COLUMN: Adventures to be had at Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary

Children take a look inside a weta motel as they complete tasks to gain their Toyota Kiwi Guardians medal.
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Children take a look inside a weta motel as they complete tasks to gain their Toyota Kiwi Guardians medal.

COLUMN: Marlborough's third Toyota Kiwi Guardian site was officially opened at Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary at the weekend, with 90 people attending a special launch event, co-hosted by the Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society and Department of Conservation.

The launch gave participants an opportunity to experience some of Kaipupu's Toyota Kiwi Guardians activities which kids can complete to earn an adventure medal. For many, it was the first chance they had to visit Kaipupu.

The participants were greeted at the sanctuary by seals frolicking near the jetty. The view up Queen Charlotte Sound was the highlight for many, while others commented on the obvious birdlife (despite the chattering of many excited children!).

Kaipupu volunteer Gerald Harper, right, introduces visitors to a little blue penguin.
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Kaipupu volunteer Gerald Harper, right, introduces visitors to a little blue penguin.

It was heartening to hear children pointing out the gigantic tree ferns or be enthralled by the starfish along the foreshore, and it is these observational skills that the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme hopes to enhance in children. The programme, developed by DOC in partnership with Toyota New Zealand, encourages kids to engage their senses, delve a bit deeper into nature and, ultimately, earn themselves a medal.

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DOC and Toyota New Zealand are encouraging Kiwi kids to become guardians of the land and sea.

Toyota Kiwi Guardians offers fresh air, adventure and education at a fraction of the cost of school holiday programmes. While kids are outside enjoying fresh air, having fun and creating memories; they're also building good conservation habits.

Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal location to foster an interest in nature. It's run by a volunteer- based community group, which is truly inspiring. The project has more than 60 volunteers who assist with trapping, education, information, weed control and other maintenance tasks. Everyone at Kaipupu pitches in to make a difference. Last year the group released South Island robin back on Kaipupu, and it became a creche for endangered rowi kiwi.

Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society's project co-ordinator Rachel Russell was keen to get on board the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme from the get go.

"We want to get children excited about nature and conservation. Kaipupu is a safe and exciting place to do that. The Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme will encourage more families to come out and discover how wonderful Kaipupu is for themselves."

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Marlborough kids can make collecting medals their mission this school holidays. Blenheim has two Toyota Kiwi Guardian sites at Mill Flat and Taylor River Reserve, and there is one at Nelson Lakes as well. If you're venturing further afield during the holidays, there over 60 other sites around the country to explore. Each Kiwi Guardian site has simple family-friendly activities that makes each location special.

There are three ways kids can participate: by downloading a map and exploring an adventure site like Kaipupu, doing an action in their own backyards, or exploring an event.

Each completed task is rewarded with a Toyota Kiwi Guardians medal, plus you can show us how you got on at facebook.com/kiwiguardians.

To find out more about the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme, visit kiwiguardians.co.nz.

So: make the most of having unique conservation at your fingertips and get you and yours out into nature to become Toyota Kiwi Guardians.

 - The Marlborough Express

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