What is an Explorer Belt?
The Explorer Belt is the challenge of a lifetime, and a truly once in a lifetime experience, whereby the particpants have to gain a deep understanding for the culture and way of life of another country. What better place to complete this challenge, than with the stunning back-drop of New Zealand?
What did we get up to before we went?
We have had 8 training camps in total, where we have worked on the core skills required to complete an Explorer Belt, and spent time planning what we are doing in New Zealand. On top of the training camps we have taken part in a number of events, such as the Monopoly Run and attended the Showtime Gang Show. The Young People and Leaders have been busy fundraising, which has been made up of lots of bag packing, as well as carol singing, bob a job and sponsored events.
Our time in New Zealand
On the 3rd January 2016, the GLSE New Zealand expedition group landed back in England after 17 days of completing our Explorer Belt expedition. Throughout our time in the North Island we met some amazing people, did some extraordinary things and saw some of the remarkable sights that New Zealand has to offer whilst travelling between 8 magnificent locations: Auckland, Matamata, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro, Waitomo and Hamilton.
Whilst in this beautiful country, we experienced an entirely different culture from the native people of New Zealand – the Maori. We heard some traditional Maori stories from our guide Matthew whilst completing the Tongariro Crossing – a challenging 19.4km walk across a mountain, stayed overnight in a Maori thermal village in Rotorua and saw some Maori rock carvings from a boat on Lake Taupo – a lake the size of the area inside the M25.
We met some kiwi scouts at a barbecue in Taupo and some Australian scouts in Auckland as well as the New Zealand National Commissioner when we visited the Sky Tower. Our Christmas Day was spent in Rotorua at a community meal with 500 people, speaking to as many as we could about our expedition and hearing from different families about their experiences at Christmas, whilst eating Christmas dinner - It was a definitely a different Christmas experience but one that all of us will never forget.
On our expedition we also saw the iconic Hobbiton set from the Lord of the Rings, we helped at a Soup Kitchen with the charity LoveSoup, black water rafted through glowworm caves, painted a mural on the side of a scout hut, learnt the haka and saw some of New Zealand’s geothermal activity at Hells Gate spa. We then welcomed the New Year by watching the fireworks in Auckland from our hotel balcony and reflected on what a wonderful trip it had been.
This is a trip that I will never forget and I now have some great friends from this experience. If anyone is thinking of doing an explorer belt, go for it because you definitely won’t regret it.
Written by Jade Donaldson, Explorer Belt Participant
If you have any questions about the New Zealand Explorer Belt Expedition then please email David Goodwin on firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was last updated on 31 January 2016 by David Goodwin