Getting the Next Generation Hooked – Deep Cove School Camp

“On a Mish” #261 Getting the Next Generation Hooked. Deep Cove, Fiordland National Park. 17.3.2021. To have a job in tourism is a real privilege with what’s going on in the world today, and to have a very enjoyable job is even better. As a young fella I was lucky to be introduced to the outdoors by my parents. Christchurch’s location unfortunately means the mountains are some distance away, and therefore weren’t included in any of my school outings as a kid. This wasn’t all doom and gloom as when possible we would pile into the Mitsubishi Sigma, and go for a drive west into the mountains that make up a barrier of uplifted land between Canterbury and the South Island’s West Coast. Apart from one trip to the Craigieburn Range in high school, most school outings were only as far as the Port Hills or Banks Peninsula. Deep Cove and Patea / Doubtful Sound is a place that Sir Les Hutchins fell in love with after visiting, and he would return years later to rebuild and restore the hiking trail over Wilmot Pass(671m)

The rest is history, and to keep the area inspiring the younger generation he firstly kept the lodge which was once used as accommodation for some of the workers during the building of the Manapouri Power Station, and then developed a trust which would continue to bring Southland and Otago youngsters for Fiordland adventures. I think a few of my school teachers would be interested to see me on the other side of the fence, now as the teacher. During my time at school (now over 20 years ago!) I would have definitely been one to feel the full force of wood on skin, if I lived in the time of the cane. Now I’m the one dealing with the attention-less and cheeky comments. So far I have found every camp unique in both participants and schedule. Some cover great distances on the tracks around Deep Cove, and some focus more on the marine side of the camp. Our role is water science, or water testing (as some of the teachers call it). Most kids are really into it, but some need a warm up first before the science stuff with a few donuts in the camp’s dinghys. At night we give a presentation on glowworms, and then we go searching for the illuminated native maggots. Deep Cove has a small population of Kiwi, and as part of the glowworm walk we play Kiwi calls on a bluetooth speaker. The problem is you are trying to call a normally shy nocturnal bird with 30 or so kids giggling and whispering. Unfortunately, so far I haven’t seen any Kiwi. One of the groups was near silent (to the surprise of their teachers / supervisors), but unfortunately we didn’t see our elusive national bird.

Setting Fish Traps in Wanganella Stream

The long day ends when we make it back to ‘The Treehouse’ and crawl into bed, and drift off to sleep with the relaxing sound of the Wanganella Stream. The next day we cruise Patea / Doubtful Sound, and give the kids a real taste of remote Fiordland. The icing of the cake is if we can spot any dolphins on the cruise about the fiord. I’m really excited about any upcoming trips, and also building on my skills as a guide for the younger members of society. With some work hopefully I can turn a few of them into future wilderness addicts!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter