Conservation Week is celebrating its 50th year.

This year, the Department of Conservation (DoC) in Taranaki will be reflecting on local groups which have saved species, restored habitats and inspired the next 50 years of protecting native taonga.

Conservation Week runs from September 14-22. This year, the theme is 'nature needs us' and the third annual Legends of Conservation adventure race will be taking place. Last year, 150 people took part in the race.

The race, based at Pukeiti Gardens, is a chance for families or school teams to race around the garden and rainforest tracks, finding checkpoints and meeting local conservation 'legends' along the way.

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DoC Community Ranger Ellen Squire says the adventure race is an opportunity for the public to meet those who are on the ground carrying out real, valuable conservation work.

"There is a lot of exciting conservation work going on in Taranaki, and the race will teach participants about conservation and the people behind it."

Participants can meet a range of people from whio conservation dogs and their handlers, hunters and marine experts to community groups such as Rotokare Trust, Taranaki Kiwi Trust and Ngā Motu Marine Reserve Society.

The event is aimed at mainly primary and intermediate children and their adult helpers.

"It's great to see people out and about in nature and meeting some of the conservation legends we are so lucky to have in Taranaki," Ellen says.

DoC is encouraging people to get involved in conservation-related activities throughout Conservation Week to learn more about New Zealand's unique biodiversity and what people can do to help it.

As well as the adventure race there are opportunities to learn about marine species, check out Moturoa School's native plant propagation unit, watch environmental-themed films at Govett-Brewster, and learn about conservation in the city with New Plymouth District Council.

For more information on upcoming Conservation Week events in Taranaki, go to www.conservationweek.org.nz

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■ Anyone keen to take part in the race must register at www.eventfinda.co.nz/2019/3rd-annual-legends-of-conservation-adventure-race/new-plymouth