The hunt is on for the most adventurous young teenagers in the country – and in August it comes to Otago.
The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand, with support from Youthtown, is calling for year 9 and 10 students nationwide to test themselves in a range of challenging wilderness adventures.
The competition, now in its seventh year, is New Zealand's premier adventure sport event for this age group (mostly 13- and 14-year-olds). Teams of eight, representing their schools, get stuck into a range of fun but testing challenges, including orienteering, kayaking, problem solving, rock climbing and mountainbiking, in an Amazing Race-style competition, equivalent to the Hillary Challenge for senior secondary students. They need no special outdoor experience to enter – just a give-it-a-go attitude.
The competition has two stages: 12 one-day regional heats, and a gruelling five-day final. Only the best teams from each region will be selected to compete in the fiercely competitive final.
A combined Whangarei high school took the ultimate title last year after a gruelling five-day final at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre base on Great Barrier Island.
"Our main aim is to get these kids having fun in the outdoors," says centre events manager Darren Ashmore. "But the event is also designed to encourage those students who might not normally get involved in sports to have a go.
"We want to give students of all abilities a taste of the rewards that come from teamwork, leadership, problem solving, physical activity and the outdoors.
"The students get to use all sorts of physical and mental skills, and get guidance from some of the best instructors in the business. But most of all they get to enjoy throwing themselves into new challenges."
The Otago/Southland/Southern Aoraki regional event, to be held in and around Otago, takes place on August 2 and will decide which team advances to the finals in December. The locations of the four challenges on the day – rock climbing, kayaking, and mountainbiking and orienteering – will be kept secret until the day, to give each team a fair chance.
The regional event will be run in conjunction with local sports and outdoor clubs. "This has the added bonus of introducing the students to the opportunities on their doorsteps," says Darren Ashmore. "In past years, students have used the event as a launch pad to get involved in these clubs and sports, which is awesome."
- The Southland Times