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Wakatipu High School's (from rear left) Jasmine Addie, teacher Joan Potts, Maeghan Lodge, Sasha Budd, Megan Hughes, Jessie Kelly, Kayley Patterson, Ben Stevens and teacher Megan Ide with (from front left) Georgia Budd, Haruka Arai, Autumn Weekley, Zac Tate and Jessica Addie, returned to Queenstown on February 4 after almost one month in Aspen, Colorado.
Photographed when visiting a smugglers mine in the American silver-mining town, the sponsored exchange trip was called ''a huge success'' by Miss Ide, despite pupils being stranded in Aspen for an extra three days due to a severe snowstorm.
Miss Ide said pupils attended school and went snow-shoeing, nordic skiing, snowmobiling and skied or snowboarded on two mountains of their choice. The group watched and participated in the 2014 X Games.
They met the mayor of Aspen and discussed the various similarities and differences between the ''sister cities''.
The young people also visited natural hot springs and learnt about various animals which inhabit Colorado on the Birds of Prey Tour at Hallam Lake.
They learnt about recycling and ecological sustainability programmes and toured an underground silver mine to find out about the effects the industry had on the town.
Miss Ide said Queenstown had been twinned with Aspen for 21 years.
''What makes this relationship unique is that we can learn a lot from each other's communities in areas such as tourism, snow sports, mining history [and being a] one high school town.''