The past three months have been challenging, to say the least, with COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. But with more freedom on the horizon and the recent easing of restrictions in Auckland, what better time than now to go outdoors and explore the environmental treasures of Aotearoa (while following the restrictions still in place, of course). And to nudge Kiwis along is the aptly-timed Get Outdoors Week (GO Week) this year.
Led by Recreation Aotearoa, GO Week is a national campaign that encourages Kiwis to get out and explore the great outdoors. It is an opportunity for Kiwis to try something new and enjoy outdoor adventures with friends and whānau.
It is also a chance for outdoor activity operators to promote their businesses and share their passion for the outdoors with the wider community.
“No adventure is too big or too small as long as you’re doing it safely and with respect to the natural environment,” Recreation Aotearoa Outdoors programme manager, Jen Riley, says.
“Getting outdoors is proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing, and with the curve balls the world has thrown us, it is more important than ever to take care of our waiora. We would love to see as many Kiwis as possible getting outside and reaping the benefits of fresh air and physical activity.”
GO Week was originally launched by the NZ Mountain Safety Council in 2019 and was then handed over to Recreation Aotearoa last year.
“It stemmed from wanting to encourage Kiwis to safely explore the great outdoors and highlight the incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation we have here in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Leah Maclean, GO Week marketing and communications manager.
And while this is only the second year that Recreation Aotearoa has run the week (after taking over from Mountain Safety Council), Maclean says they have been receiving enormous industry support.
“We have developed an awesome and diverse set of partnerships/sponsors for the week, which includes the Department of Conservation, Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails, Holiday Parks NZ, Recreational Services, Further Faster, Water Safety New Zealand, Hunting & Fishing NZ, NZ Game Animal Council, Pest Free Kaipātki, and Mountain Safety Council.
“It’s also been great to see more Kiwis getting involved and get excited about GO Week. It’s become a great excuse for people to try something new and just get outside and be active.”
There are a number of different ways Kiwis can share their support for GO Week this year, including a 1200km nationwide Wilderness Walk, a new exhibition at The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum, a fun, social surfing session in Gisborne, and even one for your furry little friends with a mountain dog challenge in Wellington and Canterbury.
Apart from the events, the organisers also have a host of prizes lined up for the week that can be won by getting outdoors and sharing your adventure on social media, using#GOWeekNZ.
The fantastic prizes include winning a $300 Holiday Park voucher, a pair of sweet new trail socks, a hat, and a running lead for your four-legged friend, a summer prize pack, a $500 voucher from Hunting & Fishing NZ, two week-long DOC campsite passes, and the chance to win a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to make your next adventure a safe one.
And while there is still uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 restrictions, Maclean says it doesn’t mean Kiwis cannot connect with the outdoors.
“Doing something as simple as taking a walk in a local park or pitching a tent in the backyard is all in the spirit of Get Outdoors Week. We also encourage participants to share their favourite outdoor adventures on social media with #GOWeekNZ. These adventures, stories, and photos can be historical – it’s really all about celebrating and sharing a passion for the outdoors!”
Riley adds, “We hope that Kiwis everywhere will take part in whatever way they can this year. We know there is uncertainty surrounding current alert levels and movement limitations for many of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with the outdoors. You may not be able to participate in that rock climbing course, but you can still wander around your local park or set up camp in the backyard.
“Getting outdoors and sharing your adventure on social media, using #GOWeekNZ will put you in the draw to win daily prizes. You can also take part in an organised Get Outdoors Week or partner event or host a Get Outdoors Week event.”
Easy ways to participate in GO Week
Maclean says there is no limit on how Kiwis can get involved as long as they are having fun and doing it safely.
“Get outside and share your adventures on social media with #GOWeekNZ – take part in the Daily Photo Challenge and go in the draw to win some amazing prizes.
“Take part in an organised outdoors event – we have a list of events on the GO Week website, which we’ll be adding to in the coming weeks.
“Host an event. We encourage outdoor activity and recreation providers to share their events with us – an event could even be offering discounts to customers or running giveaways.
“Try something new – hike that track you’ve been meaning to hike or take up a new recreational activity. Maybe that’s diving, rock climbing, or foraging.
“Share an outdoor experience with your friends and whānau – go on a family picnic or organise a bike ride with your friends.”
For more information, free tools, and resources, visit getoutdoorsweek.co.nz.