White Water Rafting

Exercise KIA ORA BLUE

Written by SAC Neil Allen (PSF, RAF Wyton)

An Expedition to New Zealand! Well, I guess someone had to hold the ‘torch’ for RAF Brampton Wyton, so I volunteered my skills and body to the challenge of Ex Kia Ora – Blue.

Ready for biking So, the bags were packed and I was looking forward to my 3-week adventure that would take me to the other side of the world, doing my part in maintaining international relations. Anxious and eager, the day of my adventure soon arrived and I found myself alone in the departure lounge at London Heathrow some 4 hours early!

After being quizzed more times than Chris Tarrant’s guests on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ by all the airport staff. I finally met the people I would be travelling with, the Team, as we would otherwise be known. After a ‘Team Bonding Pint’, we boarded the Boeing 747 that would carry us to Auckland via Hong Kong on a tiring 23-hour journey.

We finally made it to Christchurch where the activities and fun would begin. All members of the Team were given small tasks to aid with the smooth operation of the expedition. I was nominated as the Adventure Training (AT) Co-ordinator. This involved my liaising with the AT instructors to ensure that activities were organised in the correct fashion. I was also responsible for arranging any medical or other emergency treatment should it be required………my skills were soon to be tested!

Trekking through New Zealand The first 5 days of the expedition were spent trekking and tramping through Arthur’s Pass, some 70 km over hilly and rough terrain. The scenery was fantastic! Progress was slow but we all managed to press on, despite the heat soaring in to the mid 20s. I thought to myself, “I bet we’re not going to get this back in the UK.” On we trekked, stopping now and then to check we were still on track, but the distance never seemed to shrink.

The trekking was to continue to many far-flung places in the wild outback of New Zealand’s vast countryside, including Julia Hut where we unfortunately had to leave behind two of our comrades. They were to await an air rescue as one of them had sustained an injury to their leg. We continued our journey and finished our long trek in the luxurious surroundings at Greymouth.

Sea kayak The next activity that we were scheduled to do was sea kayaking, where we would take advantage of clear, calm waters and the stunning surroundings that gave the feeling of being on holiday. However, no matter what others would say, it was hard work but very enjoyable.

From sea kayaking, we set off for Queenstown where we would spend the remainder of our mini adventure in kiwi land. It was here that we took part in various activities, ranging from white water rafting to mountain biking. However, it was the rock climbing that would be my greatest challenge.

I was certainly not looking forward to it especially after seeing pictures of rock climbing at Wye Creek, which is where we went. Trying in vain to calm my nerves, I saw this steep rock face, which looked like it belonged in the film, ‘Cliff Hanger’, which didn’t help my blood pressure! However, I need not have worried as I soon found that I was in safe hands and conquered the mighty rock face. Piece of cake!

Unfortunately, the day soon came when we had to pack up and return to reality. The long flight back took a total of 31 hours but it marked the end of an excellent experience. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would not hesitate to go again if the chance ever arose. I would certainly recommend New Zealand to anybody, but also encourage anyone to take the opportunity to embark on an adventurous training expedition.

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