He's spent time in the Antarctic, completed an unassisted row across the Tasman Sea, has a BSc in environmental science and he's working on his masters thesis on the decline of coral reefs, but on Friday at Waitaki Boys' High School, James Blake started his speech with a story of how he got stuck in a tree at age 10.
"There was this one particular pohutakawa at the bottom of the garden that I'd always wanted to climb and one day I thought today I'm going to try and do it," he told the boys.
Underestimating the amount of rope he would need to get to the top, he began to abseil down again.
"I was about 10m off the ground, I had quite long hair and a huge chunk got pulled into this belay devise and so I was stuck dangling and hanging in the middle of the garden," he said.
Worried, thinking no one was home to help him, the harness kept getting tighter and his hair kept getting pulled. He then noticed his father, Sir Peter Blake, leaning back in his office chair looking out the window at him.
"My father was a great, great ocean explorer, probably one of the greatest in modern-day times. He sailed around the world copious amounts of times. He'd been the first man to sail around the world in under 80 days, he won the America's Cup twice for New Zealand so I could see him looking up at me and I thought he was working out how to get me down. I thought he's going to rig up a whole lot of ladders and ropes and he'll be up here in a few minutes, I'm going to be fine," he said.
"The harness was getting tighter and he suddenly just goes, 'Yeah, just let go'," he said.
So he did. A chunk of his hair was ripped out, but he landed safely in a bush 10m below.
"I stood up and I was all right and dad said, 'Oh well, probably should get a hair cut' and to try again.
"This was a big thing that I learnt from my father. Sometimes you just have to go and do it. You might not succeed all the time, you'll probably fail maybe the first time, but if you keep at it, you'll do it."
He went on to tell the students more about his latest adventure - an unassisted row from Sydney to Auckland, as part of a four-man team.
His story covered dodging container ships, being pushed back by huge storms, watching sharks surround the boat, rationing food, and thoughts of quitting.
"We thought right, we'll stick at it. We would be going over our 40 days of food, we'd have to start rationing so we bunkered down over Christmas ... and then on January 2, we got some amazing news - we were told we had one chance to make it to New Zealand." he said.
They threw a lot of weight overboard, including their anchor and any food that was contaminated by salt water, to make the boat as light as possible and they rowed as hard as possible for the next 10 days.
"On day 50 we rounded the North Island of New Zealand. That was probably the best sight in the world. It was incredible and off the coast of New Zealand you could actually start to smell New Zealand. You could smell the ferns and the dirt and that was such a great smell," he said.
"We wanted to give up many a time. So to actually get there and doing what we'd set out to do was a great achievement and we thought we'd failed quite a few times, but we just kept at it so that was a great experience for me and a great learning point."
That's the message he wanted to pass on the the student's of Waitaki Boys' High School.
"It doesn't matter what walk of life you're going to go down - whether it's exploring, through academia, there's a lot of times where you will come up against stuff that is a bit of a struggle and I think it's important to just keep at it, even if you do fail at first, or a few times," he said.
"It took my father five times to win the around the world race and he never gave up and he passed that on to me and I hope that can be passed on to you."