By Amy Morrison and Tara Vaughan
We were fortunate enough to be nominated for a Genisis Kayak Leadership Skills Scholarship at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro. This scholarship was awarded to us through attending our Year 12 PE camp at the same centre during August of 2020, and we were recognised for our potential leadership skills and love for the outdoors.
It was a fully-funded five-day course from 11-15 January, where we joined six other like-minded students from all corners of New Zealand. Throughout the week we developed both our kayak and leadership skills, learning to safely and confidently paddle grade 2 white water rapids. We also learnt the fundamentals of rolling a kayak and saving each other if people flip (which was a regular occurrence).
Throughout the programme, we paddled on multiple rivers, including the Waikato, Mohaka and Tongariro. We had a double overnight camp away from the centre at the Mohaka River, where we got to know our group and instructors even more, creating life-long bonds.
A highlight of the trip was paddling down the biggest rapid of the week, the Waka Muncher along the Tongariro river, where 5 out of 8 of our group ended up swimming to the banks to empty out our waterlogged boats because of flipping in the rapids.
It was an incredible experience that we will never forget, and an opportunity that we will never take for granted.