It was early February, somewhere deep in the bush and in the dead of the night, when a group of youngsters was seen dancing and singing.
Many of those who witnessed this happening thought they were hallucinating.
What they had seen was a group of Duke of Edinburgh students under the watchful eye of volunteer Sarah Orton, manning one of the remote aid stations of the Tarawera Ultra Marathon on the Eastern Okataina Walkway.
A second group of students, located on the Western Okataina Walkway and accompanied by Roger Bawden, were armed with a similar arsenal.
Upon arriving at their respective stations, a bivouac was erected (and decorated) and the groups settled in for the long haul.
The 100-miler Ultra Marathon racers, having been awake for a while and also having expended a great deal of energy, could be forgiven for wondering if what they had seen was a mirage.
"It probably was a bit of an eye-opener for a few of them," Orton said. "The following day some of the runners replayed the scene to people manning other race stations."
Orton and Bawden both volunteer to help with volunteers.
"Roger and I initially started helping out with the independent Bay of Plenty Duke of Edinburgh group. A couple of years ago we took over the Rotorua one.
"We are also friends of the Tarawera organisers and help out where can."
As part of the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award, young people between the ages of 14 and 24 design their own award programmes, set their own goals and record their own progress as part of gaining practical life skills and hands-on experiences.
"There are three stages to the award, bronze, silver and gold," Orton said.
"The bronze stage includes volunteering 30 hours of community service over three months through to gold where between 90 and 120 hours of voluntary community service is required.
"The voluntary work is usually done within one organisation, like at the SPCA, within church youth groups or even in the school library. But one-offs, like the Tarawera Ultra, do count toward the total too."
Both Orton and Bawden are former Search and Rescue volunteers which, according to Orton, is why they man the more remote Ultra Marathon stations.
"Even the best-laid plans can go askew sometimes, it could be nourishment, it could be liquid or it could be a fall, but if someone is unable to carry on from one of these remote stations, there does need to be someone with the skills to bring them out."
The Duke of Edinburgh youths tramped about two to two-and-a-half hours to get to their stations.
"Lots of the runners were asking us how we got there and were surprised to learn we had tramped in," Orton said.
She said seeing the groups happy, and singing and dancing was a pick-me-up for many running through the night.
As well as volunteering with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Orton is also the chairwoman of the Rotoehu Ecological Trust.
The trust is a conservation group dedicated to protecting and managing the North Island kōkako population in Rotoehu Forest.
"We're always on the lookout for new volunteers."