ACG Strathallan student president Mckenzie Northcott spent her school holidays on a ten-day sailing voyage around the Hauraki Gulf as part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip on Spirit of New Zealand, a steel-hulled, three-masted barquentine, purpose built by charity organisation Spirit of Adventure.
Spirit of Adventure is dedicated to youth development through exposing young people to challenges on the sea. Mckenzie spent her final day on the boat as second mate, working alongside the captain to run and control the trip, navigate, steer and align the sails. She said it was stressful, but satisfying.
“All the team worked together to get the job done, highlighting all the learning we had soaked up.”
With a team of students on board, the tall ship sailed from Princes Wharf, up around the Northern tip of the Coromandel, across to the east and western tips of Great Barrier Island and back into port. The ethos is learning through doing: students helped set up and pack down the sails, watched dolphins, went paddle boating, climbed the mast, and tramped on Great Barrier Island – among other things.
“I heard about this trip in primary school and always wanted to take part, but I had to wait until I was at least 16 before I could apply,” Mckenzie said. “The biggest challenge was the early morning swims! At 6.30am in the pouring rain and wind it was not the most motivational way to start the day! But once we were in, it woke you up for the big day ahead.”
With no technology or connection with the outside world, the voyage was a welcome break from everyday life. It also contributed to the top student’s Duke of Edinburgh Gold award, opened her eyes to the world upon the sea, and helped her to face her fears.
“I have learnt from this experience to make the most of every opportunity. Sometimes you feel scared or afraid to get out of your comfort zone, but it makes you stronger. I found this while climbing the high ropes on the masts. I love heights but looking down 30m onto water on a moving boat, I had to mentally break down a barrier. It actually enhanced the adventure.”