Those most positive about the health of New Zealand's wild places are those who get out into nature most frequently, reveals a new survey by the Department of Conservation.
However, we still aren't sure what "predator free by 2050" actually means.
A large-scale, two-year research project into New Zealand's relation to the natural environment has revealed what we really think about the great outdoors. The feelings are many and mixed.
New Zealanders overwhelmingly see the outdoors as one of the country's main benefits, but after this there's very little Kiwis can agree upon.
Research into the public's engagement and understanding of nature has found that 84 per cent of the population felt that having access to the great outdoors was one of the things they loved most about living in New Zealand. However, when it came to perceptions of the health and general understanding of the country's ecosystem and biodiversity it was a different picture.
The survey found that 51 per cent of the country were ambivalent or outright negative(14 per cent) about the state of wildlife in Aotearoa.
While the state of public land and parks was perceived to be "good" overall, it is the rivers, beaches and waterways that the public were most concerned for.
Over half of respondents (55 per cent) were not satisfied with the state of our waterways, with particularly strong sentiments among Cantabrians (39 per cent satisfied).
Far from the younger climate-conscious Kiwis being the driving force behind this dissatisfaction it was those aged between 45 to 59 who were most pessimistic about the current health of our biodiversity and natural land.
Trigger points such as overcrowding and pest control continued to be divisive. While a large proportion of New Zealanders agreed that more needed to be done to protect native species (74-76 per cent) only 43 per cent of Kiwis thought that the benefits of pest control outweighed the risks.
Giving New Zealanders preferential access to outdoor places over international visitors was popular (47 per cent) with 37 per cent saying that there should be a limit on places for overseas visitors. Unsurprisingly 54 per cent of NZers disagreed that similar caps should be enforced for New Zealanders visiting delicate natural sites.
DOC said that this would be a difficult topic to broach.
"While the data suggest that there is some appetite for placing limits, it will be important for DOC to support this in such a way that New Zealanders do not feel 'locked out' of their own 'backyard'"
However, it is not all doom, gloom and algal bloom.
The research found that those who were most positive about the state of the country's biodiversity were those that knew it best. (57 per cent)
Spending more time out in nature was linked to both a more optimistic outlook for New Zealand's biodiversity and were more likely to feel that they, personally could do
The DOC research into New Zealanders' relation to the outdoors will be used to shape the future policy of DOC in getting more Kiwis involved in enjoying and caring for the outdoors.
"Connecting people with nature is crucial to charting a better future for New Zealand," says DOC strategy and insights director Tim Bamford.
"Understanding the barriers to why many New Zealanders do not participate in action for nature helps us overcome them. In the meantime, there are some really easy and important ways people can contribute to protecting the country's natural and cultural heritage."
The project surveyed almost 4000 New Zealanders between 2018 and 2020, over the age of 18. There were additional focus groups held in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.
What do we do outdoors?
Camping is not for everyone. DOC's survey revealed that New Zealand is split almost equally in thirds. 34 per cent of respondents say they camp once a year, the rest have tried but are in no hurry to go back, and a final third of NZers say they have never been camping.
Over half of all Kiwis say they have done a multi-day hike at least once.
91 per cent of New Zealanders said they took an outing or short walk into nature at least once a year. Whereas only around one in ten Kiwis say they go hunting (11), mountaineering (12) or horse riding (10) once a year or more. Only around 13 per cent of those surveyed said they took an annual ski trip in New Zealand.
Many ways of getting to see New Zealand remain niche and for the privileged few.
In order to get New Zealanders to look after nature, DOC must first find ways to get them out experiencing it.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com