Outdoor Education and Environmental Education have always been an integral part of ECOED’s vision. In 2002/03, ECOED established a relationship with Endeavour Community Trust in order to advance Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) opportunities for schools. Through this relationship ECOED helped schools gain funding to run safety and content-approved Outdoor Education programmes. ECOED has since gone on to pursue a separate sustainable and affordable EOTC model, creating the Wilderness Education Base at Opouahi.
ECOED’s conservation work originally began with kiwi conservation in the Kaweka Forest Park. Kiwi eggs were retrieved from the Kaweka Range and taken to a facility in Rotorua. There, the chicks hatched and grew to a “stoat-proof” size, before being transported back to Hawke’s Bay and released into the Kawekas.
In 2008, after intensive site research and fundraising, ECOED opened the Pan Pac Kiwi Crèche, at Lake Opouahi; a 40 hectare predator-free area for endangered wildlife and environmental education. This local facility eliminated the need for transporting kiwi eggs to Rotorua and now allows kiwi chicks to develop in a safe environment which is also an accessible base for educational activities.
It soon became apparent to ECOED that the area around Lake Opouahi is alive with learning opportunities. Abundant native flora and fauna, a strong Maori history, caves, rock formations and wetlands combine to create the perfect outdoor classroom! While continuing with their kiwi conservation work, ECOED also developed an adjacent 29 hectares of land as a Wilderness Education Base. ECOED encourage school groups to use this Wilderness Education Base and the many opportunities it presents, as a springboard for outdoor and environmental education initiatives.