Bridie Gough, Conservation Volunteers worker.

My happy place is being outdoors in nature.

I've always had a connection with the land and the environment. When I was growing up in Australia, my parents used always to take us camping and on bush walks, and been to some far-flung places. I've been traipsing through the woods of Canada and North America, and on safari in Africa ...

And now I'm in New Zealand for the next year or two, studying and working and having some life experience, and exploring the natural habitats here. We always hear such wonderful things about New Zealand in Australia, especially about the outdoors, so I wanted to come and have a look.

During my time here I wanted to get involved in a worthwhile project, so I joined Conservation Volunteers. They do some pretty cool stuff up and down the country, and locally. Because I'm very new here - I've only been here two months - it's a nice way to get to know Auckland.


I volunteer at least one day a week. I'm at Meola Reef Reserve today, planting a lot of trees. I also do a bit of weeding at other sites and I've been at the Auckland Council's Mt Eden nursery, repotting plants so they're ready to go out. And this weekend I'm going to do a litter survey in Sandringham.

I've also just done the training for predator control for Mt Eden and other places in Auckland, to give the native birds and flora a chance. Rats and possums are the main culprits, they have quite an impact on birdlife as well as vegetation.

I've studied a diploma in conservation and land management, and I'm planning to do a degree in science, so it's great to have such a broad range of activities.

It can be hard physical work but it's also relaxing and there's a sense of calm, chatting away with people with the birds flying around us. You work as a team to ensure that what needs to be done gets done.

I like to give back to the community and the planet, so being out in nature and trying to contribute to bettering the environment gives me a good feeling.

It definitely helps to clear my mind. There are no real distractions.

It's very peaceful in the fresh air and the sunshine, and sometimes the rain. It's a slower pace. You're not just stuck in front of a computer inside. It's very liberating being out in nature.

* Bridie Gough works with Conservation Volunteers, which runs conservation projects across New Zealand. Aucklanders can help with projects every Tuesday in the Discover Our Auckland Parks scheme with Auckland Council. Call 0800 567 686 or email