Friday, July 22, 2011

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

What a day we had!! Let’s set the scene… perfect weather, calm seas, thousands of fish just waiting for us to come and explore their world!

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the Great Barrier Reef by boat; on the way out we were lucky enough to see whales on their annual migration. Once we arrived we all suited up with wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels then it was straight off the boat and into the amazing blue water below!

We became the eyes and ears of the marine biologists and were given water proof pens and paper to take some surveys of exactly what we were seeing. Giant Clams, soft and hard corals, sea cucumbers and fish –every color of the rainbow. Some of the group have an amazing story of seeing one of the most feared creatures a white tip reef shark!

Coming back on board everyone had theirs own story of adventure and tales to tell. All agreed that is was “one of the best days of the entire trip”.
Those that didn’t have enough water time today, got to enjoy the hotels beautiful lagoon style pool after dinner.

Travel Manager – Natalie.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sharks Anyone

After a 5:45 wakeup call and a quick breakfast we jumped aboard a boat and set forth to the coral sea. During the 2-1/2 hour journey to Lodestone reef we saw at least four humpback whales. One was kind enough to breech within 30 meters of our boat.

As we approached the reef the waters turned a bright turquoise color. We anchored right next to a series of large "bomies" which are great big mounds of coral. We suited up in our wetsuits, put on our flippers and masks, and walked the plank. After 2 hours of amazing snorkeling amongst some of the most beautiful coral and fish in the world we hauled ourselves back on board for lunch.

After lunch the marine biologists from reef hq instructed us on how to perform a reef health assessment. Using underwater paper and grease pencils we tall eyed all of the types of coral, fish, predators, and signs of coral distress such as bleaching. During our ten minute timed underwater observation a white finned reef shark paid us a visit. Many arguments as to the sharks true length would happen later (my guess has it at about 8 feet) but it was undoubtably the most gracefully swimming creature I have ever seen.

After the reef assessments Greg decided it was time to leap off the top level of our boat into the water (about the height of the reef shark). Everyone soon followed suit, even the adults.

Jeff and Katrina

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aquariums, cockatoos, and koalas - oh my!

Lets just say wow! We woke up inside the aquarium and heard lots of interesting facts about what we will see on the reef!

Then a ferry escorted us over to the Magic Magnetic Island, where we got to hold a cockatoo and see Lizards amongst other wildlife. We then became wildlife ourselves when the beach at horseshoe bay became too tempting and everyone ended up in the water!

It was then time for a hike up to the highest point on the Island to the military bunkers and one of the star attractions made an appearance – a wild koala and her Joey!!

Tomorrow is another action packed day as we (don’t wan to make you jealous) snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! Stunning weather ordered just for us! Stay posted.

Travel Manager – Natalie Costa.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

G'day from Down Under

Well it’s been go, go, go since touchdown! Starting off getting spooked in one of the oldest areas in Australia, The Rocks.

We have been sailing on the magnificent Sydney Harbour, eating at some lovely restaurants in Darling Harbour – where we had the opportunity to try…wait for it…Kangaroo!!!

Our walking shoes also took us exploring inside the great marvel – the Sydney Opera House. Only this morning we said ‘goodbye’ to Sydney and ‘hello’ to the wonderful sunny Townsville.

Holding and getting up close to Koalas, Crocs, snakes and hand feeding kangaroos was on today’s schedule before heading to Reef HQ, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium where we will spend the night sleeping with fish!

All in all it’s a blast so far with lots more installed.

Travel Manager - Natalie Costa

Ps.. all the students send their love back home to family

Friday, July 15, 2011

Building a Snowcave 101

The first step is to place an innertube in the snow where you plan to build your cave, and then cover it with a tarp and spread it out. After that, just pile on the snow and make sure it's packed in extremely tight. Once you cover the tube, you start piling on snow to build up the edges. Then, you can start excavating the inside through multiple doors, but once the tube is out you need to seal up the other doors. Once you have a ceiling, you can start leveling the floor so you have a nice pallet to sleep on. And those are the basic instructions you need to build your own snow cave!

I had so much fun building the snow cave. My favorite part was packing the snow on top of the tube. My method of choice was to belly flop on the pile whilst making karate noises. The karate noises created a whole new me.

Hannah N.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yesterday we were in Queenstown, New Zealand, and still are. We went up a gondola, which was really cool. There was so much snow! After we got to the top we went out side and watched people bungy jump. Then we ate lunch, and went back down. We hopped on the bus, and went to a jet boating place. We got on all our gear, and jumped on the boats. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! We did 360's, and almost ran into rocks. It was awesome!

-Grace Heming

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Yesterday, we went to the beach after we hiked in the rainforest, and had a snowball fight.  The water was freezing! I went to put my feet in and a huge wave came and got my soaked from my knees down, and splashed my sleeves and back.  I have never felt water so cold, but we had an awesome time!

-Grace Heming

DSA is OUTSTANDING, Tony our Tour Guide Rocks!!

Our trip has been everything I hoped it would be, including a few changes!  A few changes in our itinerary has not affected our amazing group of students and adults.   We are all having a fantastic time, the Amazing Race in Queenstown  was full of excitement, laughs and learning!!!

Throughout the the trip one person has kept us laughing and learning. Tony our Team Guide has been exceptional!  He has created a learning environment full of enthusiasm and his knowledge of New Zealand is off the charts.   Discovery has done an outstanding job selecting our Team Guide.

Katrina Fiorenza, New York

Meet our Driver Daryl…

If you have been following our blog you will know that our journey has been full of snow and plan B’s. One thing that has been the same throughout the entire trip is our chipper driver, Daryl. He is always there to give us a smile, tell us stories and get us out trouble when it comes to lots of snow and the a big bus in the mountains of NZ.

Though Daryl is a man of few words, I was lucky enough to sit behind him on the bus… So, I learned a bit more about him. Here’s a fun random fact: He grew up with a few pets, a dog, a goat, and a some sheep. He told me that they all had names except for the sheep. I was a bit puzzled when he told me that because I thought it wasn’t very nice to name all of his other pets and forget the about the sheep. So, I asked why and he said he had 200! That’s a lot of sheep!

So, that’s Daryl in a nut-shell: Chipper, Fun Spirited and Animal Loving.


Ashley Sicard, Florida Teacher

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nice hotels!

Even though we have only been here for 2 days, the 2 hotels that we have stayed in so far are great. Comfy beds, nice showers and HEAT! It’s literally been so cold here, defiantly not used to it since I live in Florida, but the hotels make the room nice and warm. I’m having a great time and I’m so thankful for my family for letting me do this.

-Ashley Jodoin

IT’S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!!!

I officially love snow. Living in Alabama, I’ve never really seen snow fall and form piles or actually cover the ground so seeing it coat everything over here is awesome. It’s only snowed twice in Alabama since I was born. The first time I was only about two years old, so I barely remember it. Then, a couple of years ago it “snowed” during Christmas, but I don’t think you can call what actually fell from the sky snow. It melted as soon as it came in contact with anything and was a total let down. But…I am making up for my snow-deprived childhood over here and having a blast.

-Hannah Norman

      Hey family.

The Maori Tribe

Yesterday was an amazing day here in New Zealand. The day began with a bus ride through the gorgeous mountains.  We finally arrived to the meeting house of the Maori tribe. We were required to remove our shoes to enter and the meeting began with prayer. We had a presentation about the tribe legends and culture. The most fascinating being the pounamu or jade. We then went to the Maori Heritage Centre where we were able to watch jade being carved into various different symbols for jewelry. Examples of the meanings of the carvings included; unity, change, and the elements of the world. Here’s the most amazing part, a special piece of jade was carved for President Obama and we were able to actually hold and take pictures with it. The piece will be given to President Obama by the Prime Minister of New Zealand. It’s been an amazing journey through this beautiful country.

All my best,

Kalie Fiorenza

Arthurs Pass


Today we went to Arthur’s pass! It was beautiful, the mountains were beautiful! We also visited with the Maori. Their culture was so amazing to learn about.Grace (a member of our discovery group) received the jade gift from the Maori! Most of us bought pieces of jade. I know that today was a good day, but tomorrow we climb Fox Glacier!


Keep Warm,

Ally Fuller

Many Many Sheep

I don’t think I have ever seen so many sheep all at one time. That is one of New Zealand’s identifiers. It is so weird being here and it be snowing, since where I live in New York, it is really hot. The trip had a bit of a rough start but things are all fine now. This is such a cool experience and yet it has only begun.

Katherine Morschauser

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An Epic Air Journey

The crew coming out of Washington, DC overcame the following:

A 1-1/2 hour rain delay out of Dulles, which would have been okay, except:

We were stuck on the tarmac at LAX for 30 minutes because a broken down plane was at a gate and they wouldn't reassign us a new gate, which caused us to miss our Sydney connection. The people at Discovery were great and managed to book us on a later flight to Melbourne, except:

We only had 15 minutes to make the Melbourne flight and it was in a different terminal. They had a shuttle bus that would have gotten us there on time, except:

and so it went on and on for the next 30 hours. It is a testament to the fortitude of our kids that we all arrived happy and helathy and are now rested. Our luggage is due later today along with the GPS Spot that will plot our course,

Jeff Oosterhout

The Adventure Begins

The start of our New Zealand trip began today Sunday July 10th wow Sunday i can’t believe it came quick like that, when i left Florida it was Friday, July 8th. Flying to New Zealand took forever and it felt like a long voyage that would never end, however we got here and my excitement roared. I have been waiting for this trip for a while like everybody else and it came. The start of our New Zealand journey was a flight from Sydney, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand it was about 3 hours with a little bit of turbulence towards the end. Reaching our destination was a relief and i was excited to see Christchurch. We went to the International Antarctic Center, The introduction was amazing the front of the center looked like there were actual Antarctic researchers exploring the Arctic. We watched a 4D short documentary that was heart pumping with excitement and at times tended to get you wet. Once it ended we went and saw some little blue penguins. After we went and felt the freeze of an Antarctic summer. It was COLD!!!!!!!! Then explored the rest of the center. As we were riding around Christchurch we saw the devastation of the earth quakes that hit there. I couldn’t imagine how some of the people felt knowing that their shops that they have had for a while just crumbled to pieces. It truly was a heart warming experience and shows you can’t truly experience the news unless you see it for your self. Tomorrow we leave for Queenstown and i can’t wait to meet the Maori.  

Written By: Katrina Dutton, Florida

Up, Up, and Away

The New York group is waiting for their first flight to Chicago, made it thru security with no problem!  All the travelers are smiling and excited for the adventure.   Thanks parents for everything; you have been wonderful to work with.  A big “Thank You” to Adirondack Central School in Boonville for supporting this trip and believing in the difference it will make in our students!!!

Katrina Fiorenza, Adirondack Central School

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Where has the time gone?  We will leave on our adventure in just six days, hope everyone has the same excitement I do!  Packing is just about done, just re-thinking and comparing the packing list from Discovery.   Can you say “Ready Set Go”…..down under here we come!!

Katrina Fiorenza

Adventure Details

Duration 16 days
Destinations South Island, NZ
Great Barrier Reef
Focus Ecology/Conservation
Coral, Coastal, and Alpine Ecosystems