A young band of forest guardians tried out a new Kiwi Guardian adventure site launched at Pukenui Forest in Whangārei as part of this year's Conservation Week.

Toyota Kiwi Guardians is an activity-based programme helping children connect with nature by encouraging them to go on self-guided adventures, earn rewards and have hands-on experiences with nature.

Glenbervie School pupils were the first to try out the new ''living conservation'' track in the Pukenui Forest during a class trip yesterday.

The children have been learning about pest control and native species all term.

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The track in the Pukenui Forest, which rings the west side of the Whangārei landscape, offers a moderately challenging but enjoyable walk through native bush that is home to many precious native species.

"We're encouraging Kiwi kids to become guardians of the land and sea by having hands-on nature experiences and learning about the wonderful environment around them.

''We know kids love the activities and rewards that the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme offers and it's great to welcome another site to the Whangārei," said Louisa Gritt, Whangārei operations manager, Department of Conservation.

"Pukenui is a gem in the middle of Whangārei where you can do all-day tramps, or take the kids and the pram for a 30 minute Kiwi Guardians adventure."

As part of the guardians programme, children complete actions, adventures or explorations – the wide range of options can be chosen on www.kiwiguardians.co.nz – and when they have completed a task, they can claim a medal online, which will be posted at no cost.

Pukenui Forest is the largest bush area in Whangārei and just 10km from the CBD.

Covering 1500ha, it is home to North Island brown kiwi, longtail bats, ruru (morepork), including sightings of white ones, king ferns, giant tōtara, kauri, kahikatea and many other native flora and fauna.

In March, 12 kiwi were released into the forest, a huge milestone for the Pukenui Forest Trust which has been trapping pests and restoring the forest.

This launch expands the Kiwi Guardians adventure sites in Whangārei following on from the Smugglers Bay launch during Conservation Week last year. Conservation Week 2018 ends tomorrow.