Using a guide to share information and stories improves and enriches the tramping experience. It can add a bit of diversion on the tramp and provide needed breaks. Let your students can become the ‘expert’ and share information about a particular plant or bird.
We have provided a list of plants and birds you commonly see in Abel Tasman National Park. Make sure you don’t use all your expert knowledge on the first day! The birds and plants listed can be found along the entire track. Assign guides to the different sections of the track.
Working individually or in pairs, have students pick one plant or animal to research. You can find information about the plants and animals on the internet – the links below are particularly helpful:
- Project Janszoon website
- This website has information on native trees, native birds and even an online bird identification tutorial
- New Zealand Birds online
- New Zealand Gardens online
- Bushmansfriend - identify trees and shrubs
Tips for guides
- Wait until your whole group has gathered and can hear you.
- Make sure your group is in a safe place to stop eg, not crowded along the edge of a cliff.
- Speak clearly and not too fast.
- Make sure the sun is not in their eyes.
- Ask questions to encourage engagement.
- Tell stories.
- Consider making a brochure or flyer with photos (especially with plants in flower/fruit). In case you don't see the bird close up, you can use a photo to help point out identifying features.
Common plants of Abel Tasman National Park
- Black Beech
- Bracken fern
- Five Finger
- Glasswort (found in wetland areas and along the beach fringes)
- Silver Beech
- Silver FernTree ferns
- Whiteywood (mahoe)
Prompts for giving talks about native plants
- What is the common name, Latin name, Māori name?
- What time of year does it fruit/flower? Will it be in fruit/flower during the time of your visit?
- What is different or special about the plant?
- Are there any medical uses of the plants?
- Any interesting historical uses of the plant (eg made great masts for ships)?
- Do they have any special uses, eg lancewood good for making fishing poles.
- How can you identify the plant?
- Leaf shape (round, long, spiky edges), colour and size, bark colour pattern. How tall does the plant get?
- Do birds like to eat it? Do possums particularly love it?
- Is it found all over New Zealand or just in coastal areas or just on South Island?
Common birds of Abel Tasman National Park
- Black-backed gull/karoro
- New Zealand pigeon/kererū
- Red-billed gull/tarāpunga
- Variable oystercatcher/tōrea tai
Prompts for giving talks about native birds
- How do you tell it apart from other birds
- What colour is it? How big is it (compared to something really common like gull)? What could it be confused with? Does the male look different to the female?
- What does it eat?
- What eats it?
- Any funny/interesting behaviours (eg dive bombs people during nesting), acts injured to draw you away from chicks in the nest?
- Any interesting stories or legends about the bird?