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View nature through fresh eyes this Conservation Week

Published: 17 August 2020

Exploring the vast array of green spaces on offer across Auckland isn't possible during Alert level 3 but you can still connect with nature at your local park or online. 

“With Tāmaki Makaurau going through the stresses of a renewed outbreak of COVID-19 cases, Conservation Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to get out into nature and keep ourselves, our whānau and aiga (family) both physically and mentally healthy,” says Cllr Alf Filipaina, chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee.

Despite a number of planned Conservation Week (August 15–23) events, such as planting days, now cancelled or on hold, there are still plenty of opportunities to look at nature through new eyes.

Mapping nature near you

Nature surrounds us. Taking the time to observe what is literally in your backyard allows you to embrace what has always been there. During the April lockdown, Auckland Council Parks Services created a video detailing how we can map our backyards.

Once you have done that use something like the NZ Tree app to learn what is around you, and how you can care for it.

If you want to take the concept to the next level, map your local park highlighting some key natural taonga (treasures) that you like. Then take a photo of that map and share with friends and family so they can see nature through your eyes and then go out and explore it.

Using a screen to go green

We can still connect with nature even when the weather outside is miserable. On a rainy day spend some time looking through the amazing photos on Auckland Council’s Instagram feed. Not only will you see the Tāmaki Makaurau region through fresh perspectives, but it is also great inspiration for planning that next trip into nature. During Conservation Week, why not add to those amazing photos by taking a photo that shows nature from your perspective?

There are also plenty of quizzes or things to research online around nature in Aotearoa. A good place to start is the Conservation Week webpage that the Department of Conservation has created.

Finally, visit the Auckland Parks Facebook page for more videos on subjects like how to make a bug hotel, doing a bird count in your neighbourhood and building a tracking tunnel. Check back to see new videos that will be going up during the week.

Feel healthy in your local park

Local parks are a great way to refresh and recharge. In our annual customer survey, 80 per cent of Aucklanders told us they visited a park to improve health and well-being. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that health and wellbeing was a strong motivation to head to a park.

The need to stay healthy and look after our mental wellbeing is a priority in times of stress and crisis like we are experiencing with COVID-19. Head out to your local park to just explore Papatūānuku.

There is always the opportunity to look at nature from a fresh perspective. Look, listen, feel and breathe. The chance to stop and appreciate what is around you can be just the tonic your body needs to cope.

How to enjoy the outdoors in Level 3

  • The golden rule is to stay local. Travel to your nearest park not your favourite one.
  • Our parks are open for people to enjoy for exercise and general mental wellbeing. Two-metre distances should be observed at all times.

  • Please stay off playgrounds, park benches and sports equipment.

  • If you live near a park, you can walk, run or cycle through your local park but must not play on playgrounds or use exercise equipment.

  • Regional park vehicle access gates are all closed and on-site facilities (like toilets and playgrounds) are closed. Barbecues and drinking fountains have been turned off.

  • For some people who live next to a regional park, this may be their local exercise area.

  • Walk-in access to regional parks for locals arriving on foot is allowed.

  • At regional parks, follow all normal dog access rules, noting that dogs are prohibited at some or required to be on-leash at regional parks.

Remember to check the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 webpage for all the latest information on the virus in New Zealand. We will also have regular updates on how Alert Level 3 affects council facilities on the Auckland Council COVID-19 webpage.

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