They weren't sword-fighting or searching for treasure, but 10 students experienced a pirate's life on the sea when they embarked on the Spirit of Adventure voyage.

The Whanganui High School students boarded the Spirit of New Zealand ship at Princes Wharf in Auckland to test themselves against three other schools.

They cooked meals with the on-board chef, cleaned the decks and took each other on in a series of challenges including raising sails, tug of war and flag making.

Dominic Benfell, 14, said that his favourite activity was the rope swing.

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"There was a rope that you had to hold on to which was attached to one of the higher masts. We climbed up onto the side of the ship, swung out over the water and then had to let go.

"A couple of the kids pulled backflips and dives, so that was quite good. Everyone supported each other, especially the ones that were a bit nervous to get up there and do it."

WHS won the flag making competition and the spirit trophy taking on students from Hamilton Boys' High School, Westlake Girls High School and Western Heights High School.

Benfell said he has remained friends with many of the students that he met on the trip.

"I took many things away from it. We learned about teamwork which was key, as was communication," he said.

"It was a great time meeting everyone, doing the activities and bonding as a group. I recommend it to everyone. If the opportunity comes up, definitely go for it."

The students were accompanied by Whanganui High School teacher Craig Adam who has been involved with Spirit of Adventure at the school for about five years.

Adam said the adventure takes some students out of their comfort zones.

"They don't always shine in standard classrooms and this is an opportunity for them to do so in a completely different way," Adam said.

"Some of the kids that went were high achievers, but some weren't. All of them shone amazingly on this trip and had strengths that they contributed to the group."

Whanganui High School were able to subsidise the $1200 cost per student to participate in the adventure with the help of an Infinity Foundation grant.

The Spirit of Adventure also includes a 10-day voyage costing $3,500 and three times they have offered scholarships for the full amount to Whanganui High School.

The students that went on the adventure with Benfell were Grace Palazzo, Maggie Jones, Laura Mackintosh, Angel Welch-Trower, Caleb Squire, Toni Adams, Benjamin White, Conna Hawira and Blake Hoskin.