Children and adults queue at the Birch St wharf to tour
Spirit of New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo by
Watching hundreds of children and adults queue to tour
Spirit of New Zealand
in Dunedin on Saturday,
long-serving Spirit of Adventure Trust volunteer Tony Cummings
was ''absolutely gobsmacked''.
The Dunedin man said it had been about seven years since the
Auckland-based vessel last visited the city but interest in
the tall ship far exceeded expectations.
''I would conservatively say we had more than 1000 people
come aboard,'' Mr Cummings said.
Launched in 1986, Spirit of New Zealand recently
underwent a $1.5 million refit, he said.
For two hours on Saturday, 12 volunteers each showed
groups of six people around the vessel. A reunion for those
involved in the trust had been planned for 4pm, but had to be
delayed to allow all those waiting a chance to climb aboard.
''We wouldn't turn anyone away. This is awesome, the day has
worked out brilliantly,'' Mr Cummings said.
The tall ship sailed from Dunedin at noon yesterday with 40
''trainees'' aged between 15 and 19 years as well as up to 14
In the 40 years the trust has been operating, about 75,000
young trainees had been to sea aboard Spirit of New
Zealand and its predecessor, Spirit of Adventure.
Mr Cummings, who became involved with the trust in 1989, had
started seeing the children of past trainees complete the
10-day trips of the Spirit.
''For me, the absolute magic is seeing 40 teenagers who turn
up not knowing anybody, and well out of their comfort zone,
become so close it's unbelievable.
''Some turn up with all the bravado and others are shy, but
after 10 days they are all leaders and all equal,'' he said.
Skills learnt aboard, such as co-operation, set trainees up
for life, Mr Cummings said.
''The ship is actually just a tool to bring out that
leadership, teamwork and co-operation. It's a small space and
in the first two or three days politeness keeps everything
going, but once people get over that there can be a bit of
friction and then it's all about working it through,'' he
said. Jeremy Rei (18), of Dunedin, who was a trainee on the
ship about two years ago, had since worked as a volunteer on
He was ''bitten by the bug'' and said the attraction of
sailing aboard Spirit of New Zealand was simply that
of a completely different experience not available anywhere