More than 120 students, teachers, family and community members experienced some of the best environmentally sustainable tourism attractions the Bay of Islands and Whangarei have to offer as part of Enviroschools regional expos in 2018.
The first of the two Enviroschools ecotourism expos, for students in years 5-8, was held in Whangarei in November 2018. This was followed by a Bay of Islands-based event a week later.
Enviroschools expos have been held yearly in the region for more than a decade and always provide exciting, hands-on learning experiences for participants.
Regional Councillor Paul Dimery, who opened the Whangarei expo, said 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”, – Paul Dimery, Regional Councillor.
65 students and 12 teachers/whānau helpers took part in the Whangarei expo, coming 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 through part of the city’s Hatea Loop Walkway and scootering across 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/whānau 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 Māori focus through the Opua State Forest, biked in the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, played traditional ngā takaro (games) at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and tried their hand at kayaking at Waitangi.
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.
By creating a fun atmosphere for learning, the events also enabled participants to take part in memorable learning experiences and set the scene for eco-tourism teaching and learning in 2019.
Banner image – 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.