Heathcote Valley School’s journey to Hokitika

Students from Heathcote Valley School travelled from Christchurch to Hokitika to pursue their passion for environmental projects, after achieving their 1,920 Airpoints Dollar™ donation target.

Heathcote Valley School's young environmentalists have been helping to monitor the spawning habits of whitebait along the Heathcote River, as part of a new initiative - Whaka Inaka: Causing Whitebait. The trip to Hokitika was an exciting opportunity to extend their learning by comparing conditions on the West Coast of New Zealand with their home environment. For many of the students, this was their first time on a plane.

Starting their adventure with some local history, the students visited Mountain Jade to learn more about pounamu and the many ways this beautiful greenstone is used. Then it was off to the National Kiwi Centre to learn about West Coast whitebait and put their knowledge to the test!

The nature enthusiasts got involved with feeding eels and releasing fresh water crayfish, and were thrilled to learn about glow-worms on a night walk through the native forest - a first time experience for many. Finding penguin footprints on the beach was an exciting discovery, as was the spectacular blue water of the Hokitika gorge. A highlight of the trip was visiting fellow environmentalists at West Coast’s Kaniere School, to talk about their whitebait project and help build Kaniere’s plastic bottle glasshouse.

"Thank you so much to Air New Zealand and those who donated their Airpoints Dollars for helping us to get there. We all learnt so much about environmental science ideas and concepts. It was an amazing experience that we are sure no one will ever forget!" - Monique Salkeld and Sophia Clark, students at Heathcote Valley School.