The day the teddy bears have their picnic

Bears will be introduced to the Manawatu Gorge tracks this summer - not your typical sight when venturing into the Manawatu woods.

The Department of Conservation is holding a Kiwi Ranger Teddy Bears' Picnic to promote and celebrate the Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge Kiwi Ranger programme.

The event, held at the eastern end of the gorge, is part of the department's summer campaign to get more local families off their couches and into the outdoors.

DOC ranger Kelly Stratford said they were trying to encourage young families to make the most of the destinations available at their backdoors.

"A teddy bears' picnic is a fun, safe way for children to take a peek at the wonders of the forest," said Ms Stratford.

The day out will start with a guided walk with ranger activities, followed by a teddy bears' picnic.

The Kiwi Ranger programme was launched in September last year as part of Conservation Week to promote a more engaging experience when using the gorge walking tracks.

The tracks are a popular recreation destination for runners and walkers, receiving more than 60,000 visitors a year.

The programme aims to get some of those people to stop and explore their surroundings.

Participants complete a range of age-dependent nature-based activities, and learn about the history, ecology and geology of Te Apiti, to earn a collectable badge.

These include scavenger hunts, learning about the power of wind generating electricity, and creating waiata, songs or poems about the experience.

"Families that are looking for something cheap and a little bit adventurous to do over the summer holidays will love the Manawatu Gorge Kiwi Ranger programme," said Ms Stratford.

Kiwi Ranger programme booklets and badges are free and can be collected from the Te Manawa museum, the Palmerston North i-Site, the Woodville i-Site and the Bridge Cafe.

The picnic will be held on Friday, January 24, starting at the Manawatu Gorge car park on Ballance Gorge Rd, at 10am.

Manawatu Standard