Monday, 16 April 2012

Arrival in Auckland

We are nearly home!

Great flight from LA a half full plane meant everyone got to lie flat and sleep.

We are now waiting for the Christchurch flight which is on time at the moment.

The students are currently consuming sushi at 7:30am?????

See you all soon!
Apparently they missed it.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

LA finally.

After the excitement of Dallas and its thunderstorms we have finally made it to LAX. The flight was delayed by about 5 hours because of the chaos at Dallas. But we made it here with our luggage. Unfortunately it meant that we missed our LA tour but that is the joys of international travel.
So we are now all checked in through to Christchurch. How exciting is that. So we have five hours to fill before our flight.
We'll let you know when we get to Auckland. Most of the kids cellphones are flat so you may not get a text when we land in Auckland.
Take care everyone


Dallas Updated @1328

New update @ 1328

We have just boarded and are now on our way to LA.

Just a quick update on our delays

We are confirmed leaving Dallas at 12:30pm and will be in LA at 2pm local time.

We will then be very early for our Air NZ flight however the students have bought cards and are happily wasting time playing 500



Arrival in Dallas

Well we are safe and sound in Dallas however we are now delayed due to bad weather. It was a very bumpy ride into Dallas that almost made Wellington look good.

We now just have to wait, we have plenty of time in terms of connecting with the Air New Zealand flight, however we may end up missing the LA Bus Tour. But we shall just wait and see.



Orlando airport

Good morning everyone. It is 5.50am and we are all checked in and ready to go. The alarm went at 3.30 the bus arrived at 4am and there were no mishaps. Back to sleep on the plane we hope.
And we had no overweight baggage.
Have a good day. Take care everyone

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Last Day in Orlando part 2

Hello everyone

Big shout out to y'all- we've just got back from an awesome day in Orlando.  We left early this morning and set off to learn some more about the Florida ecology.  We met up with Debbie our eco guide who took us to meet our sea kayaking guides.  The sea kayaking was awesome.  We saw a bottle nosed dolphin- when it hunts in shallow water you can see the bow wave it creates as it captures the fish.  We also saw some Manatee grazing underwater.  They came up every now and again for air, they are closely related to elephants and quite incredible to watch.  You can tell they are coming up for air as they create a current on the water that is quite unique.  We possibly weren't quiet enough for the Manatee to really put on a good show for us.
The kayaking was very cool and our students were very confident about it all.  It was quite windy so it wasn't a very dry experience- we were supposed to see Alligators on the trip but unfortunately (thankfully) we didn't.
The photo above shows Debbie our eco guide explaining some of the local flora and fauna.

After lunch and an eco walk through the enchanted forest we went on the air boats.  Now that is one cool experience.  We saw Alligators just sunning themselves and the whole Air boat experience was kinda cool albeit noisy.  Lots of wildlife.  The operator thought it was a little cool so gave the students plastic rain ponchos in case of rain.  A picture tells a thousand words so I will let the pictures do the talking on this one.  Tom and I did consider leaving them there- all dressed up in their rain ponchos with not a drop of rain in sight.

 Rain ponchos.  Providing protection from the wild Florida weather.

We also had to wear ear protection from the noise pollution of the Air Boats.  They are however such a shallow draft that they are very environmentally acceptable as they don't disturb the water ways they are in.
 Dinner on the last night.  A proper American BBQ dinner.

Then we were off to the world famous cocoa beach and the Ron Jon Surf shop-open 24 hours a day.  What an awesome way to finish the trip.  Simplicity tours put on an awesome BBQ for us, the weather was warm but not boiling and it was a lovely relaxed afternoon.  The last thing we did was all go and "touch the Atlantic" We started the trip with a photo on LA's beaches and finished on an Atlantic beach.  We ended with such a positive note it seems a pity to be heading home really.  (currently we are trying to convince them all to pack)

 All the crew together for the last dinner.  (Adam was having a nap on the bus, we haven't lost him)

So what an awesome trip.  We are bringing back some really tired students (and two tired teachers) but they have learnt so much about themselves and other people that I know that every moment has been worth it.  We will keep you posted on our progress through the various airports we will pass through in the next 36 hours or so.
 Us at the Atlantic Ocean- see you back in NZ soon
So take care everyone

Until next time


Last day in Orlando

Hi everyone

Well it's Saturday morning here and we are on our tour bus heading for cocoa beach and the start of the Eco tour day.

I will have a blog up tonight before we leave Orlando.

It's enough to say Friday was hectic with all the students cramming in as much Disney as possible until late afternoon when they got a chance to get some last minute gifts. I think there will be some very unique gifts coming home as well as the brightest colored shoes I have every seen.

The shoes will fit in well with the fluoro fashion of christchurch for the last 18 months.

The packing mission has started and everyone especially Louisa is glad we bought some luggage scales. There maybe some old bits of clothing being left behind still.

More to come later tonight then it's the marathon trip home.

P.S. If anyone makes very good coffee ill happily swap you a student for one as my withdrawal symptoms are not good. American coffee seems to lack something.


Tom WK

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kennedy Space Centre

Hello everyone
Today was a sleep in- we only pried the kids out of bed at 7am.  You'd think that they were nearing the end of a very busy two weeks by the looks of them as we loaded the buses this morning.
It was a very quiet trip out to the Space Centre- although our bus driver did wake us up to tell us there were Manatees swimming around and then Alligators just cruising by the side of the road.  We arrived at the space centre and got our bearings and were into it.
The Imax movie about the space station was fascinating and the 3D effects in it were unreal.  The students were  into the space exploration centre and are old pros at this space simulation stuff.  Landing the lunar module on their first try.  There was also a pretty amazing art exhibition with photos of the planets including a pretty amazing one of Jupiter.
Of course the highlight of the day was the Lunch with an Astronaut- Wendy Lawrence.  She had great descriptions of what it was really like- take off is like being a six year old and having your older brother by six year sitting on your chest because you have lost at wrestling again. The adventures in zero gravity and the immense preparation that they went through to get there were amazing.  It was pretty sobering to hear her talk about being on the next flight after the Columbia incident.
We have a group photo with her that we will get framed for school.
After the lunch we went on a tour of the launch station.  The Shuttles get launched from Cape Canaveral which is called launch control-this control transfers to Houston 8 seconds into the flight.  Amazing team work again between all the different aspects of the mission. One of the exhibits did explain that the computing power in your average smart phone is more than what they launched the Apollo missions with. Because of Space Camp the relevance of the sites we visited was heightened and their understanding of the exhibits so much more than it would have been before the Space Camp experience.
Visiting the launch control centre of the Apollo missions was pretty incredible and I thought it was pretty special to watch the count down and reenactment of the take off from actually where it all happened.  Likewise looking out over the shuttle launch pad was equally special.
It's a short report tonight.

Take care everyone

The first three photos are some of our great morning faces as we set off this morning.

 You can just see the Shuttle Launch pad in the back ground.  Some of the fantastic group we are travelling with are in the foreground.
 Seth using the telescope to have a close up look at the launch site.
The actual Apollo mission control.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Day Two of Disney

Hello everyone

Today was the second day of our Youth Education Programme at Disney.  We went on the Keepers of the Kingdom behind the scenes tour.  Not nearly as good as the programme on Monday at Magic Kingdom. The students did get to go on the premier ride as VIPs.  The ride was the Everest ride and was everything you could imagine a trip to Everest to be- complete with the Yeti.  On this YES programme they were very strict about us not taking photographs.
After the YES programme the students were ready to hit the theme park at full force... Everest was conquered again with photos purchased of our perfectly posed students. The Dinosaur ride took us back in time to the time before the meteorite collision that may have caused their extinction.  The special effects were incredible and the thought that had gone into the creation of the experiences meticulous.
A Bugs Life in 3D was another awesome feature- showing many of the worlds insects flying millimetres away from your face.  The special effects in this one included being stung by a hornet and sprayed by a stink beetle.  Very clever.
The best ride on a 31 degree day was the Kali River rafting experience.  Somehow Tom managed to get absolutely drenched- I got a a few splashes.  Couldn't have planned it better.
The park also included some real life animals-from African Safari animals to creatures of the Asian jungles.  The animals were coaxed to be in the right place at the right time by careful design of feeding and sleeping places.  There were animals that I hadn't seen before such as Bats and Raptors that were fascinating to watch.
The whole Disney experience is massive with such attention to detail.  We are looking forward to Friday when we are back for our final theme park day.
All the troops met up again at 5.30- we were expecting requests to stay longer but surprisingly the students wanted to come back to the Hostel and organise their dinners.  The kids are very tired but loving every opportunity that passes their way- when they all meet back up after a day going in different directions they are all pleased to see each other and talk non stop about what they have been doing. A lot of friendships have been forged that wouldn't have naturally formed at school.
Another fantastic day was had by all.  Tomorrow we are off to Cape Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Centre and another look at the Saturn V technology and Apollo missions.  We will be having lunch with an Astronaut and spending some time in the space center there.
 Take care everyone
Until tomorrow


Kelly Park Springs

Hi everyone

Here are a couple of photos from the students tubing at the Kelly Park Springs yesterday. We do have more but due to the public nature of the blog I won't post any of students in swimming togs on here. I will however include them in the photo package we create for everyone.


Tom WK

Jonathan enjoying his relaxing float on the springs

Below: Me doing my best impression of a life buoy