Home Articles posted by Hannah Skelton

Ever wanted to take not just a walk, but a Great Walk. Well, if you are in New Zealand, you are in luck! In NZ you are able to take a Great Walk through some of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring landscapes on premier walking tracks.

New Zealand’s Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through diverse and spectacular scenery. From native forests, lakes and rivers to rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges, and vast valleys…there’s a Great Walk for everyone! Great Walks tracks are well formed and easy to follow. While you might prefer to explore on your own terms, there are also guided trips available that offer a bit more comfort. Great Walks are accessible from major towns that are well serviced by local operators and accommodation and transport providers.

Today we are going to look at four different Great Walks and what it is like to walk them…

Let’s start with Lake Waikaremoana – a well-known part of the Great Walk family. This one is more of a backcountry, off the beaten track experience in which you are immersed into stunning natural wilderness and welcomed into the homeland of Ngai Tūhoe. Those who have walked it often say you leave with a sense of connection, rejuvenation, and wellness. Lake Waikaremoana will take you about 3-4 days to walk, an overall distance of 46 km. It is located in Te Urewera, east North Island, which is close to Wairoa, Gisborne, and Rotorua.

Next up we have the Tongariro Northern Circuit which is located in the Tongariro National Park in the Central North Island region. From late October to April, you can explore the volcanic heart of Tongariro National Park, a landscape of stark glacial contrasts and alpine views. From May to late October, it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow, avalanches, and short daylight hours – therefore you can only go if you have navigation and alpine skills. It is pretty incredible that you are able to journey through dramatic (and active!) volcanic landscapes, glacial valleys, native beech forest, alpine meadows, and emerald-coloured lakes. This walk also takes about 3-4 days at a distance of 43 km Location. It is easy to get here from the National Park Village, Tūrangi, Ohakune, or Waiouru.

A pretty special walk is up next – the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Most visitors only walk in one direction on the Coast Track and get a water taxi in the other direction. Luckily, both ends are serviced by public transport and water taxis stop at the main beaches! However, you can walk the whole track or kayak between different locations. While you are travelling you can enjoy the mild climate, golden beaches, and lush coastal native bush on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. This walk will take about 3-5 days at an overall distance of 60 km.

Finally, we are heading down south to look at the famous Routeburn Track. This track takes a little less time than the others – about 2-4 days at a distance of 32km. From November to April, you can weave through meadows, reflective tarns, and alpine gardens, and be rewarded with spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys. However, from May to October, it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow, and short daylight hours – therefore you should only attempt it if you have alpine, navigation, and river crossing skills. The Routeburn is located in the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks and therefore is often done by people visiting Queenstown.

So, what do you think? Time to plan your Great Walks adventure!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is beneficial about going on a long walk?
  2. Why should we all do at least one of the Great Walks?
  3. What are some more benefits of having the Department of Preservation look after the Great Walks?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Ask your teachers at school how they would feel about getting the class involved in a class trip to one of the Great Walks near your school.   
  2. What Great Walk on this list would you most like to conquer?
  3. Research some of the other Great Walks of NZ – what else looks like something you would enjoy?

Who doesn’t love a holiday? Or a day off school?

It’s usually pretty awesome. You might have seen here on Kiwi Kids that Jacinda Arden’s Labour government has proposed to make a new public holiday in celebration of Matariki. But there is a whole lot more to this public
holiday than just a day off school.

If you don’t know, Matariki is the Maori celebration of the start of the New Year. The name Matariki means the “eyes of god” or “tiny eyes” and refers to a cluster of stars. Although there are different myths about the origins of Matariki, one Maori story is that Ranginui, the father of the sky and Papatūānuku, were separated by their children and Rangunui became so angry he tore his own eyes out and tossed them into the sky; creating Matariki.

The cluster of stars appears in the sky around the last few days of May. It is believed that the brighter the stars are, the more successful the harvested crop will be for the next season.

Matariki is traditionally celebrated by gathering with one’s family, reflecting on the past and remembering those who have passed away. Usually, offerings for good crops are made to land-based gods and new trees
were planted to signal new beginnings.

In a statement about making Matariki a holiday, Jacinda Arden said “As New Zealanders we are proud of who we are, what we stand for, and the way we weave together different worlds and cultures to create our unique national identity.”

Do you have any interesting facts about Matariki? Let us know in the comments below

Being a kiwi kid is amazing. No doubt about it. To me, it is better than being a kid in any other country! Growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand I can truly say we have the world’s best backyards and the absolute best ways to fill each day. (I can vouch for this because I have done a fair amount of travelling and also lived in England as a kid, and it doesn’t even compare). Nothing beats the NZ environment!   

Kids can grow up so quickly nowadays, with early access to iPhones, make-up, PlayStation, and other luxuries associated with being a teenager, at least! Videos from all over the world on Facebook and YouTube document this, showing kids playing on their phones more than playing outside. I’m not saying that New Zealand isn’t a little bit like this too. But it seems to me that the magic of being a kid is still alive in kiwi backyards. Playing outside with your friends, going swimming in rivers, doing cartwheels and riding bikes with the neighbourhood kids, eating fish and chips on the beach, backyard BBQ’s. These are the memories that we hang onto forever, that you won’t find anywhere else, or at least find nearly as good.

It’s also important to mention how amazing it is to be in a country where you feel pretty safe, wherever you are. Not all countries can say the same thing! Your parents can let you head down to the waterhole, the beach, the park, the local hike, the river, the whatever, without having to worry.  Another magic thing about being a Kiwi Kid is knowing the secrets that this country holds. Every Kiwi Kid knows a top-secret location that they visit every summer and will always continue to. You don’t have to go on a fancy overseas holiday to have an answer, you can have the best summer every in the Kiwi Backyard.

Therefore, it is so important – so, so, so, so, so, so important – that Kiwi Kids do our part to help protect the New Zealand environment. We are lucky to have grown up in this incredible place, but it will not look like this forever. At the rate we are currently going, our children won’t have the same magical backyard that we do. Here are some tips for playing your part:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Check the label on every piece of rubbish, to make sure you’re putting it in the right bin. Even better, you can avoid throwing things away altogether, by buying fewer things, taking better care of the things you have, and finding ways to repair or reuse things that are old or broken.

Protect our Habitats! Stand up against deforestation, by avoiding foods that contain unsustainable palm oil. Keep your local habitats safe by sticking to the paths. You could even make your own garden wildlife-friendly by setting aside space for nature! You could build a bee hotel, have a log pile, or even create a pond.

Become a green eater! In the past, people thought that we could take whatever we wanted from the planet, without any consequences! Now, we know that’s not true. If we keep taking as much as we want, whenever we want, our planet’s resources could one day run out. If we could all cut down, just a little bit, it would take the pressure off natural ecosystems, and ensure that these animals – and their habitats – have a healthy future. Talk to your family and ask if you could all try some vegetarian or vegan meals.

Be a Planet Advocate! The real secret of how to save the planet? Sharing your knowledge with others and helping them to become eco-heroes too! Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell others about your planet passions! It takes lots of people working together to make change happen – so share, share, share!

Come on Kiwi Kids – it’s our future and it’s our job to make it clean and green.

Critical Thinking Challenges:

  1. Do you think that there are countries where children have a better or worse environment than NZ? Elaborate.   
  2. Do you think New Zealand kids can make a positive difference to the future of New Zealand’s environment?
  3. How has New Zealand’s environment changed and developed throughout the years? Ask your parents what it looked like when they were young. How was it different?

Practical Tasks:

  1. Ask you peers what they do to help protect the environment?
  2. What is the best thing about the Kiwi environment? How has New Zealand’s summer changed and developed throughout the years? Ask your parents what they got up to. Compare with your classmate’s parents.
  3. What is your opinion on this article? Do you believe that New Zealand really does have the best environment?

If you didn’t already know, the Winter Paralympic games are coming up soon. The Winter Paralympics follow up the Winter Olympic games for people with a wide range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power or muscle movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, vision, or intellectual impairment disabilities. There are winter and summer Paralympics, and they happen every four years just like the Olympics.

The winter Paralympics include alpine skiing, para-snowboarding, ice sledge hockey, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and wheelchair curling. The Summer Paralympics include archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-Side, football 7-a-Side, goalball, judo, paracanoe, paratriathlon, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis. The Paralympics are split into several categories within the individual sports in order to make it fair for competitors physically, visually, and mentally.

In my opinion, the Paralympics hasn’t always received the recognition or value it deserves. While the Rio Olympics’ opening ceremony six years ago attracted more than 30 million viewers, the Rio Paralympics peaked at just over two million viewers. However, the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics did manage to break some records, with the Winter Games setting new benchmarks in terms of countries covering the Games, hours broadcast and the number of viewers outside of the host market. At a time when the growth in TV audiences is stagnant, the Paralympics has begun to buck that trend, showing strong growth on all platforms. With Beijing 2022 on the horizon, I’m hoping to see further records broken in the future.

However, the Paralympic athletes don’t get as much funding as the Olympic athletes.
Most of the Olympic Committees around the world provide much less funding in Paralympic athletic endorsements. The Paralympic athletes also earn less in financial awards for medals and earn fewer stipends throughout their careers. Overall, less media exposure and national recognition is granted to these athletes.

So why should athletes be better recognized and celebrated more widely. Not only are these people highly skilled in their fields, but they also defeated their disabilities. They display great determination and courage to overcome mental and physical obstacles. They are truly inspirational because they prove that few things are impossible. The Paralympics also raise awareness of mental and physical disabilities in the hope of creating a better life for those with disabilities. It therefore serves to change public perception of disabilities in order to provide the Paralympics with better facilities that would drastically improve their quality of life.

By representing their countries at the highest level in their sport, Paralympians play an important role in transforming societal attitudes towards people with disabilities and promoting a more inclusive society. The Paralympics promotes inclusivity and sets a new benchmark for what is thought to be possible.

We need to recognize these champions and applaud them as much as we recognize and applaud our other Winter Olympians.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How does the Winter Paralympics challenge stereotypes?
  2. What does the word “para” mean and why is it used in “Paralympics”?
  3. Why is the Winter Paralympics just as important as the Winter Olympics?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is your favourite Winter Paralympic sport?
  2. How does splitting the Paralympics into several categories within the individual sports make it fairer for competitors?
  3. What time/date does the Winter Paralympics begin, and what sports will you be watching?