School holidays are upon us and after the COVID-19 lockdown, getting outdoors to connect with nature with family might be the very thing that is needed.
But winter is here and although there are plenty of great places to visit and explore in our backyard, it is important to be safe when doing so.
“Aucklanders love getting outdoors, and we have great opportunities to do so. It’s part of what makes Tāmaki Makaurau a great place to live. But we need to ensure we get home to our whānau and aiga (family) afterwards,” says Councillor Alf Filipaina, Chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee.
“That’s why we want to remind Aucklanders of the Outdoor Safety Code. The code applies whatever you do in our regional parks.”
There are five key messages at the heart of the code.
- Plan your trip – work out where you will go, what you will be doing, and how long it will take you; seek local knowledge of the area; and have a backup in case something goes wrong
- Tell someone – share your plans with someone you trust who can raise the alarm if you haven’t returned
- Be aware of the weather – our weather can be highly unpredictable at the best of times and more so during winter. Check the forecast and expect weather changes. Consider postponing if the weather looks really bad
- Know your limits – it is important to do things that will challenge you within your own physical limits and experience. Don’t do something that is way out of your ability
- Take sufficient supplies – having enough food, water, equipment, clothing and emergency rations is really important. This includes layering up and having waterproof jackets with you. Make sure someone in your group has a first aid kit. Also, ensure you have an appropriate way to communicate if something goes wrong.
It can also be handy to have a change of clothes in the car for the end of the trip so you aren’t travelling home in wet clothes.
Alf Filipaina says that preparation is important whatever you do.
Mark Bowater, Head of Parks Services for Auckland Council agrees.
“Even a simple family walk in the bush can go wrong so planning and communicating with someone about your intentions are always important.”
He says that Auckland Council works closely with other organisations to ensure that when things do go wrong there is a timely response but adhering to the Outdoor Safety Code makes that process easier and faster.
“At the end of the day it is about making sure we all get home safely,” says Alf Filipaina.
For more information on how to prepare to be safe in the outdoors this winter including on and by the water (including fishing onshore), check out the Adventure Smart website.
Keep Kauri Standing
Wherever you end up, if you enter or leave a forest/area with native trees anywhere across the region, here are three easy steps you need to remember:
- Scrub– clean all soil off your footwear and gear.
- Spray– your footwear and gear with disinfectant at every cleaning station you encounter. Kauri dieback can be spread by just a pinhead of soil.
- Stay– on open tracks and off kauri roots.
Always check the Auckland Council kauri webpage before going for a walk to find out what tracks are currently closed.