Volunteering with Campbell – Ruth’s story

Ruth is from Germany and studied in the upper-intermediate/advanced General English class for 4 weeks before heading out to volunteer at 3 different projects. This is her report from her first project: Wellington Indoor Riding School. Check out the other projects that you could volunteer with here.

Volunteering with Campbell

After four amazing weeks at the Campbell Institute, where I met lots of interesting people, I had to leave my lovely host family. I travelled around the North Island for one week and got picked up by my new boss, Janet, in Wellington.

We drove to my new home for the next seven weeks: the Wellington Indoor Riding School, simply called WIRS.
Janet and her husband opened the place 14 months ago. It’s only 20 minutes away from Wellington but there is no bus. Janet offered me the car to go to town sometimes.

Time seems to go so fast and I can’t believe I’ve only got 2 more weeks left. I really enjoy being at the school and spending time with Amy and Belles, two others who work at the riding school. Amy even took me with her to ‘Horse of the Year’, a big horse show in Hastings.Ruth's volunteer experience

After some weeks, I am now able to be really helpful and even work completely on my own.
There are 38 horses (I counted them to do a “worm”- list) at the school at the moment, about 30 of them are school horses.
It took me a while to get to know all their names and to be able to tell the difference between them (especially the bay ones). But now I can get all the horses from the paddock.

Apart from Amy and Belles, a girl from next door, Lucy, works at the WIRS on some afternoons and a new worker, Ebony, just started to work three days a week. Ebony and I had fun shooting some pictures that show my usual work day:Volunteering with Campbell

I also take people out on a hack and give some lessons to beginners.
There are five instructors at the school but usually only one per day. The main ones are Anna (a German instructor who also gives jumping lessons on Mondays) and Sarah.

I’ve got unlimited Wifi at Janet’s place and at the school which is cool.
I spend some nights at Belle’s place, too, to take care of her dog and her two cats when she goes out.

There’s no point that I don’t like at the WIRS and I really don’t want to leave them!!

Ruth – Germany

Weta Workshop – where films come alive

Campbell Students visit Weta Workshop

Weta workshop is the home to the people who made the magic happen in ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘Avatar’ and many more films.

The studio, which is only 15 minutes drive from Campbell, is where they create special effects, films sets and costumes and props. Peter Jackson and James Cameron are just two of the many directors who have had work done at the Weta Workshop!

On the tour, you can see lots of models of the costumes, armour and weapons used in these films. You can even take a photo with some of the most famous characters, including Gollum!Campbell Students visit Weta WorkshopSome Campbell students had a trip there last month and really enjoyed the tour. They saw the models of the ogres, armour and costumes and had a one-hour tour.

‘We went to the Weta Workshop, and it was a great experience because I am a ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ fan. We saw all of the stuff from ‘Lord of the Rings’ by Peter Jackson, including Gollum and the ogres. I would recommend it because it’s a great experience if you like these kinds of movies.’

José – Peru

Majorie’s Campbell experience

Marjorie came to New Zealand and Campbell to work as a Demi Au Pair for 24 weeks. She also studied at Campbell for 14 weeks (after staying longer than she thought she would!). Here is her experience:

Marjorie's Campbell Experience

A family. Cultures. Smiles. Exchanges.

They are certainly the words which are the most representative of The Campbell Institute’s spirit. Straight from a classic school in France, I used to associate the education system with a competitive arena. “You have to strive to work to be the best”. A pressure which is, according to me, unproductive. I learnt in New Zealand that we don’t need to have our nose stuck in our books to succeed, but just open ourselves up to others. I learnt the idea of sharing, listening and solidarity. Above all, I learnt to go beyond the superficial. I learnt to appreciate. Thanks to them, I’ve grown up, I’ve became more mature. All these generous people who were ready to give me a piece of their life, of their way. More than a school, it’s an atmosphere. It’s a country. It’s New Zealand. It’s kiwis. It’s simply the original Melting Pot completed with breathtaking landscapes. It’s a new way to breath, see and smile.

Marjorie's Campbell Experience
I couldn’t imagine doing a road trip with a Mongolian, an Italian, a Chilean and two Germans. I didn’t expect to share drinks with two Saudi Arabians, a Brazilian, someone from Switerland, China and Japan. I never imagined spending some moments of my life with a 50-year-old German and a 40-year-old Korean. I couldn’t believe I would make friends with a French girl on the other side the globe. Or even called my teacher “mum”.
I didn’t think I would be able to do this. These persons have marked my life. I’ve learnt from all of them but I’ve also learnt from myself. And it’s with sparkling eyes that I thank them. No matter our differences, our ideologies, our origins, just keep your identity and you will be appreciated fully.

Marjorie – France

Everybody’s going surfing…surfing NZ!

Campbell Students surfing at Lyall BayCampbell Students surfing at Lyall Bay

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day. And this summer has been a good one!

Wellington is really lucky to be surrounded by lovely beaches and a great coastline. In fact most residents live within 3 km of the coast. Campbell students decided to take advantage of this and head to Lyall Bay on the south coast to enjoy a day of surfing!

Two groups of students braved the Lyall Bay waves for their first surfing experience. Most were able to stand on their boards, but only after a few times falling in the water! 

Campbell Students surfing


First of all, we learned some general things about how to surf, we did some stretching and then we drew the shape of the surfboard on the sand to practice getting up onto the board. Everyone got into the water and tried on their own with some help from the instructor.

It was better than I expected because I thought ‘oh, it’s the first time surfing, everyone says it’s very difficult’ and I thought I would completely fail. The weather was really good with a variety of wave heights, which is really good for beginners. I caught around 5-10 waves with around 20-30 metre of surfing, but I got up on the board around 30 times, but only for around 2-3 metres.

Getting the right point on the wave is the most difficult thing because sometimes you are too early and the board sinks or you are too late and you are on the wave and don’t have any speed. I would recommend everyone who wants to surf to get some lessons first because you learn a lot of important things.

Tassilo – Germany

Rock Climbing on the Wellington Waterfront

Campbell Students rock climbing at Fergs Kayaks

At the end of January, we had an amazing activity: Rock climbing. It was at a really nice place on the waterfront called Ferg’s Kayaks. There were around 15 people and everybody had lots of fun. We worked in pairs. While one was climbing, the partner was helping on the floor. It was an incredible experience and I am pretty sure that anyone who tried it would think the same!

Lotemara (Lo) – Brazil


Campbell Students rock climbing at Fergs KayaksCampbell Students rock climbing at Fergs Kayaks

Thailand Government Officials Visit The Campbell Institute in Auckland

The Campbell Institute Auckland campus recently hosted a delegation of 33 teachers and students in partnership with the Thailand Government Office of Basic Education Commission.The aim of the programme was to increase confidence and knowledge of using English while also gaining exposure to the New Zealand High School system, teaching and learning methods.


The first two weeks of the programme were spent with the Campbell Institute where teachers and students were split into two groups. The teachers course was targeted to assist them in using English when in the classroom with specific attention to improving vocabulary in their specialist teaching subjects. The students’ programme was an intensive programme aimed at increasing confidence in using English in a short amount of time.

At the conclusion of their study with Campbell, the teachers started a two week programme with Macleans College where they were able to observe New Zealand high school teachers in action, with supplementary English tuition. The students were split into three groups and went on to spend two weeks learning in the classroom with our other local high schools, Pakuranga College, Botany Downs Secondary School and Howick College.

Throughout the four weeks, both teachers and students lived with local host families where they were further able to practise their English and gain more of a cultural understanding of New Zealand. The group of teachers also took time during the weekends to explore some of the many tourist attractions; a day was spent on Waiheke island in the Hauraki Gulf, and weekend trips to Rotorua and Queenstown were arranged.

Thai Students Campbell Institute English Language


Volunteer Project: Living in Peace (4)

After four weeks at Rongo Backpackers, it was sadly time to say goodbye to all the lovely people living and working there and to head north for exploring the North Island! My host family from Wellington asked me whether I wanted to celebrate their Christmas in Auckland with them which made me really happy. I visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Russell, the first capital of New Zealand – everytime with people I’ve just met shortly before! That is what I love about travelling: You learn and experience to be really spontaneous and flexible and become friends with people from all over the world.

After the Bay of Islands, the next stop was Taupo, where I went to the Huka Falls and did “donutting” (see picture) on Lake Taupo. In Napier, I’ve had my hottest days in New Zealand so far, which I quite enjoyed by relaxing at the beach and walking through the Art Déco-city. Before going back to Auckland for the Christmas-celebrations, I stopped in Rotorua, where one of my dreams finally came true: I visited Hobbiton and had an amazing day – finishing with a Cider at “The Green Dragon”! I also walked around Lake Rotorua, which not only has a unique colour but a unique smell as well.

It was then finally time to go back to Auckland where I got to know a lot of new people and traditions: Christmas is not only celebrated in completely different temperatured, but also unlike in Germany on Christmas Day (December 25th).

After unwrapping presents, we had a huge Christmas-lunch with han, turkey wrapped in filo pastry, roasted vegetables, potatoes and salad with almond dukkah, followed by fruit mince, persimmon pudding and strawberries – simply delicious! The whole day was a completely new af great experience for me and I will never forget my Christmas in summer that was marked by cool drinks, spending time outside and going for a swim in the pool.

After the holidays, I headed south again, celebrated New Year’s in Wellington and took the ferry to Picton on Sunday, January 5th, to start my second project in the Queen Charlotte Wilderness Park, located in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

image4 donutting DSCN0406 Hannah beside sea P1080907 view from hills