What can you do to help conservation?
Many people know that conservation is vital to help some of our most precious plant and wildlife species thrive, and sometimes even just survive. But not everyone knows just how to go about it.
It can certainly be tough to get involved when you don’t know where to start, so here are a few ways you can do your bit for conservation!
Volunteering is perfect for those with a little time to spare, even if it’s only one day a month. You don’t need piles of money or specific conservation skills, simply a can-do attitude and the desire to help!
Here in Auckland, we at Habitat Tours often volunteer for the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI). Not only do they do a wonderful job offering our endangered species a safe home, Tawharanui is one of the spots we visit on day tours from Auckland. On the first Sunday of every month, anyone is welcome to help out with a range of activities such as helping in the nursery, monitoring species, checking traplines and the fence, admin and more. You can learn more here.
For ways to volunteer around New Zealand, take a look at the opportunities available on Conservation Volunteers.
Are you short on time but have a little cash to spare? Making a one-off donation, or setting up a monthly payment, may be a great option for you.
Plus, it’s a wonderful way to target your funds so you know what it’s going to. There are a huge range of conservation projects happening around New Zealand (and the world) every day, and all of them could always do with a little more funding.
Kiwis for Kiwi is a great organisation that focuses on the protection of our iconic kiwi, and their donation options give you examples of what your money will go towards. For example, just $50 provides a full health check on a captive-born kiwi before it’s released into the wild.
For more donation ideas, check out this wonderful list of conservations programs that accept donations from the Department of Conservation.
Choose eco-friendly products
Finally, everyone buys products and experiences sometimes, so even if you don’t have much cash or time to spare, you can still help conservation by choosing eco-friendly products.
This can be anything from recycled-paper napkins, to products from companies that actively donate or support conservation projects. Perhaps it’s food products that have been sustainably farmed, or wood furniture that’s made from recycled timbers or fast-growing trees that can be replanted again and again. Or perhaps that’s even tour companies who focus on the environment as part of their ‘raison d’etre’!
The more you start looking for companies that offer a more eco-friendly product range, the more you will find, so start asking about your options the next time you’re out shopping, or research online to see if the company works to help the environment.
Reasons to take a nature tour in New Zealand
New Zealand is a country that’s brimming with tour options, from film set locations to cultural tours and more.
It can be tough to choose, but it can also be tough to go past the option of a New Zealand nature tour. After all, the country’s tag line is ‘100% Pure’.
Here are the top reasons to opt for a New Zealand eco tour while you’re in town!
To see the range of endemic species
For those interested in flora and fauna, there are few places in the world like New Zealand. Here, more than 80 per cent of the 2,500 species of flowering plants, conifers, and ferns, are endemic, meaning you won’t find them anywhere else.
New Zealand is also known as the seabird capital of the world, and our range of flightless birds – including the famous kiwi – is unlike anywhere else.
This range of endemic species is thanks to New Zealand’s isolation from the rest of the world.
To get out of the main cities
Auckland is the City of Sails, Wellington is the ‘Coolest Little Capital’, and Christchurch is a city in the midst of an incredible rebuild. While all three are worth a visit, there’s nothing quite like getting out of the main centres of a country and exploring the heart of a country in the wilderness.
With Habitat Tours, you’ll either head out to the Waitakere Ranges to the west of Auckland city, or you’ll go north to the Tawharanui Regional Park. Neither of these spots are the kind of places you’d ever get to see if you stuck to the main city.
To see the awesome New Zealand scenery
New Zealand’s scenery is world-renowned, with many people heading to our shores purely to see the sights they’ve heard about and dreamt of.
A nature tour in New Zealand won’t just introduce you to our flora and fauna – it will also ensure you get a few additional tastes of the types of views that make this country so famous for its landscapes.
To do something active
Holiday priorities often focus on seeing sights, trying delicious new foods, and sampling local beers and wines. This can mean that you’ve left your good habits and active routines at home!
Taking a nature tour during your time in New Zealand will help ensure you get out and enjoy a couple of hours of walking, so you won’t head home feeling too sluggish.
To see things many New Zealanders won’t see
It’s a fact of life that many of us will never properly explore our own backyards quite as much as visitors do. After all, when an attraction is always there, there’s never any rush to see it.
That’s why many New Zealanders won’t even get the chance to see a kiwi in the wild, as you might during a Tawharanui night-time tour. It’s also why many won’t get the chance to spot a wild morepork, or even listen to the song of the tui in the wild.
The top 7 tips for hiking in New Zealand
New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the top hiking destinations in the world. From the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South, there are countless treks you can try, including the famous ‘Great Walks’, plenty of popular ones and many that barely even have names.
If you’re looking at hiking in Aotearoa, keep these tips in mind to help make it a safe and fantastic experience.
1. Pack for all weather conditions
As a small island nation, New Zealand is known for hosting four seasons in a day. It’s entirely possible to be walking through a freezing rain storm one minute, then be walking through warm sunshine an hour or two later. Even if you’re only hiking for a day or two, be sure to check the weather forecast and pack for all conditions just in case.
2. Plan your route
Be sure to map out your route before you set foot on it. Take a look at the way you want to go, as there are often several tracks interwoven with one another. Plan where you will stop for the night each night and factor in time spent resting or enjoying the scenery. This will help give you realistic goals each day and ensure you don’t wander off course.
3. Tell someone where you’re going
Once you have your route, pass on your plans to a trusted friend. If you can, keep them updated of your progress and let them know once you’re finished the walk. This person will be your safety net should you not arrive at your destination as expected.
4. Bring spare socks
A truism for hikers all over the world – always bring spare socks! There’s nothing like a fresh clean pair after yours get sweaty, dirty or wet, and it can greatly increase your comfort on those long days.
5. If you get lost, stay in one place
In the worst case scenario of getting lost, always stay in once place. This will help emergency services track you down much faster.
6. Make the most of hut books
The Department of Conservation manages a series of hiking huts all over the country on many of the multi-day tracks. These huts offer places to stay (when you book in advance), rest stops, and ‘hut books’. These books are simply journals for passing hikers to enter their names and details, and it’s recommended to enter yours even if you’re not staying the night to create a literal paper trail of your movements.
7. Take plenty of photos
Once you’ve covered all your bases for safety and comfort, all that’s left to do is enjoy the incredible scenery and experiences along the way! A good camera can help you capture much of New Zealand’s wonderful landscapes, so be sure to charge the batteries and get snap happy.
Of course, you can also opt to keep it simple and join us for an eco tour from Auckland, where we get out of the city and explore the nearby landscapes on foot!
Why you should try ‘forest bathing’
It’s undeniable that getting out and enjoying nature has an amazing effect – it’s simply hard not to feel great when you’re walking amongst beautiful scenery, away from the rush of the city, and in the presence of chirruping birds and rustling leaves.
But did you know that the Japanese have a name for it? And not only that, it became part of their national public health program in the 80s.
It’s called ‘forest bathing’, and it’s simply the act of being in the presence of trees.
There has even been a number of scientific studies to determine the effect of being amongst trees and nature. In one Japanese study from the Chiba University, researchers looked at a number of physiological factors from study participants who spent time amongst trees.
They found that forest environments lowered blood pressure, the pulse rate, concentrations of cortisol and more. Basically, those who participated in the study were less stressed and more relaxed.
As well as being less stressed, it appears that being amongst trees can actually improve your immune system. This is thanks to the essential oils, known as phytoncide, emitted by trees and other plants to protect themselves from insects and harmful germs.
Although, we hardly needed science to convince us that being amongst the beautiful kauri trees, lancewoods, and beech trees simply feels incredible. It’s not just that you’re getting away from the city, it’s also the stillness and freshness of the forest that makes it so special.
How Forest & Bird defended New Zealand conservation
New Zealand conservation group Forest & Bird has recently celebrated a major win in the Supreme Court. The new ruling states that the country’s publicly owned conservation lands and forest parts are safe from being disposed of for the interests of private developments.
The case stems from an earlier decision from August 2016 when the Department of Conservation decided to downgrade the conservation status of a section of the Ruahine Forest Park in Hawke’s Bay. The change would have meant that this part of the park would have been swapped for private land and flooded, but Forest & Bird managed to successfully challenge the move.
This new win is a continuation of that case, after the Minister of Conservation went to the Supreme Court to overturn the 2016 decision and allow the downgrade of status in the park. Forest & Bird once again successfully defended the conservation land.
The section of land in question was a 22-hectare plot that is home to the New Zealand falcon, long-tailed bats, the fernbird, and other species. By keeping the land out of the hands of developers, these species, and the rare wetlands they live in, can continue to flourish.
Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague was at the forefront of the fight to defend the conservation land.
“This decision is wonderful news for Ruahine and all Forest Parks around the country. New Zealanders have fought for generations to defend our conservation land and now we have legal confirmation that are protected from private development interests,” he explained.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court acted on behalf of all those who love to get out and enjoy the country and its wildlife, whether that’s with us on New Zealand nature tours or with friends on a hike through any of our stunning landscapes.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist