A group of Whangārei children were pushed out of their comfort zones and achieved things they never imagined during a week of adventure at Tongariro National Park.
Forty Year 8 and 9 "dreamers" - students from Te Kura o Ōtangarei and Tikipunga High School who are mentored and supported throughout their education by I Have a Dream Charitable Trust navigators - spent last week taking part in adventurous activities while at the Hillary Outdoors Education Centre.
Piripi Burt, an I Have a Dream navigator, said the children achieved "way more" than what they thought they could.
"They were pushed beyond their comfort zones for sure. But I think that's what made the whole trip really fun - is that these kids achieved things they didn't think they could ever do."
The opportunity to go on the trip is a result of $10,000 from Foundation North - via Hillary Outdoors; $10,000 from the I Have a Dream Charitable Trust - which provides Tikipunga High School, Tikipunga Primary School, Te Kura o Ōtangarei and Totara Grove School with navigators to provide consistent academic oversight, advocacy and support; and $10,000 raised by the students through sausage sizzles and events like a magnolia garden tour.
Navigator Vincent Nathan said the group were able to do "a lot of really cool things" on the trip.
"We did caving, abseiling, zip lining, overnight stays, canoeing, a high wires course, bush trekking, building huts in the bush, how to read a map - just lots of bush skills, outdoor skills. We learned lots about the environment as well and how to look after that."
Student Sally Hopa said her favourite part of the trip was the big flying fox.
"It was very fun and exciting.
We went on high ropes and it was scary," she said.
Navigator Mo Matautia-Tepania said there were instances of tears, triumph and pain.
"Their mental toughness got a real workout and there was pure happiness and joy when they achieved something they didn't necessarily want to do.
"For the guys and girls that were super excited, they just smashed through it," she said.
Joby Hopa, I Have a Dream community engagement manager, said there were hopes the trip would be held annually.
"Hopefully it's something all the kids on this kaupapa, as their coming through the different years, have the opportunity to attend. We think it's valuable for our kids."