Saturday 16th March 2024

The mission presented to the Year 9 cohort was that this adventure would provide the opportunity and experience for them to develop relationships with each other and key staff, develop a positive culture within this year's group and experience activities that would require resilience and teamwork. A big ask, but our second campus at Te Anau Downs provided all the key ingredients required to achieve this mission - including impeccable weather!

Year 9 Camp 2024: A first for Te Anau Downs
Year 9 Camp 2024: A first for Te Anau Downs

Two groups of year nine classes travelled to Te Anau Downs for two weeks from February 19th. This camp replaced the well-known McGlashan tradition of the 'Cycle Camp', so there was much to live up to.

Leaving early on Monday morning, when the students arrived on site, they were split into 'Mission Groups', which were identified only by their matching bandanas and expertly supported by our Year 13 leaders (and our ring-in Year 13s Mr Lane and Mrs Ellis).

Y9 Camp 24 - Mission Groups were used to develop team building and build connections. — Image by: Donna Smith

The boys moved into their afternoon of team-building and problem-solving. Whether negotiating the 'Minefield', removing the 'Toxic Waste', or crossing 'Crocodile Creek', there were many laughs but, more importantly, opportunities for the boys to connect with new students through the problem-solving and communication required to complete each activity.

Image by: Donna Smith

Image by: Donna Smith

By dinner time, rooms had been allocated, and hungry individuals devoured burgers for dinner, just in time for Mrs Smith to ring the bell and announce it was 'Mission Time'.

Y9 Camp 24 - Traditions are important. Mr Garry introduces the karakia kai (grace) that was used at Mt Nicholas and now resides at Te Anau Downs. — Image by: Donna Smith

Students joined again in their mission groups to await their next challenge. Given a collection of useful (and some really un-useful) resources, the group was tasked with protecting some 'special cargo' to be thrown off the lodge's top floor.

Y9 Camp 24 - Mission Group Mayhem... — Image by: Donna Smith

I can report that only two eggs were harmed in this challenge across the two weeks of camp, and one of those belonged to a very confident group of Camp Dads.

Year 9 Camp 24 - Nervous Mission Groups await the results of the 'egg drop' — Image by: Donna Smith
Year 9 Camp 24 - Waiting results of the egg drop challenge — Image by: Donna Smith

Each morning, the lodge was awoken by the wonderfully chosen tunes of the Year 13 leaders as they wandered the hallways of the lodge and woke their young charges with the help of a large boom box. 

It was time to rise and head out for the early morning camp run. While there were a few grumps and groans this first time, the boys quickly began to appreciate the early morning fresh air and adrenaline before they went to breakfast.

Y9 Camp 24 - Nothing like an early morning run to wake up the body for a busy day. — Image by: Donna Smith

Day two began the activity rotations. Three activity groups (Luxmore, Iris Burn, and Motarau) spent one day each experiencing a challenge based on tramping, cycling, or aquatics.


Heading further into the National Park, the tramping crew started from the divide, the start (or end) of the Routeburn Track. 

On our way, we quickly stopped at Mirror Lakes to get inspired by what was to come.

Year 9 Camp 24 - Mirror Lakes — Image by: Donna Smith

Week one and two undertook slightly different routes, but both were given challenges by choice, and three options were presented to the boys.

1 - be led down a marked trail

2 - navigate your way down a marked yet overgrown trail where navigation and trail-finding skills would be required

3 - follow a trail to a set point and navigate through the bush to meet another trail (which included a steep descent or ascent, depending on which week you were on)

Image by: Donna Smith
Image by: Donna Smith
Image by: Donna Smith

All options led the groups towards the site where Lake Howden Hut was before the 2020 weather event, creating much destruction in the area. This was a topic of investigation for the boys when they returned to class.

Image by: Donna Smith

After competing in their tramping challenges, we took advantage of our proximity and took the boys through the Homer Tunnel. This is another area of study for the students when back in class.

Y9 Camp 24 - The view on the Milford side of the Homer Tunnel. — Image by: Donna Smith
Image by: Donna Smith
My personal favourite activity that we did was the walk. It was so great because we got to see so many amazing places like the Homer Tunnel, the cool waterfalls, along with the Mirror Lakes.


Utilising the resources at our disposal and making a connection to Year 9 camps of the past, the boys completed the 30km ride from the 'Lake to Lake' trail from Manapouri to Te Anau.

For many of the students, this was an endurance challenge. This was easily the longest ride they had ever completed, giving pause to all the boys who rode the 150km rail trail camp of previous years.

Y9 Camp 24 - Experiencing the trail from Lake Manapouri to Lake Te Anau — Image by: Donna Smith

Along the way, the boys stopped at key sights like 'Rainbow Reach', where many groups before them celebrated the conclusion of the Kepler Hike on Year 10 Camp. 

Mr Casey instigated a new challenge of the Suspension Bridge climb, where Eddie Weir set another McGlashan record.

Year 9 Campe 24 - Rainbow Reach Suspension Bridge — Image by: Donna Smith

One of the most impressive elements of this activity was the boys' willingness to get alongside their classmates and support them in undertaking this task. There was a wide variety of skill levels, and it was really pleasing to see the younger boys take the lead in supporting those with less experience.

Year 9 Camp - Somewhere between one lake and another — Image by: Donna Smith

The reward at the end of this trail was definitely jumping into the cool, refreshing water of the Te Anau wharf. 

Y9 Camp 24 - Do the mahi, get the treat. Diving off the Te Anau wharf at the end of the cycle challenge. — Image by: Donna Smith

Aquatics Week One

The CBD and DSM boys were lucky enough to have the unique experience of attempting to sail a double-hulled waka for their aquatics experience.

Y9 Camp 24 - A very unique experience, manning a double-hulled traditional waka — Image by: Donna Smith

A huge level of teamwork was required to get this vessel working effectively. While this took some practice and problem-solving, the result was quite spectacular. The boys have already built connections in their new Integrated Studies topic between this experience and understanding the travels of the earliest settlers to New Zealand.

Y9 Camp 24 - To get a waka travelling in the right direction it needs excellent team work. — Image by: Donna Smith

They were also allowed to swim and go fishing.

Year 9 Camp 24 - Fishing and learning from new friends — Image by: Donna Smith

Aquatics Week Two

Unfortunately, the waka was unavailable in week two, so plan B came into force. We were very lucky to have the support of the Wallace family from Fiordland Outdoors, who provided boat transport and fishing experiences for the boys.

My favourite activity was aquatics because I got to go fishing and caught four trout!
Image by: Donna Smith

Between fishing on the boat, on the beach, kayaking, or swimming, the boys had a full aquatic experience across the two weeks. For some, this was a more relaxing activity that allowed them to simply enjoy the environment. Most importantly, the first entries to Mr. Garry's famous fishing competition were caught.

Year 9 Camp 24 - There was fierce competition in the fishing — Image by: Donna Smith

Each evening after dinner, the boys assembled in their Mission Groups, awaiting their next challenge. It was very clear that as the week progressed, the communication and team dynamics improved in leaps and bounds - as did the intensity of the competition.

Events that followed as the weeks progressed included:

A six-team version of Capture the Flag, which was won in somewhat controversial circumstances by the Max Porters' Purple Crew.

Year 9 Camp 24 - Mission Group Challenge: Capture the Flag — Image by: Donna Smith

'Guardian of the Flame' was a Mr Palmer special - a group obstacle course that included climbing over and under different implements, a gauntlet of parents with water buckets and the firehouse, a balance beam and a water slide conclusion...all while working as a team to keep a lit candle alight. Easy.

Image by: Donna Smith

There was no winning team for this competition, but there was certainly a lot learned and a ton of fun!

Image by: Donna Smith
Image by: Donna Smith

The final Misson Group Challenge was 'Campeoke', which involved two teams coming together to 'perform' a song of their choice. The Year 13 leaders were absolutely steadfast in saying that singing had to be part of the camp experience, and they certainly led the way. However, regarding photography and videography, we'll leave those in the vault for the 2028 Leavers Service.

My favourite night activity was ‘Guardian of the Flame’ because I got so wet, but Campeoke was a close second!

It was a full, busy, energetic week, and when we reviewed the camp's purpose and what we hoped to achieve, we felt it was really successful. Many memories were created, friendships were created or strengthened, and new skills were learned.

Camp was a really positive experience for me. It really helped me make more friends and get closer to all the teachers and boys.
Y9 Camp 24 - Helping look after the grounds through service — Image by: Donna Smith

There are so many people to thank for helping make this camp a success.

The boys should pat themselves on the back for their attitude towards being pushed out of their comfort zones, either physically, socially or both. They met this challenge admirably.

Our two groups of year 13 leaders were crucial in their positions as role models and mentors. Many thanks to Haydn Finlay, Billy Hutton-Atkins, Milo Hyndman, Daniel Joint, Adam McNab, Charlie Pearson, Max Porter, Jonty Riley, Jack Sandford and Harry Willis. 

An exceptional group of parents joined us and provided essential skills, motivation, humour, cooking skills and manpower. We are very grateful for the time and energy you have gifted to the boys to allow them to have this experience.

Camps can not run without the support of staff, and we appreciate the efforts of those with us on camp and those who helped to 'hold the fort' back in Dunedin.

I want to give a special mention to Jason Palmer (Operations Manager at Te Anau Downs) and Mr Casey (Head of EOTC) for their efforts in supporting the camp with all the behind-the-scenes organisation.

I had a 10/10 experience.
Year 9 Camp 24 - Thanks to the kitchen crew — Image by: Donna Smith

I will leave the final thoughts with one of our year nine students who has one question:

Can we please have a second camp later in the year?

Mission accomplished!

Year 9 Camp 24 - Week 2 (NSM and DPA) — Image by: Donna Smith

Year 9 Camp 24 - Week One (CBD and DSM)
Year 9 Camp 2024: A first for Te Anau Downs
Y9 Camp 24 - the fire before the marshmellows
Y9 Camp 24 - attempting to follow the route down Pass Creek Track. An experience that really immersed us in Fiordland's native forests.
Y9 Camp 24 - Patrick takes on the champ...and wins four times!
Y9 Camp 24 - Nothing like an early morning run to wake up the body for a busy day.
Year 9 Camp 24 - Mission Group Challenge: Capture the Flag
Y9 Camp 24 - Mission Groups were used to develop team building and build connections.