A rite of passage for every child in Southland – Deep Cove Camp creates a unique and memorable experience.
The Deep Cove Education Hostel is located in the beautiful Doubtful Sound and is one of the most favoured school camps in Southland, established in 1971 by the Department of Conservation. The Trust's vision is for Deep Cove to be an exceptional camp experience and a place of epic exploration for New Zealand's youth. Young people get to connect with the natural environment in Fiordland National Park, gain knowledge and skills that help them to understand and appreciate it and overcome challenges like reaching the top of the Hanging Valley track.
Annually 2,500, mainly 10–13-year-old Southland and Otago children, stay at the hostel which sleeps around 80, for 3 to 4 nights whilst on class camps. A further 1,000 people book annually, usually groups and tourists. The hostel is the base for exploring the surrounding area, including walks, fishing from the hostel wharf or boats or the night-time viewing of the glowworms and kiwi calling.
The original Deep Cove Hostel was built in 1968 to house workers associated with the first Manapouri hydro tunnel. In 1980 after a successful fundraising campaign, a new building complex was opened, and the Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust was formed.
With the building being 40 years old and having foundation issues that have now been addressed it is time for a full upgrade of the Hostel's facilities. These upgrades which include new roofing, insulation and double glazing will provide disability access, a warmer and drier environment, improved teaching spaces and modernised sleeping facilities.
Funding approved through Community Trust South’s Major Grants round contributes towards achieving a fully refurbished facility enabling the Trust to continue to provide a world class camp experience while keeping the operating costs to a minimum. One of the Trust's priorities is to make the camp affordable, so all school children are able to attend.
The level of support for Deep Cove Camp right throughout the community cannot be understated. Various community groups volunteer labour for projects or maintenance such as Invercargill Rotary Club and Pakeke Lions Club. The Trust has a Facebook group of volunteers which is made up of people from all different walks of life including many tradespeople who are willing to come and assist with any work that is required to support the running of the Camp. Real NZ helps transport the volunteers over to Deep Cove and the Les Hutchins Conservation Trust funds nature guides to work with each camp class.
Deep Cove Camp is a well utilised facility that has provided opportunities for generations of Southland school children to experience the wonders of Fiordland and the Sounds – lasting memories are made along with all the emotional and social wellbeing impacts that a truly unique camp experience provides.