You would be forgiven if the words exciting, action-packed and adventurous were not the first words that sprung to mind when you thought about conservation. But the Department of Conservation together with Project Tongariro are flipping the notion of conservation on its head with the interactive Summer Programme, Mahi Aroha.
Showcasing, celebrating and acknowledging all things conservation, bringing together the Central Plateau’s stunning natural and historical treasures and serving them to the public in a way that is sure to ignite the senses of both young and the young at heart.
Forget a pallet of khaki, fanny packs and club sandwiches, exploring the environment has never been more fun or diverse. With access to some of the area’s most remote locations, you could be walking, running, biking, jet-boat riding or flying by helicopter to learn more about the place so many call home.
The exciting annual activity calendar allows the public an exclusive opportunity to explore the environment, learning more about the unique flora and fauna, landscapes, cultural and historical sites, creatures and the people working tirelessly to ensure the Central Plateau remains in tact for future generations.
With activities targeting individuals and families, the Department of Conservation and Project Tongariro deliver a Summer Programme worthy of applause.
An example of some of the events staged in previous years can be found at www.doc.govt.nz/mahiaroha
"We are pleased to be working with the Department of Conservation on this programme which gives everyday New Zealanders the opportunity to enjoy the special places that staff and volunteers get to experience everyday through their ongoing work and commitment to conservation. It is exciting and an honour to have the chance to share what we value with the public," says Project Tongariro President Paul Green.
The Department of Conservation and Project Tongariro are certainly excited about the programme and with good reason. It’s a feast for the senses and offers an alternate events avenue to the acclaimed “events capital of the New Zealand.”
"Mahi Aroha offers an awesome range of events that gives people the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and experience what the Tongariro and Taupo areas have to offer. It is great that we can team up with Project Tongariro and other groups to be able to develop an outstanding selection of events and experiences for people of all ages and abilities,” says the Department of Conservation’s Partnerships Manager Whakapapa Jono Maxwell.
There is a strong emphasis on participation within this year’s programme, with the majority of activities costing less than a movie ticket. Many are open to children as young as six-years-old and there are plenty of opportunities for families or groups of friends to head out and explore something new together.
Grass roots type fun like building a kite and flying it beneath the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park for the price of a gold coin is a guaranteed family favourite. For those seeking something to get the heart racing, there are a number of mountain bike rides that have earned their place on the North Island’s list of must-do rides.
If wildlife fascinates you, then an exclusive trip to the heart of Kaimanawa horse country will sure excite, or perhaps it’s the elusive Blue Duck that captures your heart. Explore the Whio’s natural environment by white water as you set off on the upper waters of the Tongariro River by raft.
Glowworms, iconic Rainbow Trout and more native species of birds than you can shake a stick at, all feature in this year’s summer programme.
Conservation work in the Central Plateau is a tireless job. In order to ensure the region stays intact, beautifully preserved and offering a haven for the various species of flora, fauna and wildlife that call it home, it needs the man-hours.
Mahi Aroha has rallied in the experts. Tours are led by those in the know, volcanologists, ecologists, fishery advisors, biodiversity officers to name a few. The programme applauds and recognises the many people working behind the scenes whose job it is to go into bat for the environment and who are the driving force behind the region’s future, but the message remains, there is always room for more help and extra bodies to lend a hand.
The 2013/14 summer programme was a milestone as it was the 50th year.
Launched in the Tongariro region in 1964 and spearheaded by Lincoln University’s Associate Professor Parks, Recreation & Tourism Dr. Patrick Devlin, it has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Dr. Devlin played a significant part in the programme for 12 years and speaks fondly of those early days when visitor numbers were ‘bursting at the seams in makeshift conditions’.
“Daytime walks were either full or half-day. Full days involved the major mountains: crossing Tongariro, going to the Crater Lake on Ruapehu, climbing to the Ngauruhoe summit and several others. There would be less talking and more hard walking (and puffing) with these. Some were hugely popular and it was not uncommon to have over a hundred people and several staff on some trips. Half-day walks were two to three hour nature walks. Evenings were given over to illustrated talks on geology, history, vegetation, introduced animals, winter sports and hiking/tramping. They were all well attended,” he says.
During his time as Programme Leader he witnessed areas of significant growth, in not only the facilities offered to the public, but also that of a future generation developing an interest in the natural environment.
“I was a part of the programme for twelve years and watched the park facilities grow and develop to a very high standard. I also watched my children grow, develop a love for the bush and the mountains, and acquire knowledge and skills that in turn rubbed off on their children.”
Mahi Aroha serves to follow on this tradition, educating the younger generation about the importance of protecting the natural environment through the notion of participation.
This is a summer programme that delivers equal parts education, enjoyment and encounters with a clear underlying message.
Bring the kids, grab a friend and explore the environment like never before.
This is our place, let’s protect it, nourish it and hold onto it. Mahi Aroha—Doing it for Conservation.
K is for Kite Day at Whakapapa Village on Mt Ruapehu. Join us on the Chateau Tongariro Golf Course on the first day of the year every year from 10.30am. The New Zealand Kite Fliers Association, DOC and Project Tongariro have joined together to put on this annual FREE event. It's a spectacular backdrop for the event and everyone is invited to take part in the kite flying or to just come along and watch the amazing spectacle of fun and colour!
When: New Years Day: 1 Jan every year from 10:30am to approximately 4:00pm weather and wind dependent. 2 January contingency day.
Details: Kids paper kite making - kits available for gold coin donation. Sausage sizzle for hungry kite fliers.
All proceeds will to to Project Tongariro to assist conservation efforts in Tongariro National Park.