Archives For Families

One-and-a-half year old Corban and his mum Tracey share with us his very first geocaching adventure for Conservation Week.

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The family-focused conservation education programme Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi Island this Queen’s Birthday weekend—for the first time giving Auckland kids the chance to be accredited as Kiwi Rangers.

Christchurch family Steve, Jenny and Meg visited Tiritiri Matangi while staying with family at Christmas. Having done two South Island Kiwi Ranger sites, they are now planning for a return visit to Tiritiri to earn their third badge. Jenny recalls their day:

Jenny and Meg on the boat to Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Jenny and Meg on the boat to Tiritiri Matangi Island

Steve had always wanted to go to Tiritiri, so we decided to go before Christmas—before the hordes. The forecast was not great, with cyclone warnings, but the day turned out beautiful.

We bought a guide book on the boat so, when we arrived, we headed straight up the Wattle Track, which meanders up to the lighthouse and visitor centre.

I heard a strange noise, and then we saw it—a takahē skulking in the bushes. Meg thought that was pretty great.

Jenny reading interpretation panels on the island.

Jenny reading the interpretation panels

We checked out the lighthouse and spent a bit of time looking at the really good history interpretation panels.

The old fog horn captured my imagination; I loved the old pictures of it originally sited over the cliff, and then seeing the replica one.

Walking on Tiritiri Matangi.

A wonderful day for a walk on Tiri

By then it was lunchtime, so we sat down in a big grassy area and ate while we chatted to the friendly DOC ranger.

We checked out the visitor centre and the shop, where I finished off my Christmas shopping. It seemed crazy shopping on an offshore island, but hey, they had some pretty funky things, and I felt good that my money was going to support a good cause.

Ground dwelling birds on Tiritiri Matangi.

Quail. Tiritiri Matangi is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world. Predators have been eradicated and rare native birds and animals have been returned to its now-safe and restored habitats

We walked along the ridge track and got nice views all around the Hauraki Gulf, and looked for things rustling in bushes.

Tui having a dust bath.

Tui having a dust bath

The most amazing thing about the trip was how close we got to the birds. On the mainland most forest birds hang out high in the canopy, but on Tiri they were actually scuttling around on the ground. We saw tui and quail having dust baths right on the track!

Jenny and Meg walking in the bush.

There is something magic about just wandering

We weren’t sure how long it would take to walk the tracks with Meg, so we played it safe and headed down the Kawerau Track. In hindsight we probably could have gone further, but in some ways it was quite nice not to ‘frog-march’ around the island. There is something really magic about just wandering—taking time to see things properly.

The Kawerau Track was a really special old piece of forest, with pūriri and other really cool trees that you just don’t see in the South Island.

Meg walking on track in bush.

We weren’t sure with Meg how long it would take to walk the tracks. In hindsight we probably could have gone further

Meg on track - Tiritiri Matangi

Meg

We had time on our hands so we ended up down on the beach and went for a swim before heading back to the boat.

We’d seen saddlebacks, takahē, amazing flowering rata and pohutukawa but, while we were waiting for the boat, we heard these people talking about seeing a kōkako. Steve was a bit disappointed to have missed that, so yes, we were thinking about coming back before we’d even left the island! And with Kiwi Ranger on the island now, Meg is pretty keen to get her hands on the badge. I know from having done it in other places it’s a great way to discover the hidden secrets of a place like Tiri.

When we come back we’ll walk some of the other tracks and we’d love to go stay overnight to hear a kōkako calling and experience the dawn chorus.

Meg was pretty quiet on the boat home. She sat leaning on the railing looking back towards the island as we pulled away. She’d had quality time with mum and dad, been for a swim, and seen some cool birds. It’s the kind of family time that makes for great memories, memories that last a lifetime.

Kiwi Ranger text with image of Tiri showing saddleback and lighthouse.

Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi over this Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1-3 June 2013. Join Lucy Lawless to become one of the first Tiritiri Kiwi Rangers! 

Ferry company, 360 Discovery, are making it easy for families to travel to the island during Queen’s Birthday Weekend. One child may travel free with each fare-paying adult. Go to their website or call 0800 360 3472 to book.

The Kiwi Ranger programme will be ongoing, so visit any day Wed -Sun for a fun family day out with a difference.

Olivia is 9 years old and lives in the Fiordland area. She writes about her recent trip to the Lake Howden Hut on the Routeburn Track.

Olivia and her brother on the Routeburn track.

Enjoying all the Routeburn has to offer

I liked going to stay at Lake Howden Hut. On the walk up the hill there were lots of water falls and big rocks. We had a drink of the water, saw a kaka bird and had a close look at the ferns. Some big trees were over the track that we had to go under like a tunnel.

At the hut there was a lot to do. We played in the lake and made a dam so we could have a pool, but the water was too cold. We found big rocks to climb and a stage to do our gymnastics and ballet on.

Liam standing on a rocky hill on the Routeburn Track.

Liam on top of the world

We had pasta for dinner, then milo and chocolate biscuits for supper. We played cards before going to bed.  We all wanted the top bunks but there were plenty of them so there were no fights. We played with our torches and in our sleeping bags, it was fun with everyone there.

Howden Hut on the Routeburn Track.

Our Howden Hut home

The next day we walked to Key Summit, it was amazing. It is a beautiful place, even the climb up was ok! But my legs did get a bit sore.

Olivia reading an information post along the Routeburn Track.

Learning about the alpine environment.

There was information on the different plants. Liam, my brother, was our tour guide and led the way around the track. We went across bogs, around tarns and up to the top.

On the way home it was all downhill. We talked about the next track we wanted to do, maybe the Kepler or Hollyford Track?

The girls on the Routeburn Track.

What track will we conquer next?

Kiwi Ranger activities are available at Totaranui this summer.Christmas camping at Totaranui just got a whole lot more fun with the arrival of Kiwi Ranger – just in time for the holidays!

Totaranui is a ‘Great Walks’ campground next to the clear waters and golden sands of Totaranui beach and estuary, in the wonderful Abel Tasman National Park.

It’s been a popular place for families for many years, with sites booked out every summer. People come here to relax on the beach, swim, kayak, fish or explore the nearby stands of native bush by walking one of the many tracks. Now its popularity is set to increase, as Kiwi Ranger is added to the mix of family-friendly fun activities on offer.

Kiwi Ranger is for kids of all ages – from 3 to 103! It’s a booklet of activities which you can choose from to do during your visit.

With Kiwi Ranger you can:

  • Use all your senses on the Pukatea Walk,
  • Walk barefoot between the tides and dig down to discover the colours and patterns of the mudflats,
  • Explore rock pools shaped by wind and waves and discover what lives within,
  • Keep a campsite journal,
  • Collect a checklist of amazing nature experiences; watch a sunrise, be bitten by sandfly/namu, lie under a giant māmaku fern, or watch fluorescence where the waves break.
photo credit:  Nicky Kenny.

Totaranui Kiwi Ranger adds the fun factor!

Kiwi Ranger guides families to make the most of their visit, by taking it beyond a mere walk in the park, to an experience worth remembering and treasuring.

Becoming a Totaranui Kiwi ranger is easy. Pick up your booklet from the Totaranui camp office. Check out how many activities you should do depending on your age. Then when you are done, return your completed booklet to the campsite office to claim your badge!

Booklets and badges will be available next week – just in time for Christmas!

Kiwi Ranger is now live at ten sites around the South Island. To find out more go to doc.govt.nz/kiwirangeror kiwiranger.org.nz

Family fun in the lagoon while on holiday at Totaranui

Family fun in the lagoon while on holiday at Totaranui

The newest Kiwi Ranger site is Ōtamahua/Quail  Island near Christchurch – the first island site and the first Kiwi Ranger site close to a city. It’s a perfect place for families to make memories together.

Maddie Harrison and William Webb at the ships graveyard; photo S Mankelow DOC.

Maddie Harrison and William Webb at the ships graveyard, Otamahua/Quail Island

The author Sarah, as a leggy 13-year-old in the Kaimanawas.

The author Sarah, as a leggy 13-year-old in the Kaimanawas.

My own strongest childhood memories are all of experiences in nature, thanks to my father who took me to lots of wild places. I have memories of walking behind him holding onto his pack as we balanced across a log bridge; of playing explorers by wading down a stream in the Kaimais, collecting tadpoles and waving toi toi flags. As a teenager he took me on wilder tramps, where we camped under tent flies and saw no one else for days on end.

These memories and experiences were a huge influence on the adult I am today, someone who works for DOC because I believe in the work we do. I’m trying to do the same for my own kids – but in this increasingly urban and tech-driven world it’s getting pretty hard. There are less “wild places” in cities. I’m competing with the TV, the computer, gaming devices, for their attention – and not always winning.

There is growing evidence that children are increasingly disconnected from that natural world. International surveys show that fewer children are experiencing nature directly, with many playing indoors rather than out. Research also shows that childhood experiences with nature plays a critical role in determining life attitudes, knowledge and behaviours towards the environment. I know that’s true for me.

Maddie; photo S Mankelow DOC.

Maddie filling out her Kiwi Ranger activity booklet

But how do we help families that may be disconnected from these opportunities, or who may not have had the same influences in their own lives, get reconnected?

Kiwi Ranger is one way. It’s a network of experiential interpretation sites, designed to help families connect with key conservation places.  At its core is a booklet of activities and a badge to collect each unique to each site, similar to the highly successful Junior Ranger in USA.

Each booklet acts like a guide to experiencing our wild places, some of which are a bit daunting to families visiting for the first time. It helps them to stop and take a closer look, to make the most of their visit, so its not just a nice walk, but an experience worth remembering and treasuring.

So far it’s only in the South Island – but North Island sites are coming on board next year.

On Sunday 9 December we are launching Ōtamahua / Quail Island. My son William and his friend Maddie helped trial the booklet and will be getting their badges presented to them in a special ceremony.  We will have a sausage sizzle on the beach and we hope lots of other families will come along and become Kiwi Rangers too.

I’m hoping this will be an experience they will remember.

Kiwi Ranger Quail Island.

William Webb and Maddie Harrison – Kiwi Rangers

Otamahua / Quail Island badge. P.SThe Ōtamahua / Quail Island Kiwi Ranger booklet can be picked up from Black Cat Ferries, the Lyttelton i-SITE or from the Mahaanui Area DOC Office in Sockburn.

Return your completed booklet to the any of the three locations above to claim your badge!

Youtube clip: Quail Island Kiwi Ranger

Are you keen to discover your inner camper? Do you want that quintessential kiwi summer camping experience but not too sure how to make it happen or where to go? DOC is here to make it happen!

Discover your inner camper this summer.

Discover your inner camper this summer

DOC campsites cater to a range of campers and camping styles; from lush forest settings, to sandy beaches and shimmering lakes. You can camp in scenic surroundings from as little as $6 per adult per night – or even experience one of our free campsites around the country.

DOC signs on display at a campsite near Craigieburn Forest Park.

Great locations mean there is plenty to see and do

We all have a different image in our minds of what the New Zealand camping experience entails and your own camping getaway will probably depend on your own inner camper type that is waiting to be unleashed.

Whether you are the true outdoors type who likes roughing it, a family of campers who will make the most of camping sites with plenty to see and do, right through to the top end of the scale – “glampers” who don’t want to use a long drop and would rather not go without a shower.

A family play with a cricket set outside their tent.

Don’t forget the cricket set!

So what you are waiting for? Find your own unique camper within!

What you need to know:

• Campsites are divided into categories, based on the facilities provided.

• They are dirt cheap! You’ll pay around $6-$15 per person per night for one of our sought-after campsites, or you can even rough it free of charge in a basic campsite.

• Bookings are required for all Serviced campsites and for some Scenic and Standard campsites in peak season (usually 1 October – 30 April). Most bookings can be made online or at a DOC visitor centre.

• Access to these sites can vary, so make sure you check whether your campervan or motor home can climb that steep gravel road.

• There are campsites in pretty much any setting you desire: by the coast, in the forest, next to rivers and lakes or below huge mountains.

• Sometimes they may be hard to find, but many campsites are in spectacular locations, just waiting for you to find them.

You can download the comprehensive North Island and South Island camping brochures from the DOC website, or drop into any DOC visitor centre to grab a copy for the car glove box.

Brochures are available for camp sites in the North and South Island.

Brochures are available for camp sites in the North and South Island

Check out our summer camping page for more information then find the perfect campsite, get your gear sorted, and go out and enjoy a legendary New Zealand camping experience.