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YHA and DOC Give Students an Excuse – Adventure

10 February 2005

YHA and DOC Give Students an Excuse – and an Adventure –
for Caring About Conservation
Eco Trip Prizes Reward Enthusiastic Young Conservationists

2005 could be the year that caring for your community stream wins you a holiday, or campaigning to protect native species turns into your ticket to Australia.

All you need is a passion for the environment – and winning great prizes – to take part in the 2005 YHA Young Conservationist Awards. The Awards programme was founded by DOC in 1972, and YHA added its support four years ago.

Last year’s Award winners Stephanie Owens (Canterbury) and Luke Archer (Auckland) have just returned from their prize trips, to Australia’s Grampians and Otago Peninsula, respectively.

Stephanie organised the Lincoln Liffey Brigade to unite community members of all ages in a township clean up. Her Harakeke (Individual Secondary) Award took her all the way to Victoria’s Halls Gap, where YHA Grampians was the site of her abseiling, Eco-Hostel adventure. She also enjoyed some time in Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary, getting involved in a project restoring a habitat for bandicoot and dunnarts, to support their return to the wild.

“The highlight for me was our time at the Grampians,” says Stephanie, of her first overseas experience. “The YHA Hostel there is an awesome place to stay, very social and homely. The other aspect of the trip that I really enjoyed was meeting people from other countries and just talking to them about their travels and their home.”

Auckland’s Luke Archer, the 2004 Tui (Individual Primary/Intermediate) Award winner, was hosted on a Southern Skink Encounter by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and YHA New Zealand. After constructing a skink and gecko garden within his own Verran Primary School grounds, Luke made a presentation to classmates, teachers and the community earlier this year, explaining the importance of these lizards and the steps that can be taken to protect them. He was looking forward to visiting the Otago reptiles, rarer than those in his own garden.

“The best part of my trip was watching the Grand and Otago skinks,” says Luke. “I also enjoyed staying at the YHA Hostels and loved playing with Polly the cat at YHA Oamaru. I got to go to lots of fun places and do fun stuff with my mum, like the Cadbury factory, penguin and albatross watching and the Portobello aquarium. I am still very interested in the skinks and hope they won’t be extinct in 10 years!”

Winning groups from Motueka and Lincoln schools took the Tuatara and Wheke Awards, which each included a $1,000 grant to support their continued work in conservation.

The closing date for the 2005 Awards is 2 September 2005, which means there is still plenty of time to find out more about how to enter. Simply ring Mardi Neumann, YHA New Zealand, 0800 278 299, or e-mail

Previous YHA Young Conservationist projects have included: native plant propagation and forest replanting; preventing coastal erosion; researching the migrating habits of native fish; investigating the effects of rubbish on seashore animals; and different uses of the introduced pest species of gorse.

YHA New Zealand Hostels have helped Kiwi and international travellers find unique local experiences since 1932. Getting local means appreciating the Hostel environment and community – and the YHA Young Conservationist Awards encourage students who are interested in local issues, as advocates for New Zealand’s future.


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