Students capture New Zealand's 'Top Outdoor Spots'

A stunning lakeside vista, an impressive painting of New Zealand's tallest mountain and a well written account of a classic New Zealand family holiday have taken top honours in the 2015 Top Outdoor Spot competition.

The national competition invited students to send in photos, drawings and descriptions of their favourite outdoor places for display on the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's Both Sides of the Fence education website (

South Island spots topped the photo and drawing categories, with Hadlow School (Masterton) student Emily McMaster, 8, awarded “Best photo” for her photo of autumn trees on the edge of Lake Wanaka, and Boston Beanland, 12, from Casebrook Intermediate in Christchurch winning “Best drawing” for his picture of towering Mount Cook.

The award for “Best description” was won by 12-year-old Laura Johnson from Havelock North Intermediate for her refreshing and relatable description of holidaying with her family at Makorori, near Gisborne.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission Chairman John Forbes said the competition entries took the judging panel on a virtual tour of some remarkable destinations around the country, capturing different seasons, activities and emotions.

“The passion Emily, Boston and Laura each have for their chosen 'Top Outdoor Spot' came through clearly in the quality of their entries. It's encouraging to see that New Zealand's young people value our spectacular outdoor environments, and the unparalleled access we enjoy to them, as much as ever.”

More than 180 students from across New Zealand sent in photos, drawings and descriptions of their favourite outdoor places in 2015, up from 160 in 2014.

Mr Forbes said the Commission's Board members were blown away by the quality of entries across all three categories and judging the competition, while incredibly tough, had become something the Board really looked forward to.

He thanked the many organisations that had sponsored the competition, allowing the Commission to provide prizes ranging from iPad minis provided by Farmside and 70 Mile Bush Socks provided by the Kiwi Sock Company to Red Band Gumboots contributed by Skellerup and clothing vouchers provided by Wild South Clothing. The Cancer Society also provided sunscreen for the schools of the winning students.

The curriculum-aligned Both Sides of the Fence website is designed to help primary and intermediate school students understand the value of access and responsible behaviour in the outdoors.

The site includes an 'Explore' section with engaging animated videos covering topics including unformed legal roads, dogs in rural environments, biosecurity risks, fires, and important cultural considerations when accessing Māori land.

Other resources on the site include an 'eBook' that introduces children to the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code, an 'In My Region' image gallery where students can upload their favourite outdoor places, and a 'Teachers' Space' with lesson plans for teachers.

All winning students and entries can be viewed below. For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact:

James Heffield
027 703 5296

Winning students - 2015 Top Outdoor Spot Competition

Best Photo
1st: Emily McMaster, 8, Hadlow School (Masterton) - Wanaka
2nd: Eva Osmond, 10, Mahana School (Nelson) - Kina Peninsula
3rd: Lauren Swift, 12, Havelock North Intermediate (Hastings) - Sunset on the Lake

Best Drawing
1st: Boston Beanland, 12, Casebrook Intermediate (Christchurch) - Mt. Cook
2nd: Izzy Orr, 12, Casebrook Intermediate (Christchurch) - Looking out of the cave
3rd: Seren Stevens, 10, David Street School (Morrinsville) - Shelly Bay

Best Description
1st: Laura Johnson, 12, Havelock North Intermediate (Hastings) - Our place
2nd: Connie Metcalfe, 14, St Kevins College (Oamaru) - Earthquakes
3rd: Luke Bachmann, 9, Kristin School (Auckland) - Tawharanui

The winning students in each category won a prize pack including an Apple iPad mini courtesy of Farmside, a pair of Skellerup Red Band gumboots, a pair of 70 Mile Bush socks from the Kiwi Sock Company, a $60 Wild South Clothing voucher, and a Dash day pack. Their schools will each receive a Cancer Society 1L bottle of sun lotion and a $100 book voucher.

Second place in each category wins a $50 book voucher, a pair of Skellerup Red Band gumboots and 70 Mile Bush socks for themselves and a $50 book voucher for their school.

Third place in each category will win a pair of Skellerup Red Band gumboots and 70 Mile Bush socks for themselves and a $25 book voucher for their school.

View all of this year's entries in the In My Region gallery on the Both Sides of the Fence website: