Reflections by Sophie van Harlingen (Otamatea High School)

We recently travelled to the South Island to complete the Rees-Dart Track and gain Gold qualification. It went from being a hike that we thought would be easy to one of the hardest hikes we have completed to date. The track itself gave its usual challenges of hills, felled trees and rivers to cross. However in our planning and preparation, we had not realised the extent of the downhills we would be facing or the type of loose rock on which we would be hiking.

But from our journey we have learnt more about ourselves and others, as well as what challenges we could easily overcome and what worked for us. Looking back at this tramp we have both learnt what leaders need to do to ensure the safety of their group and how leaders’ decisions and moods can influence the whole group.

Specific challenges I faced on this hike included my feet, hips and knees being in a lot of pain, staying positive about the outcome of the hike as it happened and taking my turn as leader while in a lot of pain. The weight of the pack combined with the distances we had to cover each day were also exhausting. Challenges such as these really developed me as a leader during the hike. Every day I was forced to my physical limits while also doing my part to keep up the group morale since we were all tired and sore.



I feel that I showed this during my time as leader on the third day when we did a day trip up to the terminal face of the Dart Glacier. Due to my injuries, I was not allowed to help carry a daypack. This in itself was a challenge because my friend had to carry my necessities for the day, which taught me when to swallow my pride and accept the help offered.

I also worked to keep the group morale up during the hike home, as we were warned that the return track would be mentally tough. As a result, my co-leader and I started games and singalongs, as well as feeding a group member Raro to keep spirits high the whole way home.



The first day was a massive challenge with waking up at 3am, flying and then hiking 18 kilometres. The last kilometre took us an hour to complete and there were many tears as I tried to rebuild my mental state for the next day of hiking. It was a real challenge for me, but rewarding to now know that I have that ability.

My hike did not end as planned with a friend also injured and myself in a lot of pain. I was strongly advised by my leaders to leave the hike with her after having completed the necessary 65km for Gold. This was very difficult to do for me, as I am a person that does not easily give up and strongly dislikes stepping down from a challenge. However, I feel it was good for me to learn when to bow out and by doing so, I was able to be there for my friend during our time away from the group.


Reflections by Alicia Moir (Otamatea High School)

On this tramp, I faced many challenges that made me grow as a leader and individual. The whole tramp in general was challenging for me, but dealing with my body pain was one of the hardest. Throughout the tramp I had painful blisters and my body was in a lot of pain, but I pushed through this with the most positive mindset I could.

Another major challenge for me was being placed as tail back Charlie one day – it’s hard for me to be at the back since the main thing keeping me going whilst walking is communication with my peers. It acts as a helpful distraction and you definitely get into less conversations when you’re at the back of the group. These challenges amongst other things pushed me to my limits.



All my four dimensions of wellbeing were influenced by this tramp.

  1. Taha tinana – My body was most definitely challenged physically by walking for hours on end each day.
  2. Taha hinengaro – My mental wellbeing was challenged every hour of the day. I had to tell myself ‘left foot, right foot’ and to keep pushing on. This was really challenging for me. But looking back on this, I’ve realised just how much words of inspiration from yourself and others help. So moving on as a leader, I will most definitely encourage others by using my voice.
  3. Taha whānau – My social wellbeing was also affected by the use of communication from others. Singing with my peers helped distract me from walking, as well as Sophie and others helped by reassuring me how far away we had come and how much farther we had to go.
  4. Taha wairua – Lastly my spiritual wellbeing was affected, as this tramp helped me realise how strong I am and what I can achieve if I put my mind to it.



This whole tramp helped me develop as a leader and I’m extremely grateful for the experience. I put my leadership skills in place when it was my turn to lead with Tayten. Since we were leading the group on the second to last day, everyone had already had a job (e.g. carrying the first aid kit). I asked around to see who could do what and who would like to do what, which benefited the group as someone who was injured or needed to take it easy wasn’t stuck at the back or carrying the first aid kit.

I’m glad to have learned skills that I can use in the future (such as sports and sports leadership classes), as I would love my future to include sports, people and the environment.

Reflections by Alicia Moir and Sophie van Harlingen

Looking back on the tramp, we both feel that we have grown as leaders and as people. The skills we have gained from such a difficult and rewarding tramp will be invaluable to the leadership skills we apply during our lives. From this tramp, we have also gained stronger friendships that will be extremely important to us as we enter Level Two.

We would also like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to FMC for their support. Alicia is extremely grateful for her comfy boots, which lead her to have less blisters and gaiters that prevented her legs rubbing against each other. Sophie is also very thankful for her boots, which worked wonders in keeping her feet dry and preventing her ankles from subluxation.


 We’re delighted to share another trip report from recent recipients of FMC’s Youth Award Grant. These grants are awarded four times a year, so if you’re inspired to get some financial support, head over to FMC’s website to apply.