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Their fellow students lined the school driveway and applauded them as they completed the last few metres of their 200km expedition.
The adventurous group of students were taking part in the Graeme Dingle Foundation Project K wilderness adventure programme.
It focuses on building confidence, developing life skills, and encouraging a positive attitude by participants , with the end goal of arming students who show potential for change, with an increased self-belief in their own abilities to complete tasks, achieve goals.
During their 19-day adventure in the wilderness, they spent the first five days completing a practice overnight hike, rock climbing, abseiling, map reading, and learning to pitch tents in the Southern Alps near Arthurs Pass.
Their three-day mountain bike leg then took in Lake Taylor station, McDonald downs and Lees Valley before another hike into the hills nearby.
Their final ride was back home, arriving in the fog to a rowdy cheer from classmates and parents at the school.
“His nieces and nephews had been calling him everyday to see where he was and how he was going.
“I thought he might not have made it through, as he hasn't done anything like this before but now I’m really proud of him,” she said.
Jrae said it was hard work, especially sleeping on the ground and hiking, but he enjoyed it all, except for the sandflies and blisters.
Graeme Dingle Foundation Project K programme co-ordinator, Chris Morland, said he was proud of the students and the challenges they had overcome in a harsh environment that was completely unfamiliar.
“The changes in them from day one to day 20 are incredible - from not wanting to be challenged to thriving in a challenging environment,” he said.
- By John Cosgrove
- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air