Five of Wellington's brightest future conservation leaders visited a local tourism company on Friday through Zealandia's Youth Ambassador programme, to gain insights into the role conservation plays in the regions of New Zealand.
The ambassadors attended a presentation deep in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve where they learned about the trapping programmes that Rotorua's Canopy Tours ran in the 250ha section of native forest where they operated.
"We are thrilled to be hosting these exceptional young people in our forest today," Canopy Tours general manager Paul Button said.
"Sharing the insights that we've developed into how to rejuvenate native forest and bring back native birds is something we feel passionate about."
The company was a valuable destination on the Senior Youth Ambassadors' road trip due to the ecotourism business' excellent record in conservation work.
"The conservation work we do at Canopy Tours is the underlying foundation of our entire business," Button said.
"We've seen the return of rare striped skink, we have a wildlife disruption permit to handfeed miromiro and toutouwai birds, and we have trapped thousands of invasive pests in the time we've been operating here."
The group is made up of five youth, selected based on their unique individual contributions to conservation work.
Elizabeth Werner says: "I'd only ever seen whio or kokako in books, so it's exciting to get out and do something I've never done before."
As part of the Zealandia Youth Ambassador programme, the five ambassadors got to experience a "conservation road trip" where they learned about important conservation work being done in other parts of the country. This year the ambassadors had travelled from Wellington to Rotorua.
Matthew Groom, 18, said: "It's exciting seeing new animals and trying new experiences. It'd be great to receive advice on careers in conservation and learn how I can utilise my interest and turn it into a career in the future."
"The goal of this trip is to give these kids exposure to some of the great conservation work being done in other parts of New Zealand," trip leader, Education and Youth Ranger Sue Lum said.
"The trip will also increase their awareness of bicultural heritage, build on knowledge of visitor and education experiences, and to help further develop their career pathways."
Zealandia, a conservation business based in Wellington, is known for being the world's first fully-fenced ecosanctuary. The year-long Zealandia Youth Ambassador programme features both junior and senior ambassadors, with the senior programme finishing its year at the end of February.
The rest of the trip includes visits to the National Trout Centre whio nursery, Wai-O-Tapu Mud Pools, Okareka wetlands, a Raranga workshop, a stream restoration project, Kaharoa Forest Kōkako Track, Mokoia Island, Rainbow Springs, and Tarawera Landing. They head home on February 10.