2020 World Challenge Team – Tongariro Crossing 3 Day Hike

On the annual public holiday of Waitangi Day, 12 of Strathallan’s students and 2 teachers began their traverse of the Tongariro Northern Circuit. These twelve students are part of the 2020 World Challenge Team, heading to Nepal in the July holidays. Considering the alpine territory and length (9 days) at which the students will be tramping in July, the Northern Circuit (3 days) was a perfect training exercise.

On Wednesday afternoon, the students, Mr Laing and Dr Greenley loaded up a minivan and a car and began the journey down to National Park. After a restful afternoon and evening in a youth hostel, the team was rearing to go the next morning. Thankfully, we managed to hit the start of the track before the thousands of other trampers arrived. This allowed the team to begin their trek at a comfortable pace in the early morning condensation. After traversing the painful (and appropriately named), “Devil’s Staircase”, the team carried on making progress along the track, towards the Mangatepopo Saddle, Red Crater and eventually the iconic Emerald Lakes. It is fair to say that the downhill scree slope was the most difficult element of the first half of the day, due to the slippery, loose and unstable characteristics of scree. Funnily enough, the boys went skiing down the scree slope with much enthusiasm, leaving the rest of the team to catch up at the Emerald Lakes where we rested for lunch. After a severely underestimated length of time, the sore-legged team arrived at Oturere hut. A stunning night spent under the stars lead into a new day with new ground to be covered!

As the team woke up to a stunner of a sunrise, they also woke up to a scorcher of a day. By eight, we had eaten, packed up and were ready to go! The walk for that day was expected to be significantly shorter and easier, an estimated three hours compared to the previous day’s six hours. Sadly, the day didn’t turn out to be as easy as expected due to 28 sore legs and 14 sore, sunburnt and tired bodies. Despite the exhausted state of the team, we pushed through the pain. And man, was it worth it. On more than one occasion we had panoramic views displaying the Kaimanawa Ranges, Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe alongside native forest, volcanic rocks and desert. It was definitely worth the hard work. At around three in the afternoon, the team arrived at a manor, yes, a manor. The Waihohonu Hut is hands-down the most impressive hut I (an experienced tramper) have ever stayed in. With the capacity to sleep 30 and house another 20 on the empty floor-space, our team of 14 was rather comfortable. An afternoon spent relaxing, stretching and river swimming crept into our last night of the tramp.

Upon waking up to a windy, foggy morning at 5.30am, the team’s determination to reach Whakapapa Village had never been so strong. A quick and efficient breakfast and pack up routine was executed with precision, allowing the group to hit the tracks 20 minutes earlier than we had hoped for. A steadily fast pace set the team off well into the cloud and wind surrounding the Central Plateau. With minimal stops, the team made quick progress towards the village. The quick progress was heavily assisted by the prospect of coffee, hot food and showers. By 12.45pm the team was rejoicing whilst hobbling into the nearest café for lunch. I’ll tell you what, that first meal of non-dehydrated food was amazing! After indulging ourselves on hot chips and coffees, we headed back to the youth hostel for a quiet night before the journey home.

After 3 days and over 40km of walking, the team was physically and mentally exhausted. We saw some of New Zealand’s best sights, we ate some of New Zealand’s worst dehydrated food and we walked New Zealand’s most famous Great Walk, and man, did we have fun doing it!

– Written by Tegan Allan

Viva Strathallan – a trip to Spain

On the 12th April, 29 students and 3 teachers set off for 30 hours of travel to Madrid, Spain. As soon as we arrived we went to the hotel and then did a walking city tour of the beautiful city, stopping for chocolate con churros. On the second day, we went to the Warner Bros theme park, which definitely fixed our jetlag! On the 15th we visited the Real Madrid F.C Stadium and El Prado museum to admire the beautiful art and massive stadium! We then headed to the Retiro Park and did a bike tour around it. The next day we ventured to the tiny, yet magical, city of Segovia. We learned about the history as we walked from one side of the city to the other, where we climbed to the top of the Alcazar.

The next day we left Madrid and arrived in Valencia after a 2-hour high-speed train ride. We visited a tiger nut farm, drunk horchata and got a lesson on how to make it. We then met our host families and went back to their houses. The next day we had a 3-hour Spanish lesson to develop our skills, and then went to the historical center and cathedral, followed by some free time to explore and shop. The next day we were supposed to visit a Spanish orchard but because of the weather we were redirected to an art and science museum, and then went to an Aquarium for the afternoon. The next day we were supposed to go to the beach, but the weather was still not looking good so instead, we went to an indoor trampoline park, played some laser tag and did indoor beach volleyball. That night we had our last dinner with our host families in Valencia.

The next morning we said our goodbyes and got on a bus for a 6-hour ride to Granada. As soon as we arrived we met our new host families and went back to theirs for dinner. The next day we visited the beautiful cathedral and royal chapel and then we had some free time. On the 23rd – everyone’s favourite day – we headed to a high school! We got to meet our buddies that we had been talking to. We danced with them and then we had some time to just hangout with them and make new friends! Definitely a highlight of the trip. After the school visit, we went to the Arab and Gypsy neighbourhoods and then we learned how to dance flamenco, then watched a flamenco dance performance after a tapas dinner. We ended our stay in Granada the next day by visiting the stunning La Alhambra.

The next day began with a 2-hour bus ride to Cordoba. Once in Cordoba, we had a tour guide show us around the Mosque-Cathedral and then had lunch in a typical Spanish restaurant. After our short stay in Cordoba we hopped on a high-speed train back to Madrid and then had our last dinner in Spain. The next day we had a hip-hop dance lesson in the morning, and then headed to a mall for lunch and some free time before going to the airport. Finally, after a long 25 hours of flying our families welcomed us back home.

– Written by Abbie Webb

World Vision Youth Conference 2019

Recently, some of our student leadership group attended the World Vision Youth Conference, which focused on empowering and encouraging students to be our future leaders for justice and equality.

Millions of young people around the world face injustice and inequality every day of their lives. While many see news of war and disaster almost daily, few feel empowered enough to step up and challenge the status quo. The World Vision Youth Conference focused on changing this by encouraging students to challenge what it means to be a leader and to lead for humanity.

The conference had a number of speaker sessions, collaborative exercises and interactive workshops available to provide students the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills. The speakers at the event inspired our leadership group to act and encourage others to stand up for young people experiencing injustice and inequality and be leaders of global change.

Key speaker Julia Zhu discussed how we as leaders could use our platform for young minds to come together to build our social awareness and learn how our actions can help put a stop to global injustice. Another speaker, Chris Jupp, also shed light on global inequality and how leadership with purpose can make a real difference. Listening to these speakers sparked a passion for justice, and really gave us as students an opportunity to channel our potential for leadership.

A special and sincere moment was experienced between all students when speaker Abe Nouk shared with us a poem he wrote after hearing about the devastating Christchurch shootings. His poem was as follows – “Signs we are flowers to blossom; the sun is shining. As we wake aware some flowers will not blossom by no fault of their own, we will accept the responsibility to water ourselves with compassion and grow in loving unity.” Listening to his heartfelt words inspired me, and other students, to open our hearts and minds to really see the people around us in this world.

The World Vision Youth Conference had a great impact, empowering us as students to advocate for and lead social change in our local and global communities. The influence this conference has left ensures that we use our position as leaders to leave a profound effect on others for years to come.

– Kelda Elborough

9A social science trip

On Thursday 27th of February, 9A went to Mangere Mountain to witness an actual volcano. For the last 6 weeks, we had been focusing on volcanoes and other natural disasters. We arrived at 9:30 in the morning we were met by our guides at the entrance to the mountain. We walked for a short period before coming upon a plastic red box. Our guide got us into groups of four and gave us a sponge with a bottle with vinegar in it and a spoon of baking powder. We had to pour the baking powder into the vinegar which reacted with a splash of white foamy liquid.

Once we had all tried the experiment we went for a brisk walk to a depression in the land. Our guide explained that this was once a storage place for food used by the Maori people that lived on this mountain. We walked back to where we created our first experiment and prepared for our second. We were each given a plastic bottle filled with a brown chunky liquid and placed it through a hole in a plastic sack. Then we opened the lid and watched it slowly wind its way down the sides of the sack.

After the experiment, she explained its significance. “In each of the bottles was a cheap soft drink mixed with glue to make a chunky texture, the carbon dioxide bubbles in the soft drink represent the highly pressured gases inside the lava”, our guide told us.

Soon afterwards we climbed to the highest point on the mountain and circled the rim of the dual craters before walking down into the second crater to inspect some ‘lava bombs’. She showed us the different types of lava bombs and how they formed. We then ventured to Ambury Farm Park where we were each given a helmet as it was time to explore the lava cave underneath one of the fields. The entrance was covered with a hollow grilled piece of steel so you could not access it without a key. Our guide opened it and we descended into the cave, it was a gloomy area illuminated by one stream of light coming through the hole we just climbed through. It was about ten meters wide and 1.5 meters tall. Our guide explained that caves like this were made when lava cools on the outside but the lava remains warm and keeps moving, creating a sort of tunnel. She proved it by showing the igneous rock on the ceiling and walls.

Finally we had a civil defence unit; it would be the last activity we did. We learnt about what would happen if a new volcano erupted in Auckland. We found out about pyroclastic flows and lahars and their devastating effects. Our guide gave us an idea of what happens in an evacuation and what we needed to take should we ever need to be evacuated. At last it was time to leave. We wished our guide well and left.

– By Thomas McCulloch 9A

Our year 9 students recently spent two days at Camp Adair in the Hunua Ranges.

Year 9 Camp was a great experience for all the students and teachers who were involved. We stayed at the camp for two days and did activities such as team building, a trapeze, and a confidence course.

The confidence course is an obstacle course that goes through many different challenges such as: going over and under logs, going over a swing and climbing a wall as a team. The confidence course was divided into two parts, a wet part, which was full of mud and a dry part. Our group did the wet part first and nearly everyone in our team got covered in mud from head to toe.

Another activity that I really enjoyed doing was the teamwork course as we had to work together as a team to overcome challenges. This really helped us become closer as a team, and improved problem-solving skills. My favourite challenge was getting between platforms using two wooden planks (both of which were shorter than the distance between the platforms). We thought of a strategy together and everyone cooperated with each other so we got through the challenges very quickly.

At camp, we also socialised and made new friends with our teammates and with the people in our cabin. We ate at a table together and had a large amount of time to socialise with each other. We made new friendships and strengthened our old ones. The new students integrated with the old students very well.

Overall, year 9 camp was an amazing experience for everyone involved and It was filled with great activities. I, and everyone else involved, would definitely go to year 9 camp again.

by Mitchell Faint, Year 9

World Challenge

Three weeks ago, 19 of us headed off on an experience of a lifetime. We took part in the 2018 World Challenge trip to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We travelled via China where we were in transit for 23 hours so took the opportunity to go to the Great Wall which was such an amazing experience – and we hadn’t even got to our main countries.

From there we started the adventure in Uzbekistan. We arrived in Tashkent and explored a bit and went to Chorzu Bazaar, which was a gorgeous market filled with wonderful smells and sounds – it was truly an all sensory experience. After that was our community phase where we joined the Asraf community, a tiny little paradise filled with plants and animals hidden behind desert mountains with the nicest community of people. There we helped build a small library inside the school and repainted the whole place. It was truly rewarding to be there and very hands-on. We also helped create a well for the villagers, as well as helping with all the food, which was amazing!!

Then we were off to the Silk Route cities. Our first stop was Bukhara where we saw the Arc and Kalon Mosque and minaret. Then to Samarkand, another beautiful city where we spent four amazing days exploring all the sights and we all fell in love.

We then took a 23-hour train ride, which was definitely an experience with all the border security stops, until finally arriving in Kyrgyzstan, the starting point for the trek phase of the expedition. After shopping for food for our tramp and filling four shopping trolleys to the brim, we headed off to the Ala Archa National Park which was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains were amazing. Our hut was up at 3300m and we went for small day walks to a glacier and the summit of one of the peaks (4600m). It was definitely a challenge for all of us but we pushed through and supported each other to achieve it together – a great sense of satisfaction. This was the final phase before we began the long journey home, happy to be seeing our friends and families again but sad to be leaving such an amazing place.

Our experiences over the past three weeks have left lasting impressions on us, changing us for better people, who have a wider understanding of others, other cultures and ourselves. It was a truly amazing, life-changing trip, which we would highly recommend to anyone toying with the idea of travel!

Art and Photography students go to Melbourne

On the 30th of June, the art and photography students departed from Auckland to Melbourne, on a trip we had all been waiting excitedly for all year. After arriving at Melbourne airport, we then checked into our hotel, ‘Best Western’, before we went out for lunch. Our first gallery to visit was the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, a national museum of film, video-games, digital culture and art. Here we were allowed to explore and see the different processes involved in film, as well as admire the architecture of the building. Afterwards, we went down the streets of Melbourne, visiting a streetwear shop called ‘Culture King’ that led to a roadside filled with graffiti art, including spray paint designs. After appreciating the pieces painted over the walls, as well as taking our photos, we rode a tram to Docklands to see the Firelight festival. For many of us, this was our first time riding a tram, the adventure to come excited me, even when we almost missed the tram on the way back from the festival. The celebration included food trucks, numerous musicians performing through the night and was located at the harbour giving us an opportunity to take in the beauty of Melbourne.

The next day, we visited the grand Melbourne Museum. The entrance held water fountains and various other beautiful pieces of modern architecture, providing an ethereal view and already making the museum intriguing, yet our journey had just begun. The museum included exhibitions unlike anything we’d ever seen, such as ‘The Mind’, an exhibit which displayed how your mind and other factors in your body work. One exhibit that I found particularly interesting was the one which displayed creative content from young artists, such as films, app designs and labels for their companies. After that we went on a walk to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, lucky enough to have a guided tour. The photography shown was fascinating, especially as the photographs each held their own story which was displayed in the exhibition in their own unique ways. A long day of walking and visiting the galleries was now over and we decided to take a break in our hotel rooms before we set out once again, this time onto a Yarra River Dinner Cruise. The view on the boat was breathtaking and we enjoyed the company of each other over dinner.

We visited another gallery on the third day, this time the National Gallery of Victoria where we were lucky enough to see the ‘MoMA’ exhibition of modern and contemporary art, including artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Umberto Boccioni. After viewing the artwork in the exhibition, we were transported to the Docklands Shopping Mall where we split up and explored what seemed to be an endless mall. When we re-grouped, we went on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. I was anxious for this as I have a deadly fear of heights, but the view we saw above was so worth it. Dinner came and went and we were fortunate enough to visit CAVES, an artist-run gallery space afterwards. This was an interesting experience because previously we had seen large galleries which were state-owned however, this gallery was owned by two artists rather than provided for, making our visit here very inspiring and educational. We had hot chocolate and coffee afterwards while reflecting on the places we had been that day.

Then came our last day. We spent it walking around the city, before splitting off into smaller groups to explore the shops and what Melbourne had to offer. We re-grouped at 2pm, most of our arms holding shopping bags, to be taken back to the airport after checking out of the hotel. We were all so appreciative for the opportunity we had to visit Melbourne and are especially grateful to our teachers Mrs Palmer and Mrs Manuel who had taken time out of their holiday to give us this once in a lifetime opportunity. Until next time Melbourne!

IGCSE Economics class

Our IGCSE Economics class spent a very interesting few hours at Villa Maria this week. Led by a very informative guide, we learned about the lengths the company have gone to to be eco-friendly (their bottles, produced by a dedicated company a mere five kilometers from the plant, are made completely of recycled glass) and how the Villa’s wine fermentation tanks’ cooling technology are designed to conserve energy by using generated heat on other systems in the plant. We also learned that Villa Maria led New Zealand in the mass adoption of the ‘twist-style’ cap, as opposed to the ancient cork that often failed to properly seal the bottles. Next, we traveled through to the bottling area, where we were amazed by the massive machines used to bottle, label, seal and analyse the wine bottles. Particularly interesting was the information we gained about the company’s acquisition of other New Zealand wineries, and how they source some of their premium wine grapes from vineyards nationwide. In addition to this we saw how they approach their multinational capabilities – such as sales in China, the UK, Australia and the US. This was particularly pertinent to our current topic in Economics where we have been learning about Multinationals and their effects on the economies of their host countries. All in all a very enjoyable and productive field trip!

NZTSA National Secondary School Team Sailing Regatta

Waiuku arrived fully fledged on Saturday, attending briefing in our yacht club hoodies after sussing out the local playgrounds. We settled in after briefing for an early night, getting ready for the weeks’ worth of sailing ahead of us. We were up with the sparrows on Sunday, getting out on the water at 9:45 and full of nerves. By 10:30 we had started our 13 races of the day, sailing in good wind against some strong teams. We snuck in a win before returning to the Ocean Rogue, our changeover barge, full of teens!

By Monday we were still feeling strong – unfortunately, the wind had other intentions – it was waning. After hanging around for a few hours on shore, we were sent out to some breeze, allowing us to race our races, with some stiff competition. The wind abandoned us halfway through the second race, leaving us becalmed, finishing the race with only 15 seconds to the finish.

Regardless of the wind’s intentions, we were sent out on the water at 9:15 on Tuesday. After 6 hours and multiple course changes, the wind came to the game, breaking up our fraternising with the other teams for some … racing! We had a very competitive race against Glendowie but unfortunately we couldn’t push through for the win –  we did learn a lot though!

We had a late start on Wednesday, respecting our ANZAC Soldiers. The stress levels were high that morning as we prepared for the race we had to win. The team pulled through, landing a first, second and sixth! We were pumped for our next race; the wind was smiling down on us – especially when one of the helms fell out pre-start! The start was mayhem, with all but one boat over the line. Unfortunately, the other team had better boat-handling skills and beat us to the win – nevertheless we again learnt a lot. Our last race had less competition, giving us a calm end to the day.  Our team relaxed on the beach after sailing, before heading in for another early night.

On Thursday morning our favourite flag – the AP – hung limp from the top of the flagpole, so we ventured up the hill to the donkey farm. After a relaxed wander down the hill, the team returned to camp for a swim and a water fight in the still tide. After a game of bull rush, we scrubbed up and headed out to dinner – I think it is fair to say that we represented Waiuku proudly! A game of spotlight ended the night on a high for us all.

We woke up sadly on Friday, none of us wanting the week to be over. The wind was stronger today, blowing a fair 15 knots, with some strange things called waves joining the party as well. Our first race was an important one, so stakes were high. After a broken boat and a quick change, we were at the start and rearing to go. We sailed hard and took out the top 3 places! We jumped onto our hometown boat, the Jane Gifford, the flat-bottomed scow that frequented our home water for many years. After hiding from the wind, we were up again, with tough competition and unfortunately no wind. We sailed hard in our next two races, taking the wind in the first, and racing hard through the second one. And that was it! Our week was over!

We headed back to shore, to derig the boats for one last time before scrubbing up for prizegiving. In our number ones we raced into the warehouse to pick up the necessities before heading into dinner. We all turned out well, dressed up in our formals instead of sailing gear for once! After dinner we had a final game of spotlight before heading in for one last night.

We farewelled all our new friends, packed up camp, and drove our tired, sore, salty and smiling selves home. Overall, we placed 31 out of 32 teams, giving us the win we wanted. We learned so much in one week, and over the 5 months we have been sailing in these boats, we have grown as sailors and as people, and we owe a massive thankyou to the Waiuku Yacht Club Committee for getting us on the water, the Waiuku Rotary Club, for their support financially, getting us the boats and a chance, and the Counties Manukau Sport Fishing Club for supporting us in getting to the regatta. Also, a huge shout out to everyone that donated towards our new sails, and our families for cheering us on!


Written by – Zoe Allan

Auckland Cup Sailing Regionals

Day 1

We had beautiful weather for the first day of the regatta – unfortunately the wind didn’t follow suit! Racing started just after 10:00am and we watched the first few, blown away by the skills exhibited by the teams! Soon enough the 420s headed our way and we jumped in, starting off our leg of racing. We had some stellar starts, even taking out a win! It was fascinating for us watching the play on the water and hearing the calls being made within the team on and off the water. A few red protest flags were flown in our direction, showing the level of competition.

We came off the boats and leapt into the flat water – as did many others. Swimming between the boats, we lapped up the sunshine before our final race and retiring back to shore. Team debrief was held at Movenpick – a bit of a change for us gumboot-wearing folk!

Day 2

Quite a different story weather-wise – it was cloudy and threatening, with a strong breeze running through when we arrived. Aware of the declining situation in the clouds, racing started early, getting on the water close to 9:00am. Our race set came around and we tentatively stepped into the bucking boats between waves –  something we don’t get in our safe-haven at Waiuku! The first race was completed well, the second race was postponed – giving our team the chance to practice some capsizes! We had a good blatt whilst waiting for the race, screaming around the bigger boats out towards Rangitoto. We managed to get in two more races before it all turned to custard, one of our boats colliding with a rib, whilst another pulled off a tricky capsize on the fringe of the course. Everyone was in hysterics, and the shivering Waiuku team, after basking in their faux pas, headed into shore as our round robin was called off.

It was a great regatta, teaching us a lot and giving us a greater idea of team sailing. We are now practicing hard in the build-up for nationals – so watch this space!

-Written by Zoe Allan