Virtual Field Trip on the Spirit of New Zealand

LEARNZ offers virtual field trips for students on a wide variety of topics. This term we took part in their “Spirit of Adventure’.  We learned about the history of sailing in New Zealand. We were able to web conference with the captain of ‘The Spirit Of New Zealand’ (aka ‘The Spirit of Adventure’).

Last Tuesday we asked 10 questions to Steve Bull sailing in the Hauraki Golf


Questions we asked in our our web conference:

  1. Is it dangerous in storms?

Can be dangerous but we take the right precautions and that the ship is ready, we wear life jackets. We can take shelter in a bay. Everyone has a job to do in rough weather. It is a great experience!



  1. Why did you want to participate in the Spirit of Adventure? Rhys

I’ve been sailing most of my life and enjoyed the sea and young people. It made sense to join the crew and the Trust. Started as a volunteer and now I’m part of the crew.

3. What do you prefer – the sea or the shore? Amelia

I’ve spent so much time at sea. I enjoy the sea but when you’ve been at sea a long time it’s nice to play in the grass. I have my own boat and enjoy that. It is good to get back home!

  1. What is it like on the ship?  Meadow

Busy. Always something going on. The ship requires lots of people. The mainsail needs to be set soon that takes a lot of people. The cook needs help in the galley. People make the ship what it is. You need to like people to enjoy the ship. It can be quite cosy! Small beds. It’s a good playground! 45m ship with 50 people on it. Below deck is accommodation. Crew sleep in hammocks. Up to 56 people, so not much room!


5. Is leading a crew hard and if so why?

We have a great team on-board, so not too hard. Sometimes decisions have to be made which can be difficult. 1st mate, 2nd mate and 3rd mate help make decisions. Everyone knows their job. Students on-board raise the sails even after a short time.


  1. Does it cost to go on the Spirit of New Zealand and how do you get to go on a voyage?

Cost might put some people off. But it is open to anyone and there are funding options available. Details are on the website about fundraising etc.  Contact the website

  1. Are you nervous about being on the sailing ship and participating in the activities? Jessica

As the Caption, no I’m not nervous but coming in to the wharf on a windy day you can be concerned but not worried. Students can be a bit nervous to start with but very soon get used to the ship and get to know people. Everyone loves it! When you’re nervous and get over something you always feel better about it. eg swimming first thing in the morning! Nerves can be good!


  1. Has anyone got hurt on the ship? Holden

Most injuries are very minor eg slipping on the steps. We have a very good safety record lots of rules and things to ensure accidents are minimised. We try very hard to make the ship safe. We are never far from help if someone requires attention. We are all medically trained. Accidents are rare.


  1. Do you have to follow strict rules on the boat? Ava

Rules are about safety eg not running on deck. In the rigging wear harnesses. If rough weather wear a life jacket. Wear buoyancy aid in small boats. We have a good safety culture and we make sure everyone has a good time eg no bullying.

  1. Do you see any wildlife? Casey

I use my binoculars and sometimes see whales and dolphins, sharks, turtle, sometimes we see whales but they turn out to be logs!  At night we see dolphins and sometimes phosphorescence






Informal questions


How far does the Spirit of New Zealand sail away from the New Zealand coast?

50km but has sailed to Australia. Later this year it will go to the Chatham Islands. It has been to Stewart Island.

Do you play games while on the ship?

Absolutley! On a Trophy Voyage we play lots of team building games as part of the competition.

Do you go fishing?

No! Too many trainees to risk fishing. Often see people fishing and sometimes we are given fish! Even crayfish traded for sausages!

Does your ship have a motor, or do you rely on just sailing?

Yes. Big motor. Try to sail as much as possible unless the wind is unfavourable. Ship can sail faster than with the motor.

Do you ever get seasick?

Yes! On different vessels. On the Spirit it has a good motion and I have not been sick. Motion on a sailing ship different to other ships with a motor.

How big are the sails?

Lots of big sails. Sails on all 3 masts. Winds are strong today so we can reduce the sail size and make it more manageable. The biggest sail is called the main sail.

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How often do you stop at the shore during a sailing trip?

Depends on the voyage. 95% of voyages we’re at anchor each night. Every 2nd day on shore. People love getting ashore after sailing for a day.

Do you stop the ship at night?

As above. Most nights at anchor. If sailing to Australia we sail all day and night.

Do the students sailing with you get homesick?

Generally no. Too busy getting to know other people. Perhaps start off a bit homesick but then forget about it and don’t want to go home at the end!

Do you have a special person for radio contact?

We have an office in Auckland who can take calls and connect to the ship. You can go online and see where the ship is at any time. Trainees do not have cell phones no social media so no connection to the outside world. There is also a satellite phone on board.

How often do you have to clean the decks?

Daily. Every morning a full clean up. Each ‘watch’ has their own area to clean eg galley, cabins.


We learned we can take part in this adventure when we are older. We cannot wait until we are old enough to participate.

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