Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Rural Games a highlight

Students from tiny Orere Primary School are still on cloud nine after jetting to Queenstown on the trip of a lifetime. Photo / Supplied
Students from tiny Orere Primary School are still on cloud nine after jetting to Queenstown on the trip of a lifetime. Photo / Supplied

Students from tiny Orere Primary School are still on cloud nine after jetting to Queenstown on the trip of a lifetime.

The school - 68km southeast of Auckland - won a Jetstar and Herald on Sunday competition to send 18 lucky kids and four guardians to the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games last weekend.

The students enjoyed a two-night stay at the resort town's Novotel hotel, had a blast on a boat trip on Lake Wakatipu and took part in a host of fun activities at the games.

"The children haven't stopped talking about it," Orere principal Evan Robinson said. "They have been telling everyone they felt like movie stars after staying at a flash hotel and having everything laid on for them."

A judging panel, which was looking for a school whose students would benefit from the trip to Queenstown, considered letters of nomination written by students, parents and teachers saying why their respective school deserved the trip.

Orere's letter was penned by 10-year-old student Alysha-Marie Holmes. "We live a long way from Auckland," she wrote. "We would love to go to Queenstown because some of us have never gone on a plane. This would be a trip of a lifetime full of wonderful opportunities."

The decile-three school has a roll of 46 and Robson said they were "blown away" by the win.

He said most of the pupils had never been to the South Island before.

"A lot of the kids would never get the opportunities of students from more-affluent areas," he said.

The students lapped up country activities including cowpat and gumboot-throwing, a sack race, ducking for apples and a tug of war.

"We were so well looked after and we can't thank Jetstar enough for the hospitality," Robinson added.

Grant Kerr, head of Jetstar New Zealand, said: "It was fantastic to see the students having fun in the Jetstar Kids 'n' Country zone - they took the games to heart and we definitely saw some stiff competition between classmates."

- Herald on Sunday

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