Ever wondered what those vanloads of hostel pupils from Mount
Aspiring College are getting up to?
They disappear at seven on Sunday mornings into the Wanaka
sunrise and reappear hours later, bedraggled, bruised and
buzzing after a full-day mission into the town's surrounding
The truth is this: we wake up at some ungodly hour, load
ourselves up with porridge and prepare for a long and unknown
Take our recent trip to Corner Peak for example.
We were told to ready ourselves for a long, gruelling day.
Our alarms were set for 5.15am and we were walking before
We split into four groups and started at opposite ends of the
astronomical mountain that is Corner Peak.
As we followed the valley, getting lost among the bushes, our
navigation skills were put to the test.
Though we had highly qualified instructors with us, we were
still left to our own devices when it came to directing and
Some call it lost; personally, we like to call it a detour.
And besides, who doesn't love crawling through matagouri and
thorns, untangling hair from manuka tree and gorse?
The banter never fails to entertain us even when pulling
ourselves up [seemingly] vertical hills by tussocks.
The feeling of finally reaching the summit, puffing and
wheezing, overshadows the aching feet and limbs when we look
out over the Wanaka Basin; the panorama view of the
glass-like lake, towering mountains and encompassing valleys.
One of the main ideas drilled into us is to always keep a
Whenever you start to get into that negative place of ''I
just want to be at home now'' or ''Why am I even doing
this?'', you bring yourself back, look at the scenery and
remember, ''Pain is just weakness leaving the body''.
In fact, another golden rousing quote from our ruthless
instructor Bruno was exclaimed in the pitch-dark early hours
when we were all feeling groggy: ''I love walking up hills
first thing Sunday mornings!''
I think this resonates with us all, in that we feel stronger,
both mentally and physically after a long day of outdoor
We forget about the small things that pain us (like waking up
early, getting out of the vans into the crisp morning air,
the first half-hour of walking) and spend the rest of the day
enjoying each other's company.
We also surprise ourselves with the challenges we manage to
overcome and the fizzing feeling at the end of a 14-hour day
once we have debriefed, hosed down the vans and plonked our
bottoms on the sofa long after sunset, preparing ourselves
for the next day's challenge: school.
•By Olivia Bonifant, Patti Barnes and Anna Wardman, Year 13,
Mount Aspiring College