A local student is looking forward to escaping Rotorua's chilly winter with a hike in America's summer climate.
Shane Lash, a Year 12 student at Rotorua Lakes High School, will hike the Appalachian Trail this week as part of the gold level Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award.
"I'm excited and kind of nervous, but mostly excited," Shane said.
"It's going to be much warmer there. It's freezing here."
The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award is for young people aged 14 to 25 looking to challenge themselves. The path to the award could take many forms depending on the individual.
Undertaking a four-day expedition alongside fellow gold level candidates was one method of fulfilling the adventurous journey section.
Shane's aim was to reach gold level by the end of this year. He accomplished bronze in his first year of high school, silver in his second, and had been working on gold since the start of his third.
Following the hike, he would just have the community service and non-physical skill components left to complete.
The award will be presented to Shane by the Governor-General once all the criteria are filled.
"I'm doing it just to meet people and I know it looks good on a CV too," Shane said.
He will be accompanied by four New Zealanders on his trek.
There will also be an assessor shadowing the group, but otherwise they are expected to tackle the journey on their own.
To prepare for the qualifying hike, Shane practised on local trails.