BY SADIE BECKMAN
Here in the Top of the South, we are incredibly lucky to be within easy reach of some of New Zealand’s – and in fact the planet’s – most outstanding natural beauty.
Providing opportunities to experience all that our stunning backyard has to offer in a way that promotes learning and personal growth is the core philosophy of Whenua Iti Outdoors, a charitable education trust that supports many different people to explore the edges of their comfort zones and achieve confidence and education in the outdoors.
Catering for everyone from primary school children right through to adults, as well as international students, tourism groups, camps and corporate team building, Whenua Iti Outdoors offers programmes, courses, activities and adventures that involve working through challenges, either physically, mentally, or both.
Kayaking and tramping in the Abel Tasman National Park, mountain biking, rock climbing or caving in one of the world’s best and most accessible cave systems are all on offer, as are culturally-based, unique and engaging programmes and learning including Waka Ama and partnerships with local iwi groups and marae.
The organisation, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, is run by passionate, dedicated and qualified experts who are trained to identify and nurture the potential in every participant in their programmes and activities. These programmes range from one day to a week long.
General Manager Mark Bruce-Miller says Whenua Iti Outdoors is there to provide support to the community, to schools and to all learners.
“We really pride ourselves on working in an environment where we can help learners succeed,” he explains, “and we specialise in the achievement of success outside of the conventional learning environment.”
Whenua Iti Outdoors works alongside many schools throughout the South Island, and receives funding support from the Ministry of Education for its school programmes and the Ministry of Social Development for youth development programmes.
Mark says they can provide support to schools that may find stringent and time-consuming new government health and safety requirements put them off organising outdoor adventure activities. Whenua Iti Outdoors is able to take care of that responsibility for them, using accredited experts to do so, meaning schools can relax and concentrate on enjoying the fun, positive experience of a camp or adventure at a place that is a centre of excellence for outdoor education, Mark explains.
Team building for adults is another valuable tool offered by the organisation, with most people who attend discovering they can do far more than they thought during the adventures or the on-site activities such as a high-ropes course. And all the profits from these programmes are channelled to further support the youth of our region.
He says the feedback they have received from organisations and businesses who have taken their new-found confidence and morale back into the workplace has been extremely positive.
The expertise, skill, philosophy and inclusion of the people behind the nationally and internationally renowned Whenua Iti Outdoors are the things that set it apart as a centre of excellence when it comes to the vital link between our learning as individuals and the natural environment around us.
Whatever walk of life you come from, this is a place where you can explore the world around you, as well as the one inside yourself, and challenge yourself to discover what it really means to be you.