Thirty high school students yesterday made landfall after a 12-day excursion to the remote Kermadec Islands aboard the navy ship HMNZS Canterbury.
The Young Blake Expedition explorers were selected for the journey from all over New Zealand and joined 26 professionals including scientists, business leaders and adventurers.
They left the Devonport naval base on August 8 to continue Sir Peter Blake's legacy of inspiring the next generation of leaders, adventurers and environmentalists.
While away students helped with shark tagging, dolphin DNA sampling and foliage collection.
They were also first to see the flotilla of pumice thought to have been spewed up by an undersea volcano two weeks ago.
Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell said the expedition fulfils Sir Peter's vision for New Zealand's promising young leaders to be challenged and inspired to embrace their potential.
"The expedition has provided a chance for our most dynamic teenagers to experience a globally significant environment first-hand and contribute to scientific knowledge, all while developing confidence and leadership capability," she said.
Student voyager Felix Bornholdt wrote on the expedition blog of his joy when he caught a glimpse of the driving force behind the voyage.
"The sense of space and isolation is a huge presence here," he said. "It is both humbling and somewhat surreal to be in a place like this and you often find that you need to remind yourself that you're moored off an island, 1000km away from civilisation and sitting on top of a 10km deep trench."