The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is open to anyone between the ages of 14 and 25 and there are three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. At each level you are required to participate in four sections: physical recreation, service, skill and an adventurous journey. An adventurous journey aims to ‘encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery’, whereby you camp overnight for several days in order to appreciate nature and its natural beauty. The Duke of Ed programme strives to help you become a well-rounded person, whilst also allowing you to create memories that will stay with you forever: it’s perfect for anyone and everyone! If you want to find out more then head to www.dofehillary.org.nz.
While a Friday may signify, for some, a relaxing weekend full of procrastinating homework and TV show marathons, for 22 excited stud ents it was the beginning of a tiring journey: The Bronze Duke of Edinburgh tramp to the Hunua Ranges. After an hour and a half car ride, we made it to the beautiful scenic campsite, with rolling hills to our right and a cloudless sky above. We pitched up our tents, with only a few of them falling to pieces, and listened to Mrs Bungay’s plan for the next few days. The mere thought of a nine hour walk sent us all to sleep quickly as we braced ourselves for the day ahead.
By seven o’clock we were awake and cooking our breakfasts, excited yet somewhat wary of the struggles that lay in store for us. After a quick debrief with Mr and Mrs Bungay we packed our gear, strapped on our hefty bags and began our walk.
Although the weather overnight had been less than favourable, with endless torrents of rain lashing down, the freshly wetted dirt of the outdoors was all that we could smell, and the sky overhead, despite being dense with fog an hour before, was nearly cloudless with a sweltering sun filling the sky. Soon we got to the edge of the forest and began our tramp. After a gruelling three hours that included: three bee stings, countless muddied legs and a refreshing stream crossing, we managed to all make it in one piece to lunch, where we ate near the remains of an old farmhouse up in the hills. Pumped and raring to go we continued on our venture, unaware of what lay ahead.
Despite having been warned of what was to come, we were oblivious of the amount of will power that would be needed to finish the tramp. What started off as a slight slope soon turned into a major hill; muscles we didn’t even know existed soon began to burn and ache, and with every step more determination surged through our bodies, we were going to make it to the top of this hill no matter what! Finally, after almost an hour of walking, we made it to the top!
Or so we thought …
The hill behind was even steeper and seemed even more intimidating, but we were fuelled by desire and anger at having been duped into thinking the hard part was over. Finally, after half an hour more walking, we reached the top, where a Spitfire flew so low over our heads that we could almost touch it! At this point, we all felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
But soon, we had to climb back down, away from the breath-taking views and back to our campsite. Finally, after an extra three hour tramp through the forest and a monotonous walk along a winding gravel road that lasted for over an hour, we made it back to the campsite. The sight of our tents never looked more appealing, and the relief was evident in the many cries of joy heard upon seeing the campsite; finally we could take off our packs and rest our tired and battered bodies.
The tramp was an immense amount of fun, despite the hardships that were encountered; new friendships were made and we all grew closer together whilst gaining a better understanding of nature and appreciating the little things that make our lives comfortable! Whether it’s something basic like running water, this hike has proved to me how much we take for granted: how it’s the little things in life that make us content. Believe me, I’ve never been so happy to feel a tarmac road beneath a car!
Written by Emily Briggs. Edited by Daisy Huang.