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2012’s Ranger for a week

 —  22/11/2012

When the folks at What Now let us know who they’d picked as the winner of the ‘Whio in Fiordland—Ranger for a Week’ competition, we were not expecting the likes of Charlotte Thomas… conservation wonder kid.

Genesis Energy supported this year’s prize, which was all about getting to see the whio/blue duck in its natural habitat.

Charlotte’s photo collage she submitted with her entry.

Charlotte’s photo collage she submitted with her entry

Children had to correctly answer three questions about whio and state why they wanted to be a ranger for a week. Out of 1026 entries, Charlotte’s entry was the winner by a long shot.

A male and female whio on a fast flowing river.

Mr and Mrs Whio

“I’m ten years old and you have no idea how much of a dream come true it would be, to be a Ranger for a week! I’m so excited just at the thought!” wrote Charlotte.

“Ever since I can remember, I have loved nature and I know how important it is to protect our native animals and their habitats….When I was nine I wrote and illustrated a book about a New Zealand falcon (karearea) that flew into a fence and damaged its wing.

Charlotte standing in front of a bus in Doubtful Sound

Excited about heading out to see some wildlife in the misty Doubtful Sound

“I spend as much of my spare time as possible outside learning about nature. I am a member of the Environmental Council at my school, I volunteer planting trees at our local regional park, I am a member of the Kiwi Conservation Club and I read. I read about nature and conservation a lot!”

So when the 15th October finally rolled round, Charlotte and her dad Dave flew from Auckland to Queenstown and made their way to Te Anau.

Charlotte meeting various animals at the Te Anau Wildlife Park.

A fun day at the Te Anau Wildlife Park

Day 1 of the prize was a helicopter ride with ranger Max and newly trained whio dog Oska to the Ettrick Burn in the Murchison mountains. Charlotte got to see whio up close and personal, including a pair in their home on the river.

You may remember that the Milford Road was closed because of a slip during this time. Thankfully, Real Journeys who also supported the prize, were kind enough to change day 2’s Milford Sound cruise to a Doubtful Sound day trip. During the cruise, Charlotte saw kea, a little blue penguin, Fiordland crested penguins, Australasian gannets, pied shags, and New Zealand fur seals. All of which, she was able to identify and give facts about!

On day 3 Charlotte and Dave helped feed the birds at the Te Anau Wildlife Park, and then visited the 13000 year old Glow Worm cave across Lake Te Anau.

In her spare time, Charlotte makes jewellery, ornaments and decorations from recycled wire. During the week, she made a range of whio figures, which now sit displayed in the Fiordland Visitor Centre. They have had a bit of interest, so are now for sale with the proceeds going towards the whio!

Charlotte’s amazing wire whio

Charlotte’s amazing wire whio

Charlotte had a great time and now wants to be a DOC ranger when she grows up. DOC staff can’t wait to have her on board!

Check out Charlotte’s big adventure:

There's lots to love about New Zealand!

Why do you love New Zealand? 

What Now and DOC put this question to kids around the country, with the chance to be a mini DOC ranger up for grabs.

10 days later, over 500 kids had sent in their answers in, and the results indicate that the next generation of DOC rangers have the same appreciation and love for our favourite places and wildlife that we do.

What the kids had to say…

Hayden, 11, from West Harbour says:

Hayden Mills and his little brother on a family walk through their local Waitakere Ranges

“I love New Zealand because it is beautiful, natural and full of awesome things to see and do. My favourite native New Zealand bird is the pukeko, I wish I could have them at my house to look after them.

“The photo is of me and my little brother on a family walk through our local Waitakere Ranges on 2nd Jan 2011. Me and my family love going on bush walks and looking at all the beauty our Ranges have to show us.”

A strong message from Manakau’s Molly:

Molly loves New Zealand's natural beauty

“I love New Zealand because of its natural beauty and we can all keep it that way by recycling and NOT littering. GO RECYCLING!!!”

A future DOC sustainability champion perhaps?

Jayden from Taupo reckons New Zealand’s pretty cool:

“I love New Zealand because it is fun, small, green, clean and you don’t need to fly everywhere in the country.

Jayden enjoys fishing and hunting

“I want to learn more about New Zealand bushes and about Auckland. If you look at my pic you can see I like fishing. I also enjoy hunting.”

The winner:

But DOC and the What Now team decided there was one stand out entry — Louis from Christchurch, who’d put an enormous effort into his video (the only video entry).

Louis has wanted to be a DOC ranger his whole life, so we’re sure he’ll love the experience he has won!

Check out Louis’ winning entry:

Louis’ prize involves a trip to Auckland’s pest-free islands (Rangitoto and Motutapu), checking for any sneaky stoats or rascal rats, tracking takahē, and staying the night to fall asleep to native bird sounds. Louis called it his “ultimate DOC experience”.

Get involved in Conservation Week

‘Love New Zealand’ is the theme for Conservation Week 2011, which began on 11 September and runs until 18 September.

There are heaps of ways you can get involved. Find out about events happening in your area by visiting the Conservation Week website and encourage your friends and family to get along and show their support too!

What Now Conservation Week special

If you were up in time and tuned in to TV2 on Sunday morning, you would have seen our special conservation-themed episode of What Now. If you missed it there’s still time to catch it online on the TVNZ website.

Tell us why you love New Zealand

If you didn’t/couldn’t enter the What Now competition, now’s your chance to tell us why you Love New Zealand. Leave a reply to this post and tell us. We’ll blog the best replies next week.