experienced warm sunny weather, while the remainder of the trip was overcast with some rain and wind - a New Zealand summer can expect all types of weather!
A big achievement of their hiking section was the four major passes they crossed, including an ascent of Rainbow Pass - a difficult 1970m pass above sea level. Another big achievement and highlight of their hiking section was the skills they learnt to travel independently of instructors for a 7 day expedition.
After the hiking section the group finished the last 10 days of their semester expedition returning to the Marlborough Sounds for their sailing section. Sailing from Waikawa in the Queen Charlotte sounds, they retraced their sea kayaking route out into the Cook Strait and finished up in Havelock in the Pelorous Sounds. The students achieved a good level of technical boat handling and sailing skills being able to participate in all roles on board. They also thoroughly enjoyed being back out in the Marlborough Sounds - a great way to finish their expedition!
The final switch for NZS1
NOLS New Zealand Semester NZS 1 - 01/24/2013 has just switched into their final section of their expedition. During their last section, the group sea kayaked in the Marlborough Sounds for 22 days. The Marlborough Sounds is a partially submerged mountain range at the northern end of the South Island.
There was a big focus on this section to learn technical sea kayaking skills, seamanship, risk management, leadership and wilderness first aid. Working hard in these areas the group managed to achieve the skills necessary to travel independently from instructors - giving them a lot of confidence in their own abilities as sea kayakers and as a group.
The Marlborough Sounds provides an excellent classroom for students to learn a lot about NZ natural history and cultural experiences. Visiting the local people of the sounds is always a highlight to their experience, below a student learns the art of shearing a sheep.
The group travelled a total distance of 117 nautical miles and ended their section with a four-day independent student lead expedition (travelling without instructors). Well done NZS 1!
After a quick transition at the NOLS base the students moved out of their boats and into their backpacks. After 46 days they enjoyed the luxuries of a shower, they received some mail from friends and family and enjoyed some fresh fruit and vegetables. They were introduced to their new hiking instructors and continued south the next day to Ruataniwha and Ahuriri conservation parks, where they will finish out their final 26 days of their expedition.
Instructor Hayden introduces how to pack a backpack
NZS-3 switches from Backpacking to Sea Kayaking
Students on NZS-3-02/03/2013 have completed just over 40 days of their semester in New Zealand. After their initial briefing days and a two-day cultural section, they spent 34 days backpacking in the Nelson Lakes region. This was a challenging route because of the distance; overall, the group traveled 240 km through river valleys, forest, alpine tussock grass and boulder fields. Rivers were low so crossings were generally easy. Weather was uncharacteristically sunny, and the one rainy day yielded a spectacular rainbow and general awe.
Typical of New Zealand tramps, the route stitched together long valley walks and steep ascents up and over ridges of the Southern Alps. Below we see students pushing through thick beech forest, then enojoying the wide open spaces of the tops.
The backpacking section ended at a campground near the village of St Arnaud. Branch staff arrived to meet the group and bring mail from home. Students swapped backpacks and hiking boots for paddles and PFDs, then said goodbye to their Backpacking instructors. Oscar and Yuri, both from Mexico, will be their instructors during the Kayak section:
Backpacking in New Zealand
Last week saw the return and graduation of our two Backpacking courses at NOLS New Zealand. With weather on their side they were provided with multiple days of sunshine - a good ingredient for exploring some of New Zealand's unique and diverse backcountry.
One of the main objectives these groups set themselves was to develop solid independent hiking skills. With curriculum featuring leadership, risk management, environmental studies and technical skills these students were set up well for a 5 - 6 night independent student group expedition. This is a big achievement for both groups and is a testament to the skills they mastered and the supportive group environment they created.
Exploring the valleys and mountains between Lakes Hawea and Ohau, NZB 1 travelled 160km of terrain and gained a total of 9500m in elevation. Their route started by negiotiating their way up the Dingle Burn River then traversing the Ahurri and South Temple catchments, where they were able to appreciate the country's classic high land vistas.
NZB 2 crossed New Zealand’s Southern Alps from west to east. They covered 163km including 5000m in elevation gain over 27 days. The first 12 days were spent exploring a tough new route for NOLS in Victoria Forest Park, then on toward Lake Christabel and through to Lewis Pass National Reserve. Traveling from west to east provided this group a with a range of terrain and biodiversity - A classroom with many resources!
Well done NZB 1 and NZB 2!
From one craft to another for NZS1
New Zealand Semester 1 has just spent the last 22 days canoeing on the Clarence River finishing at the Pacific Ocean. They travelled approximately 200km and experienced technical, low water, class two canoeing. From the technical skills that were emphasized early on in the journey they were able to negotiate a range of white water features and hazards by paddling, lining, stage lining and portaging.
Photo: Y. Hernandez
As well as learning technical skills on the water, they had a big curriculum focus on environmental studies and ethics, and leadership skills. All students got to experience being a leader of the day at least twice and have been enjoying the experiential learning that comes with it.
There were a lot of highlights from this section. From stories of moving down the river, building a strong community, the landscape and scenery and also visiting Muzzle station. Helping out Muzzle Station, they completed a half-day service project and got to experience high country station life.
Yesterday saw the team transition from canoeing to sea kayaking. The group met with support staff and new instructors. Wrapping up the canoe section they were excited to move on to a new skill type, but sad to see their canoe instructors leave.
The group moving from one instructor team to the next
NZS 1 will be spending the next 22 days exploring the Marlborough Sounds, where marine life and NZ culture is abundant. We wish them all the best for their next section and we look forward to hearing all about it. Until then...
New Zealand tramping courses underway
Our two New Zealand Backpacking courses have begun their 28 days of “tramping” (kiwi for "hiking"). On their briefing days in town, they bagged up approx 350 kg of food per group, organized their gear and started on the first aid curriculum. They also learned river crossing strategies and started to develop their understanding of how powerful a river can be. We have students practice crossing techniques in a controlled environment before they head out so they are familiar with NZ rivers. Both groups have ten students, all of whom are from the US or Canada. We even have one student from Lander, WY, home of NOLS International Headquarters.
Instructors Tegyn & Andy will be with NZB-1. Their group will be hiking in the Ahuriri Conservation Area in the Mackenzie High Country of the South Island. Fans of Lord of the Rings will regonize the terrain of this spectacular area.
Instructors Christian & Alice will be with NZB-2 starting in the remote bush of Victoria Forest Park and traveling through to Lewis Pass.
Briefing day activities included sorting gear, learning to set up tents, packing the trailer and eating pizza. Students were fortunate to have bright blue skies and warm temperatures at the branch.
Off to the kiwi bush for NZS-3!
Students on NZS-3-01/03/2013, the final semester of the Austral Autumn season, arrived to the branch in Christchurch on Thursday Sunday 3rd of February. After two days of prep at the branch, the group departed for the town of Kaikoura to learn more about the local culture. Next, NZS-3 is off to the Lake Daniels region for Hiking (called "tramping" down under) with their instructors Owain and Hayden (pictured below).
Students began their in-town briefing days with a huge rations-packing effort; they measured, weighed and bagged hundreds of kilos of food that they will eat over the next 70+ days. The students left the branch carrying Ration #1 -- enough pasta, spices, hot cocoa, ramen noodles, scroggin for 9 days. Their next ration period will be delivered to them out in the bush via 4WD vehicle. The second briefing day was focused on equipment. Each student spends time with an instructor and then with the Equipment Manager sorting out what gear they've brought and what they need to rent or buy. This morning NZS-3 loaded the bus and drove north for their cultural section. They will visit a Maori marae (meeting house) in the town of Kaikoura. They will spend time learning about Maori customs and traditions, go on short hike, collect shellfish on the beach and learn some Maori words and phrases.
Cultural: 5-6 February
1- Hiking: 7 February to 11 March
Field switch: 12 March
2- Sea Kayaking: 12 March to 7 April
Field switch: 8 April
3 - Sailing: 9 April to 18 April
In-town: 19 April
Course ends: 20 April
Talbot C., Wendy C., Maddie C., Teddy C.,
Susan F., Tom F., Elsa G., Amy M., Cory M., Sho M.
New Zealand Semesters 1 and 2 are out the door!
NOLS NZ has been open for 2 weeks and we have just had our first two Semester groups through the branch to prepare for their expedition. With two days in town the two groups had time to look at their gear, bag their food and orient themselves to being in the Southern Hemisphere and what they are about to embark on for the next 77 days...
The students then began their expedition in Kaikoura with the local iwi (maori tribe) where both Semester groups got to learn about the Maori culture. This included visiting historic village sites, looking at native plants and their use, collecting shellfish and traditional cooking methods and experiencing staying on a marae (a meeting place). Spending time with the Maori people of Kaikoura helps the students connect to New Zealand, both individually and as a group. Here is a bit more about what the groups are now doing:
NZS 1 01/24/2013
NZS1: J. Blaugher, H. Blorstad, S. Clement, H. Copeland, J. Hall, R. Hoffman, A. Iula, M. Lesner, D. McKenna, S. Rising
New Zealand Semester 1 have just started their canoe section at the confluence of the Clarence and Acheron rivers, there they will travel for 22 days on the Clarence River and finish at the Pacific ocean. The Clarence River provides an excellent classroom for our students with its diverse ecosystems and progression of whitewater. Our instructors are always excited to get on the Clarence River and show our students what an amazing place it is.
NZS 1 Shedule:
Canoe 27 Jan - 19 Feb
Field switch: 19 Feb
Sea Kayak: 19 Feb - 13 Mar
In town switch: 13 & 14 Mar
Hike: 14 Mar - 9 Apr
Course Ends: 10 Apr
NZS 2 01/24/2013
NZS 2: J. Burke, J. Cohen, M, Jackson, M. Langer, J. Mattione, J. Perez, C. Rossignol, J.Townsend, A. de la Garza Garza
New Zealand Semester 2 have just started their sea kayaking section at Cowshed Bay in the Marlborough Sounds. They will spend the next 30 days navigating through both Pelorus and Queen Charlotte Sounds to finish up at Whatamango Bay. Finishing in the Queen Charlotte Sounds is a rare opportunity for NOLS students. Having 30 days, the group has some good opportunities to see the Marlborough Sounds and experience the cultural and marine life that surrounds them.
NZS 2 Shedule:
Sea Kayak 27 Jan - 26 Feb
Field switch: 26 & 27 Feb
Hike: 27 Feb - 29 Mar
Field switch: 29 & 30 Mar
Sail: 30 Mar - 9 Apr
Course Ends: 10 Apr
The final section of NZSF4
NZSF 4 had an empowering final section to their semester. Sea kayaking for 21 days they covered 92 nautical miles exploring the waters of Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds in New Zealand. They believe it could not have been a better way to finish. The weather provided excellent conditions to explore what the sounds has to offer which included an abundance of sea life; dolphins nearly every day, fishing for Kawai, jellyfish, blue penguins and many other sea birds.
Some of the student's highlights included the scenery, marine life, weather, group community, strong connections and mostly the ownership they had over their expedition including being in charge of the route, weather checks and camp activities. Using the skills learnt from their previous sections they were able to plan out the final section of their own expedition.
A Marlborough Sounds classroom Photos: Oscar Manguy
As the students look back on their 77 day expedition they find it hard to say what was the most inspiring or rewarding moment - there was just too many to narrow it down to one. Moments of laughter, times of challenge and strong connections between them and the instructors made for a successful journey and one they will never forget. When asked what they would tell prospective students about NOLS they said "it's what you make of it, it was the most challenging and rewarding experience - welcome the challenge, do it!"
Now graduated NOLS Alumi the students are excited get out and show the world they have to offer!
Well done NZSF4!