You are logged in as


This website uses cookies to distinguish you from other users. This helps us to provide you with a good user experience and also allows us to improve our website. More information

Facebook Old Cols College

Outdoor Education Programme in Full Swing

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2022

More news for Community

Students gather, seated, just outside of the lodge while Jo stands to address them.

Castle Hill Outdoor Education Centre Operations Manager, Jo Parsons, addressing Year 9 students.

Castle Hill Outdoor Education Centre Operations Manager, Jo Parsons, says the Alistair Sidey Mountain Lodge is a 'phenomenal' asset for St Andrew’s.

“There has been a huge investment from the College in the programme and facilities at Castle Hill and it shows. It is such a rarity for a school to retain its own Outdoor Education programme to this level. The students of today are reaping the rewards of the visionary groundwork that was laid when the first developments took place here.” Jo says many of the founding values and vision ring true today, and she agrees with Rector Galloway’s inspiring words from the 1960s that there is much merit “in the healthy tiredness that comes from roughing it in the open air.”

Following a review and hiatus, it’s back to business as usual at Castle Hill in 2022, with St Andrew’s highly regarded Outdoor Education programme once again in full swing. Students in Years 7–10 have been discovering a lot about themselves and their classmates during their annual excursions to the award-winning Alistair Sidey Mountain Lodge, and there are various opportunities for senior students to return. “The fact that all our staff at Castle Hill now live in the village is a big plus. They are passionate about the area and enjoy recreating in their workspace at weekends. This enthusiasm and knowledge are passed onto the students.”

A group of students are in a raft in a body of water, with lifejackets and helmets on, their paddles in the air, as they smile for a photo.

Rafting is a highlight of the Year 9 Outdoor Education programme.

Some of the exciting activities students participate in at Castle Hill includes group problem-solving games, abseiling, rock climbing, skiing, snow-caving, tramping, camping, kayaking, and assisting with environmental projects. “We have re-introduced a rafting programme for Year 9 students this year, something that used to be run at Castle Hill in the very early days. Students enter the Waimakariri River at Mt White Bridge and after receiving rafting instruction on the go, learn the skills to guide themselves down the river to their remote river side campsite, before descending through the gorge on the same river section as the Coast to Coast race. It’s a highlight of the programme,” says Jo.

When Castle Hill is not required by St Andrew’s College, other schools are able to book into an Outdoor Education programme, says Rector, Christine Leighton. “It is good for as many schools as possible to enjoy this wonderful area and benefit from the programmes our staff have designed for the benefit of students.”

Students see great benefits from their Outdoor Education programme and Castle Hill assets.