A group of resilient John Paul College students embarked on a tough adventure, representing Rotorua at this year's Genesis Energy Hillary Challenge.

The students walked away with a major prize, the Team Synergy award, at the end of the week, despite a team member being injured and having to pull out.

The challenge has been described by the school's sports director Arthur Faulkner as "undoubtedly the toughest adventure competition for high school students," and sees teams of youngsters compete for coveted titles.

"Not only does the event require a high level of physical and mental fitness, but being a team sport, members need to develop their ability to work together under stress," Mr Faulkner said.


The annual challenge, now in its 16th year, took place last week and was made all the more difficult with 100km/h wind gusts, 40mm of rain and low cloud during the second half of the week.

The five-day event was held at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro, and was open to 12 school teams.

Students from Whakatane's Trident High School also took part. The teams were scored on their skill, speed and endurance during a series of outdoor adventure challenges.

The first two days were made up of 12 challenges with John Paul College winning the abseiling challenge and banking maximum points, putting the team in ninth place.

The next two days was a major Rogaine with the John Paul College students placing 11th.

The final day was a multisport event - a total of 17km of running, a 6km flotation challenge and a 30km mountain bike.

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It was during this challenge one of the students was injured and the team had to drop out after the flotation challenge.

This cost the group 200 bonus points and a 15 per cent penalty deduction on points gained, taking their ranking from a possible seventh overall to ninth overall.

The Team Synergy award was chosen by all the Hillary instructors who observed the teams and the way the members looked after each other.