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An ambitious new outdoor education and marine research centre announced for the Bay of Island

Posted on February 22, 2016

A new outdoor education facility for young adults has officially been announced for the Bay of Islands and will operate under the auspices of Adventure for Good (AFG).


The Marine Adventure Research Centre (MARC) will offer students a unique training experience within a holistic programme that incorporates adventurous pursuits, marine research and community service. The centre building is currently under construction on a hilltop site overlooking the greater Bay of Islands and will be opened in January, 2017.

The Marine Adventure Research Centre (MARC) will offer students a unique training experience within a holistic programme that incorporates adventurous pursuits, marine research and community service. The centre building is currently under construction on a hilltop site overlooking the greater Bay of Islands and will be opened in January, 2017.

General Manager, Christian Pera, says MARC will recruit students from overseas ‘to foster a truly cosmopolitan learning environment’. Staff and contractors will be leaders in their respective fields and adventurers in their own right.

MARC will work in collaboration with TriOceans, a collective of marine biologists based in the Bay of Islands, to engage students in real-time marine research, culminating in a two-week long expedition devised by students themselves.

Both students and marine researchers will utilise SV Caliph, a steel sailing yawl constructed by local boat-builder, John Clode, for research operations. The vessel completed her initial aid voyage to the Solomon Islands between October and December of 2015.

Adventure for Good is also initiating some smaller projects in Russell, with the intention of rejuvenating the village’s maritime heritage. Wood2Water will offer courses in the construction of traditional surf craft – handplanes, paipos, alaias and paddleboards – under the tutelage of local master craftsman, Christian Druery.

Following that, a wooden boat-building school will be introduced where locals and visitors can access a variety of bespoke courses centred around the customary craft of maritime carpentry.

To kick-start that concept, Adventure for Good has hosted Norwegian boat-builder, Ulf Mikalsen, in Russell since January. He has been demonstrating age-old construction techniques from the Arctic Circle and has advised on AFG’s current research and development programme.

AFG also introduced electric bike hire to Russell in late January. A number of New Zealand-designed electric bikes that can be charged overnight are offered for hire from Adventure for Good’s headquarters at 22 York Street under the brand name Charge!

Christian Pera says the longer-term ambition is to develop a menu of cycle trails with charging points around the Bay of Islands.

“We’d like to see an electric system throughout and are keen to work with local authorities to make that happen.”

He and co-founders of AFG – Chris Wallis and Jess Gibbs – all have educational backgrounds which, says Mr Pera, is the catalyst for Adventure for Good. The concept has been three years in the making and has already attracted some initial investor funding.

The official launch of the new learning facility was held on the weekend at Russell’s iconic Duke of Marlborough Hotel. The large crowd attending the launch function included local politicians, leading business people and educationalists.