A four-wheel-drive trip up the Branch Valley tomorrow completes the Department of Conservation's Summer Explorer Programme for Marlborough and Kaikoura.
DOC community relations ranger Clare Duston says the 2012-13 programme is the second that has been organised in the region and the turnout to events this year proved its success.
"We are very pleased with the enthusiasm for Marlborough people getting out to places they had [often] never been before and doing activities they had never done before.
"There were all sorts of people from all walks of life and they were nearly all local people."
And even better still, many returned on subsequent days to do the same activities in their own time, Clare says.
"DOC looks after quite special areas in Marlborough and we do that so people can appreciate and enjoy them; the more they know about conservation areas, the more they can get out and experience them."
Tomorrow's trip is being organised in conjunction with the Marlborough 4WD Club and its members can give rides to people without their own 4WDs.
Clare says the Branch River track is "quite fun" with some "rough, interesting bits" and the two-hour drive will end at Greig's Hut where a barbecue will be prepared and people with energy to spare can venture up a walking track, cross a swing bridge and take in some "quite beautiful" scenery.
Participation in the Summer Explorer Programme by groups like the 4WD Club, the Marlborough Mountainbike Club, Marlborough Tramping Club and Grovetown Lagoon Restoration Trust was a large part of its success, Clare says.
"It's been excellent working closely with these groups and getting their input in the programme and learning about how they use the conservation land.
When guided kayak trips were held at the Grovetown Lagoon on February 3 to coincide with World Wetland Day, Carol was surprised how many people had never known the lagoon was even there.
"And people do want to know . . . so we are keen to work a bit more on that and get people involved."
Some volunteers in the summer holiday programme have put their names down as DOC volunteers, she adds.
That provides them with opportunities for more outdoor adventures and helps DOC increase its care on the region's conservation estate.
"There's always plenty to do, we're always keen to get more volunteers."
People wanting to travel up the Branch River in Sunday with a 4WD club member must pay $30 and book a seat by phoning the DOC South Marlborough Area Office, 03 572 9100.
Participation is free for people with their own vehicles but everyone must meet at 9am on the Leatham Rd turn-off, 20 kilometres past the Wairau Valley township on State Highway 63.
- The Marlborough Express
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