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.
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!
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, Otamahua/Quail Island
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.