ON THE TRAIL: National Geographic journalist Himraj Singh Soin and Ohiwa tourism operator Kenny McCracken take a ride along the Dunes Trail. Photo Sven Carlsson OS0106-02

A VISITING National Geographic photography teacher says the only problem he’s found with New Zealand is his brain has gone into overload from all the natural beauty.

Adventure traveller and National Geographic institute journalist Himraj Singh Soin caught some fresh sea breezes with Kutarere tourism operator Kenny McCracken on Monday morning.

The pair went for a bike ride along the Dunes Trail, where the Opotiki News caught up with them.

Mr Soin, from New Delhi in India, said this was his first time in New Zealand and he had been leading a National Geographic students’ expedition in the South Island.

“We had 10 high school students from the United States attending the course,” he said.

“I was teaching photography and film to the students.”

The course participants had visited “rugged New Zealand,” including glaciers.

“The students have been stepping out of their comfort zone,” Mr Soin said.

The course lasted a little over two weeks and they had a National Geographic photographer, Jason Edwards from Australia, teaching them for a week.

Mr Soin has been impressed by what he has seen in New Zealand but has found the beauty overwhelming.

“I love it, but there’s almost too much natural beauty here,” he said.

“After a while it gets hard to take it all in.”

Mr Soin was born into the adventure travel world, with his father being the famous mountaineer, explorer and adventure travel expert Mandip Singh Soin.

“It was a natural progression that I became a traveller and mountain climber,” he said.

“I then started working with travel journalism.”

The family has a company called Ibex Expeditions that offers expeditions, wildlife safaris and experiential holidays, much of it involving travel in the Himalayan mountains.

Mr Soin has almost completed his whirlwind visit to the North Island, with visits to Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne and the Eastern Bay.

“We’ve been doing caving, glow worms, rafting and guided tours,” he said.

“We have also been shown the Maori culture.”

Mr Soin said he had taken photos and intended to write stories about conservation, Maori culture and “the need to protect the land”.

His visit to New Zealand has been in conjunction with a Tourism New Zealand promotion.

About 30 countries are on offer for students selecting through the National Geographic student expedition programme and New Zealand is a popular choice.

The summer travel programmes aim to inspire and educate high school and middle school students, aged 13 and older.

The students can choose between in-depth expeditions, community service trips, photography workshops, or university workshops.