Taranaki was privileged to host two great Toyota Kiwi Guardians Adventures as part of Conservation Week.
The programme is a joint venture with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Toyota New Zealand designed to get children off the couch and out into nature.
DOC Ranger Denise Goodman explained there are four Toyota Kiwi Guardians sites around Taranaki for kids to earn medals at. The other two places are Dawson falls and Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve.
“The Kiwi Guardians programme is designed to encourage families with kids to get out and explore nature. DOC is working with Toyota to make this programme a success in Taranaki,” said Denise.
Tasman Toyota Customer Relationship Manager in New Plymouth Vanessa Sumpter said she enjoyed her role as a promotional advocate of the Toyota Kiwi Guardians.
“It is a fun and well planned out programme that allows families to go on adventures in the great outdoors. Fantastic adventure maps have been created to help make the adventure exciting,” said Vanessa.
“Partnering with DOC is a perfect match as they are able to provide a wealth of knowledge regarding the Taranaki landscape and wildlife. This knowledge is a fantastic resource to run the programme.”
On Saturday Mt Egmont put on perfect wintry conditions complete with fresh snow, wind and icy rain.
Wrapped up for the conditions families followed their map discovering points of interest in their natural surroundings.
“It was great to see families dressed for the weather and enjoying the outdoors.
“The weather on Saturday didn’t put many people off as there was a steady stream of families playing in the snow and adventuring using the maps,” said Denise.
Families had to hunt for a Toyota Guardians Post. Once they had located the post a code word was revealed.
Before their drive home families were able to warm up with a hot BBQ sausage kindly supplied by Tasman Toyota.
Back at home families can go online to claim a Toyota Guardians medal.
Sunday the Toyota Kiwi Guardians Adventure moved to Lake Rotokare near Eltham.
Families made the most of a beautiful sunny winter’s day to walk around the lake following their maps and discovering the beauty of the area.
“We have had such a fantastic response to both the events over the weekend. It was wonderful spending time with the participating families and hearing their stories,” said Vanessa.
“Some families had experienced all the adventures, with others it was their first. There was a great level of excitement from all those that took part.”
Rotokare have recently initiated a Youth Ambassador Programme. Children passionate about the environment with great communication skills are able to apply to be a youthful advocate for Rotokare.
The Ambassadors did a magnificent job of sharing their knowledge of the lake area as they guided families around the lake edge walk.
A certificate and a BBQ sausage were waiting for the hungry trampers which were kindly supplied by the Department of Conservation.
Environmental Educators Melissa Jacobson and Jen Puckey answered questions about Rotokare Scenic Reserve.
Melissa said Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust is really excited to be a site for the Toyota kiwi Guardians Programme.
“Rotokare Trust is a community owned and driven conservation project, and we pride our-selves on how we involve and engage the whole community.
“Of particular importance are young people within our community. Our Environmental Education programme caters for early childhood right through to senior high school, and is very popular.
“The Ambassador Programme is a new programme, designed to offer more to youth that are really keen to get involved with communication around the environment and conservation projects such as Rotokare.
“After a year-long training programme they will become Rotokare communication/advocacy volunteers. We plan on offering this programme to a new set of youth ambassadors each year,” said Melissa.
There are 8 different towns around NZ http://www.doc.govt.nz/kiwiguardians each location has a number of kiwi guardians sites.
Each area has activities for families to explore and learn more about nature.
The children search the area for a Guardian Post and collect the code word written on it. The children get a certificate at the event and then by using the code they can apply for a lovely wooden medal on line.
More activities are being planned as part of the Toyota Kiwi Guardians adventures.
Conservation Weeks runs from the 10th to the 18th of September and limited edition medals are available until the end of September.
Check out the website as there are many other activities listed on the site that you can do in your own backyard and earn a medal.
To claim your medal go to http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/toyota-kiwi-guardians/claim-your-kiwi-guardians-medal/claim-your-medal