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ITC Famil Trip August 2015: Kelsi’s Story

Posted on 25/08/2015 by
ITC student Kelsi (far right) with some of her classmates on the August Famil Trip to Rotorua and beyond.

ITC student Kelsi (far right) with some of her classmates on the August Famil Trip to Rotorua and beyond.

Student blogger Kelsi recently went on a four-day Famil trip around New Zealand’s central North Island. This trip is included in the New Zealand Certificate in Travel Level 4 and is one of the highlights of studying at ITC, as it’s a chance to experience the travel and tourism industry firsthand. Kelsi gives us a rundown of this amazing trip, featuring adrenalin-pumping white water rafting and the best Maori fry-bread ever!

Day 1: Bye for now, Auckland!

On Monday the 10th of August, three combined classes and one (brave) teacher set off with Stray for the ITC Famil to Rotorua! Tutu was our driver and once we were out of the CBD, he told us what to expect from the trip and a little bit about the company. A popular option with tourists, Stray offers a hop-on, hop-off bus service and guided coach tours throughout New Zealand and Asia.

Our first stop was Matamata, the home of Hobbiton. We had lunch at the I-site, which is shaped like a hobbit house!

Some of Kelsi's classmates at the Matamata i-site, which is shaped like a Hobbit House!

Some of Kelsi’s classmates at the i-site in Matamata

After photos had been taken and lunch eaten, we continued on to Agroventures in Rotorua. Debbie, the Sales and Marketing Manager, talked a little about her career and the activities they offer at Agroventures. The most popular attraction is the Swoop, a 40 metre high swing. You are safe inside a full body harness but have to pull your own rip cord, swing down toward the ground before cables catch you. You can reach speeds of 130kph.

Debbie had some great advice for us: “Build excellent working relationships as they will make a difference in your travel and tourism career.”

After Agroventures, we headed towards our accommodation for the evening; Crash Palace, a hostel in Central Rotorua. A few of us mingled with the tourists staying there and joined in Monday night Poker Night. We think we are pros now and can take on Sky City!

Day 2: White water rafting and the best fry bread ever!

Chris, the owner of Crash Palace, had a wee chat with us the following morning about his life story. From 40 bucks to a TripAdvisor recommended hostel and community outreach programme, Chris is ‘hard work pays off’ personified. I would stay again, for sure.

After, one half of the group with Kaitiaki Rafting, and the other went walking in the magnificent Redwoods. We then swapped over. The white water rafting was a hit with all, and just about everybody fell out!

One of the highlights of the Famil Trip was white water rafting - thanks for having us, Kaitiaki!

One of the highlights of the Famil Trip was white water rafting – thanks for having us, Kaitiaki!

A short stop for lunch and then onto Kaingaroa Forest. We stopped to pick up Maurice, our local Maori guide. He welcomed and blessed us, and as we made our way along the road, told us the history of the land and his iwi, Ngati Manawa. We stopped and down a hidden path in the trees we found some incredible Maori rock carvings, carbon dated 400 years before the Great Migration. We also learnt about the importance of the eel to the Ngati Manawa and what is being done to help the life cycle of the eels, including overcoming the obstacle of the dams during spawning season.

We made our way to our accommodation for the evening, Kohutapu Lodge, an absolute gem of a place, right on Lake Aniwhenua. Nadine was our warm, welcoming host and invited us to watch the hangi be put down. We also learnt weaving with Aunty Marge and fry-bread with Nadine. The hangi was an awesome way to end the day and of course, the fry-bread, the best!

I loved Kohutapu’s generosity. They are affecting positive change through tourism and making a real difference in Murupara, a small town close to the lodge. The left over food from the hangi was to be delivered to the primary school in the morning, they donate to the conservation of the rock carvings and foster a community spirit, in one of New Zealand’s forgotten small towns.

Day three: Magical snow-capped mountains

The next morning, one of my classmates collected her clothes from outside. They were iceblocks; it was that cold!

Our journey that morning took us through Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park. It was absolutely stunning. The snow covered mountains, with the pristine lake in front, was a lovely reminder of why NZ is such a neat place to live.

Beautiful snow-capped mountains, including the near perfect shape of Mount Ngauruhoe

Beautiful snow-capped mountains, including the near perfect shape of Mount Ngauruhoe


We arrived at Blue Duck Station, a lodge in the Ruapehu District on the banks of the Whanganui River. Wendy told us of the unusual marriage of farming, conservation and tourism, three industries that normally don’t get along. But the work they are doing there is great. They have thirteen pairs of kiwis, four pairs of blue ducks, millions of bees and a farmyard full of cows, dogs, pigs and horses.

We learnt about the farmland, had a go at shooting, and riding the horses. We were served a yummy dinner and while some celebrated our last night on the road, others curled up in front of the fire in our cosy cabins, toasting marshmallows and chatting the night away.

Day four: Homeward bound

Departing time was 8am. A sleep-in! Well, kind of. We made a few stops for breakfast and lunch but other than that it was straight through to Auckland CBD. Not as peaceful as the country but it’s home. The trip was just the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas and everything in between. A big thank you to Stray, Tutu our driver, Amy (the brave teacher), Crash Palace and Chris, Agroadventures and Debbie, Kaitiaki Rafting, Kohutapu Lodge, Nadine and Maurice, Blue Duck Station and Wendy! And ITC! Thank you!!   

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2 Responses to “ITC Famil Trip August 2015: Kelsi’s Story”

  1. Lorna says:

    Awesome read Kelsi. You should be a travel writer.

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