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What started as a way to link New Zealand school children with field work in Antarctica back in 1996, has now evolved into a chance for schools to take part in virtual field trips across the country via live audio link ups and an interactive website with video, a web board and ‘ask an expert’ posts.
In its fourth year, the Far North field trip focuses on wetlands, with a strong Tikanga Māori and Te Reo component.
This year the focus of the Far North field trip was World Wetlands Day, held at Lake Ngatu. Schools from as far away as Dunedin joined in via LEARNZ, while around 160 students from nine Far North schools, and homeschoolers, actively participating in activities including a guided walk; investigating what species live in the lake; and traditional uses for natural resources found around the lake.
Ahipara School student, Ruapounamu, gave the most common response from students when asked for their highlight of the day; “My favourite was snorkelling because it was cool to see all the fish and the species that live in the lake.”
Coordinator, Camellia Nielsen, whose team ran the snorkelling, says her goal was to help the children to appreciate their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the wetland.
“It’s a hands-on demonstration of the value of wetlands as flood protection,” says Camellia.
When quizzed about what they had discovered, Paparore School students talked about wetlands as also being places for holding water and providing habitat for native animals.
This year is the first time that the classroom materials have also been available in Te Reo.
DOC Kaitaia’s Community Relations Ranger and key organiser, Denice Gilliespie, believes that the event showed the lake in a whole different light for the students.
“They see how important it is to look after it so it sustains us all now and forever, recreationally and culturally,” says Denice.
Lake Ngatu sits within the rohe of Ngai Takoto. Part of Ngai Takoto’s whakatauki (proverb) talks about the pioke (dog shark) being small in stature but still able to swim against the strong currents around it. For Te Runanga O Ngai Takoto’s Environmental Manager, Kaio Hooper, this is an important reminder in his role and commitment to ensuring that the lake is protected and cared for, despite increasing environmental pressures on the lake’s wellbeing.
Although still ranked as outstanding, environmental monitoring indicates a decline in Lake Ngatu’s water quality, and an increase in pest species. Kaio says this is a case for concern for Ngai Takoto, as the kaitiaki of the lake.
“For our people it’s not so much about scientific reports. They rely more on what they see, and they are noticing that the water is not as clear as it once was,” says Kaio.
Kaio says Ngai Takoto is looking at ways they can address their concerns. To start the conversation, Kaio set up an information stall where people were asked to complete a simple survey focussed on understanding people’s aspirations and concerns for the lake’s health.
“We’ve been watching the lake change over the past couple of years and it’s not good. We want to work alongside interested parties on a management plan, and the survey is a good starting point” says Kaio.
World Wetlands Day at Lake Ngatu was a two day event hosted by Ngai Takoto and DOC, with support from Bushland’s Trust, Northland Regional Council, Mountain’s to Sea Conservation Trust and Clean Stream Northland.
World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day is an annual event held every year on February 2 to promote the value and vulnerability of wetlands across the globe promoted by RAMSAR, an international agreement to protect wetlands.
Now that it’s the summer time and the weather is fine (mostly), you may find yourself wondering, ‘What shall I do today?’.
Well, wonder no longer; answer a few simple yes/no questions, follow the arrows, and the chart will tell you what you should be doing. When you’ve got your answer, read about the opportunities for that activity below!
The Great Walks are DOC’s premier walking tracks—the best of the best. They take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and the huts and tracks are of a higher standard that other huts and tracks. There are nine Great Walks in total, all of different lengths and difficulty levels. Choose one that suits your style, or tick them off your list one by one. These are great to do in the summer months, with plenty of swimming opportunities to make the most of, and visitors from all around the world to get to know. Go with friends, family or as a couple, and relish the achievement of completing one of the most stunning walks in the world!
Trialling and trekking DOC tracks is an ideal activity for you this summer. Burn off the sneaky icecreams and second helpings of your aunty’s famous potato salad with a bit of up-hill huffing and puffing. There’s a heap of tracks (in whichever region you’re in) with various lengths and difficulty levels. If you’ve got two days or two hours, there’s something to fill in your time while keeping you fit and exposing you to some different areas. If you need to get away from the in-laws, walking a quick loop through native bush is a great way to regain your inner peace. Find a walking buddy, create your perfect scroggin recipe, and plan your tracks for this summer!
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie with four bungy jumps under your belt, or a self-confessed timid Tim, you’ve landed on ‘Adventure recreation’ for your perfect summer activity. Take a step to the left outside of your comfort zone and choose from the many outdoor activities available throughout the country. Adventure recreation is a great rush, and there are plenty of DOC approved concessionaires who will guide you throughout your experience if you’re after something tried and tested. There are also activities where no guide is needed (if you’ve got the skills and the resources) such as sand boarding in Northland, motor boating at Cable Bay, or abseiling in the Wairarapa. With the huge selection available, there’s bound to be something up your alley!
Exploring the world under the sea is the top pick for you this summer. Marine Reserves around the country are off the hook, bubbling with the activity of fascinating creatures who are safe from the hungry eyes of fishers. Try snorkelling or diving lessons if you’ve never been out before. In the words of Sebastian the crab, “Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin’ for?” Whether you’re going on holiday, or looking for something to do in the weekends, snorkelling is a fun (and educational) way to get active in the sea this summer. See some fun places to go snorkelling here.
Camping is your perfect summer activity—like many kiwis around the country, you’d enjoy setting up a base under the stars and spending time with good food, good weather and good company. DOC manages over 250 campsites in New Zealand (including on New Zealand’s islands) so there’s plenty of special spots to choose from—many at ridiculously cheap prices, if not free! They’re often located in areas that have heaps of conservation activities near by, so there’s lots to keep you entertained! Find out more at www.doc.govt.nz/camping.