Students see the world with travel-loving teacher

Jenna Barrons (from left), East Troy High School art teacher Lori Puls, Abby Kannard, Bryn Reimer, Kimmey Dragotta and Paige Cromey learn to surf in Byron Bay during a recent 15-day trip to Australia and New Zealand.

After two years of proverbial blood, sweat and tears, East Troy High School art teacher Lori Puls recently got a chance to share her love of travel with a group of 16 East Troy High School students.

“It was an incredible educational, cultural and adventurous experience,” said Puls. “It was everything and more than we thought it would be.”

The group, which included East Troy District nurse assistant Tricia Harris and five additional parents and chaperones, traveled with Education First Tours on a 15-day adventure on the north island of New Zealand and along the east coast of Australia.

“This trip was in the plans for two years with multiple fundraisers so it was a trip we were all looking forward to with much anticipation,” said Puls.

The group kicked off their journey in Auckland, New Zealand where they toured the geothermal Whakarewarewa area.

“We learned about Maori legends and tribal customs as a Maori guide led us on a tour of a Maori village,” Puls said.

There they viewed hot springs that freely flowed throughout the village, bubbling pools of mud and geysers. In the evening, the students participated in a Hangi feast and learned the dance of the Maori culture.

The group also visited the world famous Agrodome and learned about sheep sheering and the many different breeds of sheep in New Zealand, Puls said.

Nicole Pesek said the highlight of her trip was the white water rafting.

The tour of New Zealand culminated with adventure rides such as white water rafting, riding the sky swing or the luge in Rotorua.

“An activity enjoyed by all was rolling down a 250-meter long track in a Zorb or Ogo (a New Zealand invention) which is a transparent sphere constructed of plastic with another carefully constructed internal sphere which you can jump inside and roll down a hill,” Puls said.

A short flight took the students from New Zealand to the east coast of Australia where they traveled to the Noosa National Park then on to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. If they were able to have a little more time in their holiday plan, they may have been able to check out apartments warrnambool and extend their stay so they could see what other Australian beaches had to offer in this beautiful country.

“There we swam in Lake McKenzie, a lake surrounded by pure white sand,” said Puls.

After returning to the mainland the group traveled by off road vehicle to experience Australia’s largest preserved subtropical rain forest.

“The students learned how to crack a whip, throw a boomerang and feed exotic birds. This excursion culminated with a tree-top canopy walk above the rain forest floor,” Puls said.

With a stop at Cape Byron, the group toured a lighthouse and surfed at Byron Bay.

“I really enjoyed learning how to surf,” said Paige Cromey.

Cromey said she also liked seeing where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed in New Zealand.

Puls said another highlight was an afternoon at Currumbin Wild Life Sanctuary on Australia’s Gold Coast.

“Everyone got a chance to hold a koala and take a photo, feed kangaroos and view exotic birds,” Puls said.

A few days in Sydney ended the tour.

The group enjoyed a bird’s eye view of Sydney from the observation deck of the Sydney Tower, according to Puls.

On a harbor cruise, the group viewed the Sydney Opera House, the Harbor Bridge and colonial neighborhood landmarks.

Previously, Puls has taken students on trips to Europe.


  1. As a chaperone during a tour with East Troy High School Art Teacher Lori Puls and her honor students to Europe I was pleasantly impressed with the orderliness and maturity of her students. No time was wasted as every event was carefully and delightfully planned. With the community of East Troy I applaud the excellent education experiences made available to the students and parents of the High School Art Class teacher Lori Puls. Arthur E. Angove, D.O., General Surgeon, Ret.,