School children ready to enter the water as part of the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme
Image: Experiencing Marine Reserves ©


DOC is involved with a range of educational programmes that get people involved with and promote conservation.

The following programmes operate nationally or across several regions. DOC is also involved with some local education programmes – see what's happening in your region.

Experiencing Marine Reserves

School children snorkling.
Kids snorkling at Poor Knights Marine Reserve as part of EMR

Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) is an experiential learning programme about marine conservation. The programme is under the auspices of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust. EMR empowers schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean.

The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments, before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community.

Since its introduction in Northland in 2002, EMR has expanded to 8 regions with a team of 16 coordinators nationwide. EMR has guided snorkel experiences in marine reserves around New Zealand involving 24,901 students. Over 8,158 people have been engaged in EMR organised marine conservation events, taking our total number of known participants to 33,059 New Zealanders.

Find out more about Experiencing Marine Reserves.

Habitat the Game polar bear.
Habitat the game

Habitat the game (Wellington only)

The world's habitats are in danger and you can help save them.

Habitat the game challenges children to go on an exciting adventure through the Arctic, virtually raising their own polar bear, while getting out and exploring their own backyard.

Find out more about Habitat the game.

Habitat Heroes

Habitat Heroes encourages young people to explore a local natural environment and think about how they can make a difference. Get outdoors and share a summary of your learning to be in to win prizes to support your local conservation project.

Find out more about Habitat Heroes.

Kiwi rangers in Wanaka.
Kiwi Guardians in Wanaka

Kiwi Guardians

Kiwi Guardians is a free, fun and easy way for 6-10 year olds to get to know our beautiful country. They'll learn about protecting our unique native landscape, earn cool rewards and go on epic family adventures.

It's a great way to get kids off screens and into the outdoors in a way they'll love. Grab a map, go and explore, and earn a reward! 

Find out more about Kiwi Guardians.

Outlook for Someday film challenge.
The Outlook for Someday film challenge

Outlook for Someday

'The Outlook for Someday' challenges young New Zealanders to make a sustainability-related film. It can be any genre, filmed with any camera and any length up to 5 minutes. Anyone up to age 24 can enter, either individually or in a team.

Entrants are encouraged to interpret ‘sustainability’ in the way that makes sense to them.

DOC is a partner of the challenge and also sponsors the Big Picture Award. 

Find out more about Outlook for Someday.

Sir Peter Blake Trust

The Sir Peter Blake Trust has been working in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand, the Antarctic Heritage Trust, NIWA and DOC since 2008.

Sir Peter Blake Trust - Blake Ambassador logo.

It has provided opportunities for young New Zealanders to work on projects in Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and New Zealand through the Blake Ambassador Programme.

Ambassadors have worked alongside teams of scientists, conservationists, engineers and conservators on environmental and heritage restoration projects. They have advanced our understanding and addressed some of the big environmental questions and challenges facing society.

Find out more about the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Whitebait Connection

School children from Kendal School sorting out different kinds of stream life, Cust River, Canterbury.
Kids involved in the WBC programme in Canterbury

The Whitebait Connection (WBC) is a national, non-profit community conservation education programme. It is action based and offers concrete and specific ways in which all New Zealanders can come to understand and become involved with our local freshwater environments.

The programme is under the auspices of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust. The main focus of the WBC is to provide experiential learning opportunities to schools and communities throughout New Zealand.

After discovering their local freshwater environments, students and their communities are encouraged to take action for their local catchment with activities like riparian restoration, fencing, and stream monitoring.

Find out more about the Whitebait Connection.

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