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American university group aids conservation effort

Contributing to something meaningful: Part of the visiting group with their professor. Image: Supplied

A values-driven tourism group from the University of Delaware got stuck into Bay of Plenty conservation efforts this week.

The American university group spent their Thursday rebaiting automatic pest traps, clearing tracks and counting birds in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve northwest of Rotorua.

The group of 24 students are in New Zealand for a month as part of a cross-cultural communication paper focusing on happiness and wellbeing.

University of Delaware assistant professor Dr Tracey Holden says the group is very excited to contribute to Kiwi conservation.

“It’s such a vital part of the culture of New Zealand.”

The group are touring the country with Haka Tours, taking part in volunteering opportunities as their travel plan – rather than just completing tourist experiences.

They were hosted on Thursday by Rotorua Canopy Tours.

General Manager Paul Button says it is rare for a group of international visitors to arrange in advance to take part in the ground work involved in maintaining the pest control programme.

It's believed that this type of eco-tourism looks to be on the rise.

Haka Educational Tours general manager Eleri Williams says educational tour groups are increasingly seeking authentic and meaningful experiences that give back to the communities they visit.

“Whatever the core subject area, the vast majority of our New Zealand tours now include service activities, such as beach clean ups, pest trapping or tree planting.”

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