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Beyond Expectations – ITC Famil Trip February 2013

Posted on 26/02/2013 by

Another semester, and another group of ITC students get to experience the fabulous North Island famil trip. The trip never fails to impress our students with the adventure, the beautiful destinations, and the professionalism that the New Zealand tourism industry has to offer. This semester’s trip was no exception.

The first mention of famil got us all excited; we had very high expectations, and right from the start it exceeded those expectations. Our bus driver was a real character and things got a little bit crazy on the bus ride, but with everyone’s levels of excitement rising, who can blame us? Besides who can say no to a good old sing-along?

On arrival at Base Rotorua, our rooms were sorted quickly. The addition of a swimming pool at the backpackers was not wasted on any of us! After settling in, we set off for the Tamaki Maori Village. This was a genuinely culturally enriching experience, and as soon as we arrived we felt engulfed in Maori culture. On the way to the village we elected a male student to play the role of the chief when the powhiri was performed. The ceremony seemed intimidating at first, but finished with the village chief laying down a peace offering. Our elected chief stepped forward to accept the offering.

We then ventured into the village where we were fortunate enough to learn more about Maori culture. A traditional haka was performed in one part of the village, with students joining in on the fun. In another area of the village a group of Maori women performed with poi, and again many of us joined in to try this traditional art. We also witnessed some traditional Maori games.

One aspect of the Maori culture that we were able to truly experience was the hangi. The meal had something for everyone and was enjoyed all round, with pavlova and steamed pudding finishing off the evening. With day one of our famil over, we headed back to our accommodation to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for day two.

Day two was adrenaline-filled and showed us the best side of adventure tourism. We kick-started the day with white water rafting with Kaitiaki Rafting, and those of us looking for a little adventure gladly took the opportunity. White water rafting was an experience I will not soon forget. It was as terrifying as it was exhilarating as we overcame three waterfalls, including one 7-metre fall, continuous rapids along the river and a few other bumps along the way.

To top off the day we headed to Agroventures for another adrenaline rush. We had the option to take part in one of four activities: the Agrojet is equivalent to a formula one racing car – on water; the Swoop raises you over 40 metres into the air, and then drops you to swoop over the ground at 130 kmph; the Freefall Xtreme gives you an experience similar to that of a skydiver; and last but not least, the Shweeb is the world’s only human-powered monorail racetrack. There wasn’t a dull moment while visiting Agroventures!

Early on Wednesday morning we departed Rotorua and headed to Whakahoro. Our destination was Blue Duck Station, but we made a quick stop at the lovely Huka Falls just out of Taupo. On arrival at Blue Duck Station the first thing we noticed is that surrounding scenery is absolutely beautiful. It’s a place where you can truly just soak up the magnificent atmosphere, and part of that are the great people working on Blue Duck Station.

We settled into our rooms and then set off for a beautiful walk down the beaten track with our guide Maggie, who told us the interesting history of the station along the way. One of the greatest things about Blue Duck Station is that it is an exciting location for eco-tourism, with its huge conservation area focused on the endangered blue duck.

We followed another one of our guides, Wendy, down to a well-known spot for seeing blue ducks, but unfortunately it wasn’t our lucky day. We then headed down a narrow and exceptionally muddy trail to the bottom of a waterfall where we took turns kayaking through a beautiful and undisturbed natural wonderland. The narrow river took us down a peaceful path covered in parts by overhanging trees, which made the area seem surreal.  To top off the evening the staff at Blue Duck Station served us a delicious home-cooked meal. Our night ended on a high note as we celebrated one of our fellow student’s birthdays and cooked marshmallows over a bonfire.

Thursday morning’s bus ride home contained a group of exhausted students all ready for a good night’s sleep in their own familiar bed. The famil was an exciting experience for all – whether it was white water rafting, dancing on the bus or encountering the serenity of kayaking on Blue Duck Station – but one thing is for sure, this famil went above and beyond everybody’s expectations.

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