Cherish Aotearoa and stay safe in Level 2
The Department of Conservation is preparing for a busy spring and asks people to enjoy their great outdoors responsibly, as regions outside of Auckland are at Alert Level 2.
Data from DOC’s 2020/21 visitor insights report shows visitor trends seen throughout the pandemic.
“Lots of us have been enjoying the outdoors but this wasn’t enough to prevent large declines at many iconic destinations,” says DOC strategy and insights manager Tim Bamford.
“Our data shows more than three-quarters of New Zealanders got out into nature, particularly to the coast, between November 2020 and May 2021.”
“What’s more, just under 71 per cent of visitors reported they had a memorable, personally meaningful or life-changing experience outdoors.”
Looking at current bookings and previous visitor trends, the combination of spring and the easing of alert level restrictions is expected to bring a flurry of visitor activity across conservation areas, says Tim.
“DOC facilities are open at Alert Level 2, but the risk of Covid-19 being present in the community is still high. Although many will be eager to get out there, it’s vital people play it safe and look after themselves and others when outdoors.”
“This Conservation Week DOC’s advocating we all take a moment in nature for our health and wellbeing. We also need to protect and cherish nature, so it can continue to sustain us.”
New Zealanders have been making the most of Aotearoa, but some behaviour leaves a little to be desired says Tim.
Despite the absence of international tourism, New Zealanders consistently observed visitor impacts over the summer and autumn months. Littering was the most commonly noticed impact - either ‘a lot’ or ‘a fair amount’.
“DOC’s insights reporting shows issues like human waste, vandalism, irresponsible 4WD and jet ski use, and people disturbing marine life or feeding birds, were unfortunately common problems over summer,” says Tim.
“Another regular issue has been people endangering wildlife such as kiwi and other vulnerable native birds, by taking dogs where they are not permitted. These are all extremely serious problems for our species and places and very disappointing to see.
“DOC staff work hard to ensure everyone can enjoy New Zealand’s special wildlife, heritage and landscapes, but we should all be doing our bit for Aotearoa.
"This year we’ve introduced our Tiaki care code through which we’re directing visitors to protect nature, be prepared, keep New Zealand clean and respect others,” says Tim.
“Alert Level 2 means we can still enjoy the great outdoors, provided it’s done safely. It’s more important than ever to be kind others, be responsible for yourself and your group, prepare well before heading outdoors and take the correct equipment for activities in late winter into early spring.”