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Ways to get involved in your local Queenstown community

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The bread and butter of Southern Discoveries is to take people on a journey in and around the natural wonder of Aotearoa New Zealand’s South Island. It is this day-to-day adoration for nature that intrinsically connects our passion and interests to the health of our environment and well being of Central Otago communities.

As our end of year celebration in 2023, our team gave back to the environment with a tree planting day, where our mahi had a direct impact on the number of native plants in Queenstown. However, our commitment to our environment extends to the entire year, every year. Southern Discoveries is proud to hold a Qualmark Gold Endorsement for sustainable business practices and a portion of every Milford Sound trip goes directly to the Department of Conservation to support their conservation work.

We are proud to have been providing full logistical support since 2014 to an internationally-renowned research programme, the Tawaki Project, studying of one of the world’s rarest penguins, the tawaki or Fiordland crested penguin. This allows the University of Otago to facilitate a study that would have otherwise not been possible in Milford Sound.

To find out more about what we do for conservation, visit our Conservation website page.

With all of our work for nature in the Milford Sound region, Southern Discoveries also celebrates and supports a bunch of great Queenstown businesses doing good for our environment! Every initiative, helping hand, and ounce of effort helps propel Queenstown toward its aim of reaching a carbon neutral visitor economy by 2030

So what can you do to help the environment in Queenstown alongside these leading businesses and big goals? A strong willingness to lend a hand is ingrained in the Kiwi way, and small community projects are places where even a few sets of hands can make a big difference. 

Here’s a few ways you can volunteer and get involved in local initiatives in Queenstown to help our environment and fellow community members.

1. Wakatipu Reforestation Trust’s Nursery nights

7th February and 6th March 2024
Volunteer your time with the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust to nurture native trees and shrubs that will be planted in Autumn and Spring of 2024. No gardening experience necessary, just an interest to get your hands dirty on a summer evening! You will be shown what to do by experienced volunteers while also learning about native trees and gardening along the way.

2. Queenstown Mountain Bike Club Wednesday Night Digs

Every Wednesday night
If you’re a keen mountain biker, put your love of the local trails into action and help the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club to maintain the runs we all love. Donate your time to the club’s Wednesday night digs to either groom or create your next favourite trail! Drinks and Chur Fish & Chips are provided by the club for volunteers with the added bonus of meeting fellow local mountain bikers to expand your crew!

3. Wakatipu Reforestation Trust’s Community Planting Days

6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th April
To participate in a morning planting day at Keystone Sites between 9am-12pm, drop-in to various planting days in different locations. By helping to plant native trees that will attract native birds, lizards & invertebrates back into the basin, you’ll also be significantly enhancing the biodiversity of the region. The Wakatipu Reforestation Trust’s Keystone Sites are large, multi-year planting projects on public land to create wildlife corridors.

4. Get involved with KiwiHarvest

Become a volunteer, food donor, or sponsor for the Queenstown branch of KiwiHarvest who rescues surplus food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributes it to social agencies and charities. Not only does this get food to those that need it, but also reduces the amount of food going to landfill and doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can donate your time to work in the food warehouse or as a van assistant; volunteer alone, with work, or alongside friends and family!

5. Upper Clutha Tracks Trust

Contribute to the work that Upper Clutha Tracks Trust does to actively maintain and develop walking and biking tracks. The Trust currently has various active projects that might interest you, including maintenance on existing tracks that you may walk, bike, or run regularly; a personal reason to support your local trust! The Glendhu Bay Track is currently being maintained and a new Grade 3 track is being developed connecting the Hawea Dam to Camphill Bridge; just a few of the many projects on the go that you could help out with! Contact any trustee on the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust website to register your interest in volunteering.

6. Department of Conservation in Otago

Keep an eye on the volunteering opportunities in the Otago Region with the Department of Conservation (DOC). You could be heading out into the bush or mountains to help out with maintenance, short-term ranger duties, seal observation, or other vital tasks needed at the time to help keep our environment and backcountry pristine for others to enjoy.
Image: Xavi | Creative Commons

Whether you’re wanting to give back to the local initiatives of your favourite holiday destination, want a new activity that gets you outdoors, or want to fulfill a New Years Resolution of giving back, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities in Queenstown to choose from.

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