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Wishing you a great holiday season from all of us here at the Department of Conservation.

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The Grand Prize for Conservation Week 2013 is an amazing Great Barrier Island holiday package – the perfect summer getaway for you and three others.

Great Barrier Island beach. Photo: Andris Apse.

One of the beautiful beaches on Great Barrier Island

I’ve heard Great Barrier Island described as a remote, tranquil and untouched paradise. My Auckland friends who are lucky enough to holiday there induce jealousy every summer by raving about the pristine beaches, the unique wildlife and the relaxed vibe of the island – if you are reading this I’m still waiting for my invite!

The island boasts scenic mountain biking trails, walking tracks that weave through coastal forests, and isolated coves to snorkel and explore. It’s also perfect for those who want to do a bit of boating, kayaking or fishing. If all that sounds a bit too exhausting, there is always the chance to retreat to the Kaitoke Hot Springs to relax at the end of the day.

Kayaking in a cove on Great Barrier Island.

There are plenty of activities to do on the island like mountain biking and kayaking

All you have to do to win is to make a pledge for Conservation Week, it’s nothing too strenuous. Simply head to the Conservation Week website, choose a nature-related activity for your pledge and fill in the form. Your pledge can be as simple as changing your Facebook cover photo or something ambitious like planning a Great Walk.

Conservation Week banner.

What’s your whānau doing for Conservation Week?

There are also loads of great spot prizes to be given away to those who share their pledges through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest using #pledgefornz. So what are you waiting for? Head over and make your pledge today.

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Camping is often seen as a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, away from the work phone calls and emails flooding your inbox. But not everyone is so keen to undertake the digital detox and cut themselves off for a week long camping adventure.

Luckily all is not lost for the keen campers who want to stay connected this summer. Technological advances now give you the means to rough it in a tent while still keeping in touch with what is going on in the outside world. Here are three tips to make it easier to stay connected while camping these holidays:

Tent on a beach in New Zealand.

Some still want to rough it and stay connected this summer

1) Check your campsites coverage

The Department of Conservation manages over 200 campsites throughout New Zealand, and while mobile reception can be patchy when you are out enjoying our wonderful natural scenery there are some things you can prepare for. Check up on your mobile carriers coverage before choosing your campsite. All major carriers have detailed maps on what the likely mobile coverage will be:


Mobile coverage signal boosters are also an option and are available online and in some electronic stores.

A low battery screen on an iPhone.

The screen of death for many a summer camper

2) Use alternative energy sources

While a lack of power plugs may limit the life of a smartphone when you are out camping there are plenty of other ways to charge that iPhone or Android mobile. Portable battery chargers, that run off AA batteries, are available from all good electronic stores and as long as you have enough long lasting batteries, they should see you through most camping trips.

Solar chargers are also an option, presuming a plentiful supply of sun is on hand this summer. They are a great, clean and renewable source of electricity to keep you charged.

If you need a bit more of a physical work out while camping there are also hand crank options to keep you powered up while you get back in touch with nature. So long as you have the energy to keep manually charging up your phone this is the perfect option.

A portable solar charger in the sun.

Portable solar chargers are a perfect summer gift

3) Choose a Wi-Fi hotspot holiday 

Yes they really exist. WhananakiCable BayUretiti Beach are to name a few connected campsites but all up there are more than 100 Wi-Fi hotspots in popular summer regions throughout New Zealand this summer, including Northland, the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty Tasman and Queenstown Lakes. This will help keep you connected all summer long.

So what are you waiting for? It is time to start preparing for your first connected camping adventure. Remember though that being connected is not what your camping trip is about – take time to enjoy the surroundings and activities away from your mobile devices and appreciate the beautiful places you get to explore. If the technology fails don’t panic, enjoy camping!

A laptop on the beach.

Stay connected even at the beach

Do you have any other tips for staying connected while camping? Leave them in the comment section below.