Danielle Wright rounds up the best ways to get involved during Conservation Week, running from today until Sunday, September 16.

You don't have to be a famous actress to take a stand for the environment. Everyone, every day, can choose to do something to protect our natural environment and Conservation Week can show us how. Here's what's on offer:

Auckland Zoo
Located on Motions Rd, Western Springs. Discover New Zealand's Backyard during Conservation Week, run in conjunction with DOC and Sustainable Coastlines, from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Normal entry charges apply. Check website for times of events: www.aucklandzoo.co.nz.

"Conservation Week is the big week of the year for encouraging Joe Average to get involved in conservation. We've got more animal encounters with keepers (six or seven a day), a Sustainable Coastlines group with information and activities, as well as educational and creative activities, such as making a mural out of clean rubbish that has been collected on the coast. There's even an ancient mariner telling stories," says Ian Fraser, Auckland Zoo's New Zealand Fauna curator.

There's also a Spot the Stowaway activity to highlight the need to stop any pests getting to the pest-free Hauraki Gulf islands. You can also recycle by bringing in old pillows, duvets, cushions or beanbags for an interactive art sculpture.


"It marks the start of our fieldwork season, where we send zoo keepers out into the field to assist others with conservation work," says Fraser, who remembers a Conservation Week poster gracing his brother's bedroom wall back in 1973.

"I think most New Zealanders are generally pretty good with conservation, as an idea, they don't litter and try to recycle but what we're keen to do is get people more involved, even something simple like putting rat control on your boat is one tangible thing people can do," says Fraser. "We are inviting people to come and discover the many amazing natural treasures living in New Zealand's backyard, and to join us in celebrating them and finding out why we need to protect what's precious."

Sustainable Coastlines
To find coastal clean-ups in your area, visit: www.sustainablecoastlines.org.

"We want to be the fence at the top of the cliff, rather than the ambulance at the bottom," says Sustainable Coastlines' manager, Camden Howitt, who wants to remind people that September 15 is international coastal clean-up day.

"We'll be running a bunch of clean-ups on Auckland West Coast beaches," says Howitt. "We also have school roadshows and a modified shipping container called The Education Station, located at the Auckland Zoo for the week."

"We'd also like to remind people to stop littering. People need to realise that everything flows into the sea. They need to make a connection between littering in the streets and a coastline they care about," says Howitt.

Dept of Conservation
Love Your Parks during Conservation Week. Events are listed by region at www.doc.govt.nz/conservation-week-home/whats-happening.

This year's Conservation Week theme is Love Your Parks, which has a focus on treasuring our national parks, as well as about getting people to explore what's in their backyard. In Auckland, there will be workshops on how to set traps for possums, photo competitions and themed events such as welcoming back the shining cuckoo with songs, games, talks, walks, dances and artwork.


This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the National Parks Act, and the 125th anniversary of Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifting the Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe mountain peaks to the people of New Zealand.

Around the country, the Department of Conservation (DOC) will be holding events such as Tales by Torchlight (Tuesday, September 11, 6pm-7.30pm) in Rotorua's Redwoods Forest, or Kiwi Aversion Training for Dogs (September 16, Whakatane).

Journey to the Deep
September 29-November 11, Silo 6 Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter, Waterfront Auckland, $10 per child, $20 per adult with family passes available, www.journeytothedeep.com.

Journey to the Deep is billed as an immersive, interactive theatre, with a conservation message.

Event organiser Sarah Burren says it also has, "wonderfully wacky characters, good storytelling and a quest. It will be like you're walking at the bottom of the sea and is not about preaching, it's more about bee

Children on a bush mirror-walk as part of education programmes by the Department of Conservation.


inspiration and guardianship - remembering we need to take care of what we've got." As a teaser, there will be Journey to the Deep characters at the Auckland Zoo's Conservation Week activities.

Actors will perform daily (every half hour between 11am and 2pm, for around 10 minutes).

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
Become a member at www.forestandbird.org.nz. Children can join the junior version, Kiwi Conservation Club, at www.kcc.org.nz.

"Eighty-five per cent of New Zealanders live in towns, so we want people thinking about what they're doing in town to encourage wildlife back into urban areas," says Mark Bellingham, Forest & Bird's North Island conservation manager. "It could be planting native trees for birds or lizards, or containing your cat in the early morning to stop it preying on birds in the garden."

Forest & Bird launches its annual Bird of the Year poll on September 10. You can have your vote at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz. Last year pukeko won, this year campaign managers are backing their birds; Te Radar is promoting the southern skua, Raybon Kan has opted for the New Zealand falcon and Kate Camp has chosen the albatross.

Forest & Bird branches are also holding events such as a planting day (September 15, 9am-12pm) at Violet Bonnington Reserve, Mt Ngongotaha in Rotorua, a native tree sale to support revegetation projects (Fortune's Rd, Whakatane 9.30am-12pm, September 22), and a Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve and New Zealand Dotterel day at Pouawa, Gisborne (10am-2pm, September 9).


Conservation Volunteers
The Connecting People with Parks programme is run across Auckland, ph 0800 56 76 86 or visit www.conservationvolunteers.co.nz.

Conservation Volunteers run their programme every Tuesday from 8am to 4pm and every second weekend (on average, but get in touch first).

The projects range from potting up seedlings in their Mt Eden nursery to installing wind protection around new seedlings out in the field.

Some upcoming Conservation Week projects include Protect Beautiful Oakley on Tuesday, September 11 from 8am-4pm at Oakley Creek, where the task will be removing berries from woolly nightshade plants, or Discover Secret Selwyn Bush on Sunday, September 16 from 9.30am to 4pm, where the job is to protect the seedlings planted over winter by laying out weed matting.