Paradise in New Zealand

The place you want to be all year long.

The week.

Ponui Senior is 8 days long, always in mid January. Next year’s dates are 10 January – 17 January 2020, Friday to Friday.

We fill up!

This camp sells out nearly every year, and because of limited space and facilities, we cannot increase the intake. Therefore we suggest you follow our social media pipes to know when registrations are open (and then don’t delay)!

Age range.

We take young people who would be in high school years 11 – 13. You don’t have to be in school, but you do have to be in this age range. Because of limited numbers we hardly allow exceptions to this (sorry).

How we get there.

Everyone meets in Kawakawa Bay, 40 mins south of Auckland. From there we load everything onto a barge and head away to paradise.

We also head around the island at least once through the week, where people can jump off the barge and show us their tricks!

We ban phones!

What?! Yes, we’re for real! Crazy, right?!

What we have found is that this has actually been a really great thing to do! Yes, people are almost inseperable from their phones these days and some find the concept of not having their phone for 8 days really hard. There are five reasons why we do this…


  1. One year we had a whole lot of phones go missing & this was devastating for all of us.
  2. When you spend time scrolling through penguin memes on the ‘gram, you’re saying to the people around you that you’re not really interested in them.
  3. There’s lots of evidence that suggests that disconnecting for a long period is really healthy!
  4. There are lots of activities we will do where you don’t want your phone on you!
  5. If you need to connect with parents or get exam results, the director & leadership team will have phones you can use / be called on. Easy!

In fact, at the end of camp, most people say they don’t want their phones back! After all, you only get one week of your year to be at Ponui Senior!

The Tony McClean Memorial Swim.

Every year we do a swim to recognise and honour one of our leader alumni, Tony McClean. Tony tragically died when saving the life of another person, in the Mangetepopo Canyon tragedy. Tony was a strong swimmer, and often won this swim, so we dedicate it to him.

This is not a compulsory swim, but it is about 750m in open waters for those who want to participate.

Positive & uplifting

Everything we do aims to be inclusive, welcoming and supportive.

Come and join us for the chance to see what it looks like to live amongst a positive and encouraging community, then take it back with you!

#shinetheory #nothingbutencouragement


The structure is as follows:

  • Scripture Union oversee and administer the safety and policies for camp
  • There is a Camps Working Group (CWoG) that oversee personnel appointments and finances
  • CWoG appoint a director, to plan and prepare camp
  • For Ponui Senior, the director forms a leadership team, to spread the decision making and oversight, and then recruit leaders
  • The leadership team appoints an adj, to run camp



Everyone who joins Ponui Senior is a volunteer, and noone receives any financial gain. People, strangely, get addicted to a positive and uplifting community – hooked on the Ponui vibe – and want to give up holidays / annual leave to come back year after year. We are very grateful for each and every one of them!

We’re a Christian Camp.

We are run and operated by Scripture Union New Zealand, and all our leaders are connected to local churches around the country. The teaching through the week will be based from the Bible and we encourage people to come with thoughts, questions and responses throughout the week.

A restart.

So many people who come to Ponui mention that this is the best way to start their year, with a fresh restart. We allow space for people to do soul searching, and provide the space and mentors for people to process externally too.

The Chamberlins.

Ponui Island is owned and farmed by the wonderful Chamberlin family. We are always grateful for all they do, and recognise the huge sacrifice they give in farming the island all year in order to keep the Scripture Union camps alive and available.

If you think this is David with his feet up, it’s actually him still working with a damaged foot to help make camp possible!


The island is host to its own breed of donkeys, and estimates of around 2,000 kiwi.

One of the beautiful things of being based on a working farm is all the wildlife and extra visitors who pop in to join in the activities. 

Health and Safety.

We take safety seriously on the camp and follow Scripture Union’s “ChildSafe” safety & care system for all aspects of camp, so we trust you will help us observe this.


There’s so much to appreciate about life, and we hope that Ponui is a great chance for you to rewind, take stock of all the great things in life, and then get turbo charged for the year ahead.

Prepare to walk into the year with a new way of looking at your life. 

Get excited!

Ponui Senior is going to be awesome, and we can’t wait to have you there! If you have any questions or if you want more information then please feel free to get in touch with us, as we would be happy to help.

Otherwise we look forward to seeing you at Kawakawa Bay!






Ponui Senior is a camp run by Scripture Union New Zealand