BOI, Whangarei host Enviroschools Ecotourism Expos

22 Nov 2018, 10:15 AM

More than 120 students, teachers, family and community members have experienced some of the best environmentally sustainable tourism attractions the Bay of Islands and Whangarei have to offer as part of this year’s Enviroschools regional expos.

The first of the two Enviroschools Ecotourism Expos for Years Five to Eight students was held in Whangarei on 07 November, followed a week later (14 November) with a Bay of Islands-based event.

The Northland Regional Council (NRC) introduced the popular Enviroschools programme to Northland more than a decade ago and there are now more than 90 schools and kindergartens in the programme region-wide.  Enviroschools expos have been held yearly in the region for more than a decade and always provide exciting, hands-on learning experiences for participants.

School students with scooters on the trail.Participants in the Whangarei expo about to head down the beginners’ scooter trail on land at Waikaraka formally used for marginal farming.

Regional councillor Paul Dimery, who opened the Whangarei expo, says it was great to see a younger generation experiencing ecotourism activities that could be replicated in their local areas.

“I think Expo participants also learned a valuable first-hand lesson that there’s nothing wrong with making money; the important thing is to make sure you try to do it in the most environmentally sustainable manner you can.”

Councillor Dimery says the 65 students and 12 teachers/whanau helpers taking part in the Whangarei expo came from eight schools; Hikurangi, Hora Hora, Maromaku, Maungakaramea, Parua Bay, Tinopai, Whangarei Primary and Whau Valley.

They tried their hands at a variety of ecotourism activities including cycling part of the city’s Hatea Loop Walkway and scootering tracks on land formally used for marginal farming at Whangarei Heads.  They also explored the Abbey Caves and visited the Whangarei Quarry Gardens to see how a pile of ruins was turned into a beautiful tourist attraction.

Further north, 39 students and nine teachers/whanau helpers took part in the BOI event representing five schools: Bay of Islands Academy, Kaikohe West, Karetu, Kokopu and Oruaiti.

They took a cultural tour with strong te ao Maori focus through the Opua State Forest, biked in the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, played traditional nga takaro (games) at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and tried their hand at kayaking at Waitangi.

Councillor Dimery says while each of the businesses showcased offered a different experience to their customers, all shared a common passion for operating in a sustainable manner which benefited both the environment and their local communities.

The expos were designed to allow participants to:

  • See how they could connect with the environment in new and sustainable ways
  • Experience employment and social enterprise via real eco-tourism businesses that could be replicated in other areas and
  • Experience taonga tuku iho / passing down knowledge.

“The events also enabled them to take part in memorable learning experiences through having fun and set the scene for them to take part in eco-tourism teaching and learning next year.”

Councillor Dimery says more information about the Enviroschools programme generally is available from the regional council’s website via:

School students in kayaks.

Oruaiti School student Cordell Grace about to take to the waters off Waitangi as part of a kayaking experience at this year’s Enviroschools Ecotourism Expo.